If you are like me, you are horrible at rotating through your emergency food and would much prefer and “store it and forget it” approach. What you need is to store foods with the longest possible shelf life. Lucky for you, if you know what to look for, many of these foods can be found today at your local grocery store!
While your friends and neighbors are dashing to the nearest grocery store right before the next storm hits, or worse, rationing out saltine crackers and ketchup packets, you and your family can rest easy.
Here are ten affordable foods with the longest shelf life possible. The best part is that you can pick these up today from any local grocery store.
10 Foods with the Longest Shelf Life
(available at your local supermarket)
|Granulated Sugar||30 Years|
|Rolled Oats||30 Years|
|Potato Flakes||15 Years|
|Powdered Milk||20 Years|
The above listed shelf life numbers are estimates only. They are also assuming the food is packaged and stored in ideal conditions.
While it may crystallize over time, raw honey will keep almost indefinitely. In fact, archaeologists have found honey that is over 5,500 years old in an Egyptian tomb and it was still safe to eat! Since honey contains less than 18 percent water and has a high acid level, it is impossible for bacteria to grow in it. The great news is that honey can be used as a sweetener in most dishes, often helps allergy sufferers, and can be used to treat wounds and burns. If it does crystallize, then set it in some hot water and the crystals will disappear. In an ideal situation, honey should be stored below 80 degrees and where the humidity level is less than 70 percent.
While you will want to skip the brown rice because of its high oil content that will eventually make it go rancid, most types of rice will last forever, making it the best food with the longest shelf life. In fact, archaeologists have found rice in Korea that is over 15,000 years old and still edible. The key to storing rice forever is to keep the bugs away from it.
While you can buy specialty buckets to keep the rice in, if you are a spendthrift like me, then head to the hardware store and buy some five-gallon buckets with tight-fitting lids. About 32 pounds of rice will fit in each bucket. Take the rice out of the plastic bags and put it in mylar bags. Add oxygen absorbers, use a hot iron to seal the bags, and put it in the bucket. Finally, put on the lid, and store it at least three inches off the floor (pallets are ideal) in a cool, dark place.
While you are running from the zombies, hiding from radiation, or trying to escape from the hurricane, you can still feed your sweet tooth. Granulated sugar will last at least 30 years if stored properly. Of course, you will have to keep it from turning into a rock that could be used as a deadly weapon, which means taking it out of those paper sacks immediately.
Store your sugar in glass canning jars and be sure to screw the lid on tight. Your sugar will be protected from moisture in the glass jars, so it won’t get hard. You can even pre-measure the sugar if you want. If you want to vary your sugar intake, then confectioner’s sugar will keep about 18 months and brown sugar about a year before they harden.
You can make so many delicious dishes with pasta. The problem with pasta is that it can quickly become contaminated with bugs. While it can last up to 30 years (10 years for whole wheat pasta), you are lucky if you get three years out of it in its original packaging. Instead, store it in five-gallon buckets, sealed in mylar bags along with oxygen absorbers. That way, you can be assured that your pasta will be ready to provide the carbohydrates that you need in an emergency. Try to store your pasta in a location where the temperature won’t exceed 70 degrees.
Beans are an outstanding source of protein, and they may be prepared in many different ways. You can choose your favorite variety at the grocery store. The great news is that in an emergency, you can even grind beans and use them as you would flour. While beans will store for more than 30 years, they may lose most of their vitamin-giving power after about five years. They would still fill you up in a pinch until you could find a better source of protein, so they’re worth keeping in your stockpile.
Oatmeal rated #1 among breakfast foods and #3 overall in a “Satiety Index”, indicating that oatmeal is the most filling/satisfying food to eat. The University of Sydney in Australia conducted this study.
You may not have a lot of time for food preparation in an emergency because campfires may give away your location to other survivors (whose attention you do not want). Rolled oats with oxygen absorbers, stored in mylar bags inside five-gallon buckets may be the perfect solution. Keep your rolled oats in the dark if possible. When stored in the dark, rolled oats are likely to last more than 30 years. The rolling process makes this grain cook faster too, which makes them very convenient. You can also grind rolled oats into flour if you’d like.
