Nov302010

38 Comments

Beyond the LDS Food Storage Calculator

If you haven’t discovered the online LDS Food Storage Calculator, you might want to check it out here.  Plug in the number of people in your family, and you’ll find out  how much dried milk, oats, brown sugar, and other staples you’ll need for a one year supply.

If you haven’t worked with this calculator yet, go do it now, and then come right back here.  I’ll be waiting.

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Well, what did you think?  I’ll bet you got some pretty serious numbers, didn’t you?  Let’s be honest.  You’re probably thinking, “What the heck am I going to do with 600 pounds of wheat, 100 pounds of cornmeal, and 20 pounds of split peas??”  If you’re like me, you just grab a loaf of bread at the store when you need it and rely on various convenience foods on a weekly basis.

The reason stocking up on staples is so important is because they are the building blocks of hundreds of other foods.  A handful of dried beans, along with some broth and a few veggies makes a mighty fine and filling soup.  With flour, lard, some baking powder and salt, and a rolling pin, you have tortillas.  The trick is knowing how to use the staples you’re storing, and then begin rotating them in with the food your family normally eats.

By the way, if the figures from the calculator seem overwhelming and/or expensive, set a smaller food storage goal of three months.  Just divide the totals by four.  It will be easier to find places to store that amount of food, easier to rotate, and then you can build on what you have.

Here are a few tips that I have found helpful.

  • If there’s an item your family absolutely hates, don’t buy it.  Instead, substitute something similar or just buy more of a more familiar ingredient.
  • If a family member is allergic to any of the food items, adjust totals accordingly.  An emergency situation where you’re hunkered down with 800 pounds of wheat is not the time to discover that someone in the family is allergic to gluten.  So plan around food allergies now, while time is on your side.
  • Begin incorporating recipes that contain these basic ingredients.  There’s no sense in stocking up on large bags of dried pinto beans, hoping your family will fall in love with them in a dire emergency, if they’re not a part of your current diet.  That’s not the way it works, and if you’ve ever dealt with picky eaters, you know that!
  • Take one basic staple, black beans, for example, that your family usually doesn’t eat.  Can you sneak a few of them in a bean dish you already make?  If you make homemade refried beans, try using half black beans and half pinto.  If you can slip one of these unfamiliar staples into a familiar dish, your family will become accustomed to the flavor and texture, and possibly discover a new favorite!
  • The food calculator and many other food storage lists leave out herbs and seasonings, but I think these may be one of the most important elements in your pantry.  With a little dried oregano, basil, and garlic, you have an Italian rice dish.  Change it up a little with a can of chopped tomatoes, cumin, and chili powder, and it’s Mexican rice.  Herbs can be dehydrated and frozen for long-term storage.

Now, the secret of food storage pros is to have recipes that utilize these ingredients and begin incorporating them into your family’s meals.

The Food Storage Calculator is just a starting point.  With some planning, experimenting, and a few sneaky strategies so your family becomes accustomed to something new on the menu, you really can put all that wheat, rice, and all those beans to good use!

 

There may be links in the post above that are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission, which does not affect the price you pay for the product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.

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I'm the original Survival Mom, and have been helping moms worry less and enjoy their homes and families more for 5 years. Come join me on my journey to becoming more prepared to handle everyday emergencies and worst case scenarios.

(38) Readers Comments

  1. While food calculators are great, I really like the meal preparation way to store food. Get your favorite recipes together and then multiply the ingredients x however many meals you'd like to store. That way our families can eat food they're familiar and comfortable with in an emergency. I also have some sneaky recipes for desserts that are made from beans — your kids will have NO IDEA they're eating healthy beans! http://tinyurl.com/qxmm73

    • I tried adding beans to desserts. It didn't work with my family. My oldest can detect anything-even the slightest bit of powdered milk mixed with the store bought milk. So, I have just resorted to letting them know what it is and hoping they will at least try it. All my children love oatmeal, so I have stored a lot of it for them to live on. I hope other readers can sneak those beans into their recipes. :)
      Thank you for the other idea though. I love learning how others are making all this work for them.

