Supermarket Foods with the Longest Shelf Life

10 Supermarket Foods with a Long Shelf Life

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)

Food Shelf Life
Honey Indefinitely
Rice Indefinitely
Granulated Sugar 30 Years
Pasta 30 Years
Beans 30 Years
Rolled Oats 30 Years
Potato Flakes 15 Years
Powdered Milk 20 Years
Popcorn 30 Years
Salt Indefinitely

The above listed shelf life numbers are estimates only. They are also assuming the food is packaged and stored in ideal conditions.


Honey can last indefinitely.
Honey can last indefinitely. This is why it is at the top of our list for foods with the longest shelf life.

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. 


Bags of rice have possibly the longest shelf life of any food.
White rice stored properly can easily remain edible longer that you or I will be on this earth. The shelf life of rice is likely the longest of any food on this list.

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.

Granulated Sugar

sugar has some of the longest shelf life, making it ideal for preppers everywhere
As soon as you purchase your sugar, remove it from the paper-thin sack into a sealed glass container. Granulated sugar will easily last 30 years.

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. 

Whole-Wheat Pasta

Whole wheat pasta can last a decade.
Pasta sealed in mylar bags with oxygen absorbers can last 30 years.

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.


Pinto beans a a great source of protein.
Beans can remain edible for more than 30 years. They also contain large amounts of protein which is difficult to find in emergency foods.

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. 

Rolled Oats

rolled oats - longest shelf life
Rolled oats are a great idea for an emergency food. They are healthy, quick to cook, and last over 30 years.

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. 

Potato Flakes

Potato flakes can be easily turned into mashed potatoes.
Potato flakes can be easily made into a delicious mashed potato dish. The best part is properly stored potato flakes can last up to 15 years.

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.

Powdered Milk

Powdered milk has a very long shelf life.
Powdered milk can store safely in glass jars for over 20 years before needing to be replaced.

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.


Popcorn has some of the longest shelf life
When you store your popcorn, it should be hard and dry. In this state, it can last over 30 years! However, popcorn that’s stored in paper bags or is pre-salted/pre-buttered will not keep long.

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.


Salt can last an incredibly long time and has one of the longest shelf lives.
If stored properly, salt can store indefinitely. This makes salt one of the foods with the longest shelf life.

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.

See Price on Amazon  

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!

18 Foods that Last 25 Years or More

John Walter

John Walter is an emergency preparedness consultant with eight years of experience and training in related fields. He is a passionate prepper living in the Sacramento area of California.

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