What Do I Need to Include in My Years Supply of Food?

When building a supply of food to last a year, you need to include enough calories to feed your entire family and a variety of versatile, basic ingredients so you can make healthy, nutritious meals.  Building a pantry with enough food for a year may seem like a daunting task. It can be if you try to go out and buy 52 weeks-worth of food all at once. That would be incredibly time consuming and really expensive. An easier way to build a stockpile of food is to focus every month on a set of ingredients.

Make a plan to stockpile chicken broth and beans in March or pasta and rice in January.  By breaking down what you need to stockpile by the month, before you know it you will have a pantry or basement full of healthy ingredients to keep you and your family alive in the event of an emergency.  Don’t forget about water and beverages too.  I’ll get into that a little later in this article.  Having a plan- a way to feed your family when there’s a tornado, earthquake or a viral outbreak, is the best way to protect your family.  You can never be too prepared!

How Much Food Do I Need?

Before even determining what, you need in your years supply of food, you need to know how much food you’ll need to survive in the event of an emergency. Thankfully, there is such a big community dedicated to food storage- you can easily find the calculation for calories based on your family size.  If you don’t have time to search the internet, I’ll break it down for you here.

First, the number of calories you need in a survival situation is determined by how many people are in your family. Typically, the average adult needs about 1,500- 2,000 calories a day- even more in they are highly active.  The average child needs about 1,600 or less if they are younger than 5 years old.  Once you know about how many calories you need to survive, you can build a supply of food to meet those needs. Again, this will vary from family to family.

For a family of five, an adequate supply of food would look like this: 1,580 pounds of grains, 240 pounds of beans, 240 pounds of sugar, 118 pounds of dairy and so on. This is just a small sampling of what you would need.  Now, don’t go out a buy 240 pounds of beans just yet. Let’s take a look at some of the staples you should include in your food supply.

When determining what food, you should stockpile, take into consideration what your family loves to eat.  Would your child eat canned sardines for lunch today? Nope.  I didn’t think so. So, why would you buy a Costco size pack of sardines for your food storage? Yes. I know it’s a great deal- but if no one is going to eat it today- they aren’t going to eat it when there’s an earthquake and all the grocery stores are all out of food.

If your kid lives on PB & J, but Costco packs of peanut butter and jelly.  If you love mac and cheese? Stockpile that too. When you stockpile food, you know your family enjoys- it’s going to be easier to eat healthy meals when it seems like the world is falling apart.

When choosing your favorite foods to stockpile, considering various methods of preservation.  A mixture of store-bought canned goods, pre-packaged meals and freeze-dried food is a great way to diversify your supply.  By diversifying, you can choose foods based on the circumstances.  IF you need to leave your house fast, you don’t want to be lugging around 60 pounds of canned corn.

But, you can quickly fill a suitcase or backpack with freeze dried meat, cheese, meals, fruits and vegetables and it literally weighs nothing- lightweight and easy to take with you! Also, when you have a variety of preservation methods in your stockpile, the shelf life of each product will vary.

You don’t want to have everything canned and then realize it’s 3 years past its shelf life and no longer edible.  But, if you have freeze dried meals on stand-by you know those are good for at least 25 years! Diversifying your supply ensures you will always have enough food for your specific needs.

Food Supply Basics


Grains are an excellent pantry staple to have on hand at all times.  Grains are important in a healthy diet and are incredibly versatile.  Grains consist of wheat flour, white flour, rye, coconut flour, almond flour, corn meal, rice, quinoa, spelt, barley, pasta and oats!   There are more grains, but you get the idea.  Grains can be used to make just about anything you may need: bread for dinner and sandwiches, homemade rolls, pie crust, pancakes, oatmeal.

Rice is a staple in any food supply list- it’s easy to store for a long period of time, it’s cheap to buy and you can literally add rice to any meat or veggies to make a meal.  Plus, rice is incredibly filling, so if you are trying to stretch your supply or you have a hungry bunch- a rice dish is a great way to keep the hunger at bay.

Pasta is another staple everyone should have in their food supply- it goes with just about everything, easy to cook and has a really long shelf life.  Quinoa is a miracle grain- it’s incredibly healthy and it has protein- the perfect grain!  If your diet includes gluten-free grains, make sure you store flour and other grains to match your dietary needs.


Beans, beans, the magical fruit.  Beans are really easy to store and have a really long shelf life.  Beans are easy to cook- just add water to a pan and you are ready to go.  Foods that are simple to prepare will come in handy when the power is out and you are cooking over a wood stove or campfire.  Beans can be added to any dish to add protein.  Protein is essential to staying healthy and alive in any emergency situation.

Beans are inexpensive-making it easy to stock up and reach a year supply of this magical legume in no time at all.  If you want variety, stock up on a couple different legumes: split pea, black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, lima beans.  The more variety you have, the more you can spice up meals and have variation in your diet.  I mean, no one wants to eat black beans for a year straight. Can you even imagine?

