Having those long-term foods for a rainy day makes a great prepper stockpile.
When it comes to prepping, there isn’t anything much more important than having a good supply of the basics that keep us alive. Those prepper basics are of course food, water, security, and shelter. But the biggest struggle for many is finding the foods that last a long time. In this post, we take a look at the 20 best prepping foods for long-term storageand how to extend the shelf life of your foods.
Since I started writing The Prepping Guide, one of the most popular questions I have received is what foods last the longest? It was also one of the primary challenges I had when I started prepping. And it’s not only preppers that ask about the foods with the longest shelf life, it’s homesteaders, emergency workers, military, and many other communities. So I decided to make a list of the longest-lasting foods.
For water storage, whether you are storing your water or buying bottled water, it’s pretty straightforward. And for security and shelter, there are many different ways to set up your home security and use your shelter or a bug out location. But for food, it’s important to know the range of choices we have and the foods that have the longest shelf life so that we don’t have to rotate our stock so much. This lets us have those foods sitting in the cupboard and know that should we need them, they will still be good to eat in 5 or 10 years.
Choices in food matter. For myself, I wouldn’t want to be living off beans for a whole year if I knew there were other options I could easily purchase at my local supermarket that would last for more than five or 10 years, and I know you are the same. While these foods might seem plain and simple, they are great to add with your canned foods that you might have canned yourself or your emergency food.
So let’s take a look at what can we eat that has the longest shelf life and the foods that last a long time.
The 20 best foods that last the longest
1. Dried beans
Just like with rice, if you properly package dried beans they can last for up to 30 years. To get the longest shelf life out of dried beans they have to be stored in air-tight containers with moisture prevention to prevent the spoilage that happens in kept foods.
One of the best bulk options we tried were Augason Farms Pinto Beans, which are contained in a 6-gallon watertight pail that included 432 servings.
Sure, I mentioned above that dried beans every day might get a bit boring, but if you add these in with rice and a few different spices you can make a lot of interesting mixtures to have some contrast to your food stockpiles and the types of recipes you could create out of your doomsday stockpile.
For storing dried beans, it is recommended you stick with airtight sealable food storage containers and mylar bags which stop oxygen absorption for long-term foods. The bags help considerably to extend the shelf-life of almost all of the foods that you are looking to store. There are also several other ways that you might want to look at to extend the shelf-life of your foods as well.
2. Rolled oats
Oats are amazing and a very filling food source that can be easily used in all sorts of meals and snacks. Sure, they are not as easy to cook as most other food types but can last upwards of 30 years if kept in the same manner as beans. And, did we mention how cheap they are.
There are endless possibilities to how you prepare them including boiling oats, toasting oats, grinding them into flour, baking them into your favorite muffin, even sprouting them or making them into oat milk.
The health benefits of rolled oats, like the ones we tested from Honeyville, are rich in antioxidants, contain a powerful soluble fiber called Beta-Glucan, and can lower cholesterol levels and protect LDL cholesterol from damage.
3. Pasta products
Pasta is a great shelf food as it is another carbohydrate item to mix with anything else to make a cold or hot pasta depending on what you are after. For most commercially-packaged freeze-dried pasta they sit around the 8-30 year shelf lifespan.
Take a look at the packs in the supermarket as some Italian pasta varies quite widely in their expiry dates.
4. Dehydrated fruit slices
Dried fruits, or dehydrated fruits, are fruits that have been dried out such as raisins, apricots, apple, and of course dates, but the possibilities don’t stop there. You can dehydrate any fruit and many vegetables.
Most dehydrated fruits in bulk are costly and I have found the ones I have done myself with the Gourmia Food Dehydrator are more delicious and affordable. But slicing and drying fruits and veggies can be time-intensive so do what’s best for you.
Most dehydrated fruits will keep well up to five years, but dates and raisins may keep a bit longer if stored in the same preserved way as beans but in a cooler temperature.
There are various ways to store cheese, such as cheese in wax, canned cheese from Bega, Kraft, and freeze-dried cheese, and can last for an incredibly long time for a dairy product.
6. White rice
Rice is one of the must-have foods for stockpiles just because it is cheap, easy to get, and easy to store for great long shelf life.
7. Dehydrated carrots
Dehydrated carrots last for up to 25 years.