Ancient Incas would carry potatoes into the mountains so that they would freeze at night. The next morning, the men would gather and stomp on the potatoes until all the water was removed. Then, they would use the potato flakes to feed themselves during the cold winter months.
Dried potato flakes are still an excellent food source for modern-day preppers. The great news is that you can get potato flakes at the grocery store, so there’s no need for all that hiking-into-the-mountains-and-stomping-frozen-potatoes nonsense. Potato flakes need to be stored in sealed mylar bags with oxygen absorbers. Storing them in this way means they will last 10 to 15 years.
While the amount of Vitamin A and Vitamin D found in powdered milk will decrease by about 20 percent per year after the first five years, you can store powdered milk for more than 20 years. Do not put it in plastic bags, however, as the milk will pick up the taste of the plastic and may taste fairly unpleasant when reconstituted. Storing it in glass jars is ideal.
Archaeologists have discovered popcorn in Mexico that is more than 5,500 years old and still safe to eat! Be sure to forgo buying popcorn with butter or flavorings on it, or it will not store well. I grow my popcorn, and I prefer to store it in clean milk jugs. The plastic doesn’t affect the taste whatsoever, even after being stored five years as I’ve done.
If your store-bought popcorn isn’t in an ideal long-lasting container, try a clean milk jug or 2-liter plastic soda bottle. Popcorn has a shelf life of over 30 years, but to pop, it must have a moisture content between 13 and 15 percent. If you open this fantastic comfort food during an emergency and it doesn’t pop, then put three cups of water in a quart bottle. Add three tablespoons of water and shake it. If water puddles on the bottom of the bottle, then continue shaking it every 10 minutes until the water no longer pools. Then, let the popcorn sit in the container for three days. It should now pop, but if it doesn’t, you can repeat this process once more.
You may be able to keep salt indefinitely, so long as it doesn’t solidify. Salt is perfect for preserving meat for extended periods of time. You can also use salt to flavor your food, including the popcorn listed above. Mixing salt, sugar, and water to drink can help balance your electrolytes. Salt can also be used to clean many surfaces. This mineral is truly one of the most useful to have on hand. The best way to keep salt is in a clean two-liter soda bottle. While you can put salt in a five-gallon bucket, it will weigh approximately 50 pounds which may slow you down if you have to move it in a hurry.
Freeze Dried Meat
Probably the biggest problem when it comes to storing bulk foods for an emergency is storing meat. The best solution I have found, is to get a few of these Wise Food’s freeze dried meat buckets.
These are packed with professionally freeze dried meats packaged in mylar bags and flushed with nitrogen. This gets you a shelf life of 15 years! There’s no better way to store away meat than this.
Storing Multivitamins with Your Emergency Food
I cannot stress enough the importance of including a good daily multivitamin with your emergency food. Unfortunately this is often over looked. If you ever have to rely on your emergency food for an extended period, it is very likely that your diet may not be as balanced as it should be. There could be large gaps in your nutrition.
While you should do your best to avoid this by storing a good variety of nutritional foods, this can be very difficult. Especially when dealing in the world of foods with long expiration dates.
The easiest way to fill in these potential large gaps in your survival nutrition are to include a supply of a quality daily multivitamin. Avoid gel capsules or gummy vitamins as they tend to expire sooner than those in tablet form. While it is usually safe to consume multivitamins after their expiration date, their potency can be reduced.
The ten foods I just listed are affordable, last for at least ten years, and are all available at your local grocery store. If you’ve been looking to start your food stockpile, these supermarket foods should be where you begin. For more foods that will last an incredibly long time, see storing bulk dry and dehydrated foods.
Which foods are your favorite for prepping? Do you have any other long-lasting tips or tricks? Share them below in the comments section!