Living Off Your Food Storage For A Year

Most people won’t do a practice run for a year to test this out. However in an emergency you will be grateful that you though ahead and prepared.

If you plan and prepare appropriately, you can live off your food storage for a year.  It all starts with preparation! Planning and stockpiling a year supply of food may seem daunting, but if you break down the process month by month- before you know it you will have a year supply of food.

It’s not just stockpiling food either.  To survive a long-term emergency, you are going to need fresh, clean drinking water, personal hygiene products and first aid!

How Much Food Do I Need?

Augason FarmsIf you had to live off your food storage for a year, you need to figure out exactly how much food you are going to need-right down to the calories, per meal.  While these calculations may seem like too much work, it necessary to make sure you have enough snacks, breakfast meals and dinner favorites for everyone in your family. Most food storage companies will help you make the calculations and determine how many meals per day you will need for a year supply.

You can also do the math on your own. As a general rule of thumb, most adults need 1,500 to 2,000 calories every day.  Children need slightly fewer calories than an adult- but that all depends on the size of the child, age and activity level.  A 17-year-old boy is most likely going to need adult portioned meals and the same goes for a very active 6-year-old girl.  You know your family best and how much they eat every day.

Let’s say you have four kids under the age of 10.  If on average, they need 1,700 calories each day to thrive and survive you will need to have 6,800 calories worth of food every day for an entire year. If my calculations are correct, that means you need 2.4 million calories stockpiled to survive and live off your food supply for an entire year.

That’s just for the kids. If you and your spouse each need 2,000 calories a day to thrive and be comfortable, you would need an additional 1.4 million calories for the two of you to live off your food storage for a year.  Wowza. That’s a whole lot of calories!

Once you know how many calories you need each day, you can create a detailed plan to meet those specific dietary needs.  Don’t look at the total number of calories needed in a year, that will just make your head spin.  I mean where do you begin to meal plan for two million calories? I think I would just stop right there.  Instead, break it down by days and months. Start with your favorite meals and go from there.

If your family loves taco Tuesday, stockpile enough refried beans, black beans, taco seasoning, freeze dried avocados and tortillas to last you a year.  More math here: if you want to make tacos 52 times during the year you are living off your food supply, you’re going to need at least 52 cans of beans, 52 cans of black beans, at least 104 pounds of ground beef (assuming you use 2 pounds per taco night) and a couple cases of tortilla shells (or the ingredients to make fresh tortillas.)

This is just for ONE meal, one night a week.  Run the math with each of your favorite meals and you can start generating a list of all the ingredients, snacks, meats, dairy and treats you are going to need to live off your food supply for a year.

Variety Is Key To Living Off Food Supply

Freeze Dried DessertsYes, I know you got a good deal on that canned chili.  I know, it’s hard to pass up 16 cases of turkey chili at $5/case.  It has a long shelf life, you’ll say. I know. But, everyone in your family hates chili, remember? Don’t stock up on food no one is going to eat.  To be able to live off your food supply for a year, you need to have variety and food most everyone in your family enjoys eating.

If you’re whipping up canned chili for the third night in a row, it’s going to lose its luster fairly quickly.  Even if you add sour cream and freeze-dried cheddar cheese on top. If you want your family to keep their appetites and thrive in a time of crisis, you have to have ingredients to make the meals they love to eat.

If your 5-year old won’t eat anything except peanut butter honey sandwiches with a side of apple slices and gold fish- that is exactly what you want to have on hand. Plus, peanut butter, honey, freeze dried apples all have a long shelf life! Goldfish I’m pretty sure don’t ever go bad, all those preservatives keep those cheddar crackers fresh for a long time!

If your husband smiles every time you make his favorite beef stew, that’s exactly what you want to be making during a time of crisis.  No one wants to eat oatmeal, every morning for breakfast.  By adding freeze-dried berries, honey and freeze-dried yogurt on top you can transform a boring meal into a meal where everyone is asking for seconds!

Variety Is The Spice Of Life

Freeze Dried MeatsIf you lack variety in your food supply, kids may lose their appetite and it may be a struggle to get them to eat. I don’t know about you, but the last thing I want to do in a crisis is try to convince my kids to eat.    In an emergency situation, eating a variety of healthy meals keeps the immune system strong, prevents starvation, dehydration and other medical issues.  Often in emergencies, access to health care may be limited. If you lack variety in your food supply, your family may not get the calories they need to thrive.

When planning your food supply, it’s important to stockpile basic ingredients, prepackaged meals and homemade meals your family loves.  Don’t forget the desserts either. Who said you can’t have an ice cream sundae or fudgy chewy brownie mix even in a time of crisis. Basic ingredients to have on hand include: grains, pasta, rice, fruits, vegetables, baking supplies, spices, condiments, meats, dairy and other family favorites.

