Have you ever kept a list of all the food you eat in a day? I once did this as a little experiment to see if what I thought I ate was similar to what I actually ate. When I looked at my list at the end of the day, I was surprised to see that I had eaten much more than I remembered. It reminded me a little of those diagrams of food that show how much the average person eats in a year with astronomical numbers like 30 pounds of cheese. The overwhelming amount of food a person consumes is precisely why it can be daunting to think of supplying a whole family with enough emergency food to last them for an extended period of time.
One of the most common questions people have when preparing for emergencies is how much food they need to have stored. If you are one of the many wondering how much food to stock away, here are some helpful tips.
First and foremost, remember this: Storing something is always better than storing nothing. Often people are so intimidated by the enormity of the task of getting food storage for their family that they put it off and end up doing nothing at all. If you only gather enough food initially to feed your family for three days, that’s three days you wouldn’t have been able to feed them for previously. It’s okay to start small and add more food storage when you can. The important thing is that you start now, doing whatever you can afford and then adding more as you have more time and money.
Once you have three days’ worth, start to store up a month’s worth for each person, then three months, then six months, and so on. One year’s worth of emergency food for every person in your family should be your ultimate goal (or even more if you have the means). It might sound unreachable right now, but storing a year’s worth of food is entirely possible if you tackle it by small steps.
Figure out How Many Servings You Need
As you seek out emergency food, you will find that most food storage suppliers will quantify their food by the number of servings it provides. For example, you might see an offer along the lines of, “You pay x for y amount of servings.” One good place to start when deciding how much food to store is to use our long-term food storage calculator, which you can access here. This chart is pretty straightforward and will help you figure out how many servings you need to collect to feed your family for a specific amount of time.
To use our chart, first decide how many months you would like to get supplied for, then go down the chart to find the number of people in your family. For example, if you would like to start out by getting supplied for one month and you have four people in your family, find both of those numbers on the chart and then locate their intersection. For four people for one month, you’re looking at 360 servings. (This is assuming each person will eat three servings a day.) You can then go out and collect 360 servings’ worth of emergency food.
Caveat about Serving Size
There is one important principle to remember when you use this method to figure out how much food to store. It is this: All food storage companies have different definitions for the term “serving.” For one company, a measly 150 or 200 calories might constitute a serving. For another, a serving might have a more reasonable 400 or 500 calories. Be aware that three servings a day of only 200 calories each is only going to give you 600 calories for a day, not enough to sustain a child-sized body, let alone an average adult one. Most adults need somewhere between 1500-3000 calories to maintain their current state, so buying these “handy” food storage kits could leave you starving.
To avoid finding yourself with too little food, before you buy pre-packaged servings, find out how many calories are in each serving. Look for emergency food that has between 300 and 500 calories per serving. Otherwise your food storage kit that was advertised as being all-in-one and super convenient will not truly feed you for the time it claims. Legacy Premium serving sizes are always large (Most are around 325-400 calories), and they also offer plenty of nutritious, calorie-dense sides to help you fill in extra calories if you choose.
Store More Food Than You Think You Need
Ask anyone who has been in a situation in which they had to rely on their food storage and they’ll tell you the same thing. There is no such thing as too much emergency food. In emergency situations more than any other time, we need sufficient nourishment to keep us alert, positive, strong, and healthy. In addition, emergency situations often involve a lot of waiting around and worrying—waiting for news on the state of the disaster, worrying about loved ones not with us, or waiting around for power to come back on. In any kind of stressful or tedious atmosphere, most people tend to eat more than they normally would. Food is important in keeping the situation calm and positive. You will never regret that you had more food stored than you actually needed (if this is even possible).
As you can see, the title of this post is a bit misleading; there is no magic amount when it comes to storing emergency food. Start right now with storing whatever you can, and work up to storing at least a year’s worth. Use our food storage calculator to figure out how many servings you need to feed your family for your desired length of time, but also keep an eye on serving size and calories as you do this to make sure you are getting a sufficient amount. Most importantly, remember that you can never store too much emergency food.