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How Much Food to Stockpile Per Person

I started my emergency food storage, not knowing how much food to stockpile for each family member. The best way to plan for stockpiling food is to look at 1. daily calorie count requirements for each person, 2. the nutritional value of the food, and 3. the shelf life of each food.

This article contains what I learned researching food storage for my family. I am sharing this information in the hope that you will find it helpful when planning your emergency food storage.

How Much Food To Stockpile Per Person

Stockpile enough food to provide at least 2000 calories and 1 gallon of water per day, per person for an emergency or natural disaster. The minimum storage requirement for the 72-hour emergency kit, suggested by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is 6000 calories and 3 gallons of water per person.

10 Things to Consider When Stockpiling Emergency Food

  1. How many people are you feeding?
  2. How long will the emergency last?
  3. Emergency Scenario
    1. Plan your food for your most likely scenario(s)
  4. Calories needed per day for each person based on; age, sex, and physical activity (see charts below)
  5. Carbohydrate, protein, and fat requirements (see chart below)
  6. Store Foods that have a long shelf life or foods with a shorter shelf life that you rotate into your regular diet, so you always have stock on hand
  7. Plan Minimum water requirements of 1 gallon per person per day
  8. How will you prepare the food? Do you need extra water?
  9. Cooking Method(s) How will you cook your food under different emergency scenarios
  10. What season is it? If you lose power in the winter, you don’t want to be cooking outside in a blizzard.
bottled water food to stockpile

Why Stockpile a Short-term Food Supply

A 72 Hour to three-month supply is for short-term emergencies or life changes. This type of food supply is a safety net, not a lifestyle.

Don’t depend on stores to provide your food during any emergency. If things go south, the store could be out of stock, looted, closed, or you cant reach it because of civil unrest in the streets.

Too crazy? To the end of the world?

You will likely use your food storage for emergencies like power outages, job loss, or natural disasters. The best-case scenario is it helps you save money and rest a little easier knowing you have food on which you can depend.

Possible Scenarios

  • Natural Catastrophes
    • Hurricanes
    • Flooding
    • Tornadoes
    • Earthquakes
    • Civil Unrest
  • Short Term Family Emergencies
    • Job Loss
    • Illness
    • Family Member or Friend Needs Assistance

Why Stockpile a Long-Term Food Supply

Long-term food storage is a lifestyle. Start storing more than three months’ worth of food, and you’ve invested your precious time and resources. With this type of storage, you start rotating stock and incorporating stored foods into your regular diet.

Possible Scenarios

Natural Catastrophes:

  • Any natural or man-made catastrophe that lasts long-term
  • Civil Unrest

Family Emergencies And The Prepper Lifestyle

  • Job Loss
  • Illness
  • Lifestyle
    • Self Reliance
    • Safety Net and peace of mind
    • A minimalist lifestyle: work towards cutting down on bills. Think Dave Ramsey and financial freedom.
      1. Purchasing food in bulk is less expensive
      2. Purchase large quantities of food on sale
      3. Purchase bulk, perishable food items, and preserve them for long-term storage.

Think Storing Food and Prepping is a waste of time, check out The Ready Squirrel Article, 37 Reasons Prepping Is Not A Waste of Time

Get Started with Stockpiling Emergency Food: Create a 72-Hour Emergency Kit

According to FEMA, being prepared means having a 72-hour supply of non-perishable food, water, and supplies to last three days.

This is an excellent way to get your feet wet with food storage. More than likely, you already have enough food to last 72 hours but putting together a kit will get the Prepper juices flowing and get you in the right mindset.

Learn more about dry staples in long-term food storage. Check out the Ready Squirrel article, “How Much Food For A Year: Proven Dry Staples.”

The 72-hour kit includes

  • Water
  • Minimum 3-day supply of non-perishable foods
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio
  • Flashlights or headlamps
  • First Aid Kit
  • Batteries
  • Whistle
  • Dust Mask
  • Plastic Sheeting and duct tape
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags, and plastic ties
  • Wrench or pliers
  • Manual can opener
  • Maps of your area
  • Cell phone with chargers

PDF-Recommended Items to store in your 72 Hour Emergency Supply

Grocery Store Aisle food to stockpile per person

Types of Non-Perishable Food to Stockpile in a 72-Hour Supply

Your 72-hour emergency supply goal should be to store high-calorie foods that will sustain you for the short term. The following items are a list to get your creative juices flowing. You could decide to survive on just Dinty-Moore stew but you might start talking in an Irish Brogue.