8. Dried corn (10+years)
Canned corn and dried corn is cheap, tasty and has an easy 10-year shelf life.
9. Legumes: lentils and peas (4-5 years)
If you are stocking lentils, which most preppers already do, consider getting whole lentils and not split ones, as the whole lentils last much longer. These are also a great source of fiber and are very easy to cook on their own or to add to other dishes.
The shelf life for these is generally 4-5 years but if you add them into mylar oxygen absorber bags they can last up to 20 years.
10. Canned baked beans and canned spaghetti
I grew up on canned beans as a kid and absolutely love them. I keep small tins of these in my bug out bag and take them outdoors as they are super tasty and easy to eat hot or cold.
11. OvaEasy Powdered whole eggs (hard to believe it exists – these last for up to 7 years)
I would never usually eat these, and perhaps if you had a good source of chickens these would not be necessary, but as an additive, canned powdered eggs are a perfect shelf item as they can last up to seven years.
Pemmican is a survival treat invented by the Native Americans which was made from lean meat of local wild animals. The meat is dried over a fire, mixed with fat and flavoring berries, and pressed into biscuit-sized snacks.
Bear Valley makes a range of pemmican products for outdoor regulars who are looking for a source of protein with a good taste and long shelf life.
13. MREs (Meals Ready To Eat)
Initially made for soldiers to have high-energy sources of foods that last a long time, MREs are essentially the basics of long-lasting foods that are made to be compact but carry 24 or 72-hours worth of nutrients.
These are great to throw in the bug out bag or any 72-hour survival kit as they always come with a lot of different meals in one pack which can be mixed or eaten on their own.
MREs are also great to use in short-term scenarios such as in disasters where you need to rely on an emergency food source for a short amount of time. This is why most 72-hour survival kits will have an MRE or freeze-dried meal to go.
Even though they are sugar and fat-packed, if you’re after a little bit of sweetness to add to the prepper’s pantry, Twinkies are the one dessert that has been proven to outlast a nuclear fallout.
In 2012, a science teacher finished an experiment to see how long they would last. He ate a pack of Twinkies that were 30 years old and aside from the bread tasting a little stale, they were completely fine.
Longest-lasting condiments to add as prepper foods
15. Salt/Sugar (indefinite)
While you can use honey as a type of sugar, which also lasts indefinitely, sugar and salts are great to add to foods and are basic ingredients in many recipes.
16. Baking soda (indefinitely)
Baking soda and baking powder last indefinitely, but again you need to think about if you want to be cooking loaves of bread or doughy items when the world is at an end. Some people avoid stocking too many items that require a lot of cooking.
17. Honey (too long 100 years+)
Honey, as mentioned above, is a great natural sugar and lasts forever.
18. Stock/bouillon (10+years)
This not only works for soups but also potato or rice to add an extra flavoring to a dish.
19. Instant coffee, cocoa powder, tea (10+ years)
Depending on your water reserves, you might not want to be drinking too much coffee if you need to be relying on your prepper’s stockpile of food.
20. Powdered milk (20+ years. Should use a moisture absorber in their storage packs)
Powdered milk and even powdered protein supplements are a must-have for the pantry as the powdered milk can be cooked with or used in drinks and the protein powder provides a lot of nutrients you might usually not get.
How is freeze-driedfood made?
First, we should clear up exactly what is freeze-dried food. Often you will find that some foods are considered freeze-dried, but are in fact meals that are ready to eat, otherwise known as MREs. Fortunately, if you are looking for a lot, we have included them on this list. But as far as freeze-dried food goes, there is a little bit of science behind how they are made.
While freeze-drying food is power-intensive, the benefits of doing so drive the industry to keep providing it. They are long-lasting and lighter than carrying the foods required to make a full pad thai or Sunday lamb roast.
The process to make freeze-dried food is simple.
Foods are snap frozen – Fresh foods or recently cooked foods are placed in a special dryer where they are frozen at high temperatures (-40 degrees Fahrenheitor colder). This is a snap freeze method so the food is frozen in an instant.
Foods are vacuum dried – The second process is where the freeze dryer creates a vacuum around the food and when the food gets slightly warm the ice evaporates rather than liquifies leaving the food in a dry and frozen state.
