Foods with a Long Shelf Life

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Shelf-Stable Foods - Beyond Rice and Beans 

You never know when a natural disaster could hit or when another war emergency could threaten all of humanity. That’s why it’s especially important to ensure that you have stockpiled food with viable nourishment! If you’re researching healthy foods with a long shelf life, we’ve got you covered! Don’t worry. We will discuss more options than the obvious additions to the pantry such as dried beans and rice. (Although, those items must be included in any survival prepper’s stockpile!) Bear with us as we walk you through ten categories on the different food types with incredibly long shelf lives!

1. Honey

Honey is a super food. No joke. If honey is tightly sealed, it can last eternally. Archaeologists and historians have often discovered unopened jars of sealed honey in ancient Egyptian tombs. The Ancient Egyptians knew that honey had a long shelf life and could assist their deceased loved ones into the next life. Scientists have stated that honey that is a thousand years old could be safely consumed by someone today if it was properly sealed. Let’s face it - the Ancient Egyptians knew how to seal honey!

In addition to this natural sweetener having a remarkable long shelf life, it also contains many natural medicinal properties. Old timers used to place honey on open wounds as it would help induce healing. Why? Honey has a high pH level that prevents bacteria and other living organisms from entering it. This is why it has many antibacterial properties! It literally repels unwanted organisms! It also produces hydrogen peroxide which is also used in cleaning many wounds. 

Honey also helps to boost your immune system with its antioxidant properties! It’s great to add a spoonful to a cup of hot tea!

With that being said, you’ll want to add properly sealed honey to your emergency food stockpile. The list of nutritious and medicinal benefits are very long.

Shelf Life- Hundreds of years

Legacy Food Storage

2. Canned Goods

Canned goods can include almost any type of food such as meats, fruits and vegetables. We will cover a few examples of canned goods that you can add to your emergency food stockpile. It’s possible to have healthy foods stocked for those disastrous situations!


Canned tuna fish is found in pantries and lunch boxes all the time. People love it, AND it’s really healthy. It’s packed with Omega-3’s and protein. On average, canned tuna lasts for a minimum of three years. If it’s stored properly, you can make last up to five years.

Shelf life - 3-5 years


Canned sardines are also packed with Omega-3’s and protein. Like tuna fish, they’re low in sodium and provide you with a lot of energy. As with any canned good, be sure that the cans are not rusted, dented or bulging. This will decrease the shelf life of the food. Like canned tuna, sardines can last around three years.

Shelf life - 3 years


Spam is a salty meat that’s often used in sandwiches or dipped in cornmeal and fried. People have different ways of eating spam. It’s on this list because it’s a canned meat that lasts for approximately three years unopened. However, if you’re looking for healthy foods to stockpile, then spam is a no-go. It has high sodium and fat contents.

And, it just looks gross (but that's just my opinion). Would I actually eat it? In an actual survival situation, you bet. On a dare? Not unless you were paying me a bunch of money.

Shelf life - 3 years


Canned corn lasts for two years. It’s a very versatile grain to add to any stockpile. Most people think of corn as a vegetable as it goes nicely with other veggie sides.

Shelf life - 2 years


Canned tomatoes typically last for 18 months to two years. Due to their high acidity content, their shelf life isn’t as long as other fruits and vegetables. However, tomatoes pack a lot of nutrients and are used to create many different meals.

Shelf life - 18 months to 2 years

Vegetables like Green Beans and Peas

Canned veggies like green beans and peas will last for two years or so. They pack many nutrients such as iron, fiber and vitamins A and C. Should a major disaster occur, you’ll want foods that’ll provide as much nutritional value as possible.

Shelf life - 2 years


Canned soup is another great choice to add to any stockpile of food. The broth within these cans of goodness are great for your immune system. Soup usually lasts for two years. Always keep in mind that if a can is dented, bulging or rusted, discard it immediately!

Shelf life - 2 years

Baked Beans

Canned baked beans are not only delicious (probably thanks to the sugar content), but they last a long time as well! Unlike the previously mentioned canned goods, canned baked beans lasts for up to five years.

Although in general, canned goods are heavy to carry around, they are perfect for any stockpile. They pack a lot of protein, AND the kids love them!

Shelf life - 5 years

3. Common Dried Foods

Common dried foods include: rice, beans, pasta and oats. These are a real food staple in the event of emergencies. They are highly nutritious and last for a long time. We will cover each food item and instruct you on how to store it, what may be needed to properly prepare it and the duration of its shelf life. Let’s get started!

White Rice

Ah yes! Of course we have to add rice to the list. You knew that. White rice has been around for thousands of years. In fact, it’s one of the most popular dishes in the world. It’s a great source of carbohydrates and fiber and perfect for storing for long periods of time. It can last for as long as 30 years if stored properly. Be sure to properly store it in high quality food grade containers and storage bags. You want it to be air sealed tightly so that no moisture can get into the packaging. It’s an absolute must for stockpile food reserves. You only need water to properly cook the rice.