Daily Calorie Requirements For Males By Age And Activity Level

Before you start stockpiling emergency food, figure out how many calories each person needs daily. Knowing calorie requirements will make it easier to plan meals for short or long-term food storage.

In long-term survival, your activity levels will probably be way up, so focus on providing enough calories for an active lifestyle. Chances are you won’t be channel surfing.

The following chart provides calorie counts for males by age and activity level. The Food and Drug Administration supplies the information

Males By Age In YearsSedentary* LifestyleModerate** LifestyleActive*** Lifestyle
76 and Up200022002400
Information Compliments of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

Daily Calorie Requirements For Females By Age And Activity Level

Females require fewer calories but not by much. If it were me, I’d plan my calories as if everyone in your group is male to add some extra calories to your stockpile.

The following chart provides calorie counts for females by age and activity level.

Females By Age In YearsSedentary* LifestyleModerate** LifestyleActive*** Lifestyle
76 and Up160018002000
Information Compliments of the FDA
*Sedentary: Just the physical activity of independent living
**Moderate, Active lifestyle activity plus 1.5 to 3-mile walk per day
***Active physical activity of daily life plus walking more than 3 miles per day at four mph

When meal planning, remember how much activity you think you’ll be doing in survival mode. Gardening, chopping wood, cooking from scratch, fetching water. You get the point

A homesteader will burn many more calories than someone sitting on the couch.

Stockpiling Food: Balancing Carbs, Protein, and Fat

Carbs, protein and fats, hamburger ingredients

Now that you figured out daily calories plan to provide the three nutrients: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. According to KaiserPermanente.org, The following nutrients should make up the daily calorie count.

Carbohydrates: 50% to 60% of your daily calorie intake

Proteins: 12% to 20% of your daily diet

Fats: 30% of your daily diet

Stockpile Foods High In Carbohydrates

FoodServing SizeGrams of Carbohydrates
Oats1 cup32 g
Rice1 cup45 g
Lentils1 cup40 g
Dried Peas1 cup22 g
Pasta1 cup43.2 g
Nutritional Information provided by the USDA

Stockpile Foods High in Protein

FoodServing SizeGrams of Protein
Powdered Eggs1 cup (cooked)21 g
Almonds1 cup24 g
Lentils1 cup18 g
Oats1 cup6 g
Peanut Butter1 cup65 g
Nutritional Information provided by the USDA

Stockpile Foods High in Fats

FoodServing SizeGrams Of Fat
Almonds1 cup 56 g
Olive Oil1 cup216 g
Dark Chocolate10oz101 g
Coconut Oil1 cup218 g
Vegetable Oil1 cup224 g
Nutritional Information provided by the USDA

2 Week Supply of Food and Water

Once you have your 72-hour kit wired in, I suggest storing at least a two-week supply of food.

To meet the 2-week food requirement, one person will need 28,000 calories and a minimum of 14 gallons of water.

To Survive two weeks, a family of 4 needs 112,000 calories and 56 gallons of water.

Foods For a 2-Week Emergency Supply

FoodServing SizeBrand/NameCalories
Powdered Milk 1 cup Regular Powdered Milk, Calories
Non-fat PowderedbMilk, calories
Dried Fruit1 cup
Dried Apricots
Dried Raisins
Banana Chips1oz
28.44 g
Banana Chips 147
Crackers5 Crackers Crackers 81
Potatoes1 Medium Potato 163
Canned Meat 1 Cup

Corned Beef Hash
Kirkland/Costco Canned Chicken
Vienna Sausages
Vegetable Soups18.5ozProgresso Garden Vegetable Soup 180
Meat Soups15oz
Dinty Moore Beef Stew
Progresso Beef and Vegetable
Canned Fruit15ozDel Monte Fruit Cocktail in Heavy Syrup 210
Canned Juice6oz
Dole 100% Pineapple Juice

Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice Cocktail

Canned Vegetables14.5oz
Del Monte, mixed vegetables

Green Giant whole kernel sweet corn

Cold Cereal10.8ozCheerios 1870
Hot Cereal1 cupOatmeal


Peanut Butter2tbspJif Creamy Peanut Butter 190
Jelly1 tbspSmucker’s Concord Grape Jelly 50
Hard Candy3 PiecesJolly Rancher Hard Candy 70
Trail Snacks3 tbspPlanters Sweet and Salty Trail Mix 150
Power Bars1 BarPower Bar

Cliff Bar-peanut butter

Instant Ramen NoodlesOne packTop Ramen-Chicken flavor 380
Source of Information USDA and manufacturers

If you are already doing long-term food storage, you can incorporate some of those staple foods into your short-term supply. For example, imagine using peanut butter from my short-term supply and baking tasty nutritional bread from your long-term grain storage.

