Food Storage for The Collapse: The Ultimate Guide

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Food Storage for The Collapse: The Ultimate Guide

Of all the things a civilization needs to maintain itself, food is probably the most crucial. As long as people have enough food to avoid starving, they will continue with their daily routines. And in a major disaster, they'll go to great lengths to help their neighbors.

But once the food is gone, it becomes every man for himself. People who were once kind and generous become selfish and dangerous, doing whatever it takes to feed themselves and their families. Because without food, nothing else matters.

We know this, and we also know that it's only a matter of time before there's not enough food to go around. Floods and heatwaves are already destroying crops, and climate change is going to make them exponentially worse in the coming years.

Megadroughts are forcing farmers to pump groundwater, but even the aquifers are drying up. Meanwhile, the world's supply of fossil fuels continues to shrink, making fertilizer prices more and more expensive. (Without ammonia derived from natural gas, half the world would starve.)

And even if we didn't have those problems, we'd still have the problems of topsoil erosion, the mass death of pollinators, livestock pandemics, and the collapse of the world's fisheries. As the global population grows and our exploitation of the planet continues, these problems will only get worse.

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Why You Need Food Storage

This is why food storage should be a top priority when preparing for the collapse. You don't have to stockpile enough food to last the rest of your life, but you want at least a year's supply. The hope is that after a year, communities will develop barter economies where locals can trade home-grown produce, meat, and dairy with one another.

If nothing else, having a stockpile of food will allow you to get through temporary disasters and supply chain disruptions without going hungry. But what kinds of food should you store, and how much? In this article, we're going to lay out a one-year food storage plan.

Food Storage 101

We’re going to explore some of the best practices for assembling a 1-year stockpile of food. We’re going to do it for one person, so if you're storing food for more than one person, you’ll need to multiply the amounts by the number of people in your group or family. 

Let’s Start with Calories

Avoiding starvation and maintaining good health through nutrition starts with calories. On average, a healthy active adult needs at least 2,600 calories a day to maintain their body weight and physical health. Any strenuous activity can increase the number of calories needed, but as a benchmark, we’re going to stick with 2,600 calories a day.

Here’s where things get a bit daunting. If you multiply 2,600 calories a day by the 365 days in a year, the total is 949,000 calories for a 1-year supply of food for one active adult. If that sounds like a lot, it is. Here’s a chart that could help you do some additional calculations for children and people of various ages and activity levels:

CHILD 2-3 1000 1000-1400 1000-1400
FEMALE 4-8 1200 1400-1600 1400-1800
9-13 1600 1600-2000 1800-2200
14-18 1800 2000 2400
19-30 2000 2000-2200 2400
31-50 1800 2000 2200
51+ 1600 1800 2000-2200
MALE 4-8 1400 1400-1600 1600-2000
9-13 1800 1800-2200 2000-2600
14-18 2200 2400-2800 2800-3200
19-30 2400 2600-2800 3000
31-50 2200 2400-2600 2800-3000
51+ 2000 2200-2400 2400-2800

Balancing Nutrition Across Foods in Storage

There are essentially three types of calories: calories from carbohydrates, calories from fat, and calories from protein.

Calories from carbohydrates are the most important for energy, calories from fat are necessary for brain health and for maintaining body heat, and calories from protein are important for muscle and heart health. These three types of calories are called macronutrients.

Beyond macronutrients, you need a wide range of vitamins and minerals, which are critical for our immune systems and overall health. This is important to understand because a lot of prepackaged survival foods don't have a lot of important nutrients. Don't just buy what looks tasty; buy what will keep you healthy.

Water as a Fundamental Ingredient

Many food preparation steps require the use of water for cooking. But there’s a lot more to water than cooking. We can’t survive 3 days without water. Food is important, but water is critical. That means you’ll need to give some thought and consideration to emergency water storage along with water collection and purification. 

Assessing Packaging and Repackaging Foods for Long-term Storage

Unique packaging specially designed for long-term food storage is ideal, and it usually appears as hard, plastic containers or sealed Mylar bags. They are usually vacuum sealed and sometimes have oxygen absorbers placed inside to enhance shelf-life. 

One thing to keep in mind when buying emergency food is the packaging. Foods that come in a can or a hard plastic package will last longer than food in a cardboard box or thin plastic bag.

