Food Storage Basics: Step 3 – Long Term Storage

by Erich

At this point, you should have 2-weeks worth of water stored away (or more if you live in areas where natural sources of water are hard to find). You should also have a three-month supply of food and other necessities that you are continually using and replacing. Once those are all set, the next step is to now start thinking about your longer-term needs.

  • Prepare your storage area
  • Determine how much you need by using my simple calculator below
  • Gradually build up a year’s supply by starting with 3 months then expand it to a 6 month supply, then a year’s supply
  • Become aquainted with the basic long-term foods and how to store them
  • Practice using your stored food now before the hard times hit

When I refer to ‘longer-term needs’ I’m talking about storing a years worth of food or more. While the food that typically goes into a 3-months rotating supply generally needs to be eaten within a few months to a year, your ‘long-term’ storage will contain those items that will last much much longer — typically 10 – 30 years or more. These are foods that you will use to stay alive, such as wheat, white rice, and beans.

Before you throw your hands up in despair, don’t feel you need to go out and buy a whole years worth in one setting. Just as with the three-month supply, you’ll want to gradually build up this supply of food. Let’s go through the process of how it’s done…

  • Step 1: Prepare Your Storage Area: The first step is to determine where you want to store your long-term supply. In the three-month supply, simple shelves are all you need. But with a years worth, you need a space that is large enough and preferably away from heat and light. If you have a basement this is the ideal place. If not then an available closet, room, or storage area will also work in a pinch. My house, for example, was made in the early 1940s and has an old wine cellar area that shoots off from the main foundation. This room is ideal because it doesn’t fluctuate too much in temperature and is always dark.

    Don’t get caught up in thinking that you can’t do long-term food storage because you need to have the ‘ideal’ spot, or that because you live in a small apartment it wouldn’t work for you. Part of self-reliance is making due with what you have. Think a little bit and you’ll come up with a solution.

  • Step 2: Determine How Much You Need: Trying to figure out just how much long-term food storage you need for your family can be a bit of a chore. To make this step easy for you, I’ve included a food storage calculator that figures out the suggested needs based on the amount of weeks and number of people that you want to store away for:
Input Data
  Enter the number of weeks’ of food you wish to store: 
  Family Members, Ages 7+: 
  Family Members, Ages 0-6: 
Recommended Food Storage Amounts
Each category below gives you a basic list of food categories with their total weight.
You should store the items you like to eat and would use on a regular basis.

  Grain (includes wheat, white rice, oats, corn, barley, pasta, etc.): 


  Legumes (dried beans, split peas, lentils, nuts, etc.):  lbs.
  Dairy Products (powdered milk, cheese powder, canned cheese, etc.):  lbs.
  Sugars (white sugar, brown sugar, syrup, molasses, honey, etc.):  lbs.
  Leavening Agents (Yeast, baking powder, powdered eggs, etc.): 


  Salt (Table salt, sea salt, soy sauce, bouillon, etc.):  lbs.
  Fats (Vegetable oils, shortening, peanut butter, etc.):  lbs.
  Water:  gallons*

  *NOTE: The amount of water shown is for the recommended 2-week supply. If you live in an arid area where natural water sources are difficult to come by, you should store more if possible. I would also highly recommended that you supplement your water storage with a quality water filter or filtration kit.

  • Step 3: Gradually Build up a Years Supply: For most peoples budgets, buying a years worth of food storage in one fell swoop is not possible. Although it is very important to have a years supply, I wouldn’t recommend going into debt to get it. Instead, start small. Just like with your 3-months supply of food you want to gradually build it up over time. You’ll be suprised at how quickly this store of food builds up.

    My wife and I, for example, began building our year’s supply by buying $50 worth of bulk items per month (rice, wheat, beans etc). As we had a little extra money to play with, we would buy more and within a year’s time we were able to build up a one-year supply of food.

    As with any goal, break it up into manageable chunks. Start with a 3 month supply of long-term food items, then move onto 6 months and then finally a year. Again, it’s important that you start now.

  • Step 4: Become Acquainted with the Basic Long-Term Foods and How to Use and Store Them: There are a ton of resources online (this site included :)) which can teach you what foods are best for long-term storage, how you should store them, and what types of meals you can make out of them. Some of my favorite sites are:
    • Food Storage Made Easy Don’t be dissuaded by all the pink. Julie and Jodie have a great talent for making food storage understandable and available for the masses. Lots of good resources and ideas.
    • Every Day Food Storage – Crystal’s blog is a great resource for how to use food storage in day-to-day life.
    • Simply Living Smart – A ton of info and videos related to everything food storage.
    • Provident Living – A great resource for self-reliance put together by the LDS church.
  • Step 5: Practice Using Your Food Storage Now: Get accustomed to cooking and using your long-term food storage in your everyday life. Now is the time to find out what you like and dislike, or what you’re allergic to — not in the middle of a crisis situation. The more you get used to eating and preparing your food storage now, the easier the transition will be when you have no choice.

    It’s best to include as part of your 3-month supply a portion of your long-term storage. For example, we use as part of our 3-month storage a portion of our long-term supply such as wheat (that we grind into flour), rice, oil, salt, yeast, sugar etc. This saves a ton of money in the long term and it keeps our stock well rotated.

  • Remember with all of this, take it one step at a time. By starting small you will quickly get into a rhythm and build some nice momentum. Soon you’ll be as obsessed with it as me and your friends will be calling you the human squirrel.

    Stay tuned for the next article in the Food Storage Basics series: Adding non-food items to your year’s supply…

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Comment by mariekinsel
2012-11-08 23:30:53

need to stock up food the lord is comeing soon

Comment by Kimisue
2013-05-09 16:19:21

I was wondering if you had any ideas on cool storage without electricity and also some easy meat smokers and how to keep meat?thx

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