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How Much Food Do You Need To Survive For One Year?

And Where Do I Buy It?

If you had to go to the grocery store right now and buy all the food you need to keep you alive for one year, do you have any idea how much that would be?

The key part of this question is the word SURVIVE.  This is not the amount of food one needs to be happy or thrive.  Here is a breakdown of the amounts needed for one person:

Grains (wheat, rice, etc.) – 400 pounds

Beans (any kind) – 60 pounds

Fats (cooking oil, butter, etc.) – 10 quarts (2 1/2 gallons)

Salt – 8 pounds

Powdered Milk – 16 pounds

Wheat and Flour

How much does this cost?  Not as much as you’d think.  I buy these staples through Walton Feed, Costco, my grocery store, and a few other places.  Here’s a breakdown of my costs (based on my last purchases).

Grains (wheat, rice, etc.) – 400 pounds.  8 bags of Winter White Wheat, $26.50/50-lbs. = $212

OR                                        8 bags of White Flour, $15/50-lbs. = $120

OR                                        8 bags of Rice, $20/50-lbs. = $160

Beans (any kind) – 60 pounds.  4 bags of Black Beans, $15/25-lbs. = $60

Fats (cooking oil, butter, etc.) – 10 quarts (2 1/2 gallons).  2 containers of Canola Oil, $9/5 quarts = $18

Salt – 8 pounds.  2 large boxes of Iodized Salt, $1/4-lb. box = $2

Powdered Milk – 16 pounds.  9 – #10 cans of dry milk, $5.40/#10 can = $49

Total Cost for a One Year BASIC Food Supply = $250 – $341 (plus tax, if applicable)

That’s doable, isn’t it?  Especially if you break it up and buy these items slowly over time.   So the question becomes, not how much do I buy, but where can I buy all this stuff?  That depends on the types of food you want to store.  Do you want to buy food and stick it away and forget about it?  Or do you want to buy stuff you use every day and use?

If you want to buy every day stuff, go to the grocery store, a warehouse club, or a discount store and stock up on what you normally eat.  Buy one or two extra items each time you shop.  If something’s on sale, buy as many as you can afford.  Then, stock up on a different item the next time you shop.

Survival Food – 56 Long-Term Survival Foods and Supplies at the Grocery Store

When disaster strikes, there’s a pretty good chance your local grocery stores are going to be stripped bare in a matter of hours. From panicked people trying to stock up on last minute supplies, to those who failed to prepare for even short-term disasters and now find themselves facing the prospect of starving, your local grocery store is going to look like a battleground in a post-apocalyptic movie.

Most grocery stores have a maximum 3 day supply of goods on hand before they run dry. That means even short-term disasters like hurricanes, floods and earthquakes can cause supply chain problems that will quickly wipe out their inventory. Now throw in a long-term disaster that cuts of supplies for months, and you have a real recipe for disaster.

To be prepared to face an emergency situation where food supplies are blocked, you need to invest in a long-term food supply. This supply should be made up of six months’ worth of emergency food that has a long-shelf life, and is something that you already eat.

With the help of suggestions that have come in from our readers, we have compiled a list of the top food items and emergency supplies that you can buy at the grocery store. The list contains foods with a long shelf life, items that have multiple uses, and supplies that are great for bartering.

Survival Food that adds flavor & comfort:

Comfort foods can be a huge morale booster during a stressful survival situation, something that needs to be kept in mind when starting to stockpile food. These four things can be stored for over 10 years, and are a great way to add a little bit of flavor to your cooking. If stored properly they will probably last indefinitely.

  1. Salt
  2. Sugar – Brown or White
  3. Raw Honey
  4. Alcohol – Whiskey, Vodka, etc…

Base cooking ingredients with a long shelf life:

The following categories of food make up the foundation of most recipes, and are all things that store well.

Hard Grains: Stored properly hard grains have a shelf life of around 10 – 12 years.

  1. Buckwheat
  2. Dry Corn
  3. Kamut
  4. Hard Red Wheat
  5. Soft White Wheat
  6. Millet
  7. Durum wheat
  8. Spelt

Soft grains: These soft grains will last around 8 years at 70 degrees, sealed without oxygen.