      • There are thousands of different kinds of beans, and a good number of them do not taste like pintos. Go to a Mexican/South American grocery and try out some of the kinds they have there. you may find one less objectionable to your family. There are pink ones, yellow ones, purple ones, huge ones, tiny ones.

  2. Sarah,

    Thanks for your comment! We have to store what our family will eat. That's the bottom line. Many years ago I made chocolate chip cookies that contained refried beans. As I recall, they were really moist and yummy!

    Lisa

  3. I'm new to all this but I truly do not understand what's up with all that wheat. Why wouldn't I just buy flour?

    • Wheat lasts A LOT longer than flour. You can also eat wheat berries a variety of different ways (I've heard, haven't tried yet). If you buy the wheat and grind it, then your flour is super-fresh and presumably tastier. You can also have more control over things like how finely ground it is. If you spill wheat, it isn't necessarily just a loss. If you spill a bag of flour, it pretty much is. I know I can't scoop much of it up, at any rate, and it makes a much bigger mess than spilled wheat.

      But mostly, wheat lasts A LOT longer than flour.

      The one that got me was how much mayonnaise it told me to get. I don't use that much in a decade! Clearly, we have a different diet than they do, but it is a helpful place to start.

    • As LizLong said, Wheat berries last an extremely long time if you store them properly. Flour, as soon as it is ground from the whole berry starts to oxidize, giving it a shorter shelf life. I store both, wheat berry and flour, when I use up the flour on hand I grind some more and then replace the wheat berry. That way I am rotating my wheat.

  4. I downloaded a spreadsheet years ago that has way more than the LDS numbers along with spices, fun stuff, and different sugars, flours, cans, everything…. You put in the number of people and it automatically calculates what you need for several goals ending with a year and when you put your numbers in, it shows you what you have for maybe 6 months on some stuff and over a year on others. I like it because instead of having 60# of honey, I can adjust the amount of sugar, brown sugar and stuff to equal everything out. I also dont have to figure much – I just put in the number of cans I have of whatever and it does it for me. I thank the maker of this spreadsheet every time I open that bad boy up….

    I use it as an over view of what I have and do not open every time I use something – what a pain that would be. I have also found that when I use something, I immediately put it on my list and when I am at the store, I buy AT LEAST 2 more to replace the 1 I used. Most of the time I buy about 4. This will build your pantry quickly with things that you actually use!! I sit down with my receipt and list and enter in the extras I purchased and do not count the ones I replaced because they are already counted for….

    I have also found that I am not sure we consume all they think we would for a day – its a lot of food. I take that as a comfort that I may actually have more than the counter counts :)

    • Ooohh, where did you find this spreadsheet? That sounds like something I would use!

    • I agree! Can you send a blank copy of it to Lisa to post here?

      Also, if the SHTF, then we'll all be doing a lot more manual labor, and burning up a lot more calories, so we'll probably need more food than we do today.

    • Where did you download that spread sheet? I have tried to do pretty much what you have done but it would be nice to have a spreadsheet. I have several different lists that I am trying to combine and not loose my mind while doing it!

      Thank you for your post and time.

      Traci

  5. The calculator says my family would need 56 gals of water. That seems awfully low for a full year.

    • It's probably two weeks of water.

    • I keep reading 1 gal per person per day, to cover things like flushing toilets and bathing as well as drinking. My basic take on water – unless you want to invest in an underground 10,000 gal cistern or something, then store for 2-3 weeks, and make sure you have a plan for a backup water source if the power goes out and the faucet doesn't work anymore. This may not be possible in the city, which is scary.

  6. Keep in mind that everything you stash that's pre-prepared (like brownie mix, pancake mix, etc.) get subtracted from the total. Brownie mix counts as wheat, being made from flour you won't be grinding from your stored grain. Things like boxed pudding mix and Jello gets subtracted from your sugar requirements since you won't be taking from the stored stuff to make your own.
    Personally, I don't want to do the picky math to figure subtracting 12 boxes of Italian Bread Mix from a THOUSAND POUNDS of wheat, but for those who have some anxiety that they don't have enough, it's a bit of comfort to know these items may actually nudge you over the edge of being a bit more than the minimum.

