My Foray Into Food Storage

A regular gal learning about Food Storage, Home Cooking, Canning, Gardening, and more!

What Should I Buy First?

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.

Mount Kilimanjaro

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.  

72-Hour Emergency Kit or Bug Out Bag (BOB)

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 provides a basic overview of this method with links to more detailed information.

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.

Basic One Month Supply of Food

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.)

Foods You Already Eat

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.

Good luck!


What about you?  Do you have questions about food storage?  Or tips you can share?  Please comment below!



Laurel Laurie Staten Nguyen Newhall, CA


34 thoughts on “What Should I Buy First?

  1. Thanks for following me. I live in a trailer and store some of the food under my bed in boxes. I buy on sale. I keep about a month or two worth of food on hand because I am on a fixed income and things some times happen that I don’t have grocery money.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Laurie, vegetables and fruits, I buy weekly as I like to eat them fresh. But yes toiletries, groceries, diapers, detergents; I usually buy monthly/bi-monthly from supermarkets where it’s cheaper and usually get discounts. Hoarding anything beyond that is a problem; space crunch you see.


  3. Great article, we have a survival kit and we used it when our city was hit by an earthquake. I’d also add put your storage where you can get to it if you home is destroyed – it needs to be keep dry too. We have sleeping bags, sanitation items (plastic bags, soap, towels) and a medical kit. Just hope you never need to use it – we did and we were grateful but so many were so unprepared. Also from experience, 3 days is not enough food – aim for at least a week and don’t forget pets.


  4. We live in Alaska, so we’re at the very end of a thin supply chain that is easily disrupted by storms or union strikes (which is what started our food storage foray, actually). Not a big fan of the ready-made first aid kits as they have a bunch of stuff we haven’t used in 30 years of outdoor rough living and lack stuff we use all the time, but our circumstances are a little different than most. Definitely think about pets. We try to keep at least a 40# (one month) bag in reserve, but our dogs will also eat the parts of our fresh-caught salmon that are considered waste by most modern Americans, so we keep all that in the freezer, so they have about a three-month supply of food.

    Because of the lack of sunlight in Alaska’s winters, we laid in a supply of powdered milk, because Alaskans are short on Vitamin D and calcium at the best of times. If you’re looking for a light-weight food for bug-out bags — instant potatoes, powdered milk with powered egg mixed in can keep you going (not happily) for at least two weeks. Bring along some instant powdered drink mix that’s high in Vitamin C and you’ve got more or less complete nutrition. And, you can actually carry two-weeks worth of it in a back pack. We use it for hiking trips, but our extreme backcountry friends have thoroughly tested this diet. It wears on you, but you don’t get malnutrition.

    If you noticed, I mentioned our freezer. We are definitely leaning toward sheltering in if at all possible because “bugging out” depends too much on being able to get where you want to go. Here in Alaska, shelter and heat are as important as food and I have yet to figure out how to fit 10 cords of wood and a freezer full of salmon and caribou into a bug-out bag. Seeing those jammed up interstates during the storms, I hope most people pause to consider whether “bugging out” is really the best option for them. Don’t just assume that it is because everybody says that it is.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I can’t wait until I have a bigger home to incorporate some of these ideas. We have a Costco purchases “shelf” (aka the gap above our cabinets) but I’d love to get a deep-freeze for fish and a large pantry!


  6. Such great information! I needed to know this too.


  7. Great article. I am amazed as having grown up in the UK have never thought about needing a survival food and water plan, even though have just spent a year in earthquake areas of South America. I do hoard, bulk buy and preserve gluts of fresh food. And I love organized food storage. Cannot wait to unpack properly when I settle down and use these tips!


  8. Great blog, lots of great info. Thanks


  9. This is really interesting, I have been thinking about disaster supplies for a while and never thought to just stock up on what we always use then rotate it. What a great idea!


  10. As a single mother of six kids, I was the queen of menu planning and shopping the sales. My favorite bargains are discounted (about to expire meats) which I sometimes cook and freeze and other times freeze to prepare later. We stock up on canned goods and bottled water in Florida preparing for hurricanes.


