If you are looking to know what are the best foods for long-term storage, you need to know that “long-term storage” is a bit of a loose phrase. What exactly is “long-term”? For each person that definition will be a bit different. Even if we look up the definition we get something like, “occurring over or relating to a long period of time.“
I think we can all agree that we want our food storage to last as long as possible. Who wants to spend all this money on food just to watch it go bad, right? Plus, as preppers, we want to make sure we have a stockpile of food that will last a significant amount of time to get us through an extended emergency or disaster.
Of course, there are certain foods that we eat more regularly and will be rotating through more often. But there are also certain foods that we’d like to last for longer periods of time without having to think about it, let alone rotate it.
There are certain foods that last longer than others and it would be a stellar idea to have them in our food storage. Keep in mind, in some cases, it’s the way that the food is stored that will help it stay good for longer.
Here are 23 Foods for Long-Term Food Storage
This list is by no means exhaustive, and each comes with its own set of upsides and downsides, but diversity is key, and this is – I hope – a solid list to get you started. At the end of it, feel free to add your suggestions.
Also, storage of many of these foods references Mylar bags and oxygen absorbers. Follow those links to purchase them on Amazon, and consult an oxygen absorber chart to know how many you need. They are a virtual requirement for storing food long-term.
#1 – White Rice
Good ol’ rice. A staple among any households. Raw, uncooked, white rice stored properly in a cool, dry place can last anywhere from 4-5 years. If it’s stored in a Mylar bag with oxygen absorbers it can last 25-30 years.
You are best off buying these in bulk at stores such as Sam’s Club or Costco. If you want to save the trip, you can also buy 10lb bags online. Many preppers begin their long-term food storage efforts here, with rice, and then add…
#2 – Dried Beans
Another household staple. Raw, dry beans stored properly in a cool, dry place can last anywhere between 2-3 years. Stored in a Mylar bag with oxygen absorber they can last between 25-30 years.
Buy in bulk to save, of course. You can buy 25lb bags of red kidney beans online. If you want to save the effort, Augason Farms sells different varieties of freeze-dried beans.
#3 – Honey
Honey has so many benefits and guess what- it has a near indefinite shelf life. Though it might crystallize over time, all you need to do is place it in warm water for a bit to let it get back to liquid form. What’s even better, for you homesteader types, is that you can get started with beekeeping for under $500. Beekeeping isn’t a hobby, it’s a post-apocalyptic life skill.
#4 – Peanut Butter
Peanut butter is huge in our household. Unless you’re allergic to it, peanut butter should definitely be stored. Peanut butter has a shelf life of 2-5 years. Contrary to popular belief, it won’t last forever, but it certainly lasts a very long time. Remember to stay away from all natural peanut butter, as that needs to be kept in the fridge. This is true for any peanut butter that you make yourself. Without special preservatives, peanut butter won’t last that long.
#5 – Powdered Milk
An unopened container of powdered milk has a very long shelf life. I would recommend repackaging it in a Mylar bag with oxygen absorber, but powdered milk in general is something that should certainly be added to your preps. Also, get whole milk powder for the extra calories you’ll want in a SHTF situation.
If you need a milk alternative, try the super-long shelf-life Morning Moos product. If you have kids (or a sweet tooth), consider the Morning Moos Chocolate milk alternative. In fact, I recommend stocking sweeter foods for any family with younger kids. They will certainly need a break from a steady diet of typical stored foods if you are in a situation where you need to rely on them for any extended period of time.
#6 – Ramen
I know everyone is concerned about sodium intake, but we all need salt and as long as you’re not devouring ramen 3x a day for 30 days, you’ll be alright. Everything in moderation. Ramen will eventually expire, it doesn’t last forever. But what does ‘expire’ really mean? It mostly means that the flavor and texture will start to deteriorate. Ramen can technically last anywhere between 5-10 years. What’s great about ramen is that you can add to it, like canned tuna or canned veggies. Make it a whole meal!
And at less than a dollar per pack… why wouldn’t you stock it?
#7 – Rolled Oats
If stored in a Mylar bag with an oxygen absorber, rolled oats can last between 25-30 years. Mix in your stored peanut butter and powdered milk for a delicious breakfast.
