Enough Food For A Year (Level 3 Preparedness)

“Prepping and Preparedness 3” is a level of being prepared for up to 1 year.

Check the series overview (linked below) for my logic and reasoning why I split it the way that I did. And also re-read the sections on Food Preparedness for Level 1 & 2.

The following information is intended as a guideline. The details will require research, time, and work on your end. But it’s really not complicated. Lets get started:

Food Storage Beyond 3 Months | Up To 1 Year


There are several logical reasons that immediately come to mind for storing extra food to last up to one year.

  1. Food prices never go down. You’ll save some money in the long run.
  2. The convenience of having your own ‘mini grocery store’ at home.
  3. Preparedness & peace-of-mind for an extended time of difficulty.


There are a few drawbacks, or things you’ll have to deal with.

  1. The physical space to store all that extra food.
  2. Probably some additional equipment needed to accommodate this.
  3. It will cost some money to set yourself up.
  4. Time will be required for the overall process.
  5. Others may think you’re ‘nuts’.

Choosing Foods For 1 Year Storage

I’ve been doing this for awhile (writing on this subject, and storing foods). Search this blog for all sorts of related topic articles, recommendations and beneficial reader comments within those articles.

With that said, my NUMBER 1 recommendation is to DIVERSIFY the foods and food groups! This will take time and effort. But if you tackle this project one step at a time, you’ll get there…

If you want to do this quickly: It might be the way to go for some people who simply want the quick peace of mind without delving deeply into the process. I get that. And that’s okay with me (everyone has their own priorities). You can buy a 1 year supply of food (or 3 mo. or 6 mo.) in one shot. It will be relatively expensive, but if that’s not necessarily and issue:

Best Choice to Buy a 1 Year Food Supply

If you’re going to go that route, here’s what I suggest:

Get in contact with Ready Made Resources. They have been with us a preparedness sponsor for nearly 10 years, and I trust them fully. A family business operating in Tennessee and authorized distributor for a number of excellent preparedness food brands.


Okay, back to do-it-yourself food storage for a year. Here’s what I have done. I have purchased and supplied my own foods and food groups generally as follows:

  • Dry foods bulk (rice, beans, wheat berries, flour, oats, pastas, salt, sugar, dry milk, coffee!, etc.)
  • Canned foods (grocery store – meats, veggies, soups, stews, other stuff…)
  • Home canned foods (do it yourself – from garden bounty, store sales, meats)
  • Food for the chest freezers (meats, veggies, oils, variety of other stuff…)
  • Freeze dried (professionally done – meats, veggies, ready meals)
  • Dehydrated (professionally done and DIY – premixed meals, veggies, etc.)
  • Spices, Condiments, that kind of stuff… (Important !!)
  • Oils (freeze for long term storage)
  • Professionally packaged food kits (variety of mfgrs.)
  • Processed / boxed foods (to an extent)

Technically you don’t have to diversify too much to supply enough ‘calories’ for a year. Rice & Beans are way cheap, and a ‘survival combination’. One could stack a lot of that along with a few other things to fill out a year. But you’re sure going to get food-fatigue!

That’s why I say diversify.

Be Conscious Of Shelf Life Differences

I have made mistakes over the last decade in this area. Some foods will not last as long as others. Even though so called “Best-by or Sell-by” dates are not end-of-life dates, the stamped (or looked up) time frame should be a guideline for consumption.

Know and understand the shelf life differences between freeze-dried, dehydrated, grocery canned, dry dairy products, packages of processed foods, etc..

Typically, grocery store canned foods you’re looking at about 2 years for better flavor/nutritional value.

Dry foods like rice, wheat berries, and others will store for decades if packed right. Though dry beans will get very hard after many years — again – learning through research or one’s own trials.

Still other foods like sugar and salt (and other foods) will last ‘forever’.

The intent is not to go through the list here for shelf life of all things. But to prod you to become aware and educate yourself how long you might expect ‘this or that’ to sit on the shelf before going ‘off’ or bad.

Food Rotation | Even More Important

It’s always good practice to try and eat what you store and store what you eat. At least to an extent.

But when you have LOTS of food, like enough for a year, then it will be important to make some, or most of that storage part of your daily/weekly meal plans.

Otherwise it’s going to sit there, and some of it’s just going to eventually degrade or eventually spoil. A well diversified food storage will enable you to go into your mini grocery store, pull what you need for your upcoming meals, and then replace what you took out afterwards. Rotate.

Even some of the more expensive foods like (for example) professionally packaged #10 cans of dried powdered egg, cheeses, dairy products… This specific group (dried dairy) will tend to degrade beyond 5 years (generally). So stay aware of your dates and consume the product prior. Then replace (unless you didn’t like it)!

