How Much Survival Food Is Enough – How Much Do I Need?

How much survival food? There are lots of posts related to preparedness food storage on this site! Logically the topic is among the top interests for the preparedness-minded. However it is a good question to ask… How much food?

Survival food storage is an insurance policy of sorts. For emergency, disaster, or worse.

The amount of food that any one person chooses to store is a wide ranging thing! How much food is first related to one’s risk tolerance. One’s perception of a disaster’s likelihood. Motivation. One’s resources.

Common sense tells us that short term disruption scenarios, (“normal” emergencies?) are probably more likely to occur than some of the greater disaster scenarios. So one might think that preparing for “normal” emergencies is good enough.

On the other hand, although a SHTF scenario may seem less likely, if it were to happen, it will impact in a much more severe way. And having not prepared for that, will or could become life threatening.

People look at this from one extreme to another, and all in-between.

 So, how much survival food is enough?

Well, I’ll throw out a few thoughts…

3 Days?

I’m talking about food for a typical vehicle car-kit. Or a 72-hour-kit. Bug-out-bag kit. The generally accepted rule-of-thumb is 3 days worth of food (calories), for each person the kit is intended to supply.

The idea with this… To have enough food that would cover the reasonable amount of time that it might take for you to get from point-A to point-B. The presumption being that point-B will be equipped with food and supplies.

[ Read: Survival Kit ]

But how much survival food do I need at home?

Again, it depends on your personal risk-tolerance. Sadly, most non-preparedness-minded people might only have just several days, maybe a week (two tops – but doubtful) of food at home. I believe statistics indicate closer to just several days on average.

So, I suggest building it in steps. At least up until you’ve reached your personal comfort zone.

30 Days of Survival Food is good for most

In my opinion, a good round number is a solid 30-day supply for every member of the household. That will cover 90% of all “typical” emergencies. Most of these events are regional, and generally recoverable in a reasonable amount of time.

3 Months

For enough food supply to ensure against those disasters which may not recover in a reasonable amount of time. The next step is a solid 3-month supply for every member of the household.

While a 30 day supply is very easy to do, a 3 month supply will require a little bit more effort. And cost. However it’s still very easy. When you’re building your food storage, concentrate on bulking up on the foods that you normally eat.

1 Year

The next step is a Big One.

Once you’ve stocked up a 3-month supply of food (at least 2,000 calories per day per person), and if you feel the necessity, the next step to focus on is 1-year.

A 1-year food storage plan will cause you to start thinking more seriously about additional aspects. Shelf life. The types of foods. How they’re stored. How they’re preserved. The variety of food. Foods that are more fitting for long-term storage. A balanced approach. Food rotation techniques, and more…

Stepping up to a 1-year plan is more difficult. It will require you to do some research to decide what will be successful for you, and the right way to go about it.

So why would anybody want a 1-year supply of food? Isn’t that way over-the-top?

Unfortunately, many people today will think that you’re a bit ‘crazy’ if they know you’ve stored a 1-year supply of food!

It’s too bad that this is how it is… sad really. By attempting to be responsible for yourself, you’re potentially looked at as a nut case. So… don’t tell anyone.

Again, why would anyone need a 1-year food supply?

To survive a SHTF scenario.

Could it happen?
…absolutely yes.

Is it likely to happen?
…maybe, maybe not.

Maybe a question you should be asking yourself instead is, “Is my life worth a 1-year supply of food?”

“What is a SHTF scenario, and how would it affect my ability to get food from the grocery store or from an organized relief effort?”

A SHTF scenario is a generally used acronym for “$hit Hit The Fan”. I tend to use it to imply some sort of huge wide-ranging and deeply impacting disaster.

It is one where some, or many, of the interwoven systems that enable our modern-day living, will break down to an extent where life as we know it becomes societal chaos. It is a collapse scenario whereby food (or lots of) will run out of the grocery store, not to be re-stocked. A scenario that affects more than just a local region. Sufficient in magnitude to last for a long time… long enough for people to get very desperate and hungry.

