How Much Food Do We Really Need?

President Spencer W. Kimball said, “The Lord has urged that his people save for the rainy days, prepare for the difficult times, and put away for emergencies, a year’s supply or more of bare necessities so that when comes the flood, the earthquake, the famine, the hurricane, the storms of life, our families can be sustained through the dark days.” He continued, “We must remember that conditions could change and a year’s supply of basic commodities could be very much appreciated by us or others. So we would do well to listen to what we have been told and to follow it explicitly.” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball, (2006), 114–23)

For a very long time, our leaders have counseled us to store at least a year’s supply of food. But what does that really mean?

President Harold B. Lee said, “Perhaps if we think not in terms of a year’s supply of what we ordinarily would use, and think more in terms of what it would take to keep us alive in case we didn’t have anything else to eat, that last would be very easy to put in storage for a year … just enough to keep us alive if we didn’t have anything else to eat. We wouldn’t get fat on it, but we would live; and if you think in terms of that kind of annual storage rather than a whole year’s supply of everything that you are accustomed to eat which, in most cases, is utterly impossible for the average family, I think we will come nearer to what President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., advised us way back in 1937.” (Harold B. Lee, In Welfare Conference, 1 October 1966.)


So, how much is a year’s supply? There are dozens of food storage calculators out there to help you decide how much and what kinds of foods you should store to create a year’s supply. The Nutrition, Dietetics & Food Science Department at BYU has created a food storage guide that allows for 2000-2400 calories per person per day. This is a good, basic guide. The items on this list can be stored for long periods of time and can be purchased at almost any grocery store or LDS Home Storage Center.


To make this simpler, I’ve broken down the amounts of each item so that you can look at the number of people in your family and know exactly how many pounds or cans of food you’ll need to complete your year’s supply of longer-term food storage items.FOOD STORAGE NUMBERS

Here’s the link to the actual PDF if the numbers are a little hard to see:


The short-term items above should be included as part of your year’s supply, although these items have a shorter shelf life than the other long-term items, and must be used or rotated sooner. Most have a shelf life of about 2 years, while the longer-term items generally have a shelf life of at least 10-30 years. It would also be wise to add fruits, vegetables and meats to your supply to improve nutrition, after you’ve acquired the basics.

When you realize how much food is necessary to sustain life and multiply it by the number of mouths you need to feed, the numbers can be daunting. But if that year supply is the only food you had and you had to survive for a year by eating only the food that you had stored, you might wish you had stored a lot more. During times of stress, our bodies burn more calories than usual, and since most of our society consumes much more than 2000 calories a day, it would be a really good idea to follow the prophet and store AT LEAST one year’s supply of food.

President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “We can begin ever so modestly. We can begin with a one week’s food supply and gradually build it to a month, and then to three months. I am speaking now of food to cover basic needs. As all of you recognize, this counsel is not new. But I fear that so many feel that a long-term food supply is so far beyond their reach that they make no effort at all. Begin in a small way, my brethren, and gradually build toward a reasonable objective. Save a little money regularly, and you will be surprised how it accumulates.” (Gordon B. Hinckley, “To The Men of The Priesthood”, General Conference, 2002)

Begin now! Instead of buying another picture frame for that perfectly decorated mantel, make due with what you have, and save. Instead of buying the fancy new toy to take to the lake or the nicer car, make sure you have that year’s supply of food stored away. Maybe you forgo that trip to Disneyland this year and wait until after you have your year’s supply. It will surprise you when you realize how easy it is to acquire a year’s supply and how much peace you will feel from knowing that you are doing what the Lord requires.

Elder Victor L. Brown said, “In all that we have said regarding family and individual preparedness, we must never lose sight of the fact that this entire responsibility comes to us from the Lord. He is our Father. It is through his love for us that he so teaches us. All that we have said must be undergirded by a spirit that is in harmony with his teachings. He is our source of inspiration as a Church, as families, and as individuals. He has promised us that if we are prepared, we need not fear. May we be blessed as leaders and as members to follow his counsel to be prepared.” (The Church and Family in Welfare Services, April 1976).