Viewing emergency food storage as a necessary expenditure instead of an unnecessary investment will compel you to begin stocking that food right away.
The fundamental rule to begin storing food is to stock what you use, meaning spend your hard earned money on supplies you use on a day to day basis. It is best to store extra items that you and your family already consume, and to build on that -- if you so wish -- with emergency supplies (i.e., freeze dried foods, MREs, etc.) Building your food stockpile is an incremental process. Your first goal should be to build a one week food supply, and gradually increase your food storage to your set goal -- be it a 3 months, 6 months or a year's supply of food.
You emergency storage should contain all the necessary items to sustain life: water, food, fuel, cooking equipment, medical supplies, clothing, etc. You should be meticulous in your preparations and you should include all the essential food items you will need, from spices to cooking oil, and everything in between. If you base your food storage program on menus, you will then be better prepared, when and if, the crisis/emergency sets in, because you will already have a template to work from. Being planned reduces anxiety and prevents you from acting impetuously during moments of crisis.
What and How Much to Store
It wise to store foods that are nutritious instead of purchasing cheap bulk foods that may or may not meet your needs. Without the proper nutritious food items, the food you serve will lack the basic nutrients essential for a healthy diet, which will leave you and your family members susceptible to disease. The food -- above all else -- has to be varied and needs taste good, you would not want the food to turn you and your family members off. It is not a smart thing to change your family's regular diet during times of crisis -- go with food recipes that they are already used to.
You should store all the food items it would require you to meet your family's current diet needs. You can begin storing dehydrated foods, grains, powered milk, soups, oil, mayonnaise, vegetables, canned goods, whatever it is you think you need.
Having enough of each food item is important to the feasibility of your food storage plan. Buying and storing randomly will put the integrity of your food storage into jeopardy. Therefore, planning carefully on how much you have to store is essential. A good way of gauging how much food you need is to follow what you eat (and everything that also goes into making the food) for a set amount of days, say a week, then multiply each food item by 4 to get the number of items you need to store -- for that one ingredient -- for one month. To calculate the total number of items you need for a certain ingredient, simply multiply the total you need for a week by the number of weeks you wish to have that food item in storage.