20 Items To Start Your Food Storage Plan

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I am asked all the time, “how do I start a food storage plan?” Here’s the deal, you only have to start with a little rice, beans, some fruits, vegetables and some canned meats. Of course, we still need the basics to make bread, biscuits, and tortillas, I will list those items as well. I eat a bean burrito every day without cheese. I take a flour tortilla and add a scoop of beans and roll it up and eat it. If I have leftover veggies I throw them into my burrito.


When I started my food storage plan years ago I had powdered milk, pinto beans, flour, and sugar. Well, things have changed in the last 20 years as far as food storage items that are available to purchase. Before I share my food storage plan with you, please think about the food you eat most of the time. If you will never eat oatmeal, you may not want to store as much oatmeal. If you only make cookies with oatmeal, then you would store less than the family that eats oatmeal every day or at least twice a week.

Think about the fruits and vegetables you like to eat that are fresh, if you can buy those in some cans then do it. If you don’t use all of them by the end of the year donate them to your local food bank. I want you to think about how large your family is and buy according to how much you would actually eat. I based this on two people. You may eat more or you may eat less.

One thing you may want to consider as far using small “case lot” size cans like those listed below over the #10 cans of items is that you may not use up all the food in the #10 can in one year. Once open, the contents in a #10 can, depending on what item it is, you have one to two years of usable life if you transfer the food out of the can into an airtight container. Just putting those plastic lids on will not keep the food airtight. Please use mason jars or BPA-free plastic containers.

Thrive life sells some pantry cans with the same shelf-life as some of the #10 cans. Butter in #10 cans and Pantry containers 

The butter in #10 cans and the pantry cans at Thrive Life has a shelf life of 5 years unopened and opened only 9 months.

20 Item Food Storage Plan

  1. 30 pounds of pinto beans
  2. 96 cans of ready to eat beans
  3. 96 cans of vegetables
  4. 96 cans of fruit
  5. 96 cans of canned meat like chicken (tuna goes mushy pretty fast)
  6. 20 pounds of white rice
  7. 20 pounds of sugar and 4-quarts of honey
  8. 10 pounds of instant milk (it’s easier to mix and tastes better than powdered milk)
  9. 50 pounds of white flour and 50 pounds of hard white wheat (not ground)
  10. 2 pounds of baking powder
  11. 5 pounds of baking soda
  12. 10 pounds of salt, your favorite spices, cinnamon, chili powder, unsweetened cocoa, garlic powder, onion powder or the ones you use the most.
  13. 20 pounds of pasta
  14. 20 jars of spaghetti sauce
  15. 6 jars of peanut butter and 12 jars of jam
  16. 1-quart of vanilla
  17. 20 pounds of regular oatmeal
  18. 20 pounds of pancake mix and 4-1/2-gallons of syrup
  19. 10 pounds of SAF yeast
  20. 48 cans of cream of chicken soup

Here’s the deal, this is a really good start for those experienced with food storage and for others just getting started. I can cook from scratch with all of the items listed above. Give me a can of cream of chicken and the world is wide open with possibilities. Please remember to have a can opener and store lots of water. How much water to store.

American Red Cross

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