It may seem very unlikely that a SHTF scenario would ever occur. And maybe that’s correct. And therefore one would never need to keep a 1-year supply of food. But the thing is, we get lulled into a sense of security because it’s never happened to us before. Therefore, it will never happen to us…right?

It is a risky proposition to assume that everything will always remain as it is.

2 Years

So, is 1-year enough for a SHTF wide ranging breakdown of our food supply? Maybe. But in a worst-case scenario, I don’t believe that’s enough food. Here’s why…

If we had to become truly self-reliant (for whatever reason – which is beyond the scope of this article), a major source of food will be whatever we can produce ourselves or within our immediate local community.

I wonder how many people who have stored 1-year of food will be successful the following summer growing a garden produces enough to keep them going for yet another year? What if there’s failure? (By the way, be aware of the best foods for a survival garden).

[ Read: Garden Vegetable Calories List ]

[ Read: You Won’t Be Eating Much Meat After SHTF ]

It seems to me that in order to provide yourself a cushion for problems like this, a 2-year supply of food should be much better. This is why it’s so important to start experimenting with gardening (and its problems), and food preservation techniques, BEFORE you need to rely on it for survival. Don’t expect that your first crop is going to be entirely plentiful.

So we’ve come from a 3 day supply of food, all the way to a 2-year supply of food. How much survival food is enough? That’s entirely up to you!


  1. My mistake a year ago. It is Werling and Sons that make a canned meat with a long shelf life. I had typed Welling instead of Werling. The beef is delicious. At the beginning of the pandemic I ordered eight cases.

  2. I would suggest a modest change in focus when thinking about long term food. Less about how much to have and more of an emphasis on how are you going to eat.

    Keeping yourselves fed is derived from 2 sources: stored food and recently produced food. The ratio of those should likely shift with the duration of the shortages. Generally, short term events (regional power outage for example) will rely mostly on stored foods but as events become longer durations your eating strategy probably should shift and start incorporating recently produced foods.

    If you have a couple rabbits or a few chickens, you may want to work on growing your flock so it can more readily sustain you. Your family may go from consuming 1 dozen eggs a week to 2 dozen a day and it takes time to get to that production level and your food plans should include the means to ramp up production.

    Maybe you triple or quadruple the size of your garden. Can you do that? Is your tiller big enough, do you have the fuel, do you have the seeds and chemicals?

    I think eating beyond 8-9 months should start including ramping up production because relying totally on just stored food, one day its just all gone.

  3. As to today’s topic- stocking up never stops for me.
    What do I expect? A severe fall in the stock market would mean a severe drop in income. There are too many payments to make- health insurance, vehicle insurance, house insurance, property tax, phone bills, heating and electricity. The government pension plan will be stretched just to cover those necessities.
    Clothing and tools we have enough of. But, food is my biggest concern. Prices are rising. Imagine ten years from now. Heck, I remember when a hot dog cost fifteen cents. The hot dog hasn’t changed, just the cost.
    While I have a lot of food stored, I will never have enough because I don’t know how many people I will be providing for or for how long.
    So. I just keep the freeze dryer running and keep purchasing rice and macaroni.
    Stay frosty.

  4. Long term food storage (>= 1 year) freeze dried storage (as opposed to rotate the volume that you consume) makes sense because you can continuously add to your volume every time you go to wally world and buy some camping freeze dried 30 year meals. Canned (non freeze dried) food in optimum conditions have had some fratricide effects that make long term storage difficult.

  5. I won’t say exactly how much food I have stored but I’m a believer in the one year supply. And that’s of everything you need not just food. Of course I also believe you should be growing food if you can. I don’t grow a lot of my own stuff more if a hobby for me to have fresh veggies through the summer but if needed I could ramp that up. I’m with Ken on it being everyone personal choice. I’ve found that room to store things is harder than the cost. Long term foods(at least for me) goes into rice, beans, pasta ect and that’s not that high priced

  6. I can’t recommended the local LDS home storage centers enough. We were hesitant at first not being members of the church, but when ever we get cases of supplies there we always feel welcome. #10 cans of staples most at 20-30+ year shelf life at a great price. We try to vary our supplies between 5 gal buckets, #10 cans, wise buckets, and regularly canned foods from grocery store. Plus our garden and chickens.

