Building your food storage 14 days at a time

A guest post by Southern Girl

[This is an entry in our non-fiction writing contest where you could win – First Prize a 10 Person Deluxe Family Survival Kit,  Second Prize an Herb Seed Bank or Third Prize a copy of Dirt Cheap Survival Retreat.  For complete rules and list of prizes see this post.]

Our church uses the saying “Store what you eat and eat what you store”.

With this in mind; I went about trying to find the best way to do this. I read several books and I talked to many different people about how they plan for meals and did their shopping for these meals per month. Most people and books will tell you to plan a week menu.

I tried this at first but found that my family was bored fast with only these meals. So I split the avg. month in half and took out two or more days out for holidays or special meals. This left me with 14 days to plan. You will use these 14 meals 26 times for one year. Then you will add the holiday meals and special meals. (for us this is home-made Chinese food or pizza night).

I started by making a menu for these 14 days meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner and any snacks in between.

For Example: Day # 1

  • Breakfast: French Toast, Cooked sliced apples, Milk
  • Lunch: Tuna Salad on lettuce, Raw carrots and celery sticks, Juice
  • Dinner: Roast Chicken, Vegetables, Rice, Milk

Shopping ingredients list: french toast= bread, eggs,milk. cooked sliced apples=apples, butter, sugar. Milk for drinking. Tuna salad= tuna, mayo, celery, hard-boiled eggs, pickle cubes, salt & pepper to taste, etc. You add water for cooking (this goes in long-term storage), spices, butter or oil for cooking and seasonings,everything that you would need to make this meals. You get the idea.

As part of your 14 meals, lets say you are having: Beef Stew, Roast Beef w/ mashed potatoes, Clam Chowder, Chicken w/scalloped potatoes, Meatloaf w/ mashed potatoes.You can see that each of these meals have potatoes in them, this is our example item.

Next, you need to decide if you want box items or fresh (to make it from scratch). Box mashed potatoes: water (for cooking), milk, butter; 13oz. box makes 17 servings. 5 lbs of fresh potatoes: water (cooking), milk, butter, salt & pepper for taste.

The stew and chowder you will want fresh in them, plan for 3 to 5lbs per pot based on family size. The roast beef and meatloaf you could use box or can potatoes flakes or canned slices and/ or whole potatoes. The scalloped potatoes could be a box mix or fresh as well.

My list would then look like this for potatoes.

  • 12 to 20 lbs. potatoes
  • 4 boxes potatoes flakes
  • 2 boxes scalloped potato mix.

Which would give me potatoes for 2 each of the meals.

The main idea a course is to build up your food storage for the long-term. In one month you have decide that you need 4 boxes at 17 servings per 13 oz. box. Multiple the 4 boxes by 12 for the year,you get 48 boxes. A #10 can will give you 30 servings; so a little less than 2 boxes. You would need 24 or so cans of the potatoes flakes to equal your serving amounts.
The next step in the goal is to buy a month and a half ahead for an item or two at a time.

For example:

  • potatoes flakes: 4 boxes + 6 boxes = 10 boxes
  • refried beans: 4 small cans + 6 small cans = 10 small cans or 2 large + 3 large = 5 large cans
  • mushrooms: 12 cans + 18 cans = 30 cans

I make a lot of my meals from scratch including my breads, noodles, salsa, etc. These items use bulk stored food like wheat, sugar, salt and are part of my buying as well. Look at these bulk items in terms as this many loaves of bread, so many pounds of noodles, this many jars of salsa.

I also buy bulk items like dehydrated diced carrots, chopped onions and tomatoes to add to soups and stews. Scrambled eggs mix, whole eggs and canned meats for when fresh in not available. I could make a giant list but each family with have a different 14 meals list that they will like.

For my family we don’t eat a lot of wild game or fish ( this will change if the SHTF); but we do like clam chowder and tuna.. Another family we know doesn’t eat much pork but loves fish. What ever makes your family happy.

I know that I need to work on my long-term at the same time I do my monthly list. I work it like this: I want 12 to 24 #10 cans of potatoes flakes for the year. I also want the same for long-term, I will then buy 1 to 2 cans per month extra.I do this with other bulk items as well.

This will build up your storage and will not leave you with 24 cans of only potatoes flakes and nothing else. By using a master list or spread sheet, I can tell what items I need to work on for the overall growth of the food storage. I try to pick at least 7 days of meals to buy extra for during the month.

This gives you your menus, the shopping list, budget and overall goals, that you will need each and every month. Now start planning your 14 days and go from there.