  7. I watch for sales and buy large amounts when there is a good deal. The checkout clerk will often say something like "Boy, you must be making a lot of bean soup" or "What are you going to do with that?". I usually just smile and keep bagging, since I consider prepping to be a low profile activity. Does this happen to others? How do you deflect the comments?

    Also, I find the food calculator numbers to be way off what I think my family would eat. You really need to sit down and figure out some menus that you would use if convenience foods are not are not available. I don't currently bake bread, so I just store what they tell me too. But other things on the list, like jam/jelly, look too low. Wouldn't we eat a lot of fast and easy PB&J sandwiches? And easy pasta meals? Pasta is listed but not tomato sauce. The calculator on about.com doesn't even mention vegetables. Most of my stored food is vegetables! And remember that if you plan to can or pickle garden produce, you need a lot of extra salt and vinegar. And pectin and sugar for jelly. And don't forget canning lids for your jars! This list can get overwhelming.

    • When I'm checking out with a ton of one item, I simply tell the clerk that I'm buying what's on sale to save money. Most people are trying to watch their pennies today, so most clerks just reply with something along the lines of "that's a good idea" or "I should do that". As for pasta sauce, we use olive oil 90% of the time that I make pasta, so it's a matter of preference, at least partially. I'm totally with you on the menu including easy meals, though. I'm considering adding a bunch of the new Kraft HOMESTYLE Mac 'n' Cheese. It's mostly dehydrated, and it tastes soooooo much better than regular Kraft for kids it's amazing. We have pasts and dehydrated cheese, of course, but I think this works out reasonably close in price, and so much easier. I wondered about the lack of vegetables, too.

      When I added how much salt we have into one calculator (not LDS), it told me we had several thousand % what we needed for a year! Of course, I'm getting lots more for food preservation needs, not eating. It does get overwhelming, I agree, when you think about it all. I have a dozen shower caps in the basement! If we have to cut down on water usage, they'll be good to have. We have gelatin capsules to use for herbal supplements that we're growing in the garden. We do need more canning lids, though.

    • Kelly,

      Folks at the check out counter have a pretty boring job. Their questions are just a mix of "hey something different is finally happening" and polite chit chat. Not that you need to deflect, but how about saying "Yep" or "Its time to stock up again" (as if it is a normal cyclical process).

      As for having most of your food storage as vegetables… What the hardcore "live for a year on your stash" crowd would tell you is that if you look at the items on the list they are all highly calorie dense (particularly if you think about calories/$). Flour, sugar, beans, fats and oils – cheap and lots of calories and/or protein to keep you alive – not necessarily the diet you want to live on in good times with a sedentary suburban life. If you want to stay alive on say canned spinach with about 60 calories in a small 10 oz can, or 90 in a 15 ozer you'd have to down about 30 cans a day just to be avoid weight loss for an average male engaging in rigorous daily activity.

      So you see – its all about meeting your calorie needs, I don't think vitamins or minerals are even a consideration in these calculators. But if I really believed I had to live only on my supplies, I'd be glad I wasn't wasting too much space or money on veggies at the expense of proteins, fats and carbs. With this point of view a rule of thumb could be if you are allowed to eat it on your diet – it ain't worth stocking up on.

      Now if you are a reasonable eat what you stock, stock what you eat, sort of family then things would be slightly different. But protein and calories that last for a year or more without refrigeration still probably mean lots of beans, wheat, rice, sugar, oils, etc. your just have all the niceties in addition.

      • Maybe I gave the wrong impression, I do have lots of foods that aren't vegetables, too. I just found it amazing that they weren't included at all in the calculator, when eating vegetables is promoted so much as part of a healthy diet. I grow my own and dehydrate them, it's the main food I can produce myself, so I stockpile it. And I know to watch exp. dates, I write the date in big numbers on the top of canned foods with a sharpie and keep them sorted by date.