    1. The LDS food storage centers are having a problem because they can’t get the tin for their #10 cans. They have closed in some places and cut way back on others.

      1. Oh my. Makes me wonder if a shortage of tin will affect all food production that relies on canning. The long term effect being a lack of canned food on grocery store shelves? Yikes.

  7. There is a story about a ultra-rich Banker when asked how much money was enough his reply was, ” Always $5 more”.

    Given that the U.S. in under a multi pronged attack by The Evil Ones, ( Democratic Socialists) using both class warfare and Cultural Marxist Revolution, and who seem to be winning BIG TIME, I suggest that 100 years worth of food might not even be enough, “Always 5 years more”.

  8. People seem to think these “regional” events likely won’t happen so they’ll never need storage.

    Events that affect a lot of people are one thing–personal disasters are another. Do they have enough food/money to outlast a job loss? Those can easily stretch to three months, even if it doesn’t include training and the period before the first check at the new job. What if he or she is ill and can’t get to the grocery store? Especially considering the past year, does two weeks seem unreasonable?

    At some point every person will run into this kind of a personal “event.” So, three months minimum, I should think, even if they assume that no major disaster is going to happen.

    I personally aim for 1 year minimum. Food takes up a lot of space, so storing more can get tricky. My food storage is to get us through to the first harvest season.

  9. Run your own grocery store. First goal is to amass enough that you’re consuming everything just before the “best by” date. This not only lets you dollar cost average but shop sales. If you live somewhere that has loss leader sales you can really save money.

    This is a good time to experiment with what is still good past the printed date and how storage conditions affect it.

    Next step is to collect palatable substitutions for items you normally consume so you will rotate it. Some of this you will end up donating to a food bank before it expires. It’s the cost of hedging against an uncertain future.

    Last step is true long term food storage. This can be an expensive and space consuming rabbit hole.

    It’s pretty easy to cram 22lbs of pasta in a 5 gallon bucket. That’s about 35,000 calories. Or 17 person-days. In reality, a person doing hard labor needs about 1 million calories per year. Or 30 buckets of pasta. But while pasta is calorie dense it’s not nutritious or well-balanced.

    I’d say having two growing seasons worth of food is a good plan.

  10. 1yr food supply for one, will last for 6 months for 2.
    To survive on one’s own is almost impossible. With two people
    one has a better chance. Also stockpile Medical Supplies and Antibiotics…..
    One can use those for trading material….. They will be better than gold!

    1. 21Bravo, Don’t forget cigarettes, booze, toothpaste/tooth brushes/dental floss, salt/pepper,…OH, and batteries to use as trade items.

    2. 21Bravo,

      Don’t forget cigarettes, booze, toothpaste/tooth brushes/dental floss, salt/pepper,…OH, and batteries to use as trade items.

  11. When you get beyond limited disasters, it’s not just the normal size of one’s household to consider. How many will be joining you? Even several years’ worth of LTS for one would only be some months’ worth if a dozen family members show up. Ditto on LDS store for well-packaged, inexpensive staples.

  12. I have different plans for food storage.

    Plan A: keep 2-3 weeks of regularly used perishable food on hand; bread, milk and eggs. This also includes the kids snacks OMG, so many snacks. This is in case I can’t do my regular grocery shopping for the week. This has happened several times and no one in the family was bothered.

    Plan B: keep 3-6 months of canned and non perishable foods in the deep pantry/freezer.

    Plan C: keep freeze dried survival meals in a bucket. I have one months worth, but I plan on adding more when we are financially able. I also have seeds on hand for a garden, but I don’t know if our garden will be successful, or if the yield would be enough to feed our family for a year.

    Hopefully this would be enough to get my family through whatever disaster we may face.

    1. Amateur Pepper,

      You are off to a good start, KEEP DOING WHAT YOUR DOING!! Remember “how do you eat an elephant? answer= one bite at a time. Keep taking those bites and you AND your family will better off.

