Food Storage Calculator FAQ

We have been getting a lot of questions lately about our food storage calculators so we wanted to answer them in a post rather than just in individual emails and comments. Hopefully this is helpful to everyone!

Why do you have two food storage calculators?

In BabyStep 3 we have a 3 month supply spreadsheet which allows you to enter in specific meals/snack items to get an exact amount of food to store for exactly 3 months worth of meals that your family normally eats. This is a great way to get started if you are worried about starting to build a food storage full of weird things like wheat, dried beans, and powdered milk that your family never eats.

In BabyStep 4 we have a long term food storage calculator which allows you to just put in the number of people in your family and it automatically fills in the spreadsheet with the recommended amounts to store for whatever period of time you selected (i.e. a one year supply). These are the more traditional food storage items which are considered “life-sustaining” but you don’t necessarily plan specific meals around.

How did you come up with the numbers for the long term food storage calculator?

There are basically two schools of thought on long term food storage. One recommends a 2300 calorie diet with 300 lbs of grains and 75 lbs of powdered milk (this was the original recommendation given to members of the LDS church back in 1978). A more recent recommendation has been to increase the calories to 2400, raise the grains to 400 lbs, and lower powdered milk to just 16 lbs (this is based off of a research study done in 1979).

Either way you go will provide enough nutrition for you to sustain life. However, for families with nursing mothers or small children it is important to use the higher recommendation for milk in order to provide adequate nutrition. If you only store 16 lbs that is only enough for one cup of milk per day. Another reason we use the higher milk recommendation by default is because if you were unable to find ways to cook your food, you can actually sustain life by ONLY drinking powdered milk for quite some time. So all you would need is to add water and you could survive. (For more details on this topic click here.)

How do I add additional items to the calculator?

If you are wanting to track non-food items, make sure to look at our 3 month supply calculator as there is a tab at the bottom that has a place for you to input those items. If you want to track things like fruits/vegetables and canned meats in detail, you can either add them in as items in your 3 month supply worksheet, or go with a more comprehensive solution (see below).

Do you have any recommendations for healthier food options?

YES! Check out our Healthy Food Storage page for a great calculator suggestion that you can add in to your own spreadsheet.

Can’t you make it EASIER???

While we have put together instructional videos to help make it easy, we understand that there are some limitations with using excel calculators. Thrive Life (formerly called Shelf Reliance) has an AWESOME free food storage calculator tool that is web-based (easy to use, very comprehensive and you don’t need excel). You can actually set up an entire plan and then purchase it all at whatever monthly budget you choose (they call this the “Q”). Or you also can just purchase everything all at once if you are feeling anxious about getting your supply and you can afford it. If you don’t want to purchase their Thrive Foods you can simply calculate what you need, and email yourself a report to print off. (SCROLL DOWN TO THE BOTTOM AND SELECT THE BUILD EMERGENCY FOOD SUPPLY OPTION in order to access the calculator portion of the Q)

The reason we think this calculator is so cool is because there are SOOO many ways to customize it. You put in your family with their ages, you input the number of calories per day you want, and you can select exactly what types of foods you want to include. There are some general recommendations that it will give you with a wide variety of Thrive foods listed, but then you can tweak it and subtract or add whatever you want to give you the report you are looking for.

Click here to find out the details and learn more about Thrive Life’s monthly Q program. Don’t forget if you order through our Thrive Life links you get discounts off of retail prices.


  • Bellamotives

    The Thrive Q absolutely helped me with my budgeting! I know most folks simply can’t afford to go out & buy everything at once, including us! It is so intimidating & your calculators & especially your binder helped my family SO much. Prioritizing needs, getting our 72 hour kits together, and what to do with all the water we need- it’s all there! I absolutely recommend it to everyone I know, because it has everything in one organized spot- recipes, contact numbers, it’s now all in one binder instead of notes & lists strewn throughout the house! Thank you Jodi & Julie!