These are foods you want to stuff your bunker with because they have a long storage life and are inexpensive. Not all of these foods last forever, but most of them have a decent shelf-life, or they are the best in class.
I’m storing all of these foods for emergencies, but the bulk of my food storage relies heavily on the long-term storage heavy hitters, dry beans, white rice, wheat, and rolled oats. Let’s get to the list so you can start storing food for an emergency.
Storage Tip: No matter how they are stored, high-fat foods will never have the shelf-life of dry staples that can last 10 years to indefinitely.
#1 White Rice (10-30 years)
White rice is an easy and inexpensive way to store emergency food calories. Rice is definitely in my top 3 survival foods, alongside dry beans and wheat.
Choose Rice For Survival Food
Rice is an excellent emergency and survival food to store. Rice is loaded with carbs and calories and has a shelf life of 30+ years. In addition, eat rice with beans for complete protein.
Store White Rice, not Brown Rice
Brown rice is not ideal for long-term storage. Regardless of how it is stored, the fats in brown rice will begin to go rancid within 6 months. Check out the Ready Squirrel article, Best Rice For Long-term Storage, to learn more.
My favorite method to store emergency rice, beans, and wheat, is in food-grade buckets lined with Mylar bags and treated with oxygen absorbers.
Learn how to store rice in Mylar with buckets. Check out the Ready Squirrel article, Storing Rice In Mylar For Long-term Storage.
#2 Wheat Berries (10-30 years)
Wheat is a top 3 survival food, along with rice and beans. Use wheat to make bread and pastries or cooked whole like porridge. Wheat berries are wheat with the husk removed, so the kernels have less fat and longer shelf life.
Wheat is a staple or anti-starvation food, proven by the number of civilizations that depended on it for survival, including the Egyptians and Romans.
You Need A Grain Mill
A grain mill is needed to turn wheat into flour for bread. Manually milling grain is arduous work. When the power is out, you’ll need a manual grain mill. When the power is up, I suggest using an electric mill.
For the longest shelf-life, store wheat in Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers. Storing grain this way kills bugs and stops it from spoiling via oxidation. If stored in a cool, dry location, wheat will keep in the pantry for 10 to 30 years.
#3 Honey (Indefinite)
Honey is excellent emergency food. It is high in calories and has an indefinite shelf life. Honey is an excellent source of sweetness for baked foods, and it is used to make Mead and is believed to have medicinal and antibacterial qualities.
Honey is a proven survival food for thousands of years and is said to improve sleep and reduce stress.
#4 Rolled Oats (10 to 30 years)
Rolled oats are solid emergency food, one of the healthiest on the planet. Oats are one of the few soft grains that will store for 30 years, and they are a good source of protein, vitamins, and minerals.
Oats were a preferred food of the Scotch Highlander, whose diets consisted mainly of oats and dairy. Oats may not be as flexible as wheat, but they are a proven survival food.
#5 Vinegar (Indefinite)
Vinegar takes care of itself. Because its high acid vinegar doesn’t need to be refrigerated, and its shelf life is virtually indefinite.
8 Use For Vinegar In Emergency Storage
- Dipping sauce
- Meat tenderizer
- Pickle vegetables
- Vegetable and Meat Marinades
- Cleans Wounds
- Soothes bug bites and sunburns
- Cleaning agent
#6 Soy Sauce (Indefinite)
Soy sauce is an excellent and long-lasting condiment for an emergency pantry. Use soy sauce to make delicious sauces and marinades to reduce palate fatigue from eating from bulk food storage.
10 Uses For Soy Sauce
- Dipping sauce for fresh vegetables
- Meat marinade
- Vegetable marinade
- Topping For Rice
- Sauce base
- Flavoring for salad dressing and gravies
- Salad dressing Ingredient
- Stir Fry Sauce
- Sauce for casseroles
- Sauce for baked or broiled meats and vegetables
#7 Salt (Indefinite)
Salt is an outstanding food to store in your bunker. Salt is a flavoring agent and is suitable for food preservation.
Salt is inexpensive and seconds as a food stockpiled for barter during hard times.
#8 Sugar (Indefinite)
White sugar is a no-brainer when it comes to storing food for emergencies. White granulated sugar is inexpensive and used to flavor and preserve foods.
Sugar shines when it comes to storing fresh fruits by making jams and jellies.
Sugar, like salt, is an outstanding food for barter in challenging times.
#9 Worcestershire Sauce (Indefinite)
Worcestershire sauce is excellent for long-term storage if you like the flavor profile. It goes well with steak and other meats as a cold condiment or blended into a meat or vegetable marinade.
People love or hate Worcestershire sauce. There aren’t too many fence-sitters.