        I'm a gardener, so I count beans as vegetables, which I guess is not correct from a food storage point of view. I have a LOT of dried beans, and rice and pasta to go with them. I do see your point about calories. Next spring we will be getting ducks for eggs so we have out own protein source. If I have to hunt for meat, I can do that, but I would prefer to just eat eggs. :)

        • The church encourages members to not only stock up, but practice provident living by gardening and learning other skills. With these basic staples and a garden, a family can provide for themselves fairly well. Some wards have gardening classes, canning classes, food prep classes, etc. Many LDS members have gardens, even if they are small.

          When you go to an LDS cannery, there are veggies and fruit available. Many times they are limited time only things. Like one time the cannery had dehydrated strawberries. The limit was one can per family because the shipment was very small.

    • I say it's for kids camp, family gathering, Boy Scouts, church dinner, etc. Choose one (or all). Saying nothing at all seems 'suspicious'.

      • Just last night I was at KMart and found a good sale on the kind of toothpaste we like. The woman in front of me commented, and I said "Care packages for solders". Which is actually true for a couple of tubes, but the rest of them are for me. :)

        Once the grocery clerk was a teenager who made the usual bean soup comment about my big bile of dried beans that were on sale, and I said "well, this kind is for refried beans and this kind is for baked beans". She was very surprised, I don't think she knew you could make anything besides bean soup with dried beans.

  8. Just keep in mind that most commercial food has a limited shelf life from a couple of months to 1.5-2 years max. You either have to constantly rotate stock or make a big food pantry donation periodically.

  9. I found a food storage check list at dealstomeals.com It's a free download and covers quite a bit. With just a few minor changes I think it might work for my family.

  10. Some of the LDS calculator recommendations sound crazy, now. But what if there was absolutely no food except for what you had in your pantry or what you could grow in your yard? What if there were no meat except for what you could trap in your yard? (nasty) Then some things suddenly make sense. I do agree they dont address vegetables and frruit and being Mormons they dont address 2 family staples here, coffee and cocoa! I still dont get their mayonnaise recommendations EXCEPT for there are old recipes to make cakes etc without eggs, butter, etc and they generally call for mayonnaise. Maybe that is the thinking.

  11. Yeah, the LDS food storage calculator is a good start. It represents sort of a basic minimum amount to sustain life. It is basically made up of stuff that you can buy and store in your basement for 20+ years, so you only have to buy it once.

    The reasoning behind it is sort of like "Don't expect to survive through the winter unless you have at least this much". Yeah, you can live through a winter on that stuff, and the first day the snow melts, you bet your bippy you'll be out planting something good to eat, and totally dedicated to rebuilding society just so you can have some chocolate.

  12. This time of year it doesn't seem as suspicious to be buying things in bulk. And I pay for my bulk items (when I can) with cash. Debit card purchases are recorded and I am sure someone somewhere is reviewing those purchases.

  13. I have had comments too and I just reply that my friends asked me to pick up some for them too. The UPS delivery man makes comments about the packages I get from campmor when I order things like portable camp stoves or water treatment tabs, etc and I just tell him we really like to camp alot. With the LDS list it is just a list for basics and you should know that you need to either garden or buy the fruits and vegetables that your family will eat.

  14. V8! The easiest way to store veggies! I just bought a case at BJ's $13 for $28 cans (50 cents a can). When I was a Freshman at college I drank at least 4 bottles a day. I am a vegetarian, and that was my main food source on campus until the university signed a contract with Coca Cola and all non-Coke items were removed. I gained over 20 pounds the next two years!
    I think veggies are not listed because Mormons garden and can their own food. I have a garden too, and I am hoping to get some ducks to weed it and give me eggs eventually. I bought a case of evaporated milk to replace my need for Half-and-Half in my coffee, but it actually costs twice the price of the real thing :(

  15. Emergency essentials has a great calculator at http://beprepared.com/article.asp?ai=903&&amp… It is all based on #10 cans or pails size storage and has a wide variety of items. It calculates days of food stored based on age and number of people in your family and US RDA calories, fats, fiber, vitamins, sodium. It is a great way to see where the holes are in your storage.

  16. Does anyon know where aka Pearls · 50 weeks ago, found the FREE downloadable spreadsheet for Food Storage?!

  17. I want the vegetable lists so I know how much I need to grow already. What is a reasonable goal for the amount of potatoes, other root crops, greens, sweet corn , etc.?

