Is Oatmeal Any Good as Survival Food?

Preppers are smart to store all kinds of staples in their pantry in order to plus-up their SHTF food supply. One popular breakfast grain does not get discussed very much, though: Oatmeal.

You can find oatmeal served for breakfast all across North America and in many parts of the world, but despite this wholesome reputation, it seems to be commonly omitted from most doomsday menus. Is there a reason for this? Is oatmeal any good as a survival food?

Yes, oatmeal is a great survival food! Oatmeal is filling, tastes good, very nutritious, and has a long shelf life. It has a few drawbacks: it needs lots of water or liquid for most preparations, and is a favorite of many pests.

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Aside from all of this, oatmeal is a great staple and a worthy choice for a survival food.

If oatmeal is one of your favorites or you are simply interested in bulking up your survival food stores, keep reading to get more details on where oatmeal might fit into your plans, and what special considerations you’ll need to take into account.

Oatmeal is a Healthy, Well-Rounded Staple

You can do a lot worse than oatmeal as a breakfast food or an ingredient for other dishes. Oatmeal is packed with vitamins and minerals, is very low in fat and sugar, and even contains some protein.

Oatmeal is also famed for its ability to lower your risk of heart attack and other heart disease as well as scrubbing your blood of bad cholesterol. As part of a well-rounded diet, oatmeal is a worthy component.

As mentioned, oatmeal is more than just a breakfast table staple, and is used in a variety of dishes around the world aside from breakfast favorites. This includes the United States, where you’ll find in many classics and regional favorites.

You’ll find oatmeal in a variety of desserts, from cookies to cakes, and it can even be used as filler in meatloaf, various casseroles, and even pancakes.

Used in this way, oatmeal is more than just a standard comestible; it is a way to spruce up and stretch your food budget by combining other ingredients.

However, it isn’t all good news, as oatmeal is not truly nutritionally complete, especially compared to competitors like quinoa.

It offers only a mediocre to meager amount of certain vitamins and minerals, and does not pack enough protein to truly sustain high output levels of energy on its own.

That being said, oatmeal is far from a “B-team” choice, and this should not dissuade you from including it so long as your menu is well-rounded.

Oatmeal Has a Long Shelf Life

Like most dry grains, oatmeal is suitable for long-term storage, and will remain completely edible and safe so long as you take the time to store it properly, and maintain appropriate conditions.

Oatmeal does not require refrigeration, but should be stored in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight.

It will require an appropriate container depending on the type of oatmeal, but so long as you take care of these minimal requirements your oatmeal can last anywhere from a year, in the case of bulk oatmeal, to as long as two or even three years, if you choose steel cut or “quick” oats.

One thing to keep in mind is that the ever popular flavored and instant oatmeals might have a much shorter shelf life than more traditional and less processed varieties.

Any oatmeal that has a sugar flavoring element or any sort of dairy ingredient are far more likely to spoil and go rancid more quickly.

You should expect an average of about 6 months’ worth of shelf life out of these oatmeals, and perhaps 9 months on the very outside. This is still an entirely adequate lifespan for one of your preps, but you will have to be aware of it, and rotate them more frequently.

So long as you keep these minimum requirements in mind, you can rest assured that the shelf life of your oatmeal will go the distance.

Grain Pests are Public Enemy No.1

Depending on where you live and what your storage environment is like, grain pests might be the single, biggest headache when it comes to the storage of oatmeal, and most other grains.

All sorts of pests love oatmeal, including insects and mammals.

Certain pests that infest the oatmeal itself may be overcome easily enough with certain methods while, saving the oatmeal or at least keeping it edible, but others pose such a threat of contamination you cannot safely consume it anymore.

Some of the most common tests around the home or bug-out palace are mice, rats, raccoons and other fuzzy critters. These animals absolutely love oatmeal in all its forms, and very few are the packages that can appropriately defend against such intrusions.

Raccoons are famed for their persistence and dexterity, and mice and rats both are equipped with teeth that can easily tunnel through most materials, including wood.

Typical food grade storage buckets or drums will offer next to no protection against mice and rats. Steel or other metal containers or cladding will be required to defeat them assuming they can get to the oatmeal.

Insects are also great gourmands where oatmeal is concerned. All sorts of moths and moth larvae, mealworms, weevils and other creepy crawlies will happily invade your oatmeal directly, eating, pooping and breeding all the while. Though this is likely to give you nightmares it might not be the end of the world.

A variety of grain-infesting insects like weevils are not dangerous or toxic and so long as their coming and goings have not turned the oatmeal rancid you can prepare the oatmeal and consume them right along with it.

Other insects can be neutralized by subjecting the oatmeal to extreme low temperatures which might kill the insects.

Keep in Mind Preparation Requirements

If there is one other small drawback to oatmeal that you must keep in mind it is that typical preparation requirements entail adding a fair amount of liquid. This could take the form of water, broth, milk or something else depending on your preferences and the dish in question.

And many survival situations, especially long-term ones, all sorts of liquids including water will be precious resources and might not be best spent preparing oatmeal.

On the other hand, you aren’t completely screwed if you don’t have liquid enough to spare for oatmeal.

It is possible to eat it raw, even if this is an exercise in exasperation, and you can also take oatmeal and make use of it by toasting it, roasting it or adding it to various mixtures of other ingredients to form bars, trail mix, granola and the like for “dry” consumption.


Oatmeal is a solid, dependable choice as part of your long-term survival foodstuffs. It is not a standalone nutritional powerhouse, but it is very nutritious, delicious, and long storing.

Considering its versatility and comparatively simple preparation oatmeal is probably just the thing your pantry is missing. You definitely should consider it for your SHTF stash!

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