Foods Common In Long-term Storage

FoodServing SizeCalories
Wheat Flour/ all-purpose1 cup455
Vegetable Oils1 cup1984
Soybeans1 cup of roasted811
White Rice1 cup206
Sugar/White Granulated1 cup773
Pasta1 cup 75
Chicken, Beef, or Vegetable Cubes1 cube/1tsp11
Rolled Oats1 cup266
Dried Legumes1 cup (cooked)245
Potato Flakes1 cup (cooked)159
Dried Eggs1 cup (cooked)357
Source of Information USDA and manufacturers

1 month’s Supply of Food and Water

If you are on your own, you will need 60,000 calories and a minimum of 30 Gallons of water in an emergency or natural disaster.

A Family of 4 needs 240,000 calories and 120 gallons of water to survive 30 days.

Cool Fact: 1 cup of cooked kidney beans contains 225 calories. You must eat 267 cups of kidney beans to provide 60k calories.

Ready to start hoarding shelf-stable foods for your 72-hour emergency kit? Check out the Ready Squirrel article, Shelf Stable Food: 193 Emergency Edibles.

Goya Beans food to stockpile per person

Stockpiling a 3-Month Supply Of Food

  • One person needs 180,000 calories for a 90-day emergency food supply and at least 90 gallons of water.
  • A family of four needs 720,000 calories and 360 gallons of clean water to last three months

One gallon of water weighs 8.34 lbs; a three-month supply of water for four people weighs 3002.4 lbs.

Foods to Stockpile For One Person For A Year’s Supply

Following is a list of foods that will provide enough caloric intake for one person for one year.

This food stockpile is based on hermetically sealed #10 cans and certain ingredients by weight. Number ten cans aren’t the only way to build a food supply, but it will give you an idea of how much food you need for a year.

Long-term food items with a 30 Year Shelf Life
(Unless Otherwise Stated)
Per Person
Type# Of Cases
(Types of grain are interchangeable depending on preference, i.e., 1 case of rice for 1 case of wheat)
Wheat24 #10 Cans4132 lbs
White Rice12#10 Cans265 lbs
Rolled Oats12#10 Cans229 lbs
Pasta 6 #10 Cans121 lbs
(Beans, Split peas, Lentils)
12 #10 Cans262 lbs
(Nonfat-Dry, 15 yr shelf life)
12 #10 Cans262 lbs
Sugar12 #10 Cans270 lbs
Dried Apple Slices6 #10 Cans16 lbs
Dried Carrots
(10 Year shelf life)
3 #10 Cans_8 lbs
Potato Flakes12#10 Cans222
Dried Onions1 #10 Cans_2
Iodized Salt8 lbs__
Baking Soda
(For baking and to soften old beans)
1 lb__
Baking Powder4 lbs__
Vitamin C Tablet (90 mg)365 Tablets__
Information Compliments of BYU Education

In addition to the long-term food items, you will need ingredients that don’t last as long. You can rotate these into your regular diet to always have stock.

Short-term Food Items You Need In A Long-term Food Supply

Short-term food itemsApproximate unopened shelf-life in yearsPer Person Amount Per Year
Fats and Oils (types are interchangeable based on individual preferences: storing a variety of fats helps with rotation.)__
Cooking/Salad Oil (e.g. soy, olive.)1+2 Gallons
Shortening or Frying Oil1+3 cans or 3 lbs
Butter/Margarine (stored in the freezer)16 lbs
Mayonaise/Salad Dressings13 quarts
Peanut Butter/other nut butter1+6 lbs
Fruit Drink Mix23 #10 Cans
Dried Eggs For Baking3+2 #10 Cans
Yeast5+2 lbs
Other Sweeteners (e.g., Honey, molasses, brown sugar, jams, jellies, syrups__
Information Compliments of BYU Education

To figure out how much food you need for multiple people, multiply the number of people by the number of cans you need of each ingredient. The same goes for foods that are given in pounds.

