Pretty much every single prepper can be expected to have an emergency supply of food for troubled times. Whether it’s a natural disaster or the collapse of society, you’ve got to be able to eat no matter what!
Prepping for a weekend power outage, a few weeks of roughing it after a hurricane or even the months-long trial of a regional disaster is one thing, but truly being prepared for a decades-long ordeal is another.
Most foods simply will not last that long under any conditions, necessitating frequent replacement or limiting the length of time that you can have food on hand.
But there are a few foods that can last for quite literally decades while in storage. Today we’re bringing you 30 such foods to help you maximize your emergency food plan.
1. Freeze-Dried Food
Freeze-drying, not to be confused with conventional dehydration, is your very best bet for producing packaged foods that will last for decades.
The process is fairly involved, but with the right machine and a little bit of know-how, you can freeze dry produce, meats, and even dairy that can have a shelf life in excess of 25 years with complete safety.
This is something you can make yourself with an at-home freeze-drying appliance, or if you don’t mind spending the money on it you can purchase over-the-counter options in the form of camping meals or “doomsday” ration packs.
Both are viable options, and make a great core for any emergency food stash.
2. Hard Salted Meat
Salt is well known for its amazing powers of preservation, and it has been used for this purpose for millennia.
Even if you were trying to preserve something that ordinarily has a very short shelf life, the right preparation with salt can yield an amazing increase in safe storage life.
In the case of hard salted meat, it can be preserved by repeated packing in dry salt until it’s completely dried out, with a brick-like consistency.
Although utterly inedible in this form, it can be reconstituted and eaten safely. Hard-salted meats have been a staple on long journeys for ages, and can last even longer than 25 years in the right conditions.
A famous ration and travel food created by native North Americans, pemmican goes beyond the concept of beef jerky, and combines dried meat that has been cooked in fat and other ingredients like fruit into a dense bar that stores for a long time while being energy-dense.
Although usually seen as a food that is better suited to long trips rather than true long-term storage, when made correctly and stored with care, it can last for decades.
Note that commercially available offerings are likely to last a lot longer than homemade stuff.
4. Bouillon Cubes / Powder
Chances are you or someone in your family has used bouillon cubes or powder to flavor stock for a soup, or make a wicked good broth for a pot roast.
They definitely excel at that, but they are also a great way to keep potent seasonings fresh and edible for decades when they are inside a sealed container.
You want to make sure they stay out of light and away from any dampness or heat sources, but otherwise you can expect your cubes to be there in a few decades (when you need to season your post-apocalyptic menu).
If you can keep it between 50° and 70° F you’ll get the maximum life out of them.
5. Dried Beans
Beans are somewhat infamous as a survival food. “Living on beans” is a euphemism for monotony or for the menu of those who lack the financial ability to buy better food.
Despite the jokes and the memes, beans have a virtually unbeatable combination of calories and protein density, essential vitamins and minerals, and extreme shelf life.
Dried beans, kept safe from moisture and pests, can easily remain edible past the two-decade mark, and even if they are too old from long storage an extra long soak in water prior to cooking will render them edible once again.
Keep them at 70 degrees F or below, but above freezing and you won’t have any issues. Cheap, efficient, and awesome for the purpose, get some!
6. Dried Pasta
If you’ve been prepping any length of time, you already know that dried pasta is a mainstay for long-term food storage. It’s calorie-dense, cheap, and adaptable so long as you have some boiling water to prepare it.
What you may not know is that dried pasta packed in an airtight container can last 25 years or even longer in storage, and remain edible, so long as it is between 45 and 75 degrees F.
But, like all foods that belong to this super shelf life category, you’ll want to check on them occasionally, and especially be careful to protect them from pests.
7. Instant Potatoes
Instant potatoes aren’t just for sad bachelor dinners. They also make a great, cheap compact addition to your 25-years-plus food plan.
Whether you get them in powder form, flakes, or the scalloped kind, you can expect a sealed package of instant potatoes to last no less than 20 years, and they will easily go 25 years or more if stored in a cool, dark, and temperature-stable environment.
If you buy them in boxes or bags consider packing them inside hard containers to give them more protection.
Honey is an amazing food that basically doesn’t expire, ever, so long as it’s not contaminated.
Even more amazing is that it is made entirely without human intervention. The bees know what they are doing, trust me.
Honey is sweet, adaptable, and an excellent source of calories, and even though it might solidify into chunky crystals over time, you can easily turn it into liquid again by immersing the container in warm water. Making honey powder is another option.