The food is stored in food storage bags or other types of moisture and oxygen-proof bags. Generally, an oxygenabsorber is also used in the bag to ensure that no oxygen gets to the food. The entire process suspends the food until water is added to it, which then essentially brings the food back to life-givingit that fresh taste, appearance, and smell as if it had just been cooked.
For many of us, the ability to choose between MREs and freeze-dried foods allows us to have various pre-packaged options until we find a few flavors that we enjoy. For some underground bunker owners, this is a process they undergo before they stock up on a year’s worth of such long-term food.
Freeze-dried foods ready to go in an emergency
Every prepper’s pantry should also have emergency food supplies that can be grabbed in a bug-out situation, such as if your place was to be overrun with people desperate for supplies, or you need to leave because of a disaster or other threat.
Some great emergency food supply companies provide sets of food supplies such as:
- Mountain House 3-Day Emergency Supply
- Military MRE Food Supplies
- Chef’s Banquet Emergency Food
- Survival Tabs Emergency Food Rations
For more in-depth coverage on the best freeze-dried foods and emergency foods to add to your stockpile, I wrote a post on the seven best freeze-dried and emergency foods that might help you find suitable options for your bug out bag, stockpile, or to keep around the house for when you are headed outdoors.
What is the difference between freeze-driedfood and MREs?
Having been initially made for astronauts to ensure that they had long-lasting foods in their space missions, freeze-driedfoods are now a staple item for military, hikers, campers, survivalists, and preppers. And there’s a lot more than just the freeze-driedice cream that astronauts were snacking on in the first days of freeze-dried food preservation.
The main difference between MREs, normal food, and freeze-driedfood is the absenceof water. When you freeze dry food, you are removing almost all of its water content through the evaporation method we mentioned above. Removing the water removes the chance of the food spoiling while still keeping the same texture, taste, and smell.
This reason is why some prefer to carry MREs instead of freeze-dried meals, as they don’t have to carry excess water to add moisture back to their food. It is also why it is recommended to drink plenty of water with dehydrated and freeze-dried foods, as the foods will absorb water in the body as well, making you much more thirsty than if you ate an average MRE.
Nutritionally, there is very little difference between foods that haven’t been freeze-dried and foods that have. Anyone that says freeze-drying food loses its nutritional value is wrong. Researchers have found that freeze-dried foods that contain vegetables or fruits have fewer vitamins, but that those amounts lost were very small. For calories, freeze-dried foods contain more as they are missing water so their density and calory count goes higher.
So with that in mind, let’s take a look at the best freeze-dried foods, and the best emergency foods you can buy.
How to store food to make it last longer
When storing any prepper foods, there are certain tips to extend the shelf life of your foods. Following some simple common-sense practices can mean the difference between your foods lasting months or even years longer than they usually would. For any prepper that stores their food, this should be part of their repertoire.
Over at our post on how to extend the shelf life of foods, we have 20 tips that you might want to follow.
One great way to ensure that your food is sealed and that it won’t develop mold over time is to use mylar storage bags and oxygen absorbers. The mylar bags are great as they are crucial to long-term food storage by limiting the factors that affect foods such as heat, light, moisture, oxygen, and of course those pesky mice and rats (if you have them around).
You will no doubt find that most preppers will use mylar bags in their food storage containers, which just reinforces the protection of your food. Using oxygen absorbers (the amount depends on the amount of food you have in the bag) will stop oxygen, dampness, and any eventual bacteria and mold from growing in your food. This is the number one spoiler for long-term storage foods and the one thing we hate the most as preppers when it comes to food storage. I recommend picking up these discount mylar bags as they also come with oxygen absorbers.
Once you have loaded your food in the bag and you have thrown in your oxygen absorbers, you can either heat seal it closed, or if you have bought mylar bags with a ziplock seal, you can use that instead.
How to start your emergency food supply
When you first come into the world of prepping, there is a lot run through and it is easy to get lost. Thankfully, it’s not all that hard to start prepping and it shouldn’t be either, it’s quite a fun activity once you start getting into it. We have a guide on how you can start prepping which helps you build an adequate food supply for yourself and your loved ones. This ensures that you won’t have to depend on desperate means to get full, like eating roadkill.
If you know of any other foods that have a long shelf-life, please share it with me and the rest of the prepping community in the comments section below.
