Answer by Melanee**

If you’ve spent a lot of time around Mormons, you’ve likely heard them talk about food storage. Maybe you’ve wondered, “Why do Mormons store food?”  Is it because we are doomsdayers who believe that the end of the world is right around the corner and we’re all going to have to hunker down in our basements and survive on cans of tuna and Tang?

It’s true, food storage could be used in the event of a major global catastrophe, but that is not the only reason why prophets all through the ages have counseled us in this way.  In a General Conference address given in October 2002, President Gordon B. Hinckley said:

I do not predict any impending disaster. I hope that there will not be one. But prudence should govern our lives. Everyone who owns a home recognizes the need for fire insurance. We hope and pray that there will never be a fire. Nevertheless, we pay for insurance to cover such a catastrophe, should it occur.  We ought to do the same with reference to family welfare.

Church leaders have always counseled members to become self-sufficient—to be prepared to meet the challenges of life.  We’ve been counseled to get out of debt and live within our means, to prepare families and neighborhoods for natural disasters (which really do occur frequently all over the world) and yes, to build a long-term supply of food storage.

Even if you’re not a Mormon, having a long-term supply of food you can eat is a good idea.  Though most people haven’t experienced a natural disaster big enough for the movies, there are plenty of situations that occur every day in which food storage would be a huge asset, such as unemployment, injury, or illness.  Surely no one needs to be reminded of the thousands of people today who are losing their jobs and their homes in a tumultuous economy.  Families facing tough times can have an extra sense of stability and confidence if they are able to keep food on the table without appealing to others for help.  President Thomas S. Monson said, “Many more people could ride out the storm-tossed waves in their economic lives if they had their… supply of food… and were debt free.  Today we find that many have followed this counsel in reverse: they have at least a year’s supply of debt and are food-free.” (“That Noble Gift — Love at Home,” Church News, May 12, 2001, 7, quoted in “Family Home Storage: A New Message,” Ensign, Mar 2009, 56–60.)

Though this is not a primary motivation for most people to store food, my husband and I like to look at our food storage as something of a financial investment.  When food prices are rising rapidly (as they have in recent years) the money we’ve used to buy food storage seems to generate higher returns than money we have in a high-interest savings account.

Perhaps the most important reason for storing food is that doing so will bring a sense of peace to us and our families.  Members of the Church can take comfort in the fact that they have followed the counsel of those whom we sustain as prophets, seers, and revelators and that their best efforts will be magnified in times of crisis.  And anyone—Mormon or not—can take comfort in knowing that no matter what challenges they face in life, they’ll never have to send their children to bed with empty stomachs.

What exactly does the term “food storage” describe?

In February of 2007, the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released the pamphlet All Is Safely Gathered In: Family Home Storage [available in numerous languages] which outlines a few basic guidelines for building a home storage supply and a financial reserve:

Three-Month Supply: Build a small supply of foods that your family regularly eats.  This food should be rotated often to ensure freshness.

Drinking Water: Store enough drinking water for your entire family for several days to be used if your water supply should become tainted or disrupted.

Financial Reserve: Establish a financial reserve by saving a little money each week and gradually increasing it to a reasonable amount.

Longer-Term Supply: Where permitted by law, gradually build a supply of food with an extended shelf life that could be used to sustain life, such as wheat, white rice, and beans.  This food should also be used in your regular cooking.

How do I get started:

Interested in building a home storage supply?  Here are some tips for getting the cans rolling:

-Start off by taking an inventory of the food you already have.  Don’t count things that you know your family will never eat.  In fact, while you’re doing this, you might as well just toss those foods and make more room for your food storage.

-Determine what you would need to add to your supply in order to have enough to meet your family’s needs.  Don’t forget non-food items, such as toilet paper, toothpaste, etc.

-Come up with a plan for purchasing what you need.  You can budget a little money from every paycheck to be devoted to food storage.  When you buy groceries, you can buy one item to be used now and an identical one for storage.  When you receive money that is in addition to your regular paycheck (e.g. bonuses, gifts, government stimulus checks) use it to buy food storage.  It will be a lot more useful to you in an emergency than a big-screen TV and you can still feel good about stimulating the economy.

-Buy what you’ll eat and eat what you buy.  One of the most important parts of storing food is making sure that you use it and replace it often so that you don’t end up with a pantry full of wasted food.

[Editor’s Note: We’ll be sharing more food storage resources tomorrow in our Links We Like article.]


**Please note: The answers in “Ask a Mormon Woman” and (other content on this site) reflect the thoughts and perspectives of the administrators at Mormon Women. Although we strive to have our content consistent with the Church’s doctrine and teachings, we do not speak officially for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. For official information about or from the Church, please visit or


For more Ask a Mormon Woman questions/answers, please click here.