Step 4: Long Term Food Storage Planning

Home / BabySteps / Step 4: Long Term Food Storage Planning

Educate yourself on long term food storage and determine the types of foods, recipes, etc. you want to eat. Use an online tool or spreadsheet to figure out quantities.

Key Points: Understanding Long Term Food Storage

  • Understand the basic recommended long-term foods and how they are used to help you determine what to store. Read our What Can You Do With YOUR Food Storage article for help.
  • Talk to experts in the food storage industry by going to preparedness store classes or to local church seminars.

Key Points: Determining What to Purchase

  • Determine the quantities you will need by using our Long Term Food Storage Calculator (see tools section below).
  • Start small. Work on a full 3 month supply, then move onto a 6 month, then eventually a year supply.
  • Follow our BabySteps Checklists to spread out your purchases over time.

Key Points: Learning to Use Long Term Food Storage

  • Use food storage recipe books and websites to learn ways to use your long-term food storage on a regular basis.
  • Help your family become accustomed to eating your Long Term Food Storage. This will ease the transition in case of an emergency.
  • Talk to your friends and family members about how they use their food storage. Check out our interview with Crystal to see sample questions.

Food Storage Calculator

Use our calculator to determine how much food you need to store depending on your families needs and goals for long term food storage.

Excel Spreadsheet
Tutorial Video

The Food Storage Calculator is also available in printable pdf format

Food Storage Books

Food Storage Made Easy eBook
I Can’t Believe It’s Food Storage
Country Beans
Emergency Food in a Nutshell
Dinner is in the Jar
Cooking With Food Storage Made Easy
I Dare You To Eat It
Marlene’s Magic with Food Storage
Food Storage 101

More Information

 

  • Zamph

    Love this article! These are some great resources.

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  • NeedMenu

    A food storage calculator isn’t useful unless it’s in the context of a menu plan. What menu plan was used to develop this food storage calculator? The quantities must relate to how you plan on using them.

  • pradeep

    if we are keeping food products for a long time ,some insects will come. how to control those pests? also is there any solution to avoid those insects? without any effect.

    • Having your items sealed in buckets can help. Also including a bay leaf or diatomaceous earth is helpful as well. And we always recommend rotating your foods so that you are not leaving them sitting for 20 years to be infested. Hope that helps a bit!

  • Maryann-clark

    Can someone please explain to me, and probably others as well, what the actual purpose of putting bay leaves in with stored food is? Do they work like oxygen absorbers? If so that is very interesting to know.

    • From what I have heard, bay leaves just repel pests. Anyone else know?

      • Meg

        I agree with above. I think it is just to keep pests out.

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  • Emartinich

    i have gultne food alrgiey and howe do i sotre food that gluten free for a longe time futher more my boyfrined that i plane to marrey  is dibeck and takes insulen shotes howe do i store insuled for his dibets typ 1 howe do i sotre isulen ?

  • Sue

    Can 5 gallon paint pails be used for long term storage as long as the food is sealed in mylar bags?

    • I wouldn’t store it unless it was in food grade plastic. I don’t know if the chemicals could leach through the mylar bags. I’m not an expert on that though, but rather be safe than sorry.

  • Sixnonblnd

    where can i get oxgen tads

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  • When you need to keep your shoes neat and organized, a shoe storage cabinet is what you need. It is not difficult to find a shoe cabinet that fits your needs. You can choose the shoe cabinet with open storage or with doors on them. There are loads of options for you to select in furniture outlets.

  • Anonymous

    Okay ladies, I have a question.  The amounts that you have in the Food Storage Calculator…what daily calorie amount do they equate to?   So you know?  I was asked by someone that I recommended your site to.

  • Numbrcruntchr

    I wanted to know about combining different products in the 5 gal buckets to reduce waste.  Can you separate rice, oats and beans in the same bucket with rice paper or wax paper if I add the bay leaves and water evaporative packs?

