Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A Year's Supply of Food

One of my goals for this year is to accumulate at least a year's supply of food for my family.  This is something I've been wanting to do for quite a while, but I'm the kind of person that tends to wait until the last minute, right before the deadline, before completing a task and self imposed deadlines don't usually cut it.  This year, there is a date embedded in popular culture and historical references that works quite well as a deadline for my purposes:

December 21, 2012

What do I think will happen on December 21 of this year?  Probably nothing.  People will go to school or work in the morning and the malls and shopping centers will fill up in the evening, as the last weekend before Christmas kicks off.  I'll admit, a fanciful part of my imagination wonders if the galactic alignment really does mean anything and if there will be some sort of huge solar flares or coronal mass ejection or polar shift, but it is the same part of my imagination that worries about zombies reaching through the gap in the curtains at night, so it isn't a part of my brain that is given much credence.

Regardless, the date gives me a deadline and the huge increase in our food stamps from my husband being out of work gives me the means.  It might be possible to feed my family well on $161 a month (plus WIC), but it doesn't leave much for stockpiling extra anythings.

Now that I know I have this money coming, I put together a list of what I should have to feed my family for the year.  I used Making the Best of Basics: Family Preparedness Handbook as my guide, with an extremely important adjustment.  As I started to look at the numbers listed, I noticed that they looked really high as per person numbers, so I started to look into what the problem was and discovered an Amazon review that said the author had used the USDA recommendations for a family of 2.3 as the quantities for one individual (Note: my copy is the 10th edition.  More recent editions may have already corrected this error)!  Oops!  Easy enough fix though: I just divided the quantities by 2.3 before multiplying by the number of people in my household.  I used his guidelines to figure out how many "people" are in my house as well, since, obviously a 3 year old doesn't eat the same amount as I would or my almost teen son does.  Here is the method for determining what the author calls the "family factor": each family member gets an assigned number of points.  A male adult is 100 points, female adult is 85 points, a male teen is 140 points, a female teen or male child over 3 is 95 points, a female child over 3 is 75 points, and a child under 3 is 50 points.  Since my oldest will be a teen by the "deadline" and my youngest will be 3 soon, I leaned toward the higher numbers and considered my oldest a teen and the youngest a male child.  Once you total your family members' points, divide by 100 to get your "family factor", which is essentially the number of people to plan on feeding.

For my family, this number is 5.9, so the numbers on my list reflect that family size.  If you wish to use my list for your family, you'd need to divide the numbers show by 5.9, then multiply by your own family factor.  I do recommend getting your own copy of this book (and please use one of my links to do so, so I'll earn a small percentage of the sale), since the book has a lot of other useful info like shelf lives of the different things, food items our family doesn't use but yours might, recipes, and how much of non-food items you'd need for a year.

Here's my family's list of how much of each kind of food we should have for a year's supply, roughly based on this book; your mileage may vary:

Wheat, other whole grains, flours, & beans = 1796 pounds, to include the following:
cornmeal (26 pounds minimum)
flour (90 pounds minimum)
rice, white and brown (116 pounds minimum)
pasta, various types (90 pounds minimum)
granola & oatmeal (128 pounds minimum)
cold cereal (65 pounds minimum)
dried beans, assorted (193 pounds minimum)

Powdered milk, dairy products, and eggs = 513 pounds, to include the following:
milk, non-instant powdered (257 pound minimum)
butter, dehydrated (51 pound minimum)
cheese, dehydrated (64 pound minimum)
evaporated milk (16 cans minimum)
sweetened condensed milk
yogurt starter
cheese cultures

Sweeteners: honey, sugar, and syrup = 257 pounds, to include the following:
honey (180 pounds minimum)
maple syrup
white sugar (26 pounds minimum)
brown sugar
confectioners sugar

Cooking catalysts: salt, oil, and leavening agents=193 lbs, to include the following:
salt (13 pounds minimum)
yeast (2 pounds minimum)
baking soda
vegetable oil (26 gallons minimum)
olive oil (13 gallons minimum)

Canned & Dried Fruits, Vegetables & Soups=7054 servings, to include the following:
canned fruits, jams, jellies, and preserves (to equal 3207 servings)
potatoes=513 pounds, to include the following:
dried potatoes (65 pounds minimum)
canned potatoes, white and/or sweet
fresh potatoes, white (257 pounds minimum)
fresh sweet potatoes
canned vegetables=2565 servings, to include the following:
green beans
kidney beans
corn, cut
corn, creamed
tomato paste
tomato sauce
canned tomatoes
canned soups (641 servings minimum)
shelf stable conveniences, such as boxed mac & cheese, Spaghettios, etc (257 servings, minimum)

Kitchen staples: condiments & seasonings=to preference, to include the following:
mayonnaise/salad dressing
chocolate chips (11 pounds minimum)
cocoa powder (3 pounds minimum)
cornstarch (2 pounds minimum)
gelatin, dry (11 pounds minimum)
nut butter (37 pounds minimum)
nuts & seeds, fresh or roasted (90 pounds minimum)
crackers (16 pounds minimum)
soy sauce
steak sauce
Worcestershire sauce
assorted stocks/broths
apple cider vinegar
white vinegar
garlic powder
dry mustard
onion flakes or powder
parsley flakes or powder
black pepper
white pepper
cayenne pepper
chili powder
bay leaves
vanilla beans/extract
almond extract
Meat and seafood=1796 servings, to include the following:
canned venison
canned poultry
luncheon meats, shelf stable
canned seafood

Pleasure foods: beverages, snacks, sweets, & treats=5131 servings, to include the following:
1924 servings minimum of the following:
herbal stea
soft drinks
hot chocolate
1923 servings minimum of the following:
tortilla chips
potato chips
snack crackers
pudding, shelf stable


  1. Thanks for posting this great resource! We were working towards a year's supply several years ago (never made it, but what we did store was helpful when money was tight) and I let it fall by the wayside when we were moving around once or twice a year and then renovating. A few months ago, we decided it was time to make a serious effort again, but I've mostly just been buying lots of stuff that we use when it goes on sale. The Family Factor is a great idea. I need to start listmaking and purchase planning.

