If you are new to food storage, one of the first questions you probably have is, “where do I start?” I recommend starting with a good food storage calculator. A calculator not only gives you a list to go by, but also keeps track of your inventory. I sampled a number of them and decided the one I liked best was foodstoragecalculator.xls (direct download link), provided by Jodie and Julie, over at Food Storage Made Easy. Here’s what the first section of mine looks like:
This calculator is very simple and straight forward, making it very easy to use. You will need an xls editor to open and edit it. If you don’t have MS Office with Excel, or equivalent, I found a free xls editor you can check out: Free MS Excel Alternative Software. Before I had MS Office, I used the free alternative Open Office. I still use it on my old computer, that runs on XP. I checked it out and, although they have been taken over by Apache, they still provide a free version.
To use the calculator, you just start entering your own info. You can see in my screen shot, in the upper left corner there is an area to enter your information and how many months of food storage you want to store. Once you enter this information, you’ll see the amounts of each item listed you will require, for the number of months you entered, are calculated. On the right side you are shown how much you still need to add. You will, also, notice some of my entries don’t have required amounts. These are items I’ve added to the original list.
I’m sure you noticed the first section lists grains. Grains make up the bulk of your initial food storage recommendation, from almost any reputable source. The main reasons for this are: they may be purchased in bulk relatively inexpensively, whole grains provide protein as well as fiber, and, with some imagination, they can be pretty versatile.
Now let’s looks at the next section:
Here we have Fats and Oils and Legumes. As you can see, I don’t have any shortening, but I have a lot of coconut oil. I don’t use shortening… I just left it, in case I decide at some point to stockpile some. Coconut oil can replace shortening and cooking oil in baking and frying, it’s very healthy, and it can be used topically, as well. The coconut oil I store is natural, cold pressed, virgin coconut oil. The vegetable oil you see is extra virgin olive oil. I don’t see any reason to store salad dressing, since my stores include oil, vinegar, and spices, but, once again, I left it there. In the legumes section, you can see I’ve used and need to replace my lima beans. I’m allergic to soy, so I don’t have any soy beans. Also, I have a bucket full of beans I haven’t added to the inventory yet.
Here’s the third section:
Now we get down to Sugars and Milk. I actually have about 40 pounds of honey, so I need to check it and add it to the inventory. I only use sugar when I make kombucha and water kefir, so I don’t stock nearly as much as is recommended. I don’t use corn syrup, at all. I use mostly honey as a sweetener. Besides being a healthy sweetener, did you know honey will last pretty much forever? I actually have a cupboard full of homemade/home canned jams, but I’ve never weighed them. I know there’s a lot more than three pounds, though. I have about 20 of the small boxes of flavored gelatin in the pantry and six pounds of unflavored gelatin. The milk section is the one I need to work on. Those numbers are accurate.
In the fourth section, we have Cooking Essentials, which is the end of the original list.
As you can see, I’ve added quite a few items to the essentials and I’m well stocked on the original items. One of the things I am still adding here is salt. Salt is good for a lot of things besides in cooking and flavoring and it will be a good barter item, if ever needed, as well. Vinegar will, also, continue to grow, since I make my own apple cider vinegar from apple scraps.
Below Cooking Essentials, you’ll notice I’ve added “Mo Supply.” These are 30 day buckets of freeze dried meals. I really like the Augason Farms buckets. I actually have six buckets, now. They are reasonably priced, provide more than 1800 calories per day, and, if stored under optimal conditions, will last up to 20 years. The foods I’ve tried are actually pretty good, too! This particular bucket includes a FireOn Disk, which can be used as a fire starter or for emergency heat, and a water bottle with a filter, which will filter up to 100 gallons of water. Augason Farms is a company based in northern Utah.
Finally, I have a section for Other, which I also added.
These are mostly #10 cans, packaged for long term food storage, I have added to my food storage. The reason for the 30 day buckets and #10 cans are to add some variety and nutrition to my main storage.
What I haven’t, yet, added to the food storage calculator are my pantry full of home and store bought canned goods. I have several large cabinets filled with meats, ready to heat meals, fruits, vegetables, soups, cheese, jams, and condiments.
If the amounts of food in my calculator seem daunting, start with a smaller amount at a time. When I started using it, I already had a good stock in my pantry. You can start with just one week and add to it, one week at a time, as you go. Even if you only add one or two extra cans or packages for your food storage, every time you shop for groceries, you’ll be better off than if you didn’t have any extra food in your cupboards. However you grow your food storage, just remember to only store foods you’ll actually eat.