That’s when you may need to consider repackaging some foods in Mylar bags that you can buy online and seal yourself. Make sure you mark the contents, weight, and date on any food you repackage.

You may also want to add oxygen absorbers if the food is particularly sensitive to moisture. For example, foods like rice, pasta, and grains in general. 

Box of Emergency Food

Managing and Rotating Foods Based on Shelf-life

This is the ultimate challenge for anyone storing food for a long time. Some foods like honey have shelf-lives measured in decades or more. Others, like vegetable oils, can turn rancid after a year. Buying foods with very long shelf-lives is one solution, but it leaves out a lot of the everyday foods and flavors we’re accustomed to.

One critical thing to keep in mind is that best-by and expiration dates are not hard and fast rules with many packaged goods. Those dates may matter for refrigerated foods, but foods that are well-packaged will remain safe and retain much of their nutritional value long after the expiration date. 

The best approach is a strategy we’ll cover with at least 2 different pantries in your home. One is for everyday foods, and the other is for long-term foods with a dedicated shelf for things like vegetable oil which needs to be rotated out and into the everyday pantry. 

It gets to a fundamental food storage maxim: “Eat what you store, and store what you eat.” That can be harder to do than it sounds, but if you pay attention to all of your food storage, you can manage a proper rotation of foods that won’t last as long as others. 

Managing Costs as You Assemble a Year’s Supply of Food

949,000 calories sounds expensive, and it will be, depending on your budget. That cost will grow as you store food for more members of your family. If you have the money, you can go all-in and just fill your pantries after a few weeks of shopping.

If you’re like most of us, you’ll need to slowly grow your food storage. This has some advantages. It will allow you to shop the sales, search discount stores like Costco or Sam’s Club, and comparison shop on the Internet. 

There are various approaches to growing your food storage. You could spend an extra 10% on emergency food every time you go shopping, or you could grow, forage, hunt, fish, and preserve the foods you acquire. You’ll need to master various food-preservation techniques, but it will be worth it. 

Types of Storage 

A common approach used by many people assembling long-term food storage is a “two pantry system.” 

One pantry, sometimes called the “front pantry,” is for your everyday foods. You can certainly stock it up to the max, but this is where your ability to rotate foods is easiest. It’s usually located in or near the kitchen. 

The second pantry is referred to as the “back pantry.” It can be on the same floor as the front pantry, but ideally it would be in an area of the house with a consistently low temperature and low humidity. It should also have enough space and shelving to hold and display your assembled foods.

One of the components of a back pantry should be the active or “short shelf.” This is the area where foods with shorter shelf-lives are stored. Even something like olive oil, which can have a shelf-life of up to 2 years, can have problems. 

The dilemma is that we never know when disaster may strike. It could be 5 years, 10 years, or longer. As we wait for any level of collapse, we can sometimes forget about a lot of that food in the basement. Don’t forget it, and keep it up to date as much as possible. 

Regardless of the type of pantry, very few pantries are refrigerated or frozen. In a time when you’re depending on food in storage to survive, there’s a good possibility that the grid will be down. 

What’s critical is that the space maintains a temperature range of 40 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s one of the reasons why basements are often the preferred location for long-term food storage, as long as it's not too humid.

Food in the Basement

12 Basic Food Categories to Store

There are 12 broad categories of food that usually comprise a long-term food storage pantry. Within each category are specific food types, but as a general rule, these categories define a good combination of foods to maintain weight and overall health as a daily diet.

We’ll follow this section with a line-item checklist for each of these categories:

1. Beans & Legumes

Beans and peas (sometimes referred to as legumes) are the protein champions. For vegans, they represent a primary source of protein including complex amino acids. A distinct benefit is that they can be stored in bulk as dried beans and peas, providing significant nutrient density and good survivability in terms of shelf-life. 

2. Rice

Rice is a significant source of calories from carbohydrates and provides energy to any diet. You should store both white and brown rice, but remember that brown rice has a shorter shelf life than white rice. Brown rice has better nutrient density, but both provide a good amount of calories and are stored as hard, dry grains. 

3. Vegetables

Vegetables are one of the champs when it comes to vitamins and minerals. Generally, they provide fewer calories than other foods, but their overall nutrient density and fiber make them one of the healthiest additions to any diet.

Vegetables can be stored a variety of ways from canned to freeze dried, dehydrated, and some can even be stored raw in a root cellar following any harvest. 