  1. Barley,
  2. Oat Groats,
  3. Quinoa
  4. Rye

Beans: Sealed and kept away from oxygen the following beans can last for around 8 – 10 years.

  1. Pinto Beans
  2. Kidney Beans
  3. Lentils
  4. Lima Beans
  5. Adzuki Beans
  6. Garbanzo Beans
  7. Mung Beans
  8. Black Turtle Beans
  9. Blackeye Beans

Flours and Mixes and Pastas: 5 – 8 years

  1. All Purpose Flour
  2. White Flour
  3. Whole Wheat Flour
  4. Cornmeal
  5. Pasta
  6. White Rice ( up to 10 years)


  1. Coconut oil – Coconut oil has one of the longest shelf lives of any kind of oil. It can last for over 2 years and is a great item to add to your survival food supply list.

Survival Foods that are great during short-term disasters:

The following items are great for short-term emergencies, and will stay fresh for a long period of time. During most disasters you’re going to want to have food that requires very little cooking, or can be eaten without any preparation at all. Make sure some of your stockpile includes these types of food.

Other good survival foods: 2 – 5 years of shelf life

  1. Canned Tuna
  2. Canned Meats
  3. Canned Vegetables & Fruits
  4. Peanut Butter
  5. Coffee
  6. Tea
  7. Ramen Noodles – not the greatest food in the world but they are very cheap so they made the survival food list.
  8. Hard Candy
  9. Powdered milk
  10. Dried herbs and spices

Items that can be used for more than cooking:

  1. Apple Cider Vinegar – Cleaning, cooking, and has antibiotic properties
  2. Baking Soda – Cleaning, cooking, etc…
  3. Honey – Mentioned again for its antibiotic properties and wound healing.

Nonfood items to stock up on at the grocery store:

  1. Bic Lighters
  2. Toilet Paper
  3. Soaps
  4. Bottled Water
  5. Vitamins
  6. Medicines
  7. Bandages
  8. Peroxide
  9. Lighter fluid
  10. Canning Supplies
  11. Charcoal
  12. Matches
  13. Batteries
  14. Candles
10 Best Survival Foods At Your Local Supermarket
By Activist Post

As food prices continue to skyrocket, having a bulk supply of food is a great investment. But it also provides security and peace of mind against potential emergencies.

By now most people should be aware that grocery stores only have about 3 days of food in stock when crises strike. So if anything was to disrupt the food supply chain for an extended period of time, there would be untold chaos in most communities.

Any number of events could trigger mass disruption to a fragile food system, many of which are well documented and even predicted. Even NASA has warned its staff to prepare for potential disasters with survival foods and other precautions with their “Family Preparedness Program.”

Prepping for disasters can seem overwhelming with so many aspects to be considered. However, for those just beginning to recognize how perilous these times are and are new to prepping, you can find many great survival foods at your local grocery store.

There are many freeze-dried food companies offering light-weight storable meals. These are cost effective and great for new preppers.  But if you don’t have $1000 laying around to buy a large supply, it may be better to pick up a few key items each week at the supermarket to build up your food bank gradually. And by buying base foods at the store, you’ll ultimately save money.

It’s best to keep your survival food list simple, and concentrate on storing foods with the highest amount of calories and the longest shelf life. This list is geared toward foods that will help you survive a crisis that lasts for extended periods of time.

Here are the ten best and cheapest survival rations available at any store:

Rice: Every time you go to the store you should buy one 10-lb bag of rice. You can find them for around $5 at most supermarkets. Rice will stay in good condition for 10 years or more if stored properly. It offers high carbohydrates which is especially important if you are exerting a lot of physical energy during a crisis.

Beans: Beans are known to be one of the best all-round survival foods. They’re high in protein, and if sealed in food-grade buckets with a small amount of dried ice, they’ll stay for up to ten years. Make sure to store them in a cool, dry, dark location. Buy a 4-5 lb bags of dried beans every time you go to the store. All dry beans are good to store; black beans, red beans, pinto beans, lentils, etc.

