It takes some planning and calculation to build a year’s supply of food. The main point to remember is just to begin. Most people freeze when they start thinking about the calorie counts and nutrient ratios they need to include in their food storage and never get started.

If thinking about exact caloric quantities is slowing you down, it might be better to simplify and follow a few simple rules. It’s best to break up the building of your storage into simple, small steps. Start by building up a week’s supply of food and then move up from there. Scout out case lot sales and shop at big box stores (like Costco) to buy in bulk and save money.

Choose Foods You Already Eat

First of all, stock food you want to eat. Thirty pounds of hard, red wheat is going to make you feel pretty depressed if you have no idea what to do with it and an emergency comes. It’s ok (and actually recommended) to stock convenient foods that are easy to prepare. It’s true, they’re more processed and less healthy—but they’ll provide the nutrition needed to get you through a year of hardship.

Items like canned beans, rice, chili, and stew make great food storage items. Quite often, dried beans and rice can be stored for decades when handled properly. Freeze dried foods are also a wonderful option—they can be stored for many years and only need water to be reconstituted.

When building your emergency storage, keep in mind that a freezer full of meat or produce is good food storage only if you’re planning on having power during your emergency. It’s not bad to freeze foods for storage—frozen food works great for emergencies like sudden unemployment or other financial reversals—but make sure you also incorporate a lot of dried and canned goods in your storage.

Build a Variety of Foods

True, you will want to buy large amounts of the same foods in bulk to save money, but keep in mind that if you actually get stuck eating just your food storage for a year, you are going to get awfully sick of chili. You’ve got a whole year to fill up so buy large amounts of many types of food.

Don’t forget to include fruits and vegetables in the plan for most of your meals.  It’s also a good idea to include a little dessert or treat here and there. Keeping a variety of foods in your storage will ensure your body gets the different nutrients it needs to stay healthy.

Store in a Cool, Dark, and Dry Place

This is important for keeping your hard-earned food storage from deteriorating. Many dried or bottled goods lose proteins and vitamins when stored in the light. Keeping your food in a cool place (like in a basement) will also help to keep the nutrients from breaking down and prevent the introduction of bacteria. Keeping your canned foods dry will keep the cans from rusting and deteriorating. Also, you don’t want mold anywhere near your storage.