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Sr. Homesteader
437 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
From "Pragmatist" in a neighboring prep forum:

"In designing a food storage room, the idea came to me that I really have no idea what the volume for 1 years worth of food is. So I decided to figure it out. But first I had to make some assumptions.

- 1st Assumption: Caloric intake would require extreme activity for one year

- 2nd Assumption: This scenario is a healthy family of 4 including two small children.

- 3rd Assumption: Since calculating every food is impossible, I'd average out things like beans, rice, and wheat, since those are the common "staples" we often discuss.

(1) So, the first step is to figure out family daily/annual caloric intake:
I used the Mayo clinic Tool: Calorie calculator -

For my family of 4, the daily total came to 10,600 calories (Note this is assuming extremely high activity every day). This made the yearly total 3,869,000 calories. Wow. Almost 4 Million calories for our family to store.

(2) Ok, step two. How many calories per pound? Well first I checked Nutrition facts, calories in food, labels, nutritional information and analysis - for the values of wheat, white rice, and beans (since those are out common staples). It looks like the following:
Wheat - 1472
White Rice - 1616
Beans (Raw/Dry) - 1552

Then I averaged them together (1472 + 1616 + 1552) / 3 = 1546.6. So they're all pretty close, and this is a good starting point. Now the pounds per cubic feet for each of these is about (Page not found! MU Extension
Wheat / Beans - 48
Rice - 36

So again I averaged these and got to be about (48 + 48 + 36 ) / 3 = 44 pounds per cubic foot.

(3) So now the rest of the math:

3,869,000 calories, divided by 1546 calories per pound = 2502 pounds of food.
Since the average cubic foot is 44 pounds, 2502 / 44 = 56 cubic feet!

So 56 cubic feet is about the densest I could store a years worth of food for my family. Stacked in one space with no gaps, I could do that in a 3ft x 3ft x 6.22 ft space.

Or, if it was 1ft deep, a 7 ft wide, 8 ft tall wall could hold it. Now granted that is theoretical. So being generous and doubling that, in a closet that's 4 ft wide, 6ft deep, and 8 ft tall, you could line the walls with 1ft shelves and have enough food to stock your family GENEROUSLY for a year. And it'd be fairly accessible, and has plenty of room for spices, herbs, and extra other goodies.

Hope this helps someone!"

Great! - handy to know...

633 Posts
Interesting post!

I have 2 walk-in pantries with shelves and one broom closet converted into food storage. I just need to get it fully stocked!! I think i'll do a HUGE SHOPPING SPREE for food at the end of June.

The wanderer
4,350 Posts
I think that I have been given the assignment to get people to think outside the one year box.

What happens when one year is over?
Hopefully during that year while we have been eating the one-year's supply we have been building up garden soil, learning about and foraging for edible plants, possibly learning how to set traps and snares, building up muscles and getting in shape with all the physical labor of cutting firewood (in climates requiring it), washing clothes by hand, cooking from scratch (or almost from scratch), and walking everywhere. Hopefully we have strenghtened relationships with our family and neighbors and are working together on bigger projects, and have a good barter system set up.

Then hopefully we've extended our year's supply somewhat with those efforts and are ready to start eating the newly-produced food.

In a perfect world...

PS: If you're not learning or practicing those skills, or have done so (and may be living that way already), then at least make sure you build up a good library of information on those subjects, in hard copy (print, on paper) so you have it when you need it. Experience, even doing something once, sure beats the heck out of having to go through the learning curve when your life depends on it, but do the best you can.

866 Posts
now the throw a new wrench into the works.for sake of argument.lets say that you have a 1 year supply of food at the start of the growing season,of where your what if the garden(s) fail that season due to drought?do you have enough beans,okra or what ever to see you through untill the next growing season starts?or will will you start running out of certain foods?.thats why i think it's better to stock up on at least 1 1/2 year supply of green beans okra or what ever,instead of 1 year..

Time Traveler
3,917 Posts
If you have three months supply you are way ahead of the curve. Having said that, a year and a half is generally considered to be the minimum to allow you time to plant and harvest a garden. If you schedule your disaster to occur at the end of the growing season then a a year is adequate.

You may want to factor in a few other things. Of the afore mentioned rice, beans, and flour I might be able to grow beans. Since flour will probably not keep much past two or three years you may want to consider wheat berries as they will keep the rest of your life. If you go that route then you will need a flour mill, pick a good one. White rice will also keep for the rest of your life so, if it is stored properly you don't have to worry about having too much.

As far as waiting till the end of June and then buying a big slug of stuff, you might consider shopping the sales if finances allow.

You also need some canned protein. Some canned fish, chicken, or beef would go a long way in making your rice enjoyable. A one pound canned ham can flavor four or five pounds of beans.

Don't forget your condiments and spices. A bowl of rice may keep the wife and kids alive for quite awhile but after a month of that they will gang up on you and it will range from unpleasant to deadly.

If you want to know how much food you have, put the month and year on each product when you add it to your storage. If you want a years worth and when you pull a can of tomatoes off the shelf that can has been there for six months then you know that you need to work towards doubling up on that item. This is a handy system in that when you go from three months to six, or whatever, you know where you are starting from.
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