About M.D. Creekmore

M.D. Creekmore is the owner and editor of He is the author of four prepper related books and is regarded as one of the nations top survival and emergency preparedness experts. Read more about him here.


  1. Jeginathol says:

    The comment I have is for meat. I use a pressure cooker to can meat. This works well as each pint gives you 1# of cooked meat. It works amazing for chicken and pork as well as some oily fish (Salmon, Tuna). Beef is another story…it changes the taste of beef especially ground beef (it’s a bit mealy for my tastes) But, who care if the SHTF. Use chuck roast for beef cubes and cut off most visible fat (or use beef stew cubes)…it comes out nice and juicy if you seal them by sautéing first . Do not use a leaner cut like london broil or top round as it gets really tough.

    Ground beef is fine for taco’s and sloppy joes or chili…if you mix it in or can it already made, then the flavor is mixed in. Beef will never taste like fresh ingredients, but chicken and pork are amazing…they flake for pulled pork or for chicken salad, pot pie, Chinese food. or soups. Comfort food is what you will need, so plan your recipes accordingly.

    Already dehydrated meat is very expensive in #10 cans and store bought canned tuna or chicken is also expensive, but it is great for long term storage. Home pressure canned meat will keep for 3 years in a cool place (70 or less) and you know what you are getting. Use it and recan to keep yourself stocked…a lb will go a long way if it is mixed in a stew or casserole. It can also be eaten straight from the jar.

    There is a canned meatloaf recipe, but I haven’t tried it…search on the web and you will find it

    • Southern Girl says:

      I have several types of meats in my storage; from can tuna, clams, salmon as well as can beef, pork etc. also dehydrated meats ,Dak hams, plus home-canned meat and meats in my freezer. My family also hunt. We are planning to add animals like chickens, cows that are for milk and meat, and others possibles like goats and pigs. We love to can stews, chili and other one pots meals also.
      You are right that one pound of meat used this way goes a long way.

  2. Southern girl, I bet you stay nice and skinny on that diet.
    Mine and Jackie Clays idea of Day 1.
    Bacon, 2 eggs, grits and orange juice.
    Double grilled cheese, potato chips , pickles , baked beans and macaroni salad. Coke to drink
    Spagetti and meatballs, garlic toast and mixed salad with homemade oil and vinegar dressing.
    Now as to the storage food I do use some of it but the worse things look out there the less of my storage food do I use. With all the price gouging going on now at the food storage places , plus the shortages on and off , it just takes too long to replace all the storage food at 150 to 300 a case.
    But it is a good thing that you younger people are starting to learn how to get along .

    • It’s interesting — People’s ideas of what foods make them fat.. What about her diet or yours and Jackie’s do you think makes the fat cells get larger?

    • Southern Girl says:

      Some of my menus look just like yours, I’m a “southern” girl, I love bacon, butter,etc. What I’m trying to do by having menus is to show me what I want or need so that I can buy items both in long term and short term adding fresh, either home- grown or store bought, it makes it easy to know how much you have on hand and how much you need to buy. Yes, some places will and are gouging the prices but there are still places you can buy what you need now at a far price.

  3. This 14 dinner plan sounds like the 7 meal plan that I saw earlier except for twice the recipes.

    Sounds like a good lead in to the “Cook Book” as far as meal recipes.

  4. Lint Picker (Northern California) says:

    Southern Girl, you are very well organized. I have no meal plan. Well, I have one but it isn’t intelligent like yours is. My plan is to have 1 can of meat, fish, or fowl for each day of the year (including holidays) for 1 year. So I’ve got cans of tuna, chicken, Spam, ham, ravioli, tamales, chili, beef, and sardines. When I get 365 cans of these items, I’m done planning my meals. I have vegetables, fruits, and starches to supplement the meats. I have some canned desserts/snacks, too. And I have enough vitamin pills to last a year.

    Since I’m an old guy who lives alone, there really is little incentive to plan more carefully. If I still had a family, I would be much more attentive to a meal plan. I am planning ahead for my relatives, but they will have to eat what I stored for them, whether they like it or not. LOL

    Nice write-up, Southern Girl. Thank you.

    • Lint & Southern Girl,
      We’re kind of like you. Although I don’t live alone, the DW & I simply look at what is on hand, and plan accordingly, sometimes on a daily basis and sometimes on a few days basis. Last week I was gone for 5 days and then was virtually gone for two days over the weekend. I have another class that will use up a couple of days next month and if I go to deer camp this year, there will be a few more odd days. Also, in the past I tried a program similar to this and at least for me, I developed food fatigue after a while. In a post SHF world I may just have to learn to live with the fatigue, but for now we have enough different food items available that we can keep some variety in our meal plan.

