How much food do I really need for 1 year

canned foods

Stocking up on your favorite foods is something preppers do. It is satisfying to fill your shelves with cans of meat, fruits, and veggies that will keep your family fed, happy and healthy when there are no grocery stores to head to when you are hungry.

Food is critical to survival. This is why preppers put such a heavy emphasis on storing enough food to last them at least a year.

The goal of one year is flexible and some preppers will choose to store enough food for 6 months or several years. It all depends on the person, the available space, the budget and how long you have been prepping for.

But, there is one big question that many beginning and even experienced preppers have:

How much food is enough for one year?

Your pantry is going to look different than mine or your neighbor’s food storage pantry. What they have stored for one year is going to be different than what you or the other guy has stored.

Family size, the ages of the people in your family, and your expected workload will all factor into how much food you actually need to feed your family for an entire year.

There are two main methods of determining how much food you need to store to last your family a year. One requires a lot more math than many people like.


In survival, your food intake is with the intent of surviving and not much else. You are not heading out to a 5-star restaurant or expecting a gourmet meal with 7 courses. You are eating to stay alive.

When you are eating for survival alone, you focus on the calories needed to keep your body in good condition. You are not eating because you are bored or dieting so you can fit into those new jeans. Its all about eating enough calories to maintain your strength and energy to do what needs to be done to survive.

For that reason, some preppers will base their food supply on the number of calories in a serving – not the servings.

On average, an adult male will need about 3,000 calories a day if he is pretty active. An average woman would need about 2000 calories to keep up with her active day. The more manual labor you do, the more calories you expend, which means you will need to replenish what you lost.

So, with that information, you would look at that can of chili or that can of freeze-dried soup and determine how many calories are in a serving. Let’s say there are 200 calories in a serving.

3000/200=15. You would need 15 servings of chili in a single day to keep up your calories. Now, you wouldn’t want to only eat chili all day, but this is just a way for you to get an idea about counting calories.

This method is a bit tedious and time-consuming, but it is effective if you are someone who likes to crunch numbers. For those who don’t, read on….

Basic Meals

Another way to calculate how much food you need is to think about what you serve for breakfast, lunch, or dinner on a typical day. Make sure you include any snacks as well. So, let’s use chili again. You use 2 cans of chili for dinner, served with cornbread.

Then, let’s assume you make that meal once a week. You would need 8 cans of chili for a month. 8 cans of chili times 12 months of the year, and you would need 96 cans of chili.

For the cornbread, you will need to have the ingredients necessary to make your cornbread from scratch or maybe consider substituting the cornbread with biscuits.

Because fresh eggs could be a little hard to come by, biscuits may be a better option. Take your recipe and put the ingredients through the same equation:

Ingredients x 4 weeks x 12 months = total amount needed for one year.

If you are buying the large 50-pound bags of beans and rice, you need to calculate how many cups you would need to make a meal for the family. While every food weighs differently, you can typically expect about 2 cups out of a pound of beans and 1 cup for a pound of rice. However, it is not an exact science!

You will need to determine how many pounds you would serve your family in a single setting to use the formula above to determine how much is enough for your family for one year.

Be wary of cases of food that boast there is enough for one year. The manufacturer’s idea of enough food for one year could be a single MRE for a person each day.

When you are splitting wood, trekking several miles, and doing a great deal of manual labor, that single MRE is going to feel like eating a single granola bar for all three meals. A big guy who is very active is going to need a lot more calories than an older guy who is unable to do any major physical activity.

Don’t let anybody tell you how much food is enough for you. Take the time and figure it out for yourself. You will be much happier and satisfied when it comes time to rely on your food storage.