  2. Be aware that "stockpiling food" as you're doing now makes you come under the "terrorist" heading. *SIGH* Having more than a week's worth of food in your house is apparently wrong, according to the feds.

    Anyhow... About sugar: if you have a local store that sells sugar, see if you can talk to them about buying or taking away sugar that gets hard. They're not supposed to sell it when it isn't all soft and granular, and oftentimes they just throw it away. There's *nothing wrong with it* other than that it's become a cake instead of granulated. You take the hard brick of it, grate it into a food grade 5 gallon bucket, and voila, 20 lbs of white sugar ready for use. We currently have about 5 buckets in our basement, with the idea that white sugar is likely to be a good trading commodity in any kind of natural disaster or end of world scenario. :) That and we got it free from friends LOL...

  3. My thoughts would lean toward where to store it all?

    We have several months worth built up in the pantry,but when we get onto the topic of storing foods for longer term,I picture my downstairs/basement area being piled high with buckets and buckets of dry goods....

  4. Good luck with your goal. I am also curious how you will store it all. And what techniques you will use for storage so the food stays dry, bug free, etc.

  5. There are a lot of bulk foods you can buy that come in sealed, food-grade plastic buckets. If not, then you can purchase food-grade plastic buckets with airtight lids. I think even the most ravenous of rodents would have a hard time chewing through one of those buckets. The real question is WHERE are you going to store all that food in a mobile home?

  6. Purchasing food grade buckets would require money, which is something I don't have. My husband's unemployment money doesn't even cover the basic bills, let alone buying anything else, not even silly things like toilet paper. The short version of where I'm going to store all this is anywhere I can. lol I plan on stashing it under beds, on shelves, perhaps in the garage if there is stuff in pest-proof containers that wouldn't be bothered by the extreme temperature changes. I'll deal with it as I get it.

  7. as I was going thru this list, it occured to me that some items, such as powdered sugar, can be made from a cheaper item, (white sugar), so I guess it would make sense to stock up on the white sugar rather than the powdered right?

  8. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints members (Mormons) are counseled to keep a years supply of food on hand. If you want to contact the local church I am sure the ladies there would be happy to help you with this and may be able to help you with the food grade buckets or whatever.

  9. @Me!: Depends on if you want to go through the trouble, how much savings it would actually be and what you are prepping for. In a SHTF situation, you probably wouldn't be able to use a food processor, so it would likely be done by hand. I don't more than a couple pounds of the stuff in a year max, so it wouldn't be worth it to NOT get it with the intent of making my own.

    @Carol: That is a GREAT idea! I definitely will have to look into that.

  10. just FYI: if you call your local grocery stores you and talk to their baking department a lot of times they will give you their icing containers for free
    (with lids!) and they are food grade =)

    ALso, I know someone mentioned talking to local mormons... Try calling their local dry cannery (they have their prices online). Some cannerys don't allow non members and some do..their prices are awesome though if you are able to go! =)

  11. I have one question. How likely would it be that you would remain in your home in a SHTF situation? Would you have to move to the country (being you're in the city now), or go to live with family, or become something of a nomad, following warmer weather or animals, etc? Would it be prudent to have all of that food, only to have to leave it behind because it's a take what you can carry on your back situation? These are the things I think about...

    I could never afford to have a year's worht of food on hand, nor would I want my family to eat most of what you could store for that long. Short of a chernobyl-type disaster, though, I would hope our land and animals could help us survive well enough. I know I'd finally lose the extra weight, though! :)

    1. It actually is very likely that we would hunker down in the event of a SHTF situation, since getting out of the city when there is a lot of craziness going on would likely get us killed and we would be better off staying where we're at, at least for a time. The problem with bugging out, too, is that you have to have a suitable place to go. There is no way I could see myself becoming a nomad unless there were absolutely no other options because of the huge uncertainties of that way of life. With proper defenses and precautions in place, we definitely would be better off staying put.

      More than half my food storage currently (9 months after writing this) is home preserved items: homecanned fruits, veggies, sauces, and even meats, as well as dehydrated veggies (not a lot of fruits this year because of our strange spring weather). Just because something can be stored that long doesn't mean it is junk.

      For our storebought stuff, I make it more affordable by couponing. I only clip coupons for things that meet my standards of what ingredients are acceptable for my family (no MSG, artificial colors, etc) and still manage to find a lot that we can use. More and more, health food brands are putting out coupons as well, which can frequently be found on their websites or CommonKindness.com. With couponing, I can usually save about 40% off my grocery total (even being pretty picky about what we buy), which means I can buy a lot more for food storage!

      Our new place has 1/5 of an acre, so I'm pretty confident that I should be able to meet most, if not all our food needs with the land we have (depending on hunting, whether we can get small animals, etc), but even if I can, the food storage acts as a level of insurance against bad weather or other disaster that may impede our ability to have enough to eat in any given time frame.