      • Ron (on the Rio) says:

        Ohio Prepper
        JoJo and I are like you two. We look for what sounds good and how hungry we are and thats what we eat. We are also busy at times. I got home today from Houston and she flew out this morning to Illinois.

        We reckon we have a 3 month supply if we ate 3 squares a day. Of course we wont. We will start out in a frame of mind that says “RATION” and we both need to loose some weight if we are going to blend in with the grey people. So with that in mind we can probably go 6 months.

        Just a thought on cooking from scratch, seems to me that would be both labor and fuel intensive. Something to consider.

    • My plan is similar to Lint’s. I have a family, but the kids are small (baby is still nursing). For a bare bones 1-year stockpile, I assumed 1 can of meat per meal, 1 can of veggies or fruit per meal, and 1/2 pound of rice or pasta per meal (or 1 box of mac/cheese, or 1 package ramen noodles). I also assumed only 2 meals per day. So once I get 730 cans of meat, 365 cans of veggies, 365 cans of fruit, and 365 pounds of rice/pasta stored, I’ll consider myself to have a years worth of food for my family. (I’m nowhere near that, unfortunately.) Of course, that’s practically a starvation diet. But I will supplement with extras, like flour for making bread, cake/brownie/muffin mixes, bisquick, pudding mixes, canned soups, etc. That will add calories and variety to our daily diet.

      I wish I was better organized with my food storage. I find having a mix of canned goods, grains/beans in buckets, freeze dried meals and MREs makes it almost impossible to get a real handle on what type of stockpile I have. (My best guesstimate at this point is 2-3 months, depending on how many people show up at my door post-SHTF).

      • breadmomma says:

        just a note to those that have access to Grocery Outlets-they seem to be all over Oregon…they have canned red salmon for 2.49 a can…normally canned salmon is 5 dollars or so a can so this is a good deal if you prefer salmon over tuna…my DH loves his tuna, but I am a salmon girl…canning the local salmon, but also keeping a store of the canned salmon handy…and it is one of the canned fish still from the good old USA….I have been using up the older Y2K freeze dried in the can corn, peas, carrots and cheese…this stuff indeed has an amazing shelf life…it tastes as fresh as the stuff I got this year…we try and keep a nice mix of canned meats, chili,clams, tuna, and other canned meats along with the freeze dried meats and TVP. We also keep a years supply of beans and grains so we have plenty for ourselves and enough for the daughter and her partner…he is with the program and helping us get the wood for the next year or so as well as help us harden our place and get us to the target range…he is also a great fisherman and hunter and has supplied fresh meat and fish for canning…

      • Bitsy,
        You need to look at calories and ensure you have a daily 1200-1500 per child and 1500-2000 per adult as a minimum, and substancially more for you while you’re nursing, since you still need to eat for two. These calories assume a sedintary lifestyle. Ad hunting, cutting wood, etc and you can pretty much double the required calories, especially in the winter.

    • As the commercial said ” Do I look like I have a plan”?

    • Southern Girl says:

      Thank you Lint, it think sometimes it can be easier to be more organized when you have a family that you must plan for. To keep it interesting I also have their favorite meals, snacks and desserts in my storage And I agree with you that you need vitamins on hand.

      • Southern Girl says:

        Wow, it should say: “I think sometimes” instead of ” it think’. I have been too long with out sleep.

  5. I like the idea of home canning meat but…. I guess I am just chicken:)
    We get our freeze dried meat and most everything else from I like that they offer most everything in smaller cans so we can try it first without buying those large #10 cans. The food is really good. We also got some bacon TVP and chicken TVP which I mix 50/50 with regular chicken. Makes great Philly cheese steak sandwiches!

  6. I must admit I store things I don’t use daily. Milk is the most glaring of these. I have both powdered and canned in storage, but use only fresh. At a cost of 5.00 to 8.00 dollars a gallon for storage milk and 1.56 to 3.00 for fresh I use fresh and when my pantry milk gets to the real expiration date I donate it to a soup kitchen. Flour is another thing, though I have berries and a mill, around thanksgiving baking supplies are so cheap I buy a years worth. The cost of mylar bags, O2 absorbers, lids, buckets exceed the cost of what goes in them so this becomes emergency or SHTF supplies. What I use day to day I buy only when on sale and in bulk. Heresy I know but what’s a poor Scotsman to do.

    • Azyogi,
      I’ll back you up. I too, eat the fresh produce (corn, peas, potatoes, etc) and keep the “long term” food for the real emergency when I cannot get to the store.