    2. Keeping just freeze dried for long term storage can get real expensive fast. I applaud what your doing so don’t get me wrong. I have buckets myself. Another focus should be ( imho ) Staples like rice beans pasta oatmeal are much cheaper and will go much longer. I use freeze dried more are a compliment to the basics IE #10 cans of veggies and meat to and flavor and nutrients to meals.

      As to the garden the only way to know if it will work is to do it. There is a learning curve so start learning now. Any thing you grow will add to your supply

  13. I want to share an experience of a LDS family who lived on their food storage. They were building their home and needed to save extra money to buy materials. They ate their food storage while building. The wife kept a record of all they used. Her takeaway was that the second half of the food storage went quicker than the first half. Psychologically, it was worrisome. As the cans dwindled down it got stressful(for her). Money was tight and every dollar was needed to get the house dried in before winter. They were fortunate that food could be purchased again. But these days? That is a question mark that the clueless are not asking. This is a timely article that folks better be considering sooner than later…

  14. If you could only purchase what was on the grocery store shelves and had to pick 3 shelf stable items (just as is, no bucket storage, etc), what are the best options nutritionally?

    1. @Pecora,
      To quickly answer your question without over-analyzing…

      1. Canned Meat
      2. Canned Meat
      3. Canned Meat

      A variety thereof. It’s protein. Better Calories and Nutrition than processed junk foods and carbs. Energy. Shelf stable. That would be my first “go to” aisle in the grocery store, given your question.

      [ Read: Best Canned Meats ]

      1. Well, if you are keen to die from bowel and other forms of cancer, by all means keep on eating dead animals. If, on the other hand you intend to live a long disease free life, going Plant-based is a far healthier option, endorsed by many nutrition scientists and medical institutions around the world. I know how I will choose to live my life!

    2. I would say beans – they can be eaten, put in the ground to grow, or sprouted on the kitchen counter.

  15. For myself and husband’s situation, food is our best way to contribute to our younger people in the event of collapse. We have many types of foods, stored (also cached) in a variety of ways. We date and rotate. We also contribute food to a local foodshelf just pre-expiration date. Though we use items past date, this practice keeps us on top of rotating and refilling. We have longer term storage in buckets (rice, etc). In the last year we have become good meat canners. I agree with Ken that meat is such an important storage item. Also, an emphasis on coconut oil and other good fats for storage. We’ve quit worrying about not having a giant freezer and have switched goals to canning and dry, shelf-stable storage. Our emphasis is on food thst can be stored long-term, without the grid, and cooked over a fire. Our goal is three years worth of food. I am the family researcher and reader, and have learned so much from blogs such as this one! I would like to thank Ken and all of you who post here for sharing your knowledge! You are appreciated more than you know.

  16. I don’t have a set amount for a goal. The goal is “more”. We don’t have any designated long term storage we store what we eat. We have 3 deep freezers that are almost full. We raise a garden and freeze or can everything. We are still using tomatoe juice from 2017 and have tomatoe plants started for this years garden. DW can find a bargain from a mile away. This weekend we vacuum sealed and froze 62 pounds of meat and cheese that she found on sale.
    I have had 2 back surgeries that put me off work for several weeks each time. DW lost her job and it took 2 years to get her disability approved. Having food stored made it much easier. We are able to share with people in need because of our preps.

    1. The only problem with freezers, is what happens if the power goes out on a permanent basis….
      (A big barbecue for the neighborhood…???)

      1. That was my first stop. Solar. Once I got the electricity offgrid, it made everything easier. Now I don’t have the concern of deepfreeze going off.
        If you think a shtf can’t happen, we had spontaneous riots here in South Africa, and the shops were closed for a week. The queues and people bartering for bread, wheat, milk, sugar was a sight to behold. As for me, having about 3 months of food, the solar, a veg garden and jojo tanks for rain water, it was a nothing burger. Once great thing to look at if you live in a humid place like me (Durban) is waterfromair. I am guaranteed electricity, water and vegetables, as long as the sun shines

        1. Would love to hear more from SA. The things reported are the tip, iceberg underneath. Have a good friend who fled SA to the US in the last few yrs. The stories he tells are awakening for sure. We have it good in the US, bit for how long?