    • I don’t see that there would be any problem with it in terms of preservation. However, it would be really hard to use them, especially whatever foods were on the lower layers. I would probably put them in food saver bags or mylar bags separately inside the buckets so you could easily pull out one bag of food without exposing the rest of the foods to the oxygen again. And you can pick and choose what food you want to use. Hope that helps!

    • Len

       I’m new to food storage and am wondering what the water evaporative packs are, where to find them and are they necessary?

      • Most long term storage is packed with oxygen absorbers to extend shelf life. They are not a NECESSITY but are highly recommended if you plan to let your storage sit for the full shelf life. If you think you’ll rotate through it faster it’s not as much of a necessity. You can find them on Amazon for pretty cheap.

  • I’d definitely recommend doing some canning for long term food storage… both the pressure canning in jars kind but also dry goods canning. You can purchase food grade “paint” cans for this purpose, or check out your local LDS folks to see if they have either a cannery where you can sign up to do some of your own canning, or perhaps they will loan you a canning machine. I’m not a member but I’ve been able to participate in several canning sessions and now have a bunch of stuff like beans, dry milk, etc. stored up in cans that might last as long as 30 years in good conditions.

    • kindredmamma

      The canneries aren’t available to non LDS members.  But perhaps your LDS friends would be willing to do it for you.  You could perhaps trade another act of service for them?

      • Each cannery has different policies. Some ARE available to everyone 🙂

  • HI, 

    Its very informative article guys about Long Term Food Storage, its very helpful in planning for food insurance. 

  • the spread sheet was very helpful in planning my food insurance. It was easy to use and helps me plan out my food budget.

  • dmbeauch

    Food storage question – I see a lot of people storing wheat and oats in the 5 gal buckets using mylar bags.
    I was wondering if I can take store-bought all purpose and self rising flour and pack it this way? and if so, what kind of shelf-life are we looking at? is it worth it?

    I’d rather not grind my own grain if I can help it, but I wouldn’t mind stashing away some bisquick in these buckets. Thanks!

    • If unopened, optimum shelf life is 5 years. If opened will last about
      6-8 months. I think you can stretch it beyond 5 years with proper
      storage, you just may lose some nutrients. It says “optimum” shelf
      life is 5 years, so to me that means you could go longer.

    • ILinch4U

      Yes you can use regular flour or self rising flour. You need to add either an oxygen absorb-er or a bay leaf with a good lid. I like to use gamma seal lids, you can get them from several emergency supply stores. I have stored flour for over a year in a 5 gal. bucket with 8 bay leaves in the bucket and a regular lid..no problems at all. Self rising might be a shorter life span because of the leavening in them.

    • Bisquick would not have as long of a life due to the baking powder in it.  I have recently been using some AP (all purpose) flour that my parents had stashed in 1998.  They did not include any O2 absorbers, etc. just the flour.  The flour definitely has on “old” taste to it, but not bad/rancid/spoiled.  I use it in cookies/muffins that have a strong flavor of their own.  We don’t care for the taste of it in our sandwich bread (it performed well though).  This is 13+ years old and still usable.

      HTH

  • We saw your post and actually linked to it from facebook. We love how you use our spreadsheet!

  • Berger Becca

    I featured you tracker on my little blog, mostly talking about how I utilize it in my home. Just thought you girls may want to know! PS love you new look!
    Becca

    http://gardenberger.blogspot.com/2011/05/years-supply-of-hygeine-storage.html

  • Amy

    Love this website! But I’m having trouble getting the Food Storage Calculator to open in a format that will let me use it. It keeps opening in a “read only” format. Help for the semi-savvy computer user?

    • Amy,
      Once you open it, click save as. The save it to your documents folder or
      whatever you like. That will take it out of read only format.

      -Julie

  • Tracey

    Hi. In the video for the Baby Step 3 spreadsheeet (the 3-month planner) you said that you use a different method for tracking what you have of your long term storage items. How do you do that? My mom has an old paper form from church to track what they had, what they used, and what got replenished, but it would be awesome to have something spiffy like your spreadsheets! THANKS!