4. Fruits & Nuts

Fruits and nuts are another champ when it comes to nutrition. Fruits are particularly rich in vitamin C, and nuts provide significant calories from fats and are an excellent source of protein. 

5. Dairy

Dairy products include items made from milk and eggs. They are a critical source of calcium and vitamin D for overall bone health. Both are a challenge in a non-refrigerated or unfrozen environment, but there are many options for dairy products in a powdered or canned form.

This includes not only milk but cheese powders, butter powders, and powdered eggs

6. Grains

Grains define a broad category of foods, particularly wheat-based products, but they also include rolled oats (oatmeal), flours, and other cereal products.

Flours can be stored in hermetically sealed plastic or Mylar packages, but whole grains or wheat berries provide a longer-shelf life than flour, although whole grains need to be ground into flour with a flour mill for many recipes 

7. Meats & TVP

It’s unusual to think of meats in a non-refrigerated or unfrozen environment, but we eat them all the time whenever we buy a can of chili, beef stew, or chicken soup.

Canned meats have been common in food stockpiles for a long time, going back to meats like SPAM, but even basic meat ingredients like cooked and canned ground beef are a good option. You can also preserve your own meats through pressure canning 

Another meat possibility is textured vegetable proteins or TVP’s. They are usually in a shredded and dry form and are typically packaged in hermetically sealed #10 cans. 

8. Seafood

This is another food you don’t expect to find outside of a refrigerator or freezer, but once again it’s quite common. Canning is the most popular packaging option for tuna, sardines, anchovies, oysters, herring, and even salmon. 

9. Prepared Foods

These are usually canned foods that come as an already-prepared meal like beef stew, spaghetti sauces, chicken ala king, and others. They tend to be a bit more expensive, but they can be a valuable food option during particularly stressful times when there’s simply no time for food preparation. 

10. Pastas 

Pastas are another good source of calories from carbohydrates and also present good shelf stability when packaged in Mylar bags or hermetically sealed plastic buckets. A simple combination of macaroni noodles and cheese powder makes a perfect mac and cheese as the ultimate kid comfort food. 

11. Cooking & spices

Anyone with good cooking and baking skills can significantly reduce the cost and types of foods in storage. The ability to bake breads, biscuits, pies plus combine varied ingredients to make nutritious meals from staples rather than more expensive prepared foods is an added advantage.

12. Beverages

Water tops the list, but the ability to add flavor, vitamins, and even antioxidants to water is well worth a place on the shelf. Powdered drink mixes define most beverage options in a long-term pantry. 

Planning a One-Year Food Storage Checklist

Shelves of Emergency Food

This checklist is designed for 1 adult assuming an average calorie intake of 2,600 calories a day and sufficient nutrients to maintain body weight and overall health for one year. You’ll need to add additional quantities depending on the age and number of people in your group.

Activity levels are also worth considering, although you may be able to supplement your food storage through the preservation or consumption of foods from gardening, hunting, fishing or wild foraging

Each item on the chart is defined by the following characteristics:

Food Type and Items by Categories

These are the most common food items that define the category. You can vary this to any degree you like. Some people grew up with different types of foods or are used to cuisines from different cultures. Feel free to improvise, but keep an eye on calories and nutrition as you substitute. 

This is how much you need in ounces, pounds, gallons, or other measures to provide the calories for this type of food. 

Shelf-life Assuming Proper Packaging and Storage for Each Type of Food

Shelf-life varies and can affect how you rotate items, and sometimes it makes sense to store items with a similar shelf-life in the same location, even though they may be totally different types of foods. 


This is one of the most critical measures when estimating how much food you need for 1 year. 

General Nutrition (Proteins, Vitamins, Minerals, Other Nutrients)

A snapshot of the key nutrients for each food type.

