How Much Canning Do You Need For a Full Year?

Canning and preserving can go a long ways to making sure that your family’s needs are taken care of over the long winter months. With the rapidly rising costs of food and the gas needed to transport it, it is becoming more and more of a necessity to do everything you can to make sure that you have plenty of food you have grown or have been able to get in season.

Start with a Plan

Get a Good Idea of What Your Family Will Eat

One of the biggest mistakes that new and seasoned gardeners and canners alike make is growing or canning food they are not even sure that their family will eat. Another mistake is to preserve far more of one time than you are likely to get your family to consume in a years’ time. To the best thing that you can do is to start with a plan.

  • What does you family really love from the garden
  • What did You use the Most of last winter
  • What are the items you are most quickly refilling from Your Pantry?
  • what sits on your Shelves and does not get eaten?

TIP  – If you have an inventory list, take a close look at it and find the items that are most popular, many things on your list can be preserved if you are not doing it already. Aside from plant based foods, meats can also be canned, as well as complete meals.

Make a List of the Items You know Your Family Will Eat

Start by making a list of the items you know your family will eat, and make an approximate list of how many jars, or other units that your family will eat in a year. Keep in mind that you can dry, freeze and can just about anything providing you have the materials and the storage space for it.

HINT : Canning is just one way to keep your food, You can also dry, freeze and smoke foods.

Make a list of things you ran out of last year and how soon in the year you ran out, this will give you an basic idea of how much you should can this year.

Drop Anything from your list that is still sitting on the shelf, there is a reason why it is not getting eaten, If you just canned too much of it, keep in mind that many can goods can last longer than a year if properly stored, so You can easily finish up and then add it to your list next year.

Make a list based on what you find from the notes you have taken. Prioritize your list by what you know will be of the most use to your family and what you can grow yourself.

Use Your List to Plan Your Garden and Buying

Most of us do not grow enough to feed our family, but if we have a list of what we Want to can this year, we can watch for sales, search for bargains or jump on freebies when our neighbors have more than they can use. A well planned list will keep you in the know and help you to organize your canning year accordingly.

Figuring out How Much to Plant

Figuring out how to plan your garden to feed your whole family is not an exact science, It depends on a lot of factors such as:

  • How many People in your family
  • How good your growing Year is
  • How much of an item You will be using.
  • Your growing Conditions

The best thing to do is to figure out the approximate yield in pounds for your garden, then calculate how many pounds per quart jar. The links below will give you some starter numbers to work with, but don’t forget that these numbers are just approximates.

Yields From Fresh Vegetables and fruits – This link will tell you how many pounds you will need per quart jar of food, the list is short but you should be able to approximate other foods using this list.

Pounds Per Row – This PDF was written for Virginia but it will give you a basic idea of the yield in pounds per 10 ft. row for a wide range of crops while this yield  is approximate depending on your location and growing conditions it serves as a good guide for planning how much to plant to get the desired harvest.

A Final note

Make sure to keep good gardening records, you can keep them in a notebook or on your computer, but make sure to note what type of harvest you got, the crop you planted, how much you planted and how many jars you got from your harvest. Also note what your family ate over the year, so you can keep track for next year and have a much more accurate idea of what to grow.


  1. Dick McCormick says

    I have not found a site yet that will post how many quarts of canned goods will be needed for a year on average. I know there are variables but for a family of four there should be a general guide so a person can have some idea of how much to plan on canning for each variety and therefore how much to plant. If such a list was available then one could modify it for their own tastes. If, on average a family of four would use one quart of tomato sauce a week, that would be 52 quarts for a year. No one has such a list that I can find. Hope you can do something about that. Thanks.

    • Cindy morin says

      Sorry to here that but only you can do that every one is difent for exampal my family will go through 45jars of spagettie sauce , 25 jars of just tomatoes 20 jars of pizza sause 48 jars of jams& jellies so it all depends on what you use tril and error you will know after the first yr. and it is all ways changing. Have fun with it and try new things. I hope this helps you in some way.

    • Cynthia Buhler says

      If you Google LDS Food storage calculator their church has some food storage calculators and guides. The are big on preparedness if you have an interested in other types of stocking up.

    • twila says

      Dick if you can get a copy of the older ball canning books mine is from 1969 they have a guide in them.
      Wish Ball would put it back in.

    • Terry t says

      My family size is four, The rule I go by is 120 quart of each kind of vegetable and fruit we like except for potatoes then it 250 to 300 quarts. The reason it so high is for bad years that you can’t put out a garden or drought (I don’t water it my garden is 75 feet by 100 feet) . Vegetable soup and chilli and other soups about 30 quarts, spaghetti sauce salusa etc. about 52 quarts. I have done this for years and has work very well for me just make sure you use the oldest first.


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