If your family loves taco Tuesday- stock up on pinto beans to make your own refried beans. Black beans also pair well with fajitas.  Can’t live without your favorite homemade hummus? Grab those garbanzo beans and stock up!


Diary is another key part of a healthy diet.  The good news is you can store cheese, powdered milk, powdered eggs! If you’re wary of powdered milk- don’t worry, you are not alone. This is where a home freeze dryer would come in handy. With a home freeze dryer, you can freeze dry milk, cheese, eggs, yogurt, ice cream and your other favorite dairy products!

Freeze drying basically freezes the food and removes all moisture- the food looks and tastes the same, without the water.  Just add water to bring the food back to its original texture. When stored properly, freeze dried food has a shelf life of up to 25 years.

If you don’t want to make the investment in a home freeze dryer, there are plenty of companies dedicated to selling high quality, all-natural powdered dairy products.  When you have milk, eggs and cheese you can bake and create meals like you did before you had to break into the food supply.


When an emergency strikes, you’re going to want to have the comfort of your favorite pork chops or smoke salmon on hand. There are a number of different ways to store meat for a long period of time.  You can buy canned salmon, spam, tuna and chicken. But, what about beef, turkey and other favorite cuts of meat?

Like dairy, freeze drying meat is a great way to ensure you’ll have quality meat and fish in your year supply of food! You can even prepare the meat with all your favorite seasoning and freeze dry it as is.  Then when you need to prepare the meat, all you need to do is add water and you have a fresh, nutritious meal in a matter of minutes.

When you freeze dry food, it retains nearly all of its nutritional value! By having a combination of freeze dried meats and canned meats, you will have enough variety to fit your specific dietary needs!


Every diet need variety, and when you are in a stressful situation your body needs all the vitamins and minerals it needs to stay healthy and alive.  Fruits and vegetable can provide you with the basic nutrients- and plus they taste really good too.  Canned fruit and vegetable are an affordable way to stock up.

However, be cautious of additives, preserving agents and added sugar.  Often, canned fruit is loaded with heavy syrup and packed with sugar.  While I love my fair share of sweets, too much of good thing is well, too much! Another way to keep fruits and vegetable for long periods of time is to buy them freeze dried from a food storage company or freeze dry them yourself. Freeze drying fruit and vegetables retains all the nutritional value, the shape and flavor stay the same. For more information on how to freeze dry at home check out my other blog here.

Fats-oil, Shortening

If you need to boost your calorie intake or need to cook with skillet or bake, you’re going to need butter, oil and a couple tubs of shortening.  Coconut oil is another great addition to your supply of food- it has a shelf life of about two years! If you want to add butter to your supply, and who doesn’t like a dollop of butter on nice warm bread, you can buy it canned from a trusted commercial food company or buy it powdered.  Yes, they make powdered butter!


Don’t forget the salt. While most people try to avoid excess salt, having iodized salt on hand may be very beneficial.  Salt not only great to kick up the flavor in your mashed potatoes, but it has medicinal values as well. Salt can regulate your electrolytes and keep your heart rate in rhythm.  Plus, salt can help with canker sores, sore throats and other medical conditions. Salt is cheap and easy to buy in bulk. Plus, it has a long shelf life- so there is no need to worry about the salt going bad- I don’t think it can!


Honey is staple everyone should have in their one-year supply of food. Honey is sweet and amazing on almost anything.  You can add it to oatmeal, hot tea, soups, stews, lather it on a piece of warm bread or just eat it by the spoonful.  Like salt, honey has incredible medicinal value as well.  Honey has microbial properties- making it great to put on cuts, wounds and other infections.  Honey is dense in calories- making it a great way to keep everyone well feed and happy- even during an emergency situation. Honey lasts forever- it crystalizes- but it’s still great to use.


You need water to survive.  Without water, you only have a matter of days before dehydration sets in and your health starts to fail.  Having enough water on hand is critical to your survival during an emergency situation.  You need at least five gallons a day per person to survive.  One gallon for drinking and the rest for brushing teeth, bathing, ect.  Bottled water is a great start to building up your supply- but you can only buy so much bottled water.

I mean, where are you going to store it and plus, it’s really heavy.  Plus, bottled water only has a six month to one-year shelf life.  If you’re serious about safe water during an emergency, you may want to invest in 55-gallon plastic water drums or stainless-steel drums.  You can store water for a longer period of time, in plastic or steel drums.  It may also help to have water purifying tablets or a system in place to clean water when you are forced to get it from a questionable source.

Building a year supply of food is an excellent way to protect your family in an emergency situation.  By starting small and building up the basics you will have enough food for everyone.  Developing a detailed plan and setting monthly goals will also help alleviate the daunting task of building a year supply of food! Good Luck!  What are your go-to staples for your food supply?

Related Articles: “How to Prepare for Emergencies“, “Should I include water filters as part of my food storage?” and “What Are The Best Treats To Include In 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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