  18. Looking for the food storage download spreadsheet.

    Thanks!

  19. This may be the link you are looking for. It has several .pdf files/spreadsheets….. http://dealstomeals.com/free-downloads

  20. Just a thought too. Most Mormon families are large families. I know it has the number of people to calculate but I would think that knowing most families number around 7 would still influence numbers. Plus the church expects them to help provide for folks that may not have those stores set aside. Just adjust to your own family’s diet and numbers as suggested.

  21. We are getting ready to make a huge move so I stopped shopping and starting just eatin out of our storage knowing we can’t afford to haul a years worth of food 500+ miles and all of our stuff.
    I wanted to make sure we at least had 2 weeks worth after the move so I didn’t immediately have to worry about food. I sat down and made an extensive 2 week 3 meals a day meal plan. I included snacks as my kids are used to having one in the afternoon and deserts, also things we drink like coffee, tea, juice, milk and water. I then added in a few extra staples and our usual spices. I itemized my entire list. Granted the meals I chose meals my family really likes that would be easy for me to prepare with very little produce. I did include meat.
    It was a huge eye opener just to see what we really eat on even just a two week basis. I have been shopping in bulk and buying things in rotating sales for so long I lost track of what we really eat on a regular basis. It’s easy to do when you buy veggies only every few months and meat every 6 weeks and pasta twice a year. I thought we had enough food stored to last us a few months and I was very very wrong. We have enough oats and beans for what I normally use in 3 months but not anything else. We went through our storage in just 4 weeks down to having to grocery shop for now when my move is still 3 weeks away.
    Now I have to purchased the food to go with my meal plan as well as what I need to feed my family of 6 now. It has made me seriously re evaluate how I want to plan out and track my food storage! I plan to sit down and write out all the recipes we love that require very little refrigeration items or that I can used canned and dyhydrated items instead, track how much milk, coffee, tea, honey, sugar and other staples we used in a one month period and figure out how to begin incorporating more items that have long shelf lives while weeding out things with very short shelf lives. Doing this will allow me to get a better handle on what I really need to buy and concentrate on rebuilding our storage with.
    I have used the LDS calculator and for many things in my family it is way way off. We go through a 18ounce bottle of honey a week and more durin cold and flu season and that’s just making honey & peanut butter sandwiches, putting it in tea and dipping fruit in it or as a breakfast topping. I would want to store at least twice what we use now since it also has many other uses. I have no way to grind wheat and can’t make bread from scratch to save my life right now so I have a long way to go.
    I figured for any begginers out the or even people who think they have a handle on it like I did this is a good way to start figuring out how to calculate what you need and also what skills and equipment you should consider acquiring. Short of a cheap hand can opener I can’t do anything without electric. It’s time to change that!

  22. I like the meals in a jar concept. Complete meals, add water, simmer, bam done. I actually have a deep love for mason jars, they come in handy endlessly! My son and I actually prep cookie mixes and brownie mixes weeks in advance just to cut out some time. I’m still researching how to properly stock, how to rotate said stock and only stock what I know I’m going to use. I’m a single mom with 4 kids (5yrs, 2yr old twins, 5mo old – my lil man will eat anything not nailed down! ) so it’s been a little harder. The 5yr old boy is dang near laco-Evo vegatairan, the twin girls have their moments of picky, and the baby will even eat quina. So this helps. All your stuff has helped! Shh! I’m still a closet prepper! Plan plan plan! Then go for it! Thanks!

  23. For the run of the mill short term emergency having the kind of foods you like is important. But for a serious longterm disaster you want to consider the number of calories in certain foods. For example lentils, beans, and split peas have twice as many calories as pasta, rice, and potatoes (240 cal. vs. 120 cal. per prepared cup). This is one reason why it’s a good idea to have fats and sugars on hand because of the extra calories. Also these foods need water to cook so you need to have more water stored than some recommendations. If you have a garden, potatoes have about 120 cal. per cup, most other veggies have between 5 and 40 calories per cup. So I wouldn’t go crazy worrying about it, but just give it some thought when you’re choosing what kind of foods to store.

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