Many foods with long shelf lives are the basics—think rice, grains and salt—but others can last for a long time because they're dried or canned. These techniques can extend the usefulness of all kinds of foods.What are the top 10 survival foods? ›
- #1 – Grains. Grains are a great way to provide foundational nutrients and calories to a survival diet. ...
- #2 – Beans and Legumes. ...
- #3 – Potato Flakes. ...
- #4 – Dehydrated and Freeze-Dried Vegetables. ...
- #5 – White Sugar. ...
- #6 – Honey. ...
- #7 – Salt. ...
- #8 – Baking Soda.
- Pemmican. Native Americans came up with pemmican before refrigerators were invented. ...
- Hardtack. Hardtack has always been considered a staple survival food. ...
- Dried Beans. ...
- Honey. ...
- Pasta. ...
- Dehydrated Carrots. ...
- Ramen Noodles. ...
- White Rice.
- Ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits, vegetables and a can opener.
- Protein or fruit bars.
- Dry cereal or granola.
- Peanut butter.
- Dried fruit.
- Canned juices.
- Non-perishable pasteurized milk.
- High-energy foods.
- Honey. Thanks to the magic handiwork of bees (they have special enzymes that basically inhibit bacterial growth) and the way it's processed for storage, honey is the longest lasting of the bunch. ...
- Rice. ...
- Instant Coffee. ...
- White Vinegar. ...
- Vanilla Extract. ...
- Salt. ...
- Dried Beans. ...
Rice. Rice can be purchased in bulk at very low prices and has a shelf life of over 10 years, when stored properly. ... Beans. Beans have a solid reputation as a survival food due to their complete nutritional profile. ...What foods have a 30 year shelf life? ›
Canned Beans // 30+ years
Dried beans stored properly will last indefinitely, but canning is another food preservation method that dates back to the 1800s. While some canned goods last longer than others, beans should stay good for up to 30 years.
Canned Vegetables, Such as Green Beans, Carrots, and Peas
To pack in as many healthy vitamins and minerals as possible, order a case of mixed vegetable cans from Libby's. Inside each can, you'll find peas, carrots, corn, lima beans, and green beans, giving you a well-balanced meal straight from the jar.
Champagne will be in short supply in 2023, not just because of the drought, but because demand has rebounded from the pandemic faster than producers can create the bubbly beverage. Butter, corn, tomatoes and eggs are also on the list of potential shortages, as well as baby formula.What 5 foods could you survive on? ›
- Rice. Rice can be purchased in bulk at very low prices and has a shelf life of over 10 years, when stored properly. ...
- Beans. Beans have a solid reputation as a survival food due to their complete nutritional profile. ...
- Grains. ...
- Salt, Sugar & Raw Honey. ...
- Build an Emergency Kit.
- Stock Up on Non-Perishables.
- Create a Bountiful Garden.
- Raise Chickens or Other Animals.
- Learn These Long Term Storage Tips.
Most shelf-stable foods are safe indefinitely. In fact, canned goods will last for years, as long as the can itself is in good condition (no rust, dents, or swelling).Can you live on rice and beans? ›
Still, if rice and beans is all you've got, it's a pretty decent choice. But "you're not going to have a complete diet," she says. The combo lacks Vitamin C and other essential nutrients. "It's extremely important that you eat meat and vegetables," Campos says.How can we save food for 20 years? ›
Dried foods, like beans and grains, can last 20 to 30 years when stored correctly in sealed foil bags. Because storing dried foods in mylar bags sealed inside a food-grade bucket is the best storage method, foods stored in this manner can reach their maximum shelf lives.What is the cheapest food to stockpile? ›
Budget Foods to Stockpile
- Oats and Oatmeal. ...
- Canned Meat. ...
- Canned Soups and Stews. ...
- Macaroni & Cheese (aka Kraft Dinner). ...
- Milk. ...
- Tea. ...
- Juice. ...
- Coffee. Coffee, while not exactly cheap most places, stores extremely well and goes on sale often.
- Beans are #1 on our list of Top Foods for Living To 100. ...
- Vegetables are #2 on our list of Top Foods for Living To 100.
- Fruit is #3 on our list of Top Foods for Living To 100.
- Fish is #4 on our list of Top Foods for Living To 100.
- Whole Grains are #5 on our list of Top Foods for Living To 100.