      2. How true! My neighbour purchased $500.00 worth of food from Costco, in preparation for upcoming hip surgery. After a week or so, her refridgerator died and you guessed, it, it was all thrown out! The moral of he story is, that if you want to store food, find another way of doing it, or at least have several coolers and the means to make ice, so that you can replace your refridgerator if it breaks down. And, a large generator is also a practical purchase to use in case of emergencies, as are many other items used for camping and/or RVing. Many can easily be purchased for little cost from thrift stores.

  17. Although I have a year supply of FD food stored, I have a constant supply all around where I live and what I grow. Lived mostly off of that wild bounty while I paid off my debts. I still do it, but not as intense as that time.

  18. A heads up ,,,,,, Joe and blow admin USDA just had discussions about taxing gardens ,,,,,,,seems we don’t pay enough tax on food we grow ,, at hayyou 3 all the garden plots were noted from the eye in the sky. Have also heard there’s talk about some folks having to much food storage ‘hording ‘ ,, there’s tracking of purchasing on the web going on right now ,watch what you buy and how you buy it
    ,,this is good info from a solid source on the inside ,,,,,,strange times ahead,,,,,watch what you post ,,,,,,

    1. OH,
      That’s a whole bunch of bad news. I don’t buy much on the web, but it sounds like I need to do a better job of grocery shopping at stores where I don’t need a membership or shopper card to get sale prices, and use fiat instead of any form of electronic payment. Thank you for the updates!

    1. Thanks for the info, OH.

      Is it just me or has everybody else gotten sick and tired of this over taxing, over intrusive form of so called government?

      Are we just gonna sit idly by, while the imposed plan of forcefully herding us into pack and stack cities?

      Don’t bet your life on it.

      Tax a garden? Blow me.

      Then I guess these goberment fools wanna start working with dirt…

      1. Not to give any ideas to these jackholes, but maybe they can tax how many morel mushrooms I pick in the spring, Deer I harvest in the fall. Quarts of wild berries picked in the summer. Cords of wood I cut in the winter.
        The cubic centimeters of their polluted air i breathe.

      2. Yea, tax my garden,,,,
        fookin idgits, that wont end well for them cause when you over step you might just get shoved to the ground, id like to see them make me pay that

      3. Joe c ,, and all ,, my tax load on the valley jumped times 10 ,,now closing in on a 6 figure ,problem is the folks renting a place to call home and bug out. We are being taxed as if every 500ft cabin was a big house in town. The trust as the land owner is responsible for that tax. ,bottom line is someone else wants the land , and has unlimited money ,i have some options ,,, none I like,but I do have them ,,,,,you see to government we are slaves to be milked even in Idaho,but not as bad as Washington state ,if you disagree you start to have problems ,
        ,,,,,,,,,,government takes what it wants ,,, and taxes what it leaves behind

        ,,,USA .RIP,,,,

        1. OH,
          Can you not appeal the assessment?? Also i am surprised that they can increase your taxes 10x that quick. Not doubting what you are saying, but many states have laws against that type of thing. Sounds like you have some scoundrels trying to force you to sell out. Maybe call in the State AG office? I know Colorado has a max percentage they can increase each year. BTW, i am taking advantage of the 1/2 price tax option for seniors here. Just applied, county assessor’s office happy to help reduce my property tax, as the State picks up the other 1/2. But you have been right so far, gubbermint takes what it wants, and taxes the rest to death.

