Food Storage Rules

What do you need to survive on in the event of a disaster? Do you have a food storage supply?

| May 2018

  • cans
    Look for #10 cans and avoid the small cans, they are more expensive and they can not feed an entire family.
    Photo by GettyImages/VICHAILAO
  • food-storage
    "Store This, Not That" by Crystal Godfrey and Debbie Kent, is an enlightening read for anyone looking to start a food storage supply.
    Courtesy of Front Table Books

  • cans
  • food-storage

Store This, Not That (Front Table Books, 2016), by Chrystal Godfrey and Debbie Kent, could be a helpful resource for anyone starting a food storage supply for times of devastation and disaster. Godfrey and Kent help readers by suggesting which products will get them more bang for their buck and have a long shelf-life. Readers will learn how to store each good and how to use it when the time comes. Find this excerpt in chapter 4, “Long-term Supply.”

Food Storage Buckets & Bundles 

Fast Food—Food Storage

Chances are you’ve seen those miracle buckets of food storage, the “one and done” of the food storage world. They claim to have just what you need for great tasting, easy to prepare meals that your family will love. Just hand over your money, take their products home with you and store them in a cool, dark place and you’re done. But, could it really be that simple? It could be that simple, if you have a lot of space, a lot of extra water stored (to rehydrate all of those meals), and a LOT of money. We think of these buckets like eating out because, truth be told, you could be spending as much or more on one of these food storage meals as you would spend taking your family to a fancy restaurant!

Don’t believe us? Meet Johnny (names have been changed to protect the innocent). Johnny decided to buy a year supply of food for his family. He was very busy and found a reputable company that sold deluxe kits with lots of good-sounding meals, that even included desserts, and plunked down $10,000. (NO JOKE!) It was expensive, but he wanted only the best for his family. When it arrived, he decided to try a meal from his stash. He quickly realized that the “meal” was only enough food for a very small child, and that to fill him up; he would need 4 times the allotted serving. His $10,000 “year supply” was, in reality, a three-month supply.

See what we mean? Expensive! Now, we’re not saying there isn’t a place for these buckets in your food storage, but your year-supply shouldn’t be made up of them. After all, you’d never eat out every meal, so why do it with your food storage? These buckets do serve a purpose as emergency food in case you’re sheltering at home, or mixed into your year supply to give yourself a break from cooking. To get the most for your money with this type of food storage, be sure to follow our rules.



Year Supply by Numbers

  • 3 meals per day x 365 days = 1095 meals (not to be confused with servings)
  • Minimum daily calories: 2000 calories
  • 2000 calories per day x 365 days = 730,000 calories (minimum)
  • Minimum meal sizes: breakfast: 1 cup; lunch and dinner: 1 1/2–2 cups; sides: 1/4–1/2 cup
  • #10 cans of freeze-dried foods contain 10 1-cup servings
  • 1 #10 can will feed five people for lunch or dinner (2 cups each)

Two Main Types of Bundles

There are two main types of bundles on the market. You have to decide which fits into your budget and storage space. Both types store 10–25 years if kept cool, under 75 degrees.

Just add water, freeze-dried, and/or dehydrated meals are fast and easy to use, have less fiber, are less filling and are much more expensive.

Mostly basic foods such as: grains, beans/lentils, fruits, vegetables, sugar, and meat products, with a few meals or soups thrown in. This contains a foundation for meals (assuming you like everything in it, these kits can be filled with things like lentils that your family isn’t used to eating). But you will want to add, seasonings, sauces, etc. to make real meals. These are usually much cheaper and higher in calories and they take up less space. However, they do require cooking skills. 

The 7 Rules for Buying Food Storage Buckets & Bundles

Buying a whole year supply is a big and important investment. Most food storage companies have sample packs you can buy. PLEASE try before you buy and then only buy what you like. This may mean buying foods from several different companies and putting together your own bundle.

Rule No. 1 Serving Sizes Are Not Created Equal

Meal serving sizes range from 1/4 cup to 3 cups depending on the product. Many companies list their serving sizes as grams vs. cups, not helpful when determining actual eating amounts. As a general rule: the higher the number of servings in a bundle, the smaller the average size of the servings. 

Beware: up to 30% of bundles’ servings can come from minute servings of seasonings and drinks.

Rule No. 2 One Serving Does Not Equal a Meal



We tend to think a meal is a serving—wrong. Case in point: a 5-gallon bucket of emergency food said it contained 308 servings, and it did: ¼ cup of this and a tablespoon of that. You have to put a lot of these “servings” together to make a meal.

Beware: claiming a large number of servings is a marketing trick.

Rule No. 3 Quality of Food Ingredients

Read the labels. Do they contain lots of sugars and preservatives? Do they use real milk (instant or non-instant) or milk drinks (see milk section for details)? Sugar vs. honey/sugar powder? TVP or meat flavorings vs. real meat? Are the meals filling or watery soups? On the plus side, some packages have gluten-free and vegetarian options.

Rule No. 4 Variety of Food

Look for packages with a variety of food options, the more the better. The better bundles have five or more breakfasts, 12 or more main meals and a variety of fruits and vegetables too. One only had two breakfasts and seven main meals and crackers and peanut butter. We would get tired of that really quick.

Rule No. 5 Storage Life

Many of these food bundles claim to “store up to 25 years.” The key term being “up to.” These packages usually contain mixed types of foods. Generally they store as follows:

Freeze-dried: 25 years, dehydrated: 8–10 years, mixes: 1–2 years

Rule No. 6 Total Calories

The best way to determine if a food storage unit has enough life sustaining calories is to take the total calories for the bundle (usually found on website; otherwise, call them) and divide it by the number of days the bundle is supposed to feed you. This number should be at least 2,000 (the per day amount). In addition, the cheaper companies often include small sugary drink servings to boost their number of servings and calories. With some companies, 20–50 percent of their overall calories are from drink mix.

Rule No. 7 Packing & Preserving

Emergency and long-term storage food should be packaged in one of two ways: #10 cans (double lined) or Mylar pouches in buckets (to keep the food inside protected from bugs, rodents, punctures, and smashing). Whether in cans or pouches, long term packaging should also include an oxygen absorber (nitrogen-packed food is not as effective). Oxygen absorbers are not needed in sugar or sugar fruit drinks.

For best results, store in between 50 and 70 degrees to extend storage life.

More from Store This, Not That:

Beans, Beans, The Magical Superfood…


From Crystal Godfrey and Debbie Kent’s Store This, Not That (Springville, Utah: Cedar Fort, Inc., 2016). Used by permission.






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