Like many foods, the ideal storage temp range is between 50 and 70 degrees F.
Sugar is one of the most basic items in any kitchen, and considering it can last a very long time in storage you’ll definitely want some for your stash.
The trick with sugar is to make sure it is absolutely dry before you package it, and if possible use a vacuum sealer and appropriate container to keep both air and moisture out.
Like honey, it might clump up into larger crystals, but it’s still totally safe and usable in that form.
Salt is another kitchen mainstay and is present in pretty much everything that we eat.
Not only can you use salt for seasoning other foods but it can play a critical role in further preserving any food that you get in the future. Stores forever with no degradation so long as it is kept dry.
Cocoa might seem like a strange inclusion at first if the first thing that comes to mind is chocolate, but pure cocoa powder doesn’t contain much sugar or fat that can promote spoilage.
But, you can use cocoa powder in the future to make all sorts of sweet treats or just whip up some morale-boosting hot chocolate.
It can last decades in your emergency food stash; perhaps 25 years in the right conditions, although the quality will degrade a little bit as it goes stale over time. Leave the container factory sealed if you can.
12. Powdered Milk
Dairy products in long-term storage usually age like, well, like milk but powdered milk has many advantages over every other kind of dairy food.
Even then, powdered milk typically can only last a year, perhaps two in storage before it goes rancid.
However, vacuum packing powdered milk with oxygen absorbers and storing it in a completely cool, dark, and dry location means that decades of long life with no spoilage is possible.
Corn is a grain that society in the United States seemingly cannot get by without, and you’ll definitely want some for your survival pantry.
Dried corn kernels can be purchased very cheaply, stored in bulk, and last at least three decades and probably longer if you can keep them safe from pests, and from moisture.
This is a great source of bulk calories and also important minerals. Kept cool at 50 degrees F you’ll get the longest possible life.
Another grain more than worthy of inclusion on our list. Oats are highly tasty, packed with vitamins and minerals, and provide lots and lots of carbohydrates for energy.
Although they’re highly vulnerable and attractive to pests, if you take the time to store your bulk oats in the right containers (or, even better, in vacuum-sealed bags) you’ll be able to count on them for decades.
Note that there are lots of varieties of oatmeal out there, but you only want to go with rolled oats or with steel-cut oats if you want maximum shelf life.
15. Whole Grains
Various other whole grains have their own advantages for long-term storage, and can bring a little bit of variety to your survival diet.
Rye and barley are long-lasting and highly adaptable, but don’t forget about common wheat either.
Properly stored, protected from pests, and kept well safe from any moisture, any of these whole grains can easily last 25 years on the shelf.
Note that if you’re keeping whole grains in extra-large containers you should still inspect them periodically to check for the presence of grain pests.
16. Baking Soda
Not really a food, per se, but rather an ingredient baking soda is nonetheless a really important one.
Baking soda has plenty of uses around the home aside from its intended use in baked goods, but all you need to know is that it can store pretty much forever if you keep it in an airtight container, and totally dry.
Most baking soda boxes are cheap and actually have the opposite effect, attracting moisture, so I recommend you put it in a mylar bag or a glass container…
17. Corn Starch
Corn starch is another item on this list you probably don’t want to eat by itself, but you’ll miss it in your kitchen if you don’t have it. It’s invaluable for bulking up soups and stews or thickening sauces.
It doesn’t last forever, but if you put it in a good container and keep it totally dry it should last at least two decades, and can easily go much longer. Make sure the container is a vapor barrier that will keep ambient moisture out!
Exposure to changing temperatures and humidity is highly likely to make your cornstarch go bad, so try to keep it in a temperature-stable environment and out of direct sunlight. Cooler is better, preferably 35°F or colder.
18. Corn Syrup
Constantly derided as an even unhealthier alternative to sugar, for long-term storage corn syrup is a winner though. It is cheap, stable, and will last at least 25 years if you can keep it cool and in a dark place.
For bulk calories or recipes, corn syrup is a good option if not a particularly healthy one. But hey, this is survival we’re talking about!
19. Maple Syrup
It seems too good to be true considering how delicious the stuff is, but maple syrup in a sealed bottle from the factory can easily keep for a few decades without spoiling.
You probably already know the drill by now: keep it cool, keep it in the dark, and keep it sealed. A chilly room temperature of 65 degrees F or a little lower is ideal.
The stuff might be a veritable luxury after the end of society, so stock up while you can!
Ghee is a special type of clarified butter that originates from the Indian subcontinent, and though it is an important component in a cuisine from that region it’s also attracting fans as a healthy alternative to typical cooking oils and common butter.