Cornmeal:  All-purpose flours are good to store, but cornmeal may be the best overall. Cornmeal is packed with dense carbohydrates and contains oils that helps extend its shelf life. Additionally, if the power grid is down during a mega disaster, it is much easier to make good corn breads and tortillas with cornmeal in a simple skillet or solar oven, where refined flour will need yeast and oil to make decent bread or biscuits.  Get a 5-lb bag of cornmeal ($10-$15) at each grocery visit.  Seal and store the same way as beans (buckets, salt and dry ice), and it will safely keep 8 months to 2 years.

Lard: If you’re a health-conscious reader, hydrogenated lard does not sound very appetizing, but in a survival situation you can’t afford to be picky. Animal lard or vegetable shortening both offer much-needed calories during times of crisis, cooking oil for multiple uses, and it will keep longer than cooking oils because of the hydrogenation. Buy a 6-lb can ($12) and store in a cool, dry, and dark place and it will stay good for 2-3 years or longer.

Salt: Salt is one of the most useful survival food items. It’s used for storing food, curing beef, and flavoring most meals. Salt will stay forever, so always buy extra when you’re shopping.

Canned Fruit & Vegetables: These are another obvious survival food, but not as practical as many would think. They’re heavy and somewhat costly for the calories they deliver. Additionally, acidic fruits and any cans with tomatoes will not keep as long as most people think.  But most canned food is good for 5+ years.  Buy green vegetables and fruits like peaches and pears for long-term storage, but more importantly, buy what you already eat in case you need to rotate them into your diet before they go bad.

Canned Meat: Canned meats like ham, tuna, and chicken are excellent to store.  They typically will keep for 6-10 years and they’re an excellent source of protein. However, if the grid is down for a long time (apocalyptic), hunting and fishing will likely provide most meats.  Therefore, it may be sufficient to buy extra canned meats every other time you go shopping.

Sugar: Brown and white sugar will add much-needed flavor and calories to a survival diet and they’ll keep for ten years or more if stored properly.  Honey is also excellent as it will store forever. Make sure to buy extra every other time you go grocery shopping. You won’t need too much, but they’ll be well worth having if a crisis strikes.

Pasta: Pasta is a good light-weight storable food that is also a great source of carbohydrates. Pasta will not keep as long as rice, but it can stay for around 5 years in good conditions. Pasta is also very inexpensive and extra should be bought at each trip to the store.  It will take up more space in your food bank than rice, beans and cornmeal, so plan your space the best you can.

Peanut Butter: Peanut butter is a terrific source of protein, fat, and calories.  Plus, it’s just a great treat to have on hand. Peanut butter can last up to five years in root cellar conditions.  Stock up whenever there are good deals at your grocery store. You’ll be happy you did if the SHTF.

Barter Coins: It’s also a good idea to have some silver coins for barter in an economic crisis situation. To track the value of silver coins you can use the silver coins calculator at

If you consistently buy these items 3-4 times per month, you’ll quickly acquire a year’s supply of survival rations for your whole family.

How to store it?

A really basic way to store the rice, beans, cornmeal, sugar and pastas is to buy several 5-gallon seal-able paint buckets or food-grade buckets from your local hardware store.  Put a cup or so of salt into a sandwich baggie (opened) at the bottom of the buckets. Then fill it with food stuffs and add a couple of ounces of dried ice (found at large grocery stores) which will remove the oxygen from the bucket after it’s sealed. Finally, label each bucket with its contents and the date, and place it in your cellar.


Shelf Life For Long Term Food Storage

The question frequently asked is, "What is the shelf life of my food storage?" First, let's define "food storage" and "shelf life".

Food storage generally refers to long term foods that are low in moisture and can be stored for a long time.

Shelf life is defined in two ways:

    "best if used by" - Length of time food retains most of its original taste and nutrition.
    "life sustaining" - Length of time foods can be stored and still be edible.