Best Packaging for Each Type of Food

Some foods can be stored with their original packaging and others are best repackaged. This will give you some insight on how best to package each individual food item before storing. One good solution is large rigid, plastic containers with screw on lids

Food Storage Checklist

Black beans 25 LBS. 10 yrs. 28,000 Protein & fiber Mylar bag
Black-eyed peas 4 LBS. 10 yrs. 2,100 Protein & fiber Mylar bag
Garbanzo beans 25 LBS. 10 yrs. 41,725 Protein & fiber Mylar bag
Green split peas 4 LBS. 10 yrs. 6,200 Protein & Potassium Mylar bag
Kidney beans 25 LBS. 10 yrs. 37,775 Protein & fiber Mylar bag
Lentils 10 LBS. 10 yrs. 5,160 Potassium & Iron Mylar bag
Lima beans 20 LBS. 10 yrs. 10,080 Protein & fiber Mylar bag
Pinto beans 10 LBS. 10 yrs. 10,000 Protein & fiber Mylar bag
All-purpose flour 20 LBS. 10 yrs. 33,000 Carbs Plastic pail
Bread flour 50 LBS. 5 yrs. 81,850 Carbs Mylar bags
Farina 8 LBS. 5 yrs. 13,320 Carbs Mylar bags
Rolled oats (oatmeal) 10 LBS. 8+ yrs. 17,280 Fiber Plastic bucket
Wheat berries 25 LBS. 10+ yrs. 38,775 Protein Mylar bags
Whole wheat flour 50 LBS. 10 yrs. 76,900 Carbs Mylar bags
Elbow macaroni 9 LBS. 20 yrs. 15,120 Carbs Plastic bucket
Rotini 3 LBS. 20 yrs. 5,600 Carbs Plastic bucket
Spaghetti 10 LBS. 20 yrs. 16,000 Carbs Mylar bags
Brown rice 24 LBS 5 yrs. 12,050 carbs Plastic pail
White rice 50 Lbs 10 yrs. 29,550 Carbs Mylar bag
Beef stew 24 cans 2 – 3 yrs. 9,600 Protein Canned
Beef vegetable soup 12 cans 2 – 3 yrs. 2,880 Protein Canned
Chili with beans 16 cans 2 – 3 yrs. 12,480 Protein Canned
Corned beef hash 12 cans 2 – 3 yrs. 4,560 Protein Canned
Spaghetti sauce with meat 12 cans 2 – 3 yrs. 2,160 Protein Canned
Spam 12 cans 2 – 3 yrs. 2,160 Protein Canned
Vienna sausages 12 cans 2 – 3 yrs. 4,160 Protein Canned
Assorted jams and jellies 200 single servings 2-5 yrs. 7,000 Vitamins minerals Sealed plastic cups
Cashews 25 LBS. 2-5 yrs. 62,700 Protein Mylar bags
Dried apples 1 #10 can 20 yrs. 840 Vitamins minerals Canned
Dried apricots 3 LBS. 2-5 yrs. 3,300 Vitamins minerals Plastic jar
Dried blueberries 1 #10 can 20 yrs. 1,170 Vitamins minerals Canned
Dried cranberries 6 LBS. 20 yrs. 2,560 Vitamins minerals Mylar bags
Dried mangos 1 #10 can 20 yrs. 1,050 Vitamins minerals Canned
Dried raspberries 1 #10 can 20 yrs. 880 Vitamins minerals Canned
Dried strawberries 1 #10 can 20 yrs. 630 Vitamins minerals Canned
Fruit cocktail 24 15oz. cans 2-5 yrs. 8,400 Vitamins minerals Canned
Mandarin oranges 24 15oz. cans 2-5 yrs. 3,900 Vitamins minerals Canned
Peaches 24 15oz. cans 2-5 yrs. 3,980 Vitamins minerals Canned
Peanut butter 9 LBS. 1 year 24,000 Protein Plastic Bucket
Pears 24 15oz. cans 2-5 yrs. 4,320 Vitamins minerals Canned
Raisins 10 LBS. 2-5 yrs. 13,560 Vitamins minerals Mylar bags
Walnuts 5 LBS. 2-5 yrs. 15,800 Protein Mylar bags
Tomato sauce 48 15 oz. cans 2-5 yrs. 7,000 Vitamins minerals Canned
Beets 12 15 oz. cans 2-5 yrs. 1,630 Vitamins minerals Canned
Corn kernels 24 15.25 oz cans 2-5 yrs. 8,800 Vitamins minerals Canned
Creamed corn 12 14.75oz cans 2-5 yrs. 4,000 Vitamins minerals Canned
Dehydrated bell peppers 3 LBS. 20 yrs. 4,270 Vitamins minerals Canned
Dehydrated carrots 1 #10 can 20 yrs. 4,000 Vitamins minerals Canned
Dehydrated onions 1 #10 can 20 yrs. 2,700 Vitamins minerals Canned
Dehydrated peas 2 #10 cans 20 yrs. 3,160 Vitamins minerals Canned
Dehydrated potato slices 6 LBS. 20 yrs. 8,500 Vitamins minerals Plastic bucket
