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How Much Food and Water to Stockpile

by Paul-Martin Foss

One of the first things to consider when stockpiling food, water, and supplies for a disaster scenario is figuring out how much to store. If you store too little, you’ll run out in the event of a weeks-long disaster. If you store too much, some of your supplies may spoil before you have a chance to use them or rotate them.

Figure Out Your Time Frame

The first thing you need to do is determine how long a disaster you’re planning for. Two to three weeks is generally the minimum recommendation. But looking at what has happened during Hurricane Harvey, where many areas of Texas remain flooded and supermarkets haven’t been stocked in weeks and where it still may be weeks for more supplies to arrive, two to three weeks worth of supplies may not be enough. You may very well want to have a month’s worth of food and water stashed away, or maybe even more.

How Much Water Will You Need?

The general recommendation is to store one gallon of water per day for each person and pet. This will have to cover drinking, cooking, and cleaning. For a single person, that means storing at least 15-30 gallons of water for a 2-4 week disaster scenario, while a family of four would need at least 60-120 gallons of water stored. That will require a lot of space for storage.

How Much Food Will You Need?

The first thing you should do is calculate how much food you go through in a single week, or even better calculate it for a month. That means keeping track of how much flour you use, how much rice you cook, and how many noodles you eat. If you eat two cups of rice each week, that’s about four pounds a month, so every time you open a new 5-pound bag go out and buy another one to keep stored up. Rotate through your stockpile so nothing goes stale. Figure out how much meat and vegetables you eat, then convert that to an equivalent amount of canned vegetables and canned or freeze-dried meat. Make sure to rotate through those too.

Other Supplies

Don’t forget about toilet paper, toothpaste, and deodorant, those will also be important things to have on hand. Keep track of when you start and finish a roll of toilet paper, a tube of toothpaste, or a stick of deodorant and make sure to keep plenty on hand. Take stock of how many flashlights you have and how many batteries they need, then make sure to have at least two changes of batteries for each light. As the old saying goes, buy it cheap and stack it deep. It’s better to stock up and be prepared than to try to run around to find scarce and expensive supplies once disaster strikes.

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