    • The long term calculator is found right on this page! Just click the
      calculator links above. It’s a pretty good little spreadsheet 🙂

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  • Liz

    The calculator is fantastic! Now if only I could figure out how to organize the rest of my storage with it…
    I watched the Long Term storage calculator video. The steps on how to add items to the calculator was explained well and made sense, but I must be doing it wrong. I added a non-food category and a medicine cabinet category. They “look” right, but the calculator is not calculating – I have to manually enter in all the data (how much total is needed, subtract “have stored”, and enter “need to purchase”. I’m having the same issue with items added to the main categories, too.
    Any thoughts on what I’m doing wrong??

    • You need to copy and paste the entire row, if you are just adding a row, it
      wont take the formulas. I either goofed if I said add a row, or I wasn’t
      intending stuff to be added there -It’s been a long time I don’t
      even remember- hehe – If you want you can email me the file and I can make
      sure it’s right, and fix it for you… ALSO Check out our 3 month supply
      calculator on our BabyStep 3 page. It already has a sheet FULL of all the
      non food supplies, that might be easier for you to use than recreating one.
      Julie

      • Liz

        Thanks! Copy/pasting worked perfectly. Since I wanted to add a few categories, it was simpler to copy/paste 2 of the existing categories and clear out the text and numbers only (there was an option for “formulas”, too, so I made sure to select only text and numbers to be deleted!). I now have a “template” row at the bottom for copy/pasting in new rows. I’m somewhat “technologically-challenged”… hopefully this makes sense.

  • Troy

    Love the website!!! You’ve put a lot of work into it. Do you have a “food storage calculator where a person can input the recipes of the food they like and it can calculate how much of everything to get?
    For example, we choose 16 recipes that we like. These are large meal recipes. We multiply that by 2 and this provides one month of food. Then if we multiply that by 6, then we have 6 months worth. It’s a manual process to calculate all of that. So I was just wondering if you had a calculator for that.
    Thanks!

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  • BKSinAZ

    My question pertains to long term food storage in the Tucson Arizona desert. My space for storage inside the home is very limited but I do have a very large garage. However, seeing that I live in the desert, in the garage it gets up to 105 degrees in the summer and down to 55 degrees in the winter.

    Are there any food items that, if stored in food buckets & mylar bags, would survive that kind of heat?

    Also, do you know of any preppers in southern Arizona so that I may research how they are storing?

    • Sam Mecham

      I have the same heat and space problem (Phx area). I picked the best solution for us, bad as it is, by using space in a closet inside the house. I know it is not ideal but its better than my garage because of the somewhat lower average temperature. We, my wife and I, just learned to live with the loss of the space, this is more important than shoes and clothes storage. I store only  long term survival food here that is canned dry like wheat, rice, beans, potatoes, fruit and veggies. One of my additional problems is finding long term storage food in small quanities for just the two of us. I can’t see opening a five gal can of anything due to the potential for waste. I know our diet, although balanced, might be boring if we have to rely on this food, but I am retired military and have experienced areas in the world where the people would love a boring diet just to have something to eat. I know we can put up with it. Water is stored in the garage as heat is no problem for water storage. Our small pantry serves as our short term (90 day) food supply and is rotated through our daily meals. 1st in 1st out as this food has a much shorter life span, usually just 2-3 years. I included a quanity of dehydrated camper food and MREs as a grab and go solution that is also rotated through our regular diet. Not a perfect solution but I think it will work if it is ever needed. Heat will decrease the quality of stored food over time, this is understood by all. I don’t know of a solution to this except to build a space with cooling capibilites. I don’t have the money or space for this so I use the simple solution of rotation (into daily meals). This keeps me involved in the inventory and allows replacement of older items with better quality stuff. I figure at least 8 year average storage for the long term items before rotation and continious rotation of short term and grab and go items. If I used the garage, 110 in summer, for long term food storage I would develop a plan to continiously rotate the food through the daily meals. I think you could average the storage time down to 3-4 years for each item this way. Short term stuff would remain in the house pantry. I replace the water every year. I wouldn’t trust storing food for too long here in Southern Az due to the heat problem. I hope this helps you some and is not just blather. Good luck, Sam