Potato flakes 3 #10 cans 30 yrs. 15,900 Vitamins minerals Canned
Stewed tomatoes 48 14.5 oz. cans 2-5 yrs. 5,750 Vitamins minerals Canned
Whole tomatoes 24 14.5 oz. cans 2-5 yrs. 3,500 Vitamins minerals Canned
Dried milk powder 20 LBS. 20 yrs. 37,300 calcium Plastic bucket
Dried butter powder 4 LBS. 20 yrs. 7,100 calcium 2 #10 cans
Dried cheese powder 6 LBS. 20 yrs. 5,160 calcium 2 #10 cans
Dried egg powder 4 LBS. 20 yrs. 5,500 Protein 2 #10 cans
MEATS & TVP          
Bacon TVP 1 LB. 20 yrs. 1,590 Protein Plastic bottle
Beef TVP 4 LBS. 20 yrs. 8,000 Protein 3 #10 cans
Canned chicken 6 LBS.   2,520 Protein Canned
Canned ground beef 21 LBS.   11,760 Protein Canned
Chicken TVP 4 LBS. 20 yrs. 7,380 Protein 3 #10 cans
Chili TVP 4 LBS. 20 yrs. 5,780 Protein 1 #10 can
Dehydrated chicken 1 LB. 20 yrs. 2,250 Protein 1 #10 can
Freeze dried ground beef 1 LB. 20 yrs. 2,340 Protein 1 #10 can
Jerky 10 LBS.   18,600 Protein Mylar bags
Anchovies 12 cans 2 – 3 yrs. 600 Protein Canned
Herring 18 cans 2 – 3 yrs. 2,520 Protein Canned
Oysters 10 cans 2 – 3 yrs. 700 Protein Canned
Salmon 24 cans 2 – 3 yrs. 2,400 Protein Canned
Sardines 36 cans 2 – 3 yrs. 7,200 Protein Canned
Tuna 48 cans 2 – 3 yrs. 6,720 Protein Canned
COOKING & SPICES          
Apple cider vinegar 3 gallons 2 yrs. 0 Micro nutrients Plastic bottle
Baking powder 24 ozs. 30+ yrs 0 N/A Plastic jar
Baking soda 72 ozs. 30+ yrs 0 N/A Plastic bottles
Black pepper 1 LB. 1 year 1500 N/A Plastic jar
Canning & pickling salt 8 LBS. 100 yrs. 0 Sodium Mylar bags
Chili seasoning mix 1.5 LBS. 3 yrs. 2,000 Sodium Plastic bottle
Cinnamon 1 LB. 3 yrs. 1,100 Micro nutrients Plastic jar
Coconut oil 32 ozs. 2 yrs. 8,300 Fats Plastic jar
Corn starch 1 LB. 30+ yrs 1,860 N/A Plastic bottle
Garlic powder 1 LB. 3 yrs. 1,500 Micro nutrients Plastic jar
Imitation vanilla 1 gallon 1 year 7700 Carbs Plastic jug
Kosher salt 20 LBS. 100 yrs. 0 Sodium Mylar bags
Olive oil 1 gallon 2 yrs. 30,200 Fats Plastic bottle
Onion powder 1 LB. 3 yrs. 1,500 Micro nutrients Plastic jar
Oregano 1 LB. 3 yrs. 1,100 Micro nutrients Mylar bag
Sage 12 ozs. 3 yrs. 450 Micro nutrients Plastic bottle
Shortening 48 ozs. 2 yrs. 12,500 Fats Mylar tin
Vegetable oil 4 gallons 1 year 30,700 Fats Plastic bottle
White vinegar 5 gallons 100 yrs. 5 Micro nutrients Plastic bottle
Yeast 1 LB. 2 yrs. 0 N/A Mylar bags
Brown sugar 8 LBS. 30+ yrs 11,900 Carbs Plastic bucket
Honey 12 gallons 30+ yrs 16,600 Carbs Plastic bucket
Syrup 2 gallons 30+ yrs 7,000 Carbs Plastic bottle
White sugar 10 LBS. 30+ yrs 35,000 Carbs Plastic bucket
BBQ Sauce 1 gallon 2 – 3 yrs. 9,500 Sodium vitamins Plastic bottle
Hot sauce 1 gallon 5 yrs. 0 Sodium vitamins Plastic bottle
Mustard, ketchup, mayo, relish 400 packets 2 – 3 yrs. 400 Sodium vitamins Packets
Soy sauce 1 gallon 5 yrs. 2,500 Sodium vitamins Plastic bottle
Teriyaki sauce 64 ozs. 5 yrs. 2,800 Sodium vitamins Plastic bottle
Worcestershire sauce 1 gallon 5 yrs. 0 Sodium vitamins Plastic bottle
Chocolate drink powder 2.5 LBS. 3 yrs. 4,250 Carbs Plastic bottle
Coffee creamer powder 4 LBS. 3 yrs. 10,000 Carbs Plastic can
Electrolyte powder 36 packets 3 yrs. 1,440 Micro nutrients Mylar packet
Fortified orange drink powder 3.5 LBS. 3 yrs. 13,160 Vitamins Mylar can
Instant coffee 1,000 packets 20 yrs. 0 N/A Mylar packets
Lemonade powder 10 LBS. 3 yrs. 8,100 Vitamins Mylar can
Tea varieties 120 tea bags 1 year 0 Micro nutrients Mylar bags
Water 60 gallons 100 yrs. 0 Water Stacked 5-gallon cans