Shelf life - 30 years

Dried Beans

Humble, but well-loved in pantries everywhere, dried beans are another great food staple that will last for a long time if you store it properly. However, it’s important to have dried beans available should a disastrous event occur. They’re packed with important nutrients like fiber, iron and various vitamins and minerals. They’re also very filling and taste nicely coupled with seasoned rice. You only need water to properly cook the beans.

The best way to store dried beans is in an air sealed food storage container or bin. As long as the beans don’t have access to air, moisture can’t creep in and spoil the food. If this is done correctly, you can store the dried beans for as long as 30 years!

Shelf life - 30 years


Pasta is another carbohydrate food that lasts a long time on the shelf. It’s very versatile in the many meal options that it offers. As with the others, you only need water to properly prepare pasta. Be sure to store the pasta in airtight containers so no air or moisture can creep in. Once you do that, the pasta can last as long as 30 years!

Shelf life - 30 years


Oats have been around a long time. They hold a high nutritional value with fiber, iron and various vitamins and minerals. They’re so healthy for the human body that they even lower cholesterol! You’ll see that mentioned a lot on many containers of dried oats.

Oats can be prepared in many forms. You can use water to boil them for a filling meal or you can add them to snacks as an enhancer. As for the shelf life? They will also last an incredible 30 years if stored correctly. Just ensure that they’re stored in airtight containers, and they’re good to go! It’s another necessity to any emergency stockpile food reserve.

Shelf life - 30 years

Legacy Food Storage

4. Pre-packaged/Freeze-dried/Emergency Survival Food Kits

There are companies that profit from creating freeze dried meals and packing them into emergency survival food kits. The only ingredient needed to prepare these types of meals is water!

You can buy packages of survival food kits that contain 30 meals in them. Just imagine, you can have pasta primavera one week after a natural disaster. It can contain creamy parmesan sauce, cauliflower, peas and carrots. Are you drawn in yet?

What type of freeze dried meals can you purchase? The answer to this is worthy of an article all its own - and we do have some info on these throughout TruthSurvival. But for a quick starter...

Full Meals

Do you like spaghetti and meatballs? You can purchase several of these meals in a single survival kit can. How about juicy beef tenders with potatoes and green beans? You can also purchase meals like this in freeze dried survival kit cans.

Are you vegetarian or vegan? Don’t worry! There are survival kit packages with over 30 different packs of freeze dried lentils, beans, peas, kale, seeds and much more!

The greatest thing about these freeze dried, home cooked meals is that they last for an incredible 30 years! Simply add boiling water, and they taste as fresh as the day they were first cooked.

You can also buy freeze dried fruits, milk, breakfast foods of all kinds! Anything that’s professionally freeze dried is going to last a long time! The well-known Legacy Premium Brand (Here at their site), Augason Farms (Here on Amazon) and Mountain House (Here on Amazon) are GREAT choice brands in providing freeze dried foods! Check it out!

Shelf life - 30 years

Legacy Food Storage

Freeze Dried Beef Cubes

When a natural disaster happens, sometimes you have to let go of the diet and just try to find FOOD (this kind of falls into the "Spam" category for me). You’re in survival mode and need nutrition and energy for your body. You can purchase cans of freeze dried meats such as beef cubes or "chipped beef." Simply add water, and they’re ready to eat.

Word of caution: I've used some of these in the past and they can be VERY salty. Again, this is really going to be a survival thing.

Many cans come with 10 to 15 servings. You can buy cans and tubs with more servings if need be.

Shelf life - 30 years

5. Cooking Ingredients that Never Go Bad


Salt will never go bad if you keep moisture from creeping in. Salt is also great for preserving foods through methods such as pickling and curing. People in centuries of old used to cure their meats with salt. It’s not only useful to have around, but it also seasons bland foods such as rice.

Shelf life - Indefinitely


Sugar sweetens our lives. Without it, I think many people would be lost whether there was a natural disaster or not. However, it’s a food item to consider saving for the emergency stockpile as it’ll last a long time if stored correctly. Just like salt, if you store it in airtight containers, it’ll last indefinitely. The enemy is moisture. If the seal isn’t airtight, moisture can creep in and the sugar won’t last as long.

Shelf life - Indefinitely

Baking Soda

Baking soda is a great item to add to the stockpile. It’s great to cook with AND to clean with. It’s great to have in your stockpile as an “in general” necessity. The best way to store it is to keep it sealed tightly to prevent moisture from entering in. It’s good unopened for about 18 months.