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  • Peaches649

    I’m posting this here because I don’t know where else to put it. I have a huge concern about long term dehydrated/freeze dried food that is sold on the market today. I was shocked to find out that most of it comes from where????? China. I am not interested in purchasing any long term storage food from any country other than the USA. Does anyone know which companies are strictly American and which ones come from foreign countries that don’t adhere to the standards we do?

    • KR3

      purchase a dehydrator and dry your own fruits and veggies for safety sake. As for meats – – I just keep my freezer full and pressure can chichen or beef for the shelves. Like you – I don’t want any food product from China.

    • Lonestarrebel

      don’t know where you heard china? but the largest food dehydrater/freezer is american owned in oregon.now they also have a european plant somewhere.. but they do all the foods for mountain house and i believe all of the others that i’ve found online .. also you can buy longterm foods from sams and costco now and they also come from the same co in oregon.
      by the way if you stock meats the cheapest and best are dak one pound cans of ham for less than 4.00 each at walmart also libbys or whatever brand of corned beef both have exp dates of 2015 or later.. if you find corned beef cans with no exp date don’t worry they last and stay good for sooo long they aren’t required to best by date them.
      corned beef b is a long term food by virtue of how its corned..
      hope this helps you.

      • Gwen

        The dates on most can goods is only a best by date as far as I know. The contents of the can remain edible unless the can is swollen or leaking. You might loose some nutritional value but you still have bulk and can compensate by vitamins

      • sparkymi

        I live in Oregon. Do you know the name of the company that freeze dries food, where is it located, and if they sell to the public?

    • Shannan

      Pleasant Hill Grain Company out of Nebraska sells all organic bulk storage foods. You can even get hard to find products for food allergies. They ship all over the US. I buy all my gluten-free flours as well as other stuff from them.

  • Smneal1

    Can you freeze chicken salad?

    • Anonymous

      Depends on what it’s made with.. usually most things freeze but some products lose some of their taste.. I just experimented with freezing eggs.. it worked out well as long as you don’t want them over easy..LOL..

      • joan

        exactly in what form can you freeze eggs?  I was considering pickling them and canning them.

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  • Leia

    I don't know if you got your problem resolved, but if not, you can download Open Office for free off the internet. Open Office has programs similar to Microsoft's Word, Power Point, Excel, & you can make PDFs too (& they can be saved in formats Microsoft recognizes). It's how I open my BabySteps documents! :}

  • Leia

    I don't know if you got your problem resolved, but if not, you can download Open Office for free off the internet. Open Office has programs similar to Microsoft's Word, Power Point, Excel, & you can make PDFs too (& they can be saved in formats Microsoft recognizes). It's how I open my BabySteps documents! :}

  • DJ

    I am so excited that you will have more information on Long term food storage. Will you be covering Mylar bags, air obsorbers, buckets etc?

  • Stacy

    Thanks for posting this calculator! One question: What time frame does it cover? Six months? Or a year?

    • Jodi — Food Storage Made Easy

      It’s a one year calculator. We are working on revising it to be able to calculate for different time frames.

  • Juanette

    Yes I do have excel. However it still won’t open it.
    Thanks

    • Jodi — Food Storage Made Easy

      Please send us an email at info@foodstoragemadeeasy.net and we can trouble-shoot for you or send you a copy of the excel. It doesn’t seem like anyone else has trouble downloading it so there is probably something going on on your end that is blocking it from downloading.