An open jar of peanut butter stays fresh up to three months in the pantry. After that, it's recommended to store the peanut butter in the fridge (where it can maintain its quality for another 3-4 months). If you don't refrigerate, oil separation can occur.Is expired peanut butter OK to eat? ›
Health-wise, however, rancid peanut butter is not something to really worry about. “It won't hurt you if you eat it — it will just taste bad,” says Maribeth Cousin, a professor of food science at Purdue University in Indiana.Can water expire? ›
Water is a natural substance and does not go bad, however the plastic water bottle will degrade over time and begin to leach chemicals into the water, which is why it is always important to choose BPA free bottled water. ✅ How long can you keep bottled water? The recommended shelf life is two years.
Dried beans, oats, frozen poultry, peanut butter and frozen fruits and vegetables are some examples of nutritious items that have long shelf lives. These foods can be stored in the pantry, freezer or fridge for many months, which is why purchasing them in bulk is a smart choice.What dry foods can be stored for years? ›
- White Rice. White rice is one of the best fillers for any meal. ...
- Pasta. Similar to rice, pasta lasts a long time when stored in a sealed container. ...
- Flour. While it still lasts a long time, flour does not have the longevity of hard grains and foods. ...
- Dried Fruits and Vegetables.
Lemons. Lemons have been widely regarded in the health industry as the world's healthiest food. The sour fruit is an alkalising powerfood; they have strong anti-inflammatory qualities and can even help to inhibit the growth of cancer cells.What foods are good to eat everyday? ›
- Fish. ...
- Broccoli or any of the cruciferous vegetables. ...
- Beets. ...
- Spinach and other leafy green vegetables. ...
- Kale. ...
- Peanut butter. ...
- Almonds. ...
- Black Beans: A Household Staple Rich in Antioxidants. ...
- Chickpeas: A Yummy Legume That Will Help Keep Your Blood Sugar Low. ...
- Navy Beans: A High-Fiber Option That Reduces the Risk of Heart Disease. ...
- Pinto Beans: Affordable and Easy to Prepare. ...
- Soybeans: 'Meat Without Bones'
Can canned food last 20 years? The USDA says that “most shelf-stable foods are safe indefinitely.” But you'll want to do the sight and smell test before tossing anything super old into your recipes, and you'll have better luck with items like vegetables, non-tomato soups and beans.What single food can you survive on the longest? ›
Honey is known to be one of the only foods that can last forever. This is largely due to the fact that it is made up of sugar, which makes it hard for bacteria or microorganisms to affect the honey.What are the best shelf-stable foods? ›
Examples of shelf-stable foods
Grains and Starchy Foods: Rice, couscous, quinoa, tortillas, pastas, crackers, cornmeal, wheat flours, along with baking powder and baking soda. Fruits andVegetables: So many varieties are canned or dried, like raisins, apricots, prunes and unsweetened applesauce.
22 Healthy Foods That Don't Spoil Easily
- Nuts. ...
- Canned meats and seafood. ...
- Dried grains. ...
- Dark chocolate. ...
- Canned fruits and veggies. ...
- Dried fruit. ...
- Canned coconut milk. ...
- Dried beans.
Honey is well-known for being the longest lasting and most sustainable food source there is. We can thank the bees for their ingenious methods of flower pollination and honey making. Honey can last for forever (not just twenty-five years) and should always be stored in a dry place with the lid on at all times.
"The only food that provides all the nutrients that humans need is human milk," Hattner said. "Mother's milk is a complete food.What to stock up on if there is a war? ›
- the stock of long-term storage products;
- drinking and technical water;
- first aid kit;
- flashlights, spare batteries or accumulators for them, candles;
- gas burner with extra cylinders for cooking;
- fire extinguisher;
- warm blankets, sleeping bags, thermal underwear (in case of the cold season);
With inflation, supply-chain bottlenecks, extreme weather conditions, transport issues, and war conflicts in Russia and Ukraine, there will be a significant chance that prices will increase for most products in 2023. Furthermore, food shortages are likely to hit again in 2023.What should I stock up on now? ›
If you have the space, experts recommend a week's supply of food and water. Choose foods that don't require refrigeration and are not high in salt. Your stockpile should also contain flashlights, a manual can opener, a radio, batteries and copies of important documents.Is there a single food that you can survive on forever? ›
Eating only one food probably won't do any harm in the short term. However, there is no known food that supplies all the needs of human adults on a long-term basis.What food helps you live to 120? ›
- Cruciferous Vegetables. These are vegetable powerhouses with the unique ability to modify human hormones, activate the body's natural detoxification system and inhibit the growth of cancerous cells. ...
