Affordable Survival Food: Beginners Guide

Affordable survival food like white rice, beans, wheat, and other dry staple food has been tried and tested over thousands of years: they are the best affordable survival food option and have the most extended shelf-life.

I personally stockpile every food on this list. Some of them I don’t like, i.e. canned meat but I know its a necessity. When stockpiling food think about your worst-case scenario. Plan for emergencies like job loss, a family catastrophe or societal collapse. Me, I’m a pessimist and plan for the worst-case scenario. My personal stash of affordable survival food includes hundreds of pounds of polished white rice, dry pinto and black beans and hard white wheat berries stored in Mylar bags and 5-gallon buckets for a 20 to 30 year shelf-life.

Scott, Ready Squirrel

Are dry staple survival foods good for short-term emergencies?

The dry staple foods listed are not ideal for short-term emergencies because they require resources like potable water, fuel, and time to prepare.

For short-term emergencies like hurricanes, flooding, or bugging-out, look to ready-to-eat canned goods, non-perishables, and professionally packaged survival foods.

If you are looking for high-quality, Professionally packaged survival food and gear head over to My Patriot Supply. This is a Ready Squirrel affiliate link so we get paid a cut of My Patriot’s profit for beans and bullets, at no additional cost to you. We do appreciate the support!

If you are ready to start stockpiling affordable survival food for an economic collapse, read on.

#1 White Rice

White rice is the cheapest food you can stockpile, and it is one of the top three survival foods.

Last week, I bought a fifty-pound bag of long-grain white rice at Sam’s club for less than $20.00, that’s is an excellent price for 50lbs of carbohydrate-rich emergency food that provides 22,679 cooked calories. The icing on the cake, white rice will store up to thirty years in Mylar bags when treated with oxygen absorbers.

Scott, Ready Squirrel

8 reasons white rice is excellent survival food

  1. Least expensive food to stockpile
  2. Gluten-free
  3. Provides Energy
  4. Excellent Source of Carbohydrates
  5. Flexible with other foods
  6. Provides whole protein when eaten with beans
  7. Calorie dense in relation to the storage volume
  8. Proven Survival Food

Learn more:

Check out the Ready Squirrel article, Cheap Emergency Food Stockpile and Which Type of Rice Stores Longest For Food Storage.

Learn how to store dry staple foods. Check out the Ready Squirrel article, Mylar Bags for Food Storage: Beginners Guide.

#2 Dry Beans

Dry beans are pretty close to being the perfect survival food. When combined with white rice or wheat, they provide all nine essential amino acids and are relatively inexpensive compared to meat protein.

As a side note, bulk dry beans aren’t as easy to find as they once were. If you see a deal in the store, jump on it.

Learn more about beans as a survival food by checking out these Ready Squirrel articles, Best Dry Beans for Long-term Storage, and Best way to store beans long-term: Emergency Protein.

#3 Rolled Oats

Rolled oats are outstanding survival food. They are among the few soft grains that provide excellent nutrition and a long shelf-life. Properly stored, oats will be good for 30-years.

Rolled oats are an excellent source of protein, vitamins, and minerals.

Scotch Highlanders were feared in battle and constantly on the move, herding cattle in hilly terrain. Their primary diet was a combination of dairy, oats, and meat when they could get it.

Not quite as flexible as rice or wheat, oats play a role as survival food. They cook quickly and make an excellent base for dairy, fruit, and garden vegetables. That’s not to say you can’t eat oats with meat fat and home-raised eggs.

I prefer eating rolled oats with peanut butter, heavy cream, and a heaping spoonful of raspberry preserves.

Learn more about oats, check out the Ready Squirrel articles, Best Oats for Storage, and Foods to Stockpile for Economic Collapse.

#4 Wheat Berries

Wheat is a top three survival food.

The Egyptians and Roman Legions both relied heavily on wheat for survival, so it has a proven track record.

Preppers seem to be intimidated by wheat berries but they are easy to use once you get the hang of it. Changing wheat into flour with an electric mill is easy. Hand-milling wheat is not easy, get some practice milling with a manual mill before you need to depend on it for survival.

I can’t overstate how much work it is turning 5lbs of wheat berries into flour, manually.

What are wheat berries?