Total Calories: 1,044,050

Some Thoughts on This Checklist

We’ve exceeded our goal of 949,000 calories with a total of 1,044,050 calories. That’s actually a bit short. That’s because some items like sugar, spices, and other foods that fall in the category of ingredients may not be totally used up in the course of a year. As a result, leftovers add to the total. 

The key is to make sure you consume at least 949,000 calories over the course of a year to maintain a daily intake of at least 2,600 calories. Hopefully, you can add to any deficit from gardening and wild foraging or hunting and fishing. If not, you may need to add a bit more to your storage. 

Managing Cost for Food in Storage

As you look at the list and consider some of the quantities and costs, it could be hard to know where to start and how to afford it. Here are few points to ponder.

DIY Food Preservation

Home Canned Food

Buy it or do-it-yourself. Preserving your own foods can significantly reduce the cost of your food storage. Some preservation techniques are simple, some more complex. Here are the standard approaches:

  • Canning in a hot water bath. This is involves canning foods and then boiling the canned foods in a water bath for 15 to 20 minutes. These types of food are usually canned in vinegar or are foods that are naturally high in acids with a low pH. The shelf life is usually measured in only a year or more. Foods that are best hot-water canned include vegetables and fruits or other foods that either have a high acidic level on the pH scale or are canned in acids like vinegar.
  • High Pressure Canning in a pressure canner usually preserves foods for a much longer period—up to 5 years. It is commonly used for meats and other foods with a high pH or high alkalinity that are more likely to encourage bacterial growth. The temperatures from high pressure canning effectively kill all bacteria. 
  • Dehydration is an ancient technique and involves removing water or moisture from foods that often lead to bacterial and fungal growth. Vegetables, fruits and even meats and seafood can be dehydrated, although all will require some degree of rehydration before eating. 
  • Freeze-drying is a contemporary food preservation technique that can result in a 30-year shelf-life if done properly across a range of foods. Freeze-fried foods also require rehydration if not incorporated into a recipe with some liquids. 
  • Salt-curing is another ancient technique that essentially desiccates food by removing all moisture. It also requires rehydration, and most salt-cured foods require a soaking period to remove excess salt. Meats and fish are sometimes salt-cured.
  • Smoking is a pioneer technique, and while it can extend the shelf-life of meat and seafood, it results in a shelf-life that is difficult to track or trust in the long-term. 

What’s critical is that you take the time to do some due diligence on any food preservation technique that you try to do on your own, and be sure you understand the strengths and limitations of each one. 

Bulk Buying

What’s good about buying a lot of anything is that you can usually get a discount when buying in bulk. Rather than buying a pound or two of black beans on each shopping trip for your food storage, consider buying a 20-pound bag of black beans and you’ll no doubt save some money. 