      The long term food supplies are still the same as what I eat but, processed to last until I need it. (I’m thinking 2012-2013)

  7. Tinfoil Hat says:

    Southern Girl

    I enjoyed the article immensely, and agree with Lint Picker that you are definitely extremely organized. It is just myself that I prep for, (and my 2 sorry excuse for watchdogs) and seeing as my diet now consists primarily of rice, veggies, and grilled chicken, food storage has been 1 of the easier things about my preps. But I’m a BIG advocate of charity in a SHTF situation (even if said charity is dispensed to a recepient staring at the business end of .45) and I won’t watch folks starve if I can help it, so perhaps I should plan a bit more broadly…

  8. Jarhead 03 says:

    Great post, always enjoy learning another approach. My gf that is a chef has been coming around to prepping and considering we were just dating when I had my tax levy she saw how my preps saved me from starving so I could pay my bills.

    I don’t plan out my meals to this extent but my gf has been making recommendations to my pantry and food preps. She enjoys cooking with what’s available since its a challenge compared to what always comes in fresh each day. It has made me a better cook. She is even open to my bringing home fresh game, frogs and loves hearing about my eating habits during survival schools.

    Thanks for another perspective!

  9. Jeginathol says:

    I agree about charity…I will not be able to see people starve either. I have found a LDS (Church of Latter Day Saints) cannery not far from me and they have the warehouse as well as supplies to can (#10) the staples…you can find one near you here,12566,2026-1-4,00.html

    You don’t have to be a member of the church to use the cannery as it benefits them as well. It’s sure cheaper than Emergency Essentials. It’s fun using the machines and they have the 25# bags of lots of things to do it for at least half the cost of EE. Just call and make an appointment…they will explain the rest when you get there.

    I wish I had a source of fresh salmon close by…I live in MA. I miss my pacific salmon on the grill. Unfortunately lobsta doesn’t can well. I have to plan for my kids and their partners too…they all think I’m crazy (like a fox). I pray I never have to use all of this and can donate it to a soup kitchen, but I feel called to do it, so there must be a reason. God brings you to it, and will get you through it.

    • Worrisome says:

      What about canning up a lobster soup, with some spuds, onions and milk/creme. Make it up the way you want and pressure can it? Never tried it so just saying?

      • The problem with canning with milk or cream is it shortens the shelf life. A better plan is to make the soup sans [without] dairy, then add milk or cream as you consume it.

  10. My problem is the same as many other commenters – not organized like this. Busy busy.. Trying to get the spousal unit on board to be the organizer..
    🙂 Occasional little successes here and there. Will print this one and leave it on her desk. Goodun.

  11. There is another philosophy for food storage (vs “Store what you eat and eat what you store”). Something along the lines of store what is practical and learn to make meals from those ingredients. That is some foods lend themselves to food storage and some do not. I like the idea of a food that is both cheap and will keep for 25 years or so. Things like wheat, rice, beans, potato flakes, sugar, etc. are cheap and store well. Some freeze dried food is too expensive but some of the common vegetables are fairly cheap in #10 cans. Things like, onions, peppers, celery, corn, tomato powder, etc. are easy to incorporate in meals with rice, beans and even wheat. Meat is generally expensive but freeze dried dairy is a little cheaper, like eggs, cheese, butter and milk. Include freeze dried bouillon, spices and you have your basic ingredients for 10,000 recipies. All of these can be stored and no need to rotate or use up in a couple of years. Simple.

  12. Jeginathol says:

    I agree Sweetpea, It is whatever is practical for you and your family. The beauty of cycle menu’s is that you know when you have reached a goal…the other way, you never know how much is enough. I have done a little of both. Freeze dried food in #10 cans makes it easy to have a very long term plan vs a short term plan which is an extension of your pantry. Both plans are necessary to be prepared. Try to incorporate as much of your plan (either one) into your diet to prevent major gastric upset when the SHTF. To go from eating primarily meat to eating primarily beans. At least keep some Pepto on hand to make the transition easier for you

  13. Anyone have ideas for storage in an apartment? I have so little room. Thanks

    • Songbird, I don’t have the same issue, but have been thinking hard about caches and storing supplies away from home – an important lesson I read about from people who have lived TEOTWAWKI. Maybe make your storage weakness a strength by finding safe storage locations away from home. My hurdle is getting over the thinking that eveything needs to be at home where I can see it.