#8 – Wheat Berries
Ground flour has an extended shelf life of about 5+ years, especially if stored in a Mylar bag with oxygen absorber. However, storing red winter wheat berries and grinding it yourself with a decent grain mill is really the way to go to really step up your long-term food storage game. Wheat berries can last 10-15 years or more if stored properly, such as in a Mylar bag with oxygen absorber and in a cool, dry place.
#9 – Dried Pasta
Dry pasta has a shelf life of 30 years when stored in a Mylar bag with oxygen absorber. SHTF Blog has an entire article on this very subject – Long-Term Pasta Storage Instructions. Check it out!
#10 – Freeze Dried Everything
You can count on almost anything that has been freeze dried to have one of the longest shelf lives around. This would include items like freeze dried veggies, meats, cheese, fruits, etc. New to freeze-dried foods? Read A Prepper’s Guide to Buying Freeze-Dried Foods.
#11 – Dehydrated
Most dehydrated foods, especially if done yourself at home with a premium dehydrator, can have a shelf life of up to 15 years if stored properly. Storing in a Mylar bag with oxygen absorber and away from humidity and heat is best.
#12 – Coconut and Olive Oil
Most cooking oils have a shelf life of around 2-5 years if unopened and stored away from direct sunlight. Once opened, they have a shelf life of around a year or so. If you can keep it in a freezer or fridge, it can extend the shelf life. You can buy a jar of coconut oil for just this purpose. It is a healthier alternative and can also be used as a moisturizer.
#13 – Ghee
Ghee is about the same shelf life as cooking oils. Unopened, it’ll last around 2 years. If you can keep it in the fridge, it can extend the shelf life a bit. You can even buy grass-fed ghee.
#14 – Sugar
Sugar has an indefinite shelf life, especially if stored in a mylar bag WITHOUT an oxygen absorber. You can place a silica packet inside to absorb moisture.
#15 – Salt
Salt has an infinite shelf life. Place into a Mylar bag WITHOUT an oxygen absorber. Ironically, salt itself can be used for preserving foods, and has been for many years.
#16 – Vinegar
Vinegar has so many uses from cleaning to cooking to fermenting. Both white and apple cider vinegars have an indefinite shelf life. Stock up!
#17 – Baking Soda
#18 – Long-Term Coffee
Instant/freeze dried coffee has a shelf life of around 25 years. Though there’s some debate about how long green coffee beans and ground coffee beans will last, if stored in a Mylar bag with oxygen absorber, they can last 25+ years. Some flavor might be lost with the ground coffee if not stored properly, but it will still have that sweet, sweet caffeinated effect.
SHTF Blog writers love coffee. We have a few articles on this very subject:
#19 – Alcohol
Unopened bottles of hard liquor will last indefinitely, especially if stored away from direct sunlight. All wines have different shelf lives, but the saying “aged like fine wine” exists for a reason.
Liquor with a high enough alcohol content can also have other uses beyond just making you feel warm.
#20 – Pemmican
This list wouldn’t be completed without pemmican! Because of the way that it’s made, it has a shelf life of around 25-50 years. Some say it can last forever. I don’t know for sure, but make some and let me know in a few decades!
#21 – Hardtack
Hardtack is known to last forever. It’s extremely easy to make and if stored properly in a Mylar bag with oxygen absorber or even vacuum sealed, it will certainly last a very, very long time.
#22 – Potato Flakes/Powdered
#23 – Canned Foods
The majority of canned foods will last anywhere from 2-10 years depending on the canned food item and how it’s stored. Make sure to rotate canned foods often. Check for dents or any other damage to the cans. The canned foods with pop tops tend to last a bit less time, though they still last a good amount of time. Canned foods with high acidity like tomatoes, will also not last as long, but can last a good while. Always smell and look at the food before consuming. Buying a First In First Out storage rack will make rotating stock easy and efficient.
When looking for long lasting foods, keep the oil content in mind. If there are little to no oils, it will last an almost infinite amount of time. Products with some oils in it, like peanut butter and… oil, will have a shorter shelf-life, but will still a significant amount of time.
Storing these items properly is also a key factor in how long they’ll last. Storing in Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers (except for salt and sugar), and keeping them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight will drastically help to keep these food items lasting a very long time.
by Morgan Rogue, contributing writer