There can be a big time difference between these two types of food products. Foods bought at the grocery store can have a shelf life of a few days to several years, depending on the type of food, the storage conditions, and the packaging. (This date on foods from grocery stores is mainly for lawsuit protection for manufacturers insisted on by their lawyers.)

The "life sustaining" foods are those that are packaged specifically for long term storage. The estimated shelf life for many of these products has increased to 30 years or more (see chart below).

The longer food is stored, taste and nutritional quality declines, depending on the quality of the food when first packaged. However, studies have shown that freeze-dried and dehydrated foods, properly packaged and sealed, even if stored past their designated time, retain their calories and calories will sustain life in an emergency and prevent starvation.

The 4 main criteria For Shelf life of food storage depends on:


Let's take them one at a time.


Foods stored at room temperature or cooler (75°F/24°C or lower) will be nutritious and edible much longer than previously thought according to findings of recent scientific studies. Foods stored at 50°F to 60°F (which is optimal) will last longer than foods stored at higher temperatures. Heat absolutely destroys food and its nutritional value. Proteins break down and some vitamins will be destroyed. Taste, color, and smell of some foods may also change.


The reason long term food storage is dehydrated or freeze dried is to eliminate moisture. Too much moisture promotes an atmosphere where microorganisms can grow and chemical reaction in foods causing deterioration that ultimately can sicken us.


Too much oxygen can deteriorate foods and promote the growth of microorganisms, especially in fats, vitamins, and food colors. That is the reason to use oxygen absorbers when dry packing your own food products.


Exposure to too much light can cause deterioration of foods. In particular if affects food colors, vitamin loss, fats and oils, and proteins. Keep long term food storage in low light areas for longest shelf life.

Fats & Oils

Fats and oils are a special case when addressing their shelf life. The problem with storing oils and fats long term is that they go rancid rather quickly. Rancid fats have been implicated in increased rates of heart disease, arteriosclerosis and are carcinogenic (cancer causing).

Because of the issue of fats and oils becoming rancid, many books and articles don't mention or don't want to give a specific shelf life for them. So I'm just going to say that they need more frequent rotation - at least every 1 to 2 years - if unopened. They will last a much shorter time if opened and kept at room temperature.

That said, coconut oil is what I store because will not become rancid, stores for years, has a low burn point (unlike butter), and is a healthy fat.

Freeze-Dried or Dehydrated Foods?

Most freeze-dried and dehydrated foods have a shelf life of 25+ years. The freeze-dried process retains more of its nutrition and it tastes better than most dehydrated foods that are packaged as a full meal of, say, pasta, meat, vegetables, and a sauce. If purchasing dehydrated foods such as pasta, rice and beans individually packaged, there is little difference. Because freeze-dried food is processed in an oxygen-free environment, there is no need for preservatives or additives.

Although dehydrated foods have a long shelf life, they usually require more water and a longer cooking time to prepare. Freeze-dried foods require very little water and just minutes of soaking (not cooking) to reach the ready-to-eat stage — very quick and easy.

I believe it's best to have some of both. Depending on the emergency, there may be certain circumstances when time is of the essence and a quick freeze-dried meal would be the best course of action. Other times, dehydrated foods are just as good.

Long Term Food Shelf Life Chart

(The years listed for shelf life assumes ideal storage conditions, i.e. low moisture, low light, cool temperatures, and low oxygen content.)


"Life Sustaining" Shelf-Life
Estimates (In Years)

Apple slices (freeze-dried)


Alfalfa Seeds


Bakers Flour




Black Turtle Beans

15 - 20

Blackeye Peas

15 -20



Butter/margarine Powder


Cocoa Powder




Cracked wheat


Durham Wheat

8 - 12


8 - 12

Flour (white)


Flour (whole wheat)


Garbanzo Beans

15 - 20

Garden Seeds






Honey, Salt and Sugar


Hulled Oats 


Kidney Beans




Lima Beans



8 - 12

Morning Moo 


Mung Beans

8 - 10


8 - 12



Pearled Oats


Pink Beans

20 - 30 © All Rights Reserved