  14. SurvivorDan says:

    Y’all are getting me in trouble. I pay attention and a good idea gets me going. So I bought a few things. The spousal unit is complaining (big fight) about my prep purchases. Just bought some powdered eggs, potato, freeze dried strawberries, dehydrated fake bacon, buttermilk pancake mix and cream of wheat. I already have a lot of beans, rice, oats, wheat and canned meats. Trying to add comfort foods. (Last week I got the guts for her own G0-Bag including a new Ruger and she didn’t complain and it cost quite a bit more.) Frustrated in the desert.

    • If you don’t mind, what is in her Go-Bag? I’m just getting started on preparedness. What model of Ruger? Thanks

  15. Jeginathol says:

    Survivor Dan…It’s hard to know when enough is enough (it never is). Live for today and plan for tomorrow…make sure you add some chocolate to that storage (she’ll love it).

    Songbird…under beds works well for cases (get those bed lifters to raise the height a bit). In closets and behind the couch also work. Make cases into a side table…lol. Keep it at 70 degrees or below and you will be fine.

  16. Linda in FL says:

    Hi Folks, Thanks so much for all the sharing of info from y’all. I’ve probably missed the post, but after opening a #10 can of dehydrated food, what should I do to keep the rest fresh? Can I simply reseal the can? Thanks.

  17. Jeginathol says:

    To Linda in Fl.
    Most #10 cans come with a plastic lid like you used to get for dog food. If you want, it would probably stay fresher if you put the leftovers into quart jars and (if you have one) use the FoodSaver sealer to reseal them. There are some items where light might be a factor (like powdered milk) then wrap the jars in foil. The main thing is to keep the food relatively dry, so as long as you use AC and keep the humidity down in the house then the leftover will last a very long time (years)

  18. Linda in FL says:

    Thanks Jeginathol,
    I’ve been thinking I need to get the FoodSaver that y’all keep talking about, but since it’s just me, didn’t think I needed one…plus, guess I’d need to add the the oxygen absorber things, right? …Again, thanks!

    • Southern Girl says:

      Linda, It depends on the food as others have said. I usually place it in smaller contains to use like glass storage jars, resealable bags, or home-can them too. And other foods I just leave in the #10 can covered by a lid. You getting a food saver is a great plan.

  19. Foodsavers are vacum packers, no need to add an O2 obsorber to a vacum. Many things can benefit from a waterproof vacum bag, spare clothes in a BOB, Ammo, fire starter/tinder, 1st aid supplies, OTC drugs, etc. Ball and Mason Jars can be sealed with an adapter with these machines, I’ve even seen them that are 12 volt for camping or hunting/fishing.

  20. Linda in FL says:

    Thanks for your reply. I have gleaned so much from this site over the past year. My preps for me personally are, I think, in pretty good shape, but I am now looking to having extra for elderly neighbors, hence purchasing some 10# cans of stuff like potato flakes, milk, vegs., etc. I just hope to keep stuff as fresh as I can. After opening and using, say, potato flakes for a soup, I would need to vacum seal to preserve, even if putting into glass jars, right? Again, thanks to all for your help!

  21. Two problems with me advising you, we live in two different climates it gets soo dry here that bread in a sandwhich can get stale in your hand as you eat the thing. I have little experience with mold and humidity. I don’t use potato flakes, I thicken soup with mesquite flour. I did read an article [?e-rticle?] somewhere about putting a small hole in the cap of a 2 liter bottle covering it with tape and evacuating the air with a suction device. He used a wet/dry vac but a foodsaver with a suction cup with a hole in the middle should work. The tape is lifted by suction then seals to cap by atmospheric pressure I guess this would work on any jar and lid allowing the reuse of many jars [mayo, pasta sauce, pickle, etc.] to hold ‘left overs’ from #10 cans. Freeing up more expensive mason jars for long term storage. Another alternative is removing or displacing the oxygen in the jar. Removing is what O2 obsorbers do, the same can be done with chemical hand warmers as they burn [oxidize into rust] all the O2 in a cofined space. Displacment is done by flooding with nitrogen, or more likely dry ice as the CO2 thaws it expands and drives out the air.
    Research each method as it involves risks, from exothermic reactions to pressure differentials. Depends on which S HitsTheFan, do you still have power, then the foodsaver will most likely be easiest. Is that power from a grid, or 12 volt from solar, affects which foodsaver to get. Can you afford the bags for it, if not then reusable containers make sense. Tape and a hole or mason jars and the adapter? Around and around it goes like a snake eating it’s tail. I try to be as ready on as many levels as I can,which reminds me I need to put potato flakes on my shopping list.

  22. Jeginathol says:

    This is a 9 part video that is a great primer for food storage and cooking by a Mormon woman. Mormons have a year of food storage as part of their religion.

Before commenting, please read my Comments Policy - thanks!