Shelf life - 18 months


Let’s face it- people use ketchup on nearly everything. It’s amazing how this tomato-based condiment can make the most disgusting food taste delicious (well, maybe except for chipped beef)! In any case, it’s not a bad idea to stock it in your survivor’s food reserve. Due to the acidity from the tomatoes, unopened ketchup lasts for as long as two years. That’s not too bad!

Shelf life - 2 years


Mustard is the partner to ketchup. It’s hard to imagine those two condiments ever breaking up. If you’re wanting to add this to your survivor’s stockpile, then go ahead! If unopened, it lasts for another year or two beyond the expiration date.

Shelf life - 3 years

6. Beverages

Let’s take a break from discussing foods and look at beverages. When the apocalypse occurs, you’re going to need reliable sources of hydration. Water (NEVER store water in old milk jugs), powdered milk, and powdered electrolyte mixes are all stockpile necessities.

Bottled Water

Bottled water typically has an expiration date of two years from the original bottling date. However, if it’s stored properly, it can be good indefinitely. You want to store bottled water in a pantry or other darkened, temperature controlled room. NEVER store the bottled water near any chemicals as the fumes can infiltrate the water. Also avoid storing the water in direct sunlight as this can produce unwanted bacteria.

Shelf life - indefinitely

Non-fat Powdered Milk

Non fat powdered milk has an incredibly long shelf life when stored properly. If unopened, it’ll last up to a whopping 25 years! Of course, that’s if it’s been protected from moisture and air.

Shelf life - 25 years

Powdered Electrolyte Mixes

Powdered electrolyte mixes are a great way to rehydrate in any type of situation. By simply adding water, they provide the necessary electrolyte to reduce dehydration. They’re often given to people that have become dehydrated through illness. Most manufacturers state that these mixes are safe for consumption for up to two years. Keep it protected from moisture and air in tightly sealed containers.

NOTE: I mention the importance of healthy hydration drinks here. You'll see why there are some I don't PERSONALLY recommend (as well as one I do).

Shelf life - 2 years

7. Nut Butters

Peanut Butter

Peanut butter provides a lot of nutritional benefits including high protein content. It must be stored in a dark, dry place like the pantry or kitchen cabinet. Unopened peanut butter has a shelf life of two years. It’s a great addition to any prepper’s stockpile. By the way, they now carry POWDERED peanut butter. What will they think of next?

Shelf life - 2 years


Nutella is the peanut butter version of hazelnuts, and it's REALLY yummy. It provides high protein contents like peanut butter and has a shelf life of one year. For it to last, unopened, for one year, it must be stored in a dry, dark place.

Shelf life - 1 year

8. Dehydrated Foods

Dehydrated foods can last up to five years if they’re stored correctly. You can dehydrate meats, fruits and vegetables at home! If you have a food dehydrator, you can look up several recipes for dehydrating various meats, vegetables and fruits. It’s important to vacuum seal dehydrated foods in bags and store them in dry areas.

Learn a bit more about this at our posts about dehydrating foods, and preserving meats.

Shelf life - 5 years

9. Dried Herbs

You can’t hoard a survivor’s stockpile without adding dried herbs to the mix! For all the foods and ingredients you collect in your stockpile, why not save dried herbs for some flavor? You can buy dried basil, oregano, mint and more! They will store, unopened, for four years.

Shelf life - 4 years

10. Molasses

Many people think of the old frontier days when molasses comes up in conversation. However, this sugary syrup will last for five years if you store it properly. Keep it airtight and protected from moisture and air. It’ll sweeten any meal!

Not only that, but if you purchase organic, blackstrap molasses, you will get some nutritional value that you won't get from plain white sugar. 1 tablespoon of this thick, gooey yumminess will yield you 10 mg Calcium, 3 mg of Iron, and 343 mg of Potassium. Bring it on! (BTW: It's awesome in a good brown bread recipe).

Shelf life - 5 years

Always Rotate Your Stock!

If you’re aiming to be a hardcore prepper, then remember to rotate your stock! Always keep the foods with the earliest expiration dates on the front of your shelves. The last thing you need is to have a disaster and learn that you consumed the foods that had a longer shelf life. Stay current with your stock rotations.

Guard Your Food Stock from Critters!

Always ensure that your foods are out of reach from critters such as mice, insects and more. Keep your food stored in airtight containers, and ensure the storage room is free of critters and pests.

Wrapping it Up

We encourage you to check out the food items that we have recommended to you! If you’re new to food prepping for natural disasters, then work on collecting these food items. Some folks have an entire room dedicated to disaster food storage while others keep a “bug out” bag. Find what works best for you and enjoy collecting some incredible food! (It’s also great to keep in mind that these foods also work well with camping and hiking!)

Thank you for reading our guide. We look forward to sharing more with you in the future!

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