Label the Dates

Make use of a sharpie marker. Since I just mentioned #10 cans: When I receive new, I write month/year on them (typically the top).

When we process a new batch of home canned chicken, or pasta sauce, or whatever, we write the month/year on the lids.

Wherever it’s appropriate, mark the date. Most grocery store items already have some sort of date. But not everything you pick up might indicate that.

How Do You Know When You Have Enough Food Storage For A Year?

Really, it’s a lot to do with calories. Plus, and importantly, a diversified nutritional value.

Try To Count The Calories

After awhile, you will get a feel for it. But prior to that, you’re going to have to get some data on how many calories are in the various foods that you put up on the shelves (or wherever you put them). How many calories do I need?

For the sake of simplicity and for the average adult, factor 2,000 calories per day. That’s 730,000 calories for a year (in case you were wondering). You’ll burn more than that when being laborious. But this will get you in the ball park, so to speak.

For example, I figured out how many calories are in a 5-gallon bucket of rice, dry beans, and wheat berries. They’re all about the same (coincidentally). About 50,000 calories. That’s about 25 ‘survival days’.

I also figured out that a 5-gallon bucket of wheat berries when milled into flour will make about 25 loaves of bread. If 25% of your daily calories were to come from your own bread, then you’re looking at about 3.5 buckets of wheat berries for a year.

Look at your canned foods. Read the labels. Figure how many calories are in various types of canned foods. Multiply it out.

You might do an internet search and discover that beef, on average through the various cuts, might be about 1,000 calories per pound. How many pounds are stored in your chest freezer? See how this works?

Maybe you do what we do and process a batch of home canned chicken breast once in awhile for protein on the shelf (no refrigeration required). Well, a pint canning jar will hold about 1 pound of chicken. And one pound of chicken breast has about 500 calories. So if I wanted 30 ‘survival days’ worth of this, them I’m looking at 120 pint jars. See how it works?

Whereas if I home canned beef instead, that same quantity will get me about 60 survival days. What about some of both? (diversify)

There’s about 1,600 calories in a one pound box of spaghetti. Just two dozen boxes will provide about 20 survival days all by itself! (Though we need to consider overall nutritional balance too!) See how you figure this stuff out?

What about the oils? Wow are they loaded with calories! For example olive oil has about 1,900 calories in one cup. A 48 ounce bottle has 5,700 calories. You’re going to need oil for cooking and such!

The trick is to get a sense of how many calories are in various food items – and figure it out. I’ve even built a spreadsheet for this stuff. It works…

After awhile you will just kind of know when you have about enough to last for a year. But don’t forget if there’s more than one person! Now you need twice as much.

Where Do I Store All This Food?

It does take some considerable space to store enough food for a year, depending on your choices. Especially if you’re looking at two or more people.

Heavy duty shelving units. 5-gallon buckets too (they stack). Some food in your freezer (chest freezers are great).

Basements can be great for some of it. But be vary wary if it’s damp down there. Cans will rust. Boxes will absorb the moisture. Run a dehumidifier if you need to.

Many homes are built on a slab. No basement. Now you need to get creative. Spare room? Other utility space with extra room (or make some room). Closets?

A garage will work. But be careful if it freezes out there (or gets too hot in the summer). If there’s liquid in it (e.g. canned foods), you don’t want it to freeze. When it’s HOT, the shelf life is reduced. Same concept goes for outbuildings.


Operational security. Earlier I wrote that some people may think your ‘nuts’ for doing this. The sad truth is, most people no longer have the notion to store extra food for ‘just in case’. And when you’re talking about a year, most people cannot fathom a scenario where this would ever be necessary.

Sure, the odds of calamity such that you’ll need to draw on all that food is low. But it’s high impact. Not many preparedness-minded people will do this either, and that’s okay too. And I will never remark in a negative way towards anyone who feels fine about having a month or several months of food storage instead.

The point I’m trying to make is that you probably want to hide the fact that you’re doing this. And it can be challenging if you have a lot of food.

Also, “if” modern times crashed into disaster, then guess what will happen when people know about your stash…

The Takeaway

It’s a process. Yes, it’s a lot of food and a lot to think about. If you’ve already hit Level-2, then this is the next step if you want it to be.

Even if nothing happens, I still like the #1 and #2 advantages that I listed above!

It involves more product. More diversification. More space. Some figuring. Maybe some concealment. But it sure is peace of mind, at least for me ;)

[ Read: Preparedness Level 1 – 4 Series Overview ]