  11. First priority:chocolate. Second priority: chocolate. Third priority: chocolate. Then get extra chocolate. Thanks visit my blog.


  12. I am counting my blessings as I sit here in Earthquake free Spain.


  13. A BOB is a great idea, no matter where you are. thanks for the tip!


  14. Hi, Thanks for liking my blog. Had to sneak a peek at yours :D.


  15. Great suggestions. For long term, keep in mind that most non-animal foods do not have a COMPLETE protein, particularly many of the items popular in food storage programs. The solution is simple, have (and eat) a mixture of foods to allow your body access to complete protein. Most commonly, this means a mixture of legumes (beans, peas, lentils or peanuts) AND seeds, nuts (not peanuts 🙂 or whole grains.

    For instance, beans and rice is a popular vegetarian dish. Theoretically, a ‘trail mix’ of peanuts and one or more actual nuts would do, but I’d want to see some research before I trusted my life to it.

    Of course, if you have meat and/or dairy products, protean is not a concern. And you don’t need much protein; 40 to 60 grams of complete protein a day is plenty.

    Other allegedly ‘complete’ proteins are:

    Amaranth, Quinoa or Buckwheat
    Nutritional Yeast or Spirulina
    Hemp seeds
    Soy products

    For grains, it is a good idea to have a manually (non-electric) operated mill (grinder) to produce flour and various course grinds to increase your recipe options.

    Keep in mind that during a disaster, the odds of your refrigerator or freezer, and electric range continuing to function is fairly low. Make sure you have a way of cooking your food if electricity (and even gas) goes out. And a plan to deal with the contents of the fridge/freezer if power is likely to be out for a day or more.


  16. Having 3 days (more is better) of food and water in your home is very valuable. Keep in mind that you may be forced to leave your home in the aftermath of a disaster, so having the ‘necessities’ in an easy to grab and carry bag (the Bug Out Bag discussed) is also very valuable. In this case, food and water are not your most important items though. First make sure you can address your immediate needs.

    Medical supplies to treat life-threatening injuries (such as severe bleeding or allergic reactions) would be at the top of the list. A flashlight, fire and shelter from cold, wind and wet would be next. Then water and hygiene supplies and finally food. Don’t forget required medications, spare glasses, or important documents as appropriate.

    Why do I say that food and water (although important) are not your top priorities? Because of the survival ‘Rule of Threes’, which states:

    You can live for
    3 minutes without air or with severe bleeding
    3 hours without shelter (from cold)
    3 days without water
    3 weeks without food.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Nice post. I appreciate the balance you bring to the planning and purchasing process.


  18. This is something that Deerslayer and I have talked about for a few years now. I can see that you’ve put a great deal of thought (and research) into this. I will follow your progress with great interest!


  19. I used to keep a well-stocked pantry, but I lost too much food because I didn’t rotate it often enough. I trust in God to supply my needs, and pray that things won’t get any worse.
    Thank you for following my blog. I hope you will continue to find articles of interest. I’ve been slack about it lately while I’m trying to get my book finished. If I could simply make the edited corrections, it would go faster; however, I keep making major changes!


  20. Cool site. Keep up the good work.


  21. Thanks for your follow of Heart of Life Poetry. Some of my storage items include sprouting seeds and garden vegetable seeds.


  22. Thank you for such an organized way of thinking about this.


  23. Pasta and Rice are nice things to have because they are “energy” foods.


  24. Hi Laurie–thank you for the like of my ‘smile’ photo. I do try to keep stocked up on wine. Fresh basil and tomatoes… 😦 Not so much.


  25. Great article! Where do you keep the surplus?


  26. Under the stairs is a good idea!


  27. Good post. I like using a combo of all three also, altho I mostly stock what we always eat and rotate. I actually enjoy (I might be lame!) checking over the dates and organizing, but I have a great place under the stairs, so that makes it easier. Great job!


  28. Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wished to say that I’ve really enjoyed surfing around your blog posts. After all I will be subscribing to your rss feed and I hope you write again soon!


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