Food Stockpile for 4 People for One Year

The food stockpile is based on hermetically sealed #10 cans and ingredients by weight.

Long-term food items with a 30 Year Shelf Life
(Unless Otherwise Stated)
Per Person
Type# Of Cases
(Types of grain are interchangeable depending on preference, i.e., 1 case of rice for 1 case of wheat)
Wheat96#10 Cans16528 lbs
White Rice48#10 Cans8260 lbs
Rolled Oats48#10 Cans8116 lbs
Pasta 24#10 Cans484 lbs
(Beans, Split peas, Lentils)
48#10 Cans8248 lbs
(Nonfat-Dry, 15 yr shelf life)
48#10 Cans8248 lbs
Sugar48#10 Cans8280 lbs
Dried Apple Slices24#10 Cans424 lbs
Dried Carrots
(10 Year shelf life)
12#10 Cans_32 lbs
Potato Flakes36#10 Cans888
Dried Onions4#10 Cans_8
Iodized Salt32lbs__
Baking Soda
(For baking and to soften old beans)
Baking Powder16lbs__
Vitamin C Tablet (90 mg)1460
Information Compliments of BYU Education

Short-term Food Supplies for a Family of 4

Short-term food itemsApproximate unopened shelf-life in yearsPer Person Amount Per Year
Fats and Oils (types are interchangeable based on individual preferences: storing a variety of fats helps with rotation.)__
Cooking/Salad Oil (e.g. soy, olive.)1+8 Gallons
Shortening or Frying Oil1+12 cans or 3 lbs
Butter/Margarine (stored in the freezer)124 lbs
Mayonaise/Salad Dressings112 quarts
Peanut Butter/other nut butter1+24 lbs
Fruit Drink Mix212 #10 Cans
Dried Eggs For Baking3+8 #10 Cans
Yeast5+8 lbs
Other Sweeteners (e.g., Honey, molasses, brown sugar, jams, jellies, syrups__
Information Compliments of BYU Education

Non Food Items You Need In A Long-term Food Stockpile

  • A hand can opener
  • Grain grinder or grain mill
  • Recipes
  • Meal plan
    • A simple way to do a meal plan is to create a 2-week meal plan, including every meal, plus snacks and treats. Rotate the same menu over a year or build it up as you incorporate food supplies into your regular eating habits.
    • Eating this way might get tiresome, but once you get the initial meal plan rolling, you will see how to improve and make it more interesting.

Conversion Chart For Stockpiled Foods In #10 Cans

If you plan on storing bulk food, you’ll need to know how to convert it into measurements for recipes. Following is a conversion chart that shows how many cups of each ingredient are in a #10 can.

Food ItemAmount in one #10 canCups in one # 10 canCalories in 1 cup/cooked
Wheat5 lbs17.7 cups408
White Flour4.5 lbs15.75 cups455
Cornmeal4.3 lbs17.2 cups581
Rolled Oats2.5 lbs13.5 cups266
White Rice5.3 lbs12.5 cups206
Spaghetti4.5 lbs213
Macaroni3.1 lbs14 cups221
Wheat, grain and pasta
Information Compliments of USU Extension
Dried Beans5.6 lbs11.2 cups392
Lima Beans5.4 lbs 10.8 cups217
Soy Beans5 lbs10 cups298 (boiled)
Split Peas5 lbs10 cups231
Lentils5.5 lbs11 cups230
Information Compliments of USU Extension
White Sugar5.7 lbs12.8 cups773
Brown Sugar4.42 lbs10 cups551
Powdered Milk3 lbs12.5 cups243
Powdered Eggs2.5 lbs211
Apple Slices1.25 lbs10 cups209
Dried Potatoes3.4 lbs12 cups159
Information Compliments of USU Extension
bagged lentils

How Do You Know If a Food is Good for Storage?

When determining if a food is good for storage, ask yourself some simple questions about each food you are considering. Let’s use White Rice and Lentils as an example.

White Rice and Lentils For A Food Stockpile

How many calories do lentils and white rice provide?

White Rice

  • There are 591 calories in a pound of cooked rice
  • 50 lb bag of rice provides 29,550 calories


  • 1 lb of boiled lentils provides 516 calories
  • 50 lbs of cooked lentils have 25,800 calories

What is the shelf-life of Lentils and White Rice?


  • Lentils stored in the plastic grocery store bag will last one year.
  • Lentils stored in a #10 can will have a 10+ year shelf life.