More important for our purposes, it lasts an extraordinarily long time in storage so long as you can keep it cool and in the dark.
Sealed containers have been proven to last 30 years or even longer and stay completely safe! This is one type of butter you can count on.
21. Soy Sauce
You can use this fermented sauce for a lot more than just dipping your sushi or potstickers.
In a sealed bottle it lasts basically forever, and you can use it to produce other savory condiments, flavor soups and so much more.
I recommend you buy brand-new bottles, and keep them in factory-sealed condition if you want them to go the distance.
22. Instant Coffee
Truly, I know that many of us feel like we won’t survive a week if we don’t get our morning cup of Joe.
Apocalypse or not, we’ve got to have that coffee but you probably don’t want to depend on typical coffee, even the ground stuff, for the purpose.
Even though it is not a quality offering, instant coffee will last a lot longer than all other comments, and you can get several decades out of it if you transfer it into a vacuum-sealed mylar bag or a hard container with an oxygen absorber.
Coffee isn’t for everyone, and if you’re one of those people you probably prefer tea instead. Or maybe you just like a little variety in your caffeinated beverages.
Dried tea leaves can last ages in storage but they must be scrupulously protected from moisture and light if you want them to last.
Once again, oxygen absorbers and airtight containers are your ace in the hole.
24. Dried Spices
By themselves, spices aren’t going to provide you any nutrition to speak of.
But as something to give your food character and flavor, they are absolutely vital to preventing menu fatigue, and accordingly deserve a place in our ultra long-term survival food stash.
While it is true that many spices lose their characteristic flavor over time, many can last for several decades, and still have something to offer.
Your best bet for storing spices is in an airtight glass container kept well away from moisture and sunlight.
25. White Rice
White rice is a ubiquitous food in many parts of the world, and it’s also a rocking good survival food.
Another calorie-dense food it has much to offer in terms of vitamins and minerals, it is also cheap and has an extraordinary shelf life of at least 25 years and probably more if you take the time to store it correctly in sterilized containers that are airtight, and protected from pests.
Unlike beans, you don’t want variety here: stick with white rice only since it has a much longer shelf life than brown rice.
Brown rice will only keep about 6 months in storage, or maybe a year in ideal conditions since it contains more oils that can go rancid.
Another historical survival food issued to military forces in the field, passengers on ocean-going ships, and explorers who might not be able to depend on regular resupply, hardtack is nothing more than a type of bread biscuit baked rock hard.
We are talking flour, water, and if you’re lucky, salt! All they have to offer is calories and an extremely long shelf life, but that might be enough under the circumstances.
27. Apple Cider Vinegar
Things are truly desperate if you’re chugging vinegar in an attempt to stay alive, but I trust it won’t come to that.
You’ll still want to have apple cider vinegar on hand for various recipes, cooking, and for preserving other kinds of food that you’re able to lay your hands on, especially produce.
Buy a few glass bottles, keep them sealed, and keep them out of sunlight, and you can depend on apple cider vinegar to last at least 25 years.
28. White Vinegar
Adding white vinegar to your stash might seem redundant if you have apple cider vinegar but it has even better properties when it comes to pickling other foods.
It’s also useful around your home and in the shop for various purposes so we’re tossing it on our list. Once again, kept in a sealed bottle or jug out of direct sunlight it will easily last 25 years.
Wine is one of those, “why didn’t I think of that” inclusions on any food storage list.
Sure, you might want to drink your cares away when you see the state of the world, but consider the practical benefits: wine only gets better with age and it stays safe with age.
It is also a ready source of calories, and great to barter with other people for what you need.
Don’t worry about shelf life: properly stored, wine can go more than a hundred years and still stay drinkable! 55 degrees F is the ideal temperature for wine storage- quality and longevity!
Liquor is a far cry from wine when it comes to drinkability, but it is a source of calories, a potential disinfectant, and will last forever so long as it isn’t contaminated.
Whiskey, vodka, whatever your preference you can count on it lasting and staying drinkable- even if it is basically poison already!
The Right Foods Can Keep You Fed for Decades
Not all foods are suitable for ultra-long term storage, but the 30 on this list definitely are.
Whether you have a survival plan that far out or not, these foods can greatly ease the logistical burden of rotating your stock for a scenario of any length, and give you extra reassurance against spoilage.
Start incorporating these foods into your food plan today!
Know any other super-long shelf-life foods? Let everyone know in the comments below – and be sure to pin this for later on your Pinterest board!