- Salad Greens. ...
- Nuts. ...
- Seeds. ...
- Berries. ...
- Pomegranate. ...
- Beans. ...
Although eggs are nutritious, the egg diet doesn't have enough variety or calories to be considered a healthy or sustainable way of eating. With such restriction, weight regain is likely. You'll also miss out on fiber, calcium, and other essential nutrients by sticking to the egg diet for more than a few days.Will there be a meat shortage in 2023? ›
The meat industry forecast for 2023 predicts a significant decrease in the supply of beef, leading to higher prices for everyone. Reports estimate that on average, Americans will eat 5.6% less beef this year due to shortages. If you don't want to eat less meat, then securing your supply now is crucial.What food is going to be short? ›
Eggs and Meat
According to Business Insider, nearly half of Americans in a survey reported seeing a shortage of meat and eggs in the beginning of 2022. It might be time to switch to vegetarian dinners (sans the eggs) for a while to combat this food shortage.
To prepare, pack at least 2,000 calories of food per adult per day. In addition, pack at least one gallon of water per person per day for drinking and sanitation in clean plastic containers.
Honey is known to be one of the only foods that can last forever. This is largely due to the fact that it is made up of sugar, which makes it hard for bacteria or microorganisms to affect the honey.How do you preserve food for 20 years? ›
Dried foods, like beans and grains, can last 20 to 30 years when stored correctly in sealed foil bags. Because storing dried foods in mylar bags sealed inside a food-grade bucket is the best storage method, foods stored in this manner can reach their maximum shelf lives.What is the only food in the world that doesn't expire? ›
HoneyHoney is the only food that actually lasts forever and never spoils. We can thank nature for the whole process of making and procuring honey. It is made using the nectar of the flowers which mixes with the enzymes extracted by the bees.What food will last 3000 years? ›
1. Honey. In 2015, archaeologists reported that they'd found 3,000-year-old honey while excavating tombs in Egypt, and it was perfectly edible. This durability is thanks to the unique features of honey: it is low in water and high in sugar, so bacteria cannot grow on it.What is the number one food for longevity? ›
Cruciferous vegetables are the most nutrient-dense of all the foods. Eat a variety in both raw and cooked form daily — try some broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale or cabbage.Is 50 year old wheat still good? ›
Properly packaged and stored dry grains can be safely consumed for more than 30 years. Canned foods stored in a cool, dry location, that are not bulging or leaking, can be safely eaten for several years past their best-if-used-by date printed on the can.How long can canned tuna last? ›
Properly canned and entirely unopened, canned tuna can last for three to five years after the canning process. It will still, generally speaking, be quite safe to eat even after that.How do you make 25 year shelf life food? ›
Most long shelf life emergency food is either freeze dried, dehydrated, or a mix of freeze dried and dehydrated components. Dehydrating is a simple process that is relatively straightforward: expose ingredients to hot, dry air until they dry out, minimizing moisture in the food.How do you store meat for 20 years? ›
- Use Fresh (unfrozen Meat.
- Saturate with Sea Salt (No Caking Agents)
- Refrigerate (below 5°C or 41°F)
- Wash Meat with Water.
- Protect and Hang in Sun or dry in Fridge.
- After 1 to 2 weeks Cured Meat is Preserved.
- Storage in Cool Area.
- Soak in water for 12-24 hours, before Use.
- Don't try storing an entire year's worth of food from scratch. ...
- Keep track of your inventory and storage space.
- Buying in bulk can save you time and money.
- Store a few key ingredients at a time in bulk, and then move on to a different one.
Canned foods, pet food and beer may be in short supply due to a widespread aluminum shortage. Lettuce crops and orange groves were affected by plant viruses. One major producer of lettuce lost 80% of their crop in 2022.Does peanut butter expire? ›
An open jar of peanut butter stays fresh up to three months in the pantry. After that, it's recommended to store the peanut butter in the fridge (where it can maintain its quality for another 3-4 months). If you don't refrigerate, oil separation can occur.