White Rice

  • 4 to 5 years in the store packaging
  • Stored in a #10 can, 30+ year shelf-life

How will I store rice and lentils?

  • Hermetically sealed
  • Free of moisture
  • Cool dark location

What is required for preparing rice and lentils?

  • 1 cup of rice needs 2 cups of water to prepare
  • 1 lb of lentils requires 5 cups of water
    • Both foods require cooking fuel, whether electricity, gas, or wood.

Are rice and lentils staple foods?

  • Both rice and lentils can be a solid base for any meal. Easily incorporate other foods, as they are available, to make a well-rounded meal. Foods you could incorporate;
    • garden produce
    • eggs
    • foraged items
    • flavorings
    • nuts
    • fruits and berries
    • meat

It depends on your situation, but from where I’m standing, lentils and white rice look like a great addition to a food stockpile.

Combine a 50 lb bag of white rice and a 50 lb bag of lentils for 55,350 cooked food calories. This combination is only 4650 calories shy of a one-month supply for one person.

You could easily incorporate other nutrient-dense foods to pick up the extra calories you are missing. I know I’d want Tabasco and soy sauce with lentils and white rice.

Fill Your Food Stockpile Gaps With Supplements

In a WROL (Without Rule of Law) or SHTF situation, you don’t know what will be available food-wise. Having vitamin supplements on hand is a safety net.

You may have the food to get your calorie count but not the proper nutrition. You can quickly fill that gap with a quality multi-vitamin and vitamin C.

Woman Gardening

Gardening To Supplement Your Emergency Stockpile

Gardening takes all forms. You can garden in a small space with grow lights or on a small acreage. However, once it’s done you should consider getting started with a garden.

There are so many benefits to gardening :

You can provide yourself with medicinal herbs, and tasty garden-fresh vegetables, and even make your hard cider (a clean drinking source.)

Check out Ready Squirrel’s Best Plants and Trees to grow In an Emergency Garden

12 Useful Tips For Long Term Food Storage

  1. Store food that your family likes to eat
    • Good for morale and cuts down on waste. I purchased a 50 lbs bag of quinoa and then realized nobody would eat it. It made for an expensive bird-food
  2. Store food you can rotate into your regular diet
    • If you don’t like white rice now, you won’t like it when SHTF. Consider an alternate like bulk wheat or dried pasta.
  3. Have a way to cook without electricity
    • My preferred emergency cooking method is based on one of my favorite things to do, camp—weather permitting set-up an outdoor kitchen.
  4. Make sure you have extra fuel canisters on hand.
    • If you depend on your propane grill or a backpacker’s stove, store extra fuel, so you don’t run out.
  5. Do not use any stove or cook method in an enclosed space unless it is rated for indoor use to avoid Carbon Monoxide and Carbon Dioxide poisoning.
  6. Consider how many calories a food contains.
    • Staple food tends to be high in calories and easy to prepare, make them the bedrock on which you build your emergency food supply.
  7. Prepare for long and short-term food storage.
    • Maybe I’ve beaten this horse to death but store foods for every possible scenario, short-term non-perishable, lightweight if your walking out on foot, etc.
  8. Plan for a blend of calories that include the three primary nutrients: carbohydrates, protein, and fats.
    • This is going to take a little more research, choose foods that provide specific nutrients, and you are willing to eat in your regular diet.
  9. Store foods that have a longer shelf-life.
    • You can open up options for food storage if you rotate your food and incorporate it into your healthy diet because you can add foods that last say a year instead of 15 or thirty years. You don’t want to replace food X, every year if you aren’t consuming it.
  10. Build long-term food storage around staples like white rice, dried beans, and wheat. These foods can be the bulk of your daily calorie count and make it a lot easier to flesh out nutrient and calorie requirements.
  11. Vary the foods you store, living on just beans and rice gets real old.
    • Variety is the spice of life. One of the essential tools when it comes to survival is hope and a positive state of mind. Looking forward to a good meal with foods you enjoy is a significant morale booster.
  12. Consider sprouting seeds to get additional nutrients. In my opinion, sprouting seeds is like a secret survivalist weapon because you can grow in almost any season. Sprouts don’t add a lot of calories, but they are huge on vitamins and minerals.

Check out the Ready.gov website to learn more about creating a 72-hour emergency kit on Ready.gov

Sprouts Are An Excellent Survival Food, Ready Squirrel, click here

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