By having basic ingredients, you can make versatile meals and you can stretch your budget! For example, rice is cheap and easy to store. Rice also has a very long shelf life when stored properly. You can also add rice to any meal to boost the carbohydrates and fill up those bellies even faster.  Rice is great for tacos, stir-fry, enchiladas, pudding, and so much more.

Having freeze dried fruits, vegetables, meats and other meals on hand can save you time and money in an emergency.  In general, freeze dried food has a shelf life of about 25 years or more! No need to worry about those peas or garden-fresh tomatoes from going bad.

Having healthy selections in your food supply to create well balanced diet will also make it easier for you to live off your supply for a year.  When it comes to stockpiling freeze-dried food, you can either do it yourself with the Harvest Right Home Freeze Dryer or purchasing in bulk from a trusted food storage company. For more information on food storage companies, check out my blog here.

The Harvest Right Home Freeze Dryer is an innovative appliance you can use right in your very own kitchen.  The freeze dryer is easy to use and can freeze dry hundreds of pounds of food or more in a single year.  With the home freeze dryer, you are in control of what goes into your food, no need to worry about additives, allergens or preservatives.

The appliance is an investment, but you get your return on investment in just a few short months after you start using it to preserve your food.  For more information about the Harvest Right Home Freeze Dryer, check out my review of the appliance here.

Remember Protein And Water

Water Storage ContainersDon’t forget about protein, dairy and water! You can freeze dry your favorite cut of steak or pork chops and they will last for more than 25 years.  How can that be? It’s simple. When you freeze dry food, the food is frozen and the moisture is removed.  By removing moisture, the food is safe to eat decades later.  Freeze dried food also retains its nutritional value, taste and shape. In most cases, just add water and you are ready to eat.  Several food storage companies offer freeze dried meats, milk, chocolate milk, yogurt and other basic food groups.

While having basic ingredients on hand is important, you will also need prepackaged meals for those nights when you are tired or unable to make a meal from scratch. Sure, we’d all love home cooked meal, every night, but that just isn’t realistic- especially in an emergency situation.

You can make your own home cooked meals and freeze dry them in a Harvest Right Home Freeze Dryer or you can buy meal kits from a food storage company.  Food storage companies have upped the game with meals like Asian teriyaki, maple and brown sugar oatmeal, creamy mushroom soup, Irish pub cheddar potato soup and fettuccine alfredo. In most cases, all you need is water to have a healthy, balanced meal in just minutes. Plus, with prepackaged meals it’s easy to track calories and make sure everyone is getting enough to eat.

You can’t live off your food supply for a year if you don’t have enough water for everyone in your family. On average, you will need one gallon per person, per day to stay hydrated during the year.  You don’t want to skimp on the water supply. You can only survive about three days without water and then your body starts to shut down.  Storing water in safe, clean 55 gallons drums is one of the best ways to keep your supply free from bacteria and other contaminants.

If there is ever a question about the safety of the water, use a filter, purifier or boil the water before brushing your teeth, drinking or cooking a meal.  Contaminated water can cause serious health issues and you don’t want to experience E. coli or other water-borne illnesses during an emergency. I’ve listed my top recommendations for water filters in a blog found here.

Storing Food

Valley Food StorageYou can’t live off your food supply, if it spoils or is destroyed by heat, light or water. How and where you store your food supply, will determine how long it lasts.  Moisture is a breeding ground for bacteria- this why freeze-dried food is a such a good way to store your favorite meals and ingredients. There’s no moisture in freeze-dried food!  Keep your food supply in a dark, cool area of your home will keep your stockpile safe and ready to eat when needed.

When storing water, make sure you keep it off the ground and on plywood or crates.  It’s believed plastic water drums have the ability to absorb chemicals in concrete floors and effect the safety and quality of water.

In addition to having freeze-dried food on hand, mix up your supply with store bought canned goods too.  Stock up on canned corn, peas, soups, fruit and other favorites.  Yes, store bought canned goods have more salt and sugar than freeze-dried food, but it’s important to diversify your food and the preservation methods.

What if you went to grab a jar of homemade canned applesauce only to discover it had a thin layer of white fur all the way around the rim? Yikes. Then your three-year-old starts crying, because her favorite applesauce had gone bad.  No need to worry! You have applesauce pouches for backup and freeze-dried apple slices just in case.  You don’t want to put all your effort into one source of preservation- because you could starve!

Living off your food supply for a year is possible and in fact, is very manageable if you’ve done your homework and you have everything on hand to make healthy meals! Start small: make a goal this week to stock up on rice. Next week is all about the pasta. Before you know it, you’ll have a diverse selection of healthy food ready for when you’ll need it the most.

Related Articles: “Can I Store Dairy Products as Part of my Food Storage?” and “Should I include water filters as part of my food storage?


Hi! I’m David. For most of my life I have been interested in emergency preparedness. Over the many years things have changed a great deal. From freeze dried food, to LED lanterns, preparing for an emergency has never been easier. The continual research I have done over the years have become the basis for this website. Now it is one of the most trusted sources to learn about emergency preparedness. Read More

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