  • Juanette

    When I try to download the food storage calculator and either open it or save it I get this message.
    foodstoragecalculator(1).xls:file format is not valid
    Can someone please help me with this?

    • Jodi — Food Storage Made Easy

      Juanette, Do you have Excel on your computer? You will need that to open the files. Or you can download the program Open Office which will open word and excel documents. If not, you can always use the printable pdf versions of the calculators. They are not as handy but they still work! Hope that helps.

  • Michele T

    In reply to Meredith, I too have Celiac, and my family does not eat anything containing wheat that I cook in order to avoid cross-contamination. I have some food storage information from Against the Grain in SLC that tells you what to store instead of wheat. You can still use the spreadsheet here (I do!), just don’t put anything in the columns for wheat.

    Thank you ladies for everything you have done here – I found your site about a week ago and I am now consumed with food storage! You make it so easy and I am so very grateful I found you!

  • Charlotte

    I haven’t used the whole long term calculator, but I was trying to calculate how much honey I need and ran into a snag. It says that each adult needs 3 pounds, but when I put the number of adults in, it did not multiply that number by three for the total pounds I needed to purchase. Does that make sense? I don’t know if that is a problem on any other item or not. Thanks for all of your hard work. It sure makes my job easier!

  • Leissa

    looking at your long tern calculator I am curious about why the milk amount is so high! other calculators i’ve used in the past say 14 lbs per person, yours says 60. that is a HUGE difference, just wondering if you can clarify for me:)

  • jweiss08

    Kate
    http://www.providentliving.org/pfw/multimedia/files/pfw/pdf/120974_HomeStoragePriceSheetSpring2009_pdf.pdf
    Download that pdf and there are lbs information for #10 cans. You should be able to divide the number of lbs required by the amount of lbs in a # 10 can to get how many # 10 cans you need. Just have to do the math backwards but it should work.
    Good luck!

  • I was trying to use your longterm food storage calculator and I ran into the same problem I always have. Everything is measured in increments I dont use to store in. Like flous is measured in lbs. I dont store by the lb I store in #10 cans. So how do I know how to convert it? We are always told how to store by the lb but we dont order by the lb we order by th can or by the box. Calculators never have it by what I am storing in. How do I convert it????

  • I LOVE this idea, thanks so much for your help.
    However, and I don’t want to sound like sour grapes, since there are 7 other people in my family benefitting from this table.
    I have Celiac disease. 3 of my children may have it as well, but we are waiting on doctors tests for that.
    What this means is that I *cannot* have wheat, rye, barley or oats. That those foods even touching mine will make me ill. This also means that flours for me are fairly expensive, most of them spoil pretty easily without being in cold storage.
    So some of the things we store around here are pretty strange LOL. I still need to get a grain mill, but I’m trying out growing some of my own grains this year.
    I also love the fact that I can input ‘2’ adults for wheat but ‘3’ adults for rice, since our oldest daughter is basically an adult. So the basic premise of this is awesome and I’m so glad you are sharing it with us. I’m going to try to tweak it a bit, (probably in google documents) for Celiacs and I’ll share it with you guys. Maybe others on special needs diets could share theirs as well?

  • Hi – I just found your site and LOVE the ease and simplicity. The baby step idea is genious…very fitting to reach moms that are feeling overwhelmed with the greatness of the task at hand to prepare for their familys every need.

    I would like to place you on my website as a recommended product/ link. Feel free to do the same if you like my web site and product- Non hybrid Heirloom seed sets- VERY affordable and all the work done in a one stop shop. 75 varieties for $50 or 30 for $30. I also sell culinary and medicinal herbs as well. Thanks Kelley

  • Angel

    I love the ‘track my food storage’ site.
    The key is to stay on top of it or it too becomes overwhelming. Ask me how I know lol

    The only comments I have had on the type of site is
    if they disappear so too does your records.

    Also there were some concerns about people being able to hack in and see what you got.
    Of course some folks are more concerned about that than others :o)

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