2 years=a mountain of food?

The thread about stockpiling for the end of the world, this post about Mormons keeping two years worth of food, and panting while lugging just a few days worth of groceries home from the supermarket got me thinking: What is the volume of a two-year supply of food? Do you avoid renting your own warehouse by keeping special Mormon/Survivalist compressed food rations? How does this work? I think just the weight of coffeespouse’s Diet Coke would break through the floor.

IIRC a full MRE contains about 3,000 Calories. If you ration yourself to one a day, and given that there are a dozen in a case, that would be about 60 cases. Have two a day, and that’s still a fairly compact amount.

But I think the Mormon idea might be more about bulk foods like beans, rice, canned products, etc. Space requirements would be more variable for those. And I don’t know about water.

You might have trouble acquiring 60 cases of those MREs though, as the current generation are in the 1500-1700 calorie range.

My memory could be faulty on the caloric values. I might be conflating the numbers with a full pack of survival biscuits.

Still, two MREs for one person for two years would be about 120 cases. Cases are approximately 12"x12"x24". Maybe less. So you could fit about 400-500 cases in a small storage unit. That would be enough for three or four people.

And again, you’ll need water. Depending on the climate that might be 3,000 to 4,000 gallons per person.

Here’s a weird tip- around Passover, many grocery stores sell Matzo (unleavened bread, crackers) as a loss leader. It stays good for a long time. Get a couple five packs.

With MRE’s you want a fiber supplement.

In reality, the LDS church actually stockpiles this “food” (really only grain) at a grain silo near Salt Lake City. It looks like a normal grain silo, but I don’t know what the details are in regards to how many people they expect to sustain from it.


If we assume water supplies wouldn’t be potable, I would expect the necessary water to be a major weight. And of course things like beans and pasta require it for preparation.

I heard recently that some are now questioning the eight glasses of water a day guideline. Supposing it’s accurate, though, I guess that’s 64 oz of water per day, i.e. half a gallon.

Wikianswers says: A US gallon of fresh water at 4 degrees C weighs 8.34 pounds.

Two years =730 days. So the water for one person would weigh a little over 3000 lbs. The cube would be about 14 x 14 x 14 jugs.

A lot of things like canned ravioli or maple syrup probably have similar weight/volume ratios. Companies like Coca-Cola bottle locally so they don’t have to transport the weight of the finished product nearly as far.

I’d guesstimate you could survive on a pound of food per day. A lot of nuke dinners are about 8 oz and you could make it on two, maybe. OTOH if you’re doing more than just sitting around, e.g. hunting or building log cabins, you’d need much more.

And how healthy you’d be without a varied diet is another matter. A nurse I used to work with said her daughter was trying to make it through college eating mostly ramen and a few other low-cost items but ended up in the hospital with GI problems.

If something broke out that left infrastructure intact (zombie plague, etc.), is silo grain humanly edible? I thought I read somewhere that it was routinely treated with chemicals (insecticide, fungicide, etc.), and had to be carefully cleaned to be made fit for human consumption. Any truth?

Mormons where I grew up (Southern Alberta) could have their own foods processed into cans at an area cannery.

My parents have several large metal shelves in their office’s warehouse filled with canned food and 2-liter bottles of water. They’ve got canned potatoes, beans, rice, chocolate, meat, fruit … all kinds of stuff. They used to have a huge selection of MREs as well, but I haven’t seen those in a while. Probably they’re more expensive than the canned food.

If you’ve got the hardback edition of Bill Bryson’s The Life & Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, the inside cover illustrations are a typical 1950s American family (a typical white 1950s American family) with all the food they’d eat in a year.

There’s a LOT of food there- milk, bread, flour, vegetables, meat, butter, and so on. But it also looks like it could probably be stored inside a largish Garden Shed or a 2-car Garage (provided you didn’t mind having your lawn mower on the patio all the time or parking your car on the driveway).

Interesting pic, and a great choice of inside-cover illustration as well.

The Mormon idea of food storage was always the basics - wheat, rice, sugar, milk, beans etc. Some people simply would go out and make a one time purchase of a years supply and store it in their garage because it was supposed to last 10 to 30 years depending on how it was packaged.

A typical years’ supply:


Note that there is a little picture of a woman next to the food you get. All the food really wouldn’t take up that much space, if you had an extra closet or something it would all fit in there just fine.

The Mormon guidelines for storing water were to store two weeks worth of water for each person plus something to purify water.

I want to point out that the Mormon church has actually changed their approach to food storage and now recommends that members start out by slowing building up food storage for 3 months with food that they eat normally anyway by buying a little extra each week. After that, they suggest moving on to storing a years worth of food rather than the two years storage recommended in the past.