        2. Miner Jim ,,,,,,,,,yes appealed but deck is stacked against us ,went from range land to residental we have 150+-‘homes ‘ on 28,000 ac , about 65 separate tax tracts we have no public services ,a 600ft tinie house on wheels is being taxed same as a 2700sf home in town ,,, home to ac is about 450 ac but morst are clustered on about 750acres (the village) this was made possible by the eye in the sky ,, the estamentof number people there was done that way ,as I learn more of what and how was done I see no way to have any privacy ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, maybe a umbrella any time your out side ???????? Very sad ,,,,,getting mad and angry will not change things in fact makes thing harder ,to easy to louse ones cool at the wrong time ,there days when I say I don’t need this s%#t

          ,,,,,nice sun set time for tea with some Canadian mist

        3. Would there be an advantage to going with conservation status, or as a nonprofit? What about an intentional community? In ID (I’m sure you looked into this, but it’s an idea) can they change the land status without notifying the land owner and giving them a chance to appeal?

        4. Worse thing about property taxes is it’s a tax on the right to own your home. If you don’t pay them, they will take your home away. In the 1700s there may have been a reasonable relationship between your property and your ability to pay taxes, but it is no longer the case. I say forget the assessment process and tax property based on what you paid for the property.

          Property tax regimes are state by state. Also the process of how they are assessed is often published somewhere on the state’s website. Our state is based on comparable sales. State next door has a whole detailed process of determining replacement cost.

          My assessment on what one would call a starter home went up 30% last year. There’s a protest process which we used when we bought it for less than the assessment. In this crazy home market, the increase is probably correct…. for now.

        5. No one owns their home, you only rent it from the government, who can simply take your home via Eminent Domain at any time, for any reason, even to sell it to others for a profit.

          If you pay your taxes, the government allows you to sell your property and keep any profits from the sale…that is..for a time, then those profits are subject to taxes, unless you escape the taxes through use of some provided loop holes.

          I just had $12, 000,000.00 dollars worth of my property taken via Eminent Domain, naturally, I shall not be compensated for its market value, no matter what the law says….

        6. So how can you avoid the higher property taxes on a cabin?

          They use campers up here in N. MN. to avoid higher taxes instead of houses.

          If they put the place as their address, they get homestead exemption for the whole property as long as you spend more than 6 months living there and use it as main residence…like 6 months and one day—must piss off the tax assessor.

        7. Stardust…OH,

          Becoming quite popular in Texas for folks buying recreational/future retirement rural property to build a substantial sized, enclosed metal barn… then build their home inside. Most times, tax appraisers are none the wiser. I’ve seen some pretty lavish homes that on the exterior appear to be barns…..of course those folks who are vain and want everyone to marvel at their beautiful homes…..they pay for that vanity in enhanced taxes

  19. We did a complete audit of everything that is stored. We have sufficient for our needs for the future. We are planting quite a bit as well. One of my sons has planted about an acre combined of black and kidney beans. Lot of work to plant then pick them. He grew pintos last time. Planted alot of potatoes too. The plan is to put back what is used and a surplus if it goes well. It is a good idea to set up some trading/bartering relationships now. We traded our honey guy labor for honey. He needed help laying out a pond liner on his freshly dug fish pond. His plan is to raise catfish and tilapia. ( not sure if they’re compatible?) It will make a nice swimming hole at least. My son got me a pair of spring loaded knee braces. They give ya a boost when you’re getting up. Sure helps.I can actually do work now.
    Our plan is to have a reserve to fall back on but not count on for all our food needs.
    If that makes sense…

  20. Old homesteader mentioned talk about the powers to be thinking some people have too much food. (hoarding) This has been a concern of mine for a number of years so anytime I buy a large amount of food it is done with cash. I just don’t think it anyone’s business whether I buy 2 cans or a case of pork & beans. As older people we would be more impacted if we got CV-19 so we have been able to go many months without going to the store because being prepared has been a life style for us all our lives. When I realized there was going to be a shut down all I bought was 3- 4 litre jugs whole milk & powdered milk to make 75 litres. I took 1 litre milk out of each jug & froze them. I added back 1 l. powdered milk when I thawed it. 2% anyone. All baking was done with the powdered. To anyone who would like to grow a garden if times get tough I would suggest they start now if they haven’t started already. It is definitely a skill that needs practice. Just like hockey it takes a lot of practice to get good at it & even then weather & bugs can play havoc.

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