Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Food Storage - Real Numbers

How much food do I need for my family and what will it cost.

The picture to the left represents one years worth of food for one person. It may seem like a lot but think about how much food you consume in a years time. There are 15 five gallon buckets holding a variety of dried foods that will provide a baseline 1800 calorie per day diet.

This diet will be supplemented with fresh game provided by hunting and fishing...note the .22 and fishing gear. As well as hunting/field dressing manuals, beer brewing/wine making equipment, chainsaw to supply the wood stove and 30 twelve packs of ramen noodles although not all are shown. Food cost of roughly $300 all gathered at WalMart.

Note that there are no expensive #10 cans of various high end survival preps. For your basic bulk needs #10 cans are not cost effective. When you start to refine and specialize the food stocks then #10 cans of dried fruits, powdered cheese and possibly powdered eggs are warranted but the basics should be purchased first and from local grocery supplier. These are foods that need colorful menu planning and preparation experience to be fully appreciated.

I have a couple of years of food already stored with plenty of spices and bullets. This batch will be added to the existing supplies and work will begin on the next set of buckets. Each additional set of 15 I add different types of products increasing the variety of foods available. On the buckets that are being actively consumed I use omega lids. These are fancy screw top lids that are resealable. If you can afford it all your buckets could be outfitted with these handy items. Be sure to label you buckets on the top and side with the product and date stored.

One five gallon bucket holds 80 cups of dry stock.

How many many cups of each product are needed yearly to meet the 1800 calorie daily baseline.

For instance you decided that you need one cup of white rice per day either at lunch or dinner, this is 650 calories or about 1/3 of your daily intake. It works out to roughly 365 cups or 4.5 five gallon buckets worth of white rice. Now round the amount up to 5 five gallon buckets. Simple

Decide what dry products your family will eat and how many cups a day are needed. Once you have the number of cups just convert it into buckets. I usually round up, this give me some padding and possibly product to barter with.

How many pounds of each dry product are needed to fill a five gallon bucket.

These numbers are very close to true but might vary slightly depending on the brand and size of the product being stored.

Brown Rice
32 pounds per five gallon bucket
670 calories per dry cup

White Rice
3o pounds per five gallon bucket
650 calories per dry cup

Pinto Beans
32 pounds per five gallon bucket
620 calories per dry cup

Elbow Macaroni Small
21 pounds per five gallon bucket
420 calories per dry cup

Quaker Oats
12 pounds per five gallon bucket
300 calories per dry cup

Lima Beans Large
30 pounds per five gallon bucket
600 calories per dry cup

Black Beans
32 pounds per five gallon bucket
620 calories per dry cup

Pancake Mix
20 pounds per five gallon bucket
420 calories per dry cup (6 midsized pancakes)

Ramen Noodles
3 twelve packs taped together store like one 5 gallons bucket
380 calories per brick

White Flour (with 26 packs yeast)
20 - 25 pounds per five gallon bucket (26 loafs at 14 slices per loaf is 364 slices)
440 calories per 4 slices

Note that if you go to WalMart and buy 63 pounds of elbow macaroni the clerks will ask questions. Have a clever lie ready before hand. I tell them I am preparing meals at a church camp...they smile and nod approvingly.

I am not giving exact costs because they vary regionally and are increasing rapidly.

If you found this article useful check out the other two entries in this series.

Food Storage - Why Do It
Food Storage - Three Plans


Rook said...

Bear- Great post. It is nice to see how the storage is working. What type of buckets do you use?


Anonymous said...

I agree with Rook, Great post!. One thing I might suggest is learn how to start sour dough active yeast. It is basicly potato water and a few other ingrediats. My wife calls it "herman" for some reason I will never understand. You just keep feeding it and it keeps making yeast.

Oldman in the boonies

riverwalker said...

Good work putting this information together!


Bustednuckles said...

Great info, thanks!

Anonymous said...

I've been doing the same thing with 5 gallon buckets, supplemented by flats of cheap canned vegetables and meats. Working out pretty well so far. The biggest difference is I've been using spaghetti instead of elbow mac, since IMHO, with mac, you're packing a lot of "air" and I can get more calories in the same amount of storage area. Some buckets, I dedicate to all one item, such as rice, beans etc. Others, I make up a variety bucket, with a few pounds each of beans, rice, flour, masa harina (or corn meal),salt, powdered milk and mashed potato flakes, a pound of spaghetti, etc. all sealed in plastic, & some dried gravy packets, chili spice packets, french onion soup mix, etc. That way, I can open one bucket & get a little bit of everything, without having to open a 5 gal pail of rice, beans etc. and add that to the canned meat and veggies to balance it out. Keep up the good work.

sth_txs said...

I'm finding Big Lots to be a good source of canned beans and other canned items. I've found some stuff "best until" up to 2011.

Picked up 29oz of black beans and garbonzo beans for $1.00/can. Also obtained some canned soups, pasta sauce, and hot sauce for around a $1.00 or less as well.

Got a lot for $30 this week!

J said...

What about the shelf life for some of this stuff? During my surfing around for estimated shelf life of items, some seem to not be able to stay good to go for as long as I'd like. Thoughts?

BigBear said...


Dried foods can keep for many years if kept dry in an air tight container. If worried I would recommend using big oxygen absorbers in each bucket or just purchase the freeze dried, nitrogen pack products online. They are much more expensive though.

LDS talks about dried beans and rice, if properly sealed, lasting 20 to 30 years.

Anonymous said...

You haven't had any problems with stuff going bad? I've heard things like brown rice can go rancid really fast if not stored properly (like less than 6 months). I was looking at different options and by the time you buy the food, buckets, lids, oxygen absorbers, etc....I don't know that it's all that much cheaper than buying prepackage 6 gallon buckets....

Do you have any kind of price comparisons on how much you are actually saving doing it yourself?

Anonymous said...

This food storage calculator is very handy.

Anonymous said...

This food storage calculator is very handy.

Anonymous said...

This picture is awesome! You wrote that it looks like alot, but, to me, it looks like less than I would have imagined. Meaning, it makes the task look less daunting. Plus, it looks do-able even in an apartment. Thanks for the motivation!

Anonymous said...

Its spendy..but I am packing my Rice, Beans, Oats, Wheat and Pasta in 5 gallon Corney Kegs. They are SS and made to be purged and pressurized with CO2. Have about 30 so far and am always looking for more. Should last a long long time...

Robert and Thy said...

I found that grabbing handfulls of jelly, ketchup, mayo, sugar, hotsauce, vineagar from Mcdonalds, Chick Fila, Taco Bell or any fastfood resturant etc.....really does tend to help with the boring food after a while. Adds flavor. Get large handfulls at the resturants that offer the bar for that....sugar, sugar substitute, cream etc etc.

Anonymous said...

I am starting out storing food in buckets from the grocery store and mylar bags. can I reuse the lids, or do I need to get new ones. Would hate to do all this work and then not seal the buckets correctly! Thanks!