It is very easy to become overwhelmed when trying to build your home food storage simply because there is so much information about there! With so many ways to do it and so many things you need to have a complete home storage system, it can feel like climbing Mount Kilimanjaro to build a complete home storage system.
There are three simple schools of thought that helped (and continue to help) me. I use a combination of these methods, because that’s what works for me and my family. Read about each method and pick and choose the method(s) and information that helps you.
Before I begin, here’s a thought about 72-hour kits (an emergency kit or a bug out bag, sometimes referred to as a BOB). Each method encourages you to start with a 72-hour kit, and there’s a reason for this. You are more likely to need your 72 hour kit than anything else, especially where I live in southern California (think earthquakes). If you don’t do anything else, purchase or build a 72 hour kit which includes basic food and water. Water is especially important regardless of where you live.
When I first moved to California, I assembled our family’s 72 hour kits, thinking it would be cheaper than buying a ready made kit. By the time I was done, I saved about $5 over buying ready made kits that were better than what I’d assembled.
When I needed to update and replace items, I bought pre-made 72 hour kits which I check regularly and update as necessary. For me, it was an easier solution. I bought mine from a company called Emergency Essentials. Their prices are reasonable, and their products are of good quality. If you want to see what they have, click here. Please know that I am not affiliated with Emergency Essentials, and I do not make any money if you buy anything from them. I am a customer and nothing more. I think they are a good company and feel comfortable recommending them to you, but feel free to use this as a springboard to find a company that offers products that better suit your needs or to build your own kit.
Now… Onto the food storage methods.
The first method breaks everything down into days, weeks, months, and years. For example, think about what you need to survive for a three day period (water, food, soap, etc.), a 72-hour kit. Gather those supplies.
Next, think about what you need for 2 weeks (food for meals, a way to cook those meals if you lose your power/gas service, vitamins, etc.). Gather those items. Then, think about what you would need for a one month period, a two month period, a three month period, and continue from there.
This website gives a more detailed overview of the items you will need for different lengths of time. While this is a good reference, please keep in mind that it is a “prepping” website, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed thinking about all the things that are suggested. Please don’t let it overwhelm you. Remember that you don’t have to have everything ready now. You only need to be making progress in your own life and your own home.
The second method has you assemble supplies a little differently. First, you should have a 72-hour kit. Then you assemble the most basic items you need to survive longer term. If you had to eat just these foods for weeks, months, or a year, you would get tired of the food, but you would survive and remain healthy. Unless there is a food allergy or medical condition preventing it, most people can live on wheat (and other whole grains) and beans alone.
For the average adult, you need 25 pounds of wheat (or other whole grains) and 5 pounds of dry beans to survive for one month. With nothing else in your food storage, it would be a repetitive diet and it wouldn’t be a ton of food, but you would survive.
This page gives information about basic foods that store for long periods of time (what they are, how to store them, etc.). The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints offers a “starter kit” for those building a home food storage. It is a one month supply of basic food for one adult for $31 delivered. A year supply of these basics for an adult is $372 and most items in the kit last 30 years (unopened and stored at an appropriate temperature).
Once you have the basics for survival, you then purchase other items to add variety to your food storage, such as vegetables, fruits, meat, yeast, dairy, etc. This will allow you to cook other foods and will keep you happier as you eat your food storage.
Here’s a link to a great lady’s website dedicated to helping people build their food storage. I’ve found this page particularly helpful in determining what my family actually needs.
Third school of thought… Make a menu of the foods you already eat, then gradually buy a year supply of these foods. First, make a menu of breakfasts and dinners for one week (2 weeks for dinners if you want a little variety) with recipes. Then, figure out how much you need of everything needed to make each recipe (make sure to include salt, spices, water, etc.)
Next, determine how much you need for a year supply (or for however many weeks/years you want to have on hand). For breakfasts, multiply each ingredient by 52. For dinners, multiply by either 26 or 52 depending on how many dinners you have (1 week or 2 weeks).
Then, assemble a master grocery list of everything you need for your one year supply. As you do your regular grocery shopping, simply buy a few items from this list (in addition to your regular shopping). If something is on sale, buy more.
As these are foods you already eat, you will be using your food storage (rotating it) as you build it. It’s a great plan, because it’s made of foods you actually eat now. You know how to cook them, you know your family likes them, and they aren’t going to shock your system as going to a menu of wheat and beans might.
Here’s a link to some free materials offered by the creator of this system (Wendy DeWitt). Her booklet includes a handy conversion chart letting you know how much a year’s supply of salt is when you’re using a teaspoon or two a meal.
When I first started building my food storage (beyond my 72-hr kit and about a 2 week supply of foods we eat in our pantry), I wanted to buy it and forget about it! I wanted something that lasted for 30 years or more that I would probably never use. We had a combination of wheat, beans, some “just add water” meals, and a few other things. However, as I learned a little more and became more confident, I started incorporating bits from each of these systems, and I think my food storage is better for it.
What about you? Do you have questions about food storage? Or tips you can share? Please comment below!
Laurel Laurie Staten Nguyen Newhall, CA