Food Storage by the Numbers


Not long ago my friend Chrystalyn, the Sun Oven lady, pointed out that a year’s worth of stored food equaled 4,380 meals.  That’s 365 breakfasts, lunches and dinners for four people!  (I’ve always hated math because you can’t argue with numbers!)  Put into that perspective, it made me realize just how much food my family consumes in a year, and that 4,380 number doesn’t include snacks, desserts or Starbucks Frappuccinos! 

How does a SurvivalMom begin storing that much food, and is it even possible or desirable to have that much food sitting around the house, out in the garage, down in the basement and under each and every bed? 

If you’re new to my blog and the idea of food storage, you can pick up some easy strategies by perusing some of my Instant Survival Tips here.  If you’re already into food storage, you’ve learned how important it is to keep track of what you have so you don’t blindly stock up on too much pasta and not enough sauce!  Last week I took an inventory of what I have stored.  I was delighted to find that I have 75 cans of ravioli, 50 packages of pasta (spaghetti, bow-tie, etc.), 45 cans of mandarin oranges, 3 gallons of honey, and on and on and on.  When I realized that the ravioli alone will provide two months worth of lunches for my two kids, I relaxed a little.  Three months worth of food is doable, and I know we have more than that.  I’ll bet when you count up what you have and divide it by meals, you’ll have more stored food than you thought you did!

By the way, I don’t count all the food I have in the freezer.  Between freezer burn and possible loss of electricity, I don’t view frozen food as truly long-term storage.  So, all the meat and frozen veggies that I do have in our two freezers just add a nice little cushion to everything in the pantry.

As you’re stocking up, keep track of how much toilet paper your family uses in a month, how much shampoo, conditioner and laundry soap is used a month so you can monitor your progress with those all-important non-edibles.  Three hearty meals a day is nice and all, but toilet paper is what makes us human!

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.

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  1. says

    My mother-in-law used to date everything she used, even the laundry detergent. When she opened a new box she put the date on it so she could tell how long it took to use it up.

    I'm having a hard time figuring out how to plan my storage because we don't all have the same meals together on a regular schedule (four adults in the house). The best I've come up with so far is to start tracking what I buy a month at a time and begin repeating those items in multiples. Think it's just going to take a little time to work out. . . . . . . . . Think you have the right idea about the frozen food. We are moving toward harvesting our garden over more than the summer and early fall so we will always have food available.

    Do you have any thoughts on storing/using milk — instant non-fat or real powdered milk? Thanks. ~Liz

    • Barbara says

      Liz, you're thinking about it, and learning to do what's right for you and your family. Tacking by what you buy and how fast you use it is my way too.
      Have family taste tests of different types of preserved milk to see what is most palatable to all. Fresh whole milk drinkers will never be happy, but you can do your best. Non-instant is actually the most economical usually. There's also adding evaporated to powdered, and foil-sealed ultra high heat treated. That one's the best tasting, the most expensive and the shortest shelf life.

  2. says

    Hey there Liz! It's good to see you again!

    I have been on the band wagon of storing foods in a variety of forms. Personally, I have about 8 or 9 gallons of milk in the freezer, a dozen cans of evaporated milk, and about 50+ pounds of dried milk in PETE containers. Whether you use instant non-fat (be SURE to check expiration dates!) or something else, get your family used to drinking it now! Two good ways of doing that are to mix up a batch and then combine it with "real" milk in larger and larger parts until everyone is drinking the powdered milk on its' own, and the second strategy is to mix it up the night before and serve it when it's really cold.

    It sounds like you have figured out a system of food storage that works for you and the people you have to feed. There really is no one "right" way to do food storage. For some, they just want to have the basics on hand so starting with the LDS Food Calculator, for example, works for them. Others feed picky eaters or have food allergies to consider. I have a friend who only shops at Trader Joe's and Whole Foods and buys organic! Between you and me, I'm not sure just what her food storage is going to look like!

    By the way, be sure to check back in another ten days or so. My blog is going to have a major face-lift, and I think you'll really like it!


  3. says

    You should know how much or how many of each food item you have in storage and how that translates into the number of meals you want to have stored. For example, for three months worth of breakfasts, you would need about 90 meals. How many boxes of cereal is that for your family? How much oatmeal or pancake mix? The number of meals is your goal, but unless you keep track of what you have, you'll never know if you've reached your goal or not!

  4. Brandi says

    We are new to food storage. We have manged to fill three 4 shelf storge units. I am trying to figure out the best way inventory all we have, to ensure we have enough. I say 3-6 months tops, my spouse says 12 months. Could you please give me some tips on inventorying all we have vs. what we need?

    • TheSurvivalMom says

      Brandi, let me work on a blog post and possibly a form to fill out. For starters, make a list of 7 or 8 very simple dinners, list the ingredients for each,and then see how many times you could make each meal. Example: veggie/pasta soup. You\’ll need the veggies, the elbow pasta, bouillon/broth, and seasonings. If you want to make the soup once a week for three months, multiply the ingredient amounts by 12, and start shopping! It will be a lot of food,but at least you\’ll have a goal and will know when you reach it. Keep meals simple, keep breakfasts basic and repetitive. There\’s nothing wrong with oatmeal, pancakes, and French toast as your break and sandwiches and mac\’n cheese for lunches!

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