Discount Food Retailers

It’s not just about commodities like beans and rice. Discount retailers like Costco and Sam’s Club sell large quantities of products in cans and boxes for a discount. The key is to shop around and see what they sell in bulk that can save you money. 

Shopping the Sales

Every now and then, a grocery store chain will engage in some significant discounting on certain items as a loss leader. If you see a circular in the mail or an online promotion for significant discounts at a grocery store, make the trip and only buy the sale items for your food storage, or limit your other purchases. 

Watch for Clearance Tags

Many stores will flag a deep discount on discontinued items with a red price tag. If you spot one of those tags on any shopping trip, stop and think about whether it satisfies something on your checklist and buy as many as you think you can afford.

Check the expiration dates, but most times they will still be active, and even then you can eat most packaged foods after the printed expiration. 


The great thing about shopping online is that you can comparison shop without a lot of time and effort. Amazon is an obvious destination but many food processors have their own websites and sell direct. 

Online resources are also an excellent way to find specialized foods processed and designed for long-term food storage. These foods are often sold in #10 cans or 5-gallon plastic buckets. They are rarely cheap, but they do offer products at a discount from time to time. 

The obvious benefit of buying a long-term food product with a 20 or 30 year shelf life is that it’s a one-and-done proposition. You buy it, store it, and don’t have to fuss around too much with rotation and worrying about shelf-life. 

Wise Company Emergency Food

Unique Dietary Needs

It’s easy to assume the law of averages, but most people are unique and some have unique dietary needs. Here are some things to think about when storing food for a year for a family or group:

Kids will endure significant stress during any time of uncertainty, and foods offer them some degree of comfort. Kids also need good and well-rounded nutrition related to proteins, calcium, vitamins, and minerals as they grow.

Consider the following:

  • Fruit snacks or fruit gummies as a candy source.
  • Crackers or some kind of chips.
  • A kid’s chewable multivitamin that has a candy or sugar flavor
  • And some things already on our checklist like peanut butter and jelly and mac and cheese.

Here’s a chart with some guidelines:

Child's AgePercentage of Adult Portion
3 and under50%
4 to 670%
7 to 1090%
11 and up100%

Elderly family members sometimes have trouble with digestion or problems with their teeth. Consider the following:

  • Foods that are easy to chew and swallow, particularly meats.
  • Foods high in vitamin D and calcium to offset osteoporosis.
  • Foods with sufficient fiber to aid digestion and regularity.

Diabetic conditions are affected by diet, so make sure you consult their doctor or ask them which foods may help them manage their diabetes. 

Food allergies afflict many people. For example, many people are allergic to peanuts, lactose, and even yeast. Make sure you have substitutes if someone is intolerant to a food type, and make sure the other foods you serve don’t have that ingredient in the recipe.

Infants will need baby formula and a supply of baby food. There are articles about how to make your own baby food that you should read and practice. 

Pharmaceutical/food interactions can often occur if someone is taking a certain medication. Other foods actually help treat conditions naturally. If someone in your group is dependent on a pharmaceutical, take the time to learn about natural food solutions and interactions.

Here are some insights:

  • Certain green vegetables have high amounts of vitamin K, which is a natural blood thinner and can cause the blood to become too thin if someone is taking a blood thinner like Coumadin or Warfarin.
  • Someone with high blood pressure can see a spike in blood pressure after eating highly salted foods.
  • Conversely, natural beet juice from fresh beets has been shown to lower blood pressure. 

If anyone in your family or group has a medical condition, take the time to learn how certain foods can help or harm them, especially if they are taking any kind of medication. 

Food Sustainability After The Collapse

A 1-year food supply will hopefully get an individual or family through the worst of a disaster, but what if things don’t improve after a year? That’s when certain steps toward food sustainability are important to add to your long-term food storage plan. The key to food sustainability is in one word: seeds

There are some excellent articles and books on saving seeds. There are also articles about how to harvest seeds from your crops to use the following year. Rather than explore everything involved with food banks and seed harvesting, take some time to follow the links and read about which seeds you should store and how to harvest them for the future. 

You can buy pretty well stocked seed banks online or create your own. That’s up to you, but no matter how much food you put into storage, eventually things are going to run out. It’s just a question of when.

Ideally, by the time your food food runs out, you'll be growing food, raising livestock, and trading with people in your community. There's no guarantee it will work out that way, but if society collapses, all we can do is the best we can do.

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