#10 Hard alcohol (Indefinite)
You don’t have to drink to store alcohol for emergencies. It has a special place in every pantry as a barter item, cleaning agent, and painkiller.
When it comes to bartering in the post-apocalypse, hard alcohol is a valued trade item up there with ammo, salt, and sugar.
#11 Flour (5 to 10 years)
Flour is easier to make food from than wheat because the grain is already milled. White or bleached flour has many uses for baking to make a staple bread and as an additive to stew and soup to thicken.
White bleached flour has the longest shelf life. Whole wheat is not ideal for emergency food storage because it should be refrigerated, and it has a 3 to 6 months shelf life.
Ready Squirrel article, Flour or Wheat: Maximum Shelf-life
#12 Dried Pasta (10 to 30 years)
Dried pasta is a highly nutritious and stand-out food for the survival bunker. Pasta is flexible. Eat it with most other foods. If stored properly, pasta stores up to 30 years, and it’s easy to make.
I tend to store macaroni for long-term storage because I can get more pasta in a Mylar bag and bucket than I can with pasta like spaghetti.
#13 Peanut Butter (5 years)
Peanut butter is a powerhouse when it comes to survival food. Considering the amount of fat and protein peanut butter contains, it is above-average emergency food.
Peanut butter is one of those foods perfect for FEMA’s 72-hour emergency kit because it doesn’t have to be refrigerated or cooked. Just open the jar and eat.
Is Peanut Butter Good Emergency Food?
Peanut butter is outstanding emergency food, especially for short-term emergencies, because it is readily available, shelf-stable, and has a decent storage life of 5 years. For a longer storage life, look at powdered peanut butter with a storage life of 10 years.
It’s not cheap, but it costs less than professionally packaged survival food, and it is worth the cost.
#14 Coconut Oil (2 years)
Coconut is excellent emergency food because it is highly nutritious and has many uses in a survival situation.
When I first bought it, I was worried that coconut oil would taste like coconut, but it doesn’t. The 5-gallon bucket of Coconut oil I have is the consistency of Crisco and not a liquid like vegetable oil.
I’ve stir-fried meat and vegetables with coconut oil, and I’ve used it to make a moisturizing cream for shaker-style wood bowls and other wood pieces.
Is coconut oil good emergency food?
Coconut oil is excellent emergency food high in lauric acid, an immunity-boosting ingredient. Coconut oil is also perfect in cosmetics and for high-temperature cooking—Coconut oil stores for 2 Years.
#15 Crisco (2 years)
Crisco is outstanding emergency food. Made from cottonseed oil, Crisco, orginally a substitute for soap making, is now used in baking. I like to use it for seasoning cast iron pans.
Crisco is another one of those fats that will keep on the shelf for 2 years.
#15 Dried Beans (10 to 30 years)
Dried beans are a “should have survival food.” No respectable prepper would have long-term food storage without dry beans.
Are dried beans good survival food?
Dried beans are the perfect survival food. Combined with white rice, beans provide all nine essential amino acids and make a complete protein when eaten with rice. Beans are flexible. They can be boiled and eaten with salads, rice, vegetables, and other foods, milled into flour for dips, or added to soups and stews as a thickener.
Ready Squirrel article, Best Dried Beans For Long-term Storage
#16 Beef Jerky (1 year)
Beef Jerky is excellent for short-term emergencies if rotated, i.e., eaten and replaced.
Is Beef Jerky Good Emergency Food?
Beef Jerky is good emergency food. It is a delicious, lightweight source of protein that will keep on the shelf for 6 months to 1 year, depending on how it is packaged. Jerky is ideal for short-term emergencies and bugout bags.
#17 Canned Food (1 to 5 years)
Canned fruit, vegetables, and meat have a shelf life of up to 5 years. Eat canned food by the “best by date” and replace it with a new can. Rotating food like this will ensure you always have a fresh supply.
Most canned food will last beyond the “best by date,” but the overall quality of the food and the nutritional value may diminish.
Is Canned Food Good For Emergencies?
Canned food is outstanding emergency food because it is shelf-stable, inexpensive, and simple to make ready to eat. Canned food allows for variation in a survival diet and helps avoid palate fatigue—store cans of every food type from canned peaches to meat to ensure survival nutrition. Finally, aluminum cans are an excellent storage container protecting food long-term.
Avoid storing any canned foods with high acid, i.e., tomato-based, if you want a maximum shelf life.
Ready Squirrel article, Eight Types of Survival Food For the Apocalypse.
#18 Real Vanilla Extract (Indefinite)
Natural vanilla extract is an excellent spice to have on hand to enhance the flavor of baked goods. Combine a little vanilla and sugar into the baking batter for a post-apocalyptic sweet treat.
As an experiment, infuse clear alcohol like vodka with vanilla beans to change the flavor.