Master Food Storage

Food storage is, hand down, one of the hardest parts of prepping. Not only is food expensive, but most families have trouble planning meals for the week, much less an entire year. Fear not!

There are ways to tackle the monster that is food planning, and I believe the most effective way to through bulk, long-term food orders. Let me show you how it’s done, then I’ll share 5 tips to save money and maximize effort.

Buying canned food did not work for me

I have found that buying a few extra cans of soup and tuna at the store each time we go shopping was NOT a viable food plan for my family. Sure, I ended up having a bunch of canned goods stocked up, but it was difficult to rotate them into our meals before they would expire. I decided to abandon my canned good strategy, and instead focus on buying bulk staples that would last for 20-30 years. Here’s how I did it.

1) Calculate your calorie needs

For a long, long time I was trying to figure out how much food I had on hand by adding up serving sizes given on the food nutrition label. It wasn’t until I read “Survival Theory”, by Jonathan Hollerman, that I realized the proper way to manage my food inventory was based on calorie count, not serving size.

Before I even looked at what foods to buy, I started by calculating how many calories my family needed. Back in the day, before Prepperlytics, I used a bunch of spreadsheets to calculate my families calorie needs and food inventory. That ended up being a headache, so I converted those spreadsheets into the Prepperltyics interface, which I use to figure out how much food I need to buy.

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We want all preppers to be able to properly calculate their food storage needs.

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2) Form a group to get wholesale pricing

choose a supplier

There are a lot of long-term food suppliers; Rainy Day, Patriot Pantry, Wise, etc. If you’re buying pre-made meals, like a 90-day emergency food supply, then you really need to sample the food before you buy in bulk.

My strategy is to buy staples; rice, grain, sugar, etc. Taste isn’t so important with staples, so my focus is on price.

I spent a few months looking at suppliers, and I ended up with Here’s what I looked for:

  • Best pricing
  • Distributor discounts
  • Food comes pre-sealed for long-term storage
  • Strong selection of bulk staples

shipping costs

The biggest benefit to ordering as a group is shipping cost savings.

A 44lb bucket of rice cost $45.65 (retail) on To ship just that 44lb bucket to my area will cost an extra $65.41. Now if that bucket was shipped as part of a large group order shipping would be about $10.56.


Shipping is about 75% cheaper when ordering as a group

go wholesale

If you can order $10,000 worth from Rainy Day in a year, you can qualify as a wholesaler.

Wholesale pricing is on average 14% less than retail pricing; at least on the staples that my group ordered.


Staples were on avg. 14% cheaper on my group's order

How do you get distributor pricing?

Not many of us have an extra $10,000 to spend on long-term food storage, but you may be able to scrounge up $500 or $1,000 around tax refund time.

If you’ve got 7 or 8 friends interested in going in on an order with you, call up Rainy Day, or whatever supplier you choose, and see if you can get distributor pricing. You might have to do 2 or 3 smaller orders to get up to the $10,000 level.

3) Organize your order sheet

I use Google Docs to organize our group order, this way everyone in the group can just fill out what items they want. We use pseudonyms instead of our real names for OPSEC, but be aware that anything stored online is inherently insecure. You may prefer to recreate this in Excel on your computer.
Now Rainy Day will give you an inventory list of almost 1,000 items with standard pricing and wholesale distributor pricing. Each person in your group should get a copy of the list. They can go through and choose the items they want to order, adding the items to your excel sheet.

A – Item Name
B – Rainy Day Item ID (provided to you in their inventory list)
C – The number of pounds each item weighs
D-E are hidden, but they are comparing the 2016 pricing to 2017 pricing. On avg. prices have increased 8.21% year over year
F – The standard pricing on their website
G – Distributor or wholesale price, which is what you’ll pay
H – The savings between the retail price and wholesale price
I – Estimated shipping. Actual shipping will be figured out once you submit the order to Rainy Day and they get back to you with a shipping quote
J – The number of total calories in each item
K – The number of calories per pound of food
L – The cost per calorie for that food
M – The estimated shelf life of that food item


set up a spreadsheet for your group

For each member of the group, set up a few columns with details on their order. The most important one is Quantity. The rest of the items can be calculated by multiplying the quantity they want by the item details above.

Finally, you have a totals section that adds up each member’s total quantity. Give the item IDs and total quantities your group wants to Rainy Day, and in a few days, they’ll get back to you with a shipping quote. Update the spreadsheet to reflect the actual shipping prices. Collect money from the members and place the order. In a few weeks, a semi will arrive with pallets of white buckets, ready for your unpacking.

4. unload, label and store

Your food is on its way. You're done, right?

The shipping company will arrive with pallets of buckets. You’ve got to have a way to get those pallets off of the truck. A tractor with forks or a forklift is best. If you don’t have either of these, check with Rainy Day to see if the shipping company will unload the pallets.

Once the pallets are at your house, you had better coordinate an unpacking party with your group members. Having to move around dozens of 45lb buckets will do a number on ones back.

Cut off the shrink wrap and start sorting the buckets. Each person should have a copy of the master spreadsheet so they can find the items they ordered.

If multiple people are storing their buckets in a single location, write your initials on the lid and side of the bucket. You can even make it easier to identify buckets by color-coding them with stickers or colored duck tape. For example, any buckets with a red stripe of tape are Bob’s.

Store the food in a cool, dark place such as a basement or cellar.

5. Update your inventory list

The final step, which most preppers overlook, is inventory management. Once your food arrives, you’ll want a way to keep track of how many calories you have stored and how long those calories will last you.

Prepperlytics was designed with bulk food storage in mind.

Log into Prepperlyics, click on “Pantry” and update the quantities you have stored. As you update your storage amounts, the tool will update the number of days the food will last you, and highlight food groups that you need to focus on for the next food order.

wrapping up with some helpful tips

  • Don’t forget to print out your Prepperlytics Pantry list, or any spreadsheets you use to track inventory every few months. You’re going to want those lists on paper if the grid goes down.
  • If you’re planning on having chickens, you don’t need to store any pasta. Just combine eggs and flour to make pasta dough.
  • If you have a grain mill or plan on getting one, you’re better off buying Hard Red Wheat Berries as opposed to buying unbleached flour. The flour lasts for 10-15 years and costs $0.82 lb while the white lasts for 30 years and cost ($0.69 lb after milled into flour). You do however need to put in the effort to mill the wheat berries into flour.
  • When you’re looking at Rainy Day items, look for items marked “SP” which stands for “Super Pale”. Food marked as Super Pales come in 6-gallon food grade buckets stored in mylar bags with oxygen absorbers.
  • Ordering staples in bulk is one of the the fastest and cheapest way to store calories. One 6-gallon bucket of rice contains 71,040 calories. If a grown man ate just rice for lunch and dinner every day, he could survive for 44 days. At $41.09 a bucket, that’s less than $0.50 for a meal. Now you wouldn’t want to eat just rice every day. It wouldn’t get enough nutrients, and you would tired of it quickly. But it just goes to show how much progress you can make prepping with bulk orders.
  • Inflation makes everything a little more expensive each year; food is no exception. Last year’s wholesale prices for Rainy Day were 8.21% cheaper than this year. I expect them to increase next year as well. If they rose by 8.21% each year for 30 years, a bucket of rice that cost $41.09 today will cost $438.00 in the year 2048. Your $1,000 order of food today will cost $10,659 by then; IF the dollar still exists.

want more?

Would you like to download a copy of our Food Ordering Spreadsheet in either Excel or Google Docs? We’re making these documents available to all Prepperlytics Next Level Members ($4.95/mo). Click on the “Library” tool once inside your account and grab the templates.


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