Wheat berries are wheat with the husk removed. Removing the husk removes the oil that causes wheat to go rancid quickly. Wheat berries can be stored for up to 30 years in Mylar.

Hard red or white wheat berries have the most gluten. White wheat is said to have the mildest flavor. I only store hard white wheat.

You have to get used to the taste of whole wheat because we are so used to bleached and overly processed flours.

What can I do with wheat?

  • Boil and eat like porridge
  • Sprout and eat the greens
  • Mill or grind to flour to make leavened and unleavened bread
  • Mix flour with water to make Levain also called sourdough yeast

Learn more about wheat as a survival food read the Ready Squirrel articles, Storing Wheat to Outlast You and Best Wheat Berries for Long-term Storage

#5 Dent Corn

Dent corn is an excellent survival food that has been proven over thousands of years. Native tribes and cultures in the Americas used corn as a primary staple in their diet.

Dent corn is the same kind of grain fed to cattle, but it is also used to make cornmeal, tacos, Doritos, and corn chips.

Theoretically, you could go down to the local COOP or grain elevator and purchase corn for survival food if it is marked “good for human consumption.”

For the human body to assimilate the nutrients, grain corn has to go through a nixtamalization process which can be labor-intensive. If you grow field corn for survival food, you’ll have to process it or purchase corn already processed.

Check out the Ready Squirrel article, How long can you store dried field corn for more information.

#5 Cornmeal

Cornmeal isn’t the best way to store corn for survival food, but it is more convenient than storing whole dent or field corn.

Bolted cornmeal with the hull and germ removed to reduce oils going rancid is excellent survival food. Most commercially sold cornmeals are bolted.

Store some cornmeal if you want to make cornbread and other corn-based foods but don’t want to deal with grinding or nixtamalization.

#6 Pasta

Dry pasta is a cheap but solid survival food and a lot handier than processing whole wheat berries. Pasta is not nearly as flexible as wheat, but, like wheat, it will last up to 30 years in oxygen-free packaging.

If you store wheat, you can make pasta in addition to all the baked goods. Dry pasta limits your options, but it saves on the time and labor required to make it from flour.

I am storing macaroni in #10 cans because it’s too handy not to have it, but the bulk of my wheat is stored as grain.

I mill wheat, add water and create Levain. Levain is sourdough yeast. All you need to make it is water and flour. Wheat can also be boiled whole and eaten as a porridge.

To learn more about making your yeast check out the Ready Squirrel article, How to Make Your Yeast For the Apocalypse. Read Ready Squirrel’s article, Wheat Vs. Flour In Long-term Food Storage to learn more about storing flour instead of wheat.

#7 Lentils

Lentils are cheap and easy. An outstanding survival food that is low on calories but provides a lot of nutrients.

Lentils don’t have the calorie count of dry beans, but they are high in protein and make a good meat substitute when it isn’t available.

One of my favorite things about dry lentils is how fast they cook, and you don’t have to pre-soak them.

My favorite lentil recipe is boiling them with onions, garlic, and vegetables in meat stock. You can also use bullion cubes if you don’t have any meat. Finish the lentils off with white rice or freshly baked bread and a splash of Tabasco.

Lentils are a blank slate when it comes to cooking. You can add any vegetable from your survival garden to make an excellent tasting stew. I cook lentils with chopped onion, celery, carrots, potatoes, dry cumin, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and salt.

Cover lentils with at least four inches of water, meat, or vegetable stock. To cook lentils, bring to a boil, and turn down to simmer. If you like your vegetables firm, don’t add them until the last 30 minutes.

To learn more about lentils, check out the Ready Squirrel article, How Long Can Dried Lentils Be Stored?

#8 Dried Split Peas

Split peas are an inexpensive survival food loaded with protein, but they aren’t as flexible as lentils or dried beans. I suggest storing some dried peas in your pantry to cut down on palet fatigue from eating the same type of food every day.

I typically stew my Split peas with a ham bone and spice them with cayenne, salt, pepper, chopped carrots, and onions.

#9 Powdered Eggs

Powdered eggs are relatively inexpensive and have 25 to 30 years of shelf life. Eat them as a stand-alone or incorporate them into your other recipes.

Powdered eggs are excellent for baked goods and as an addition to soups and stews for a shot of protein. The downside of powdered eggs is that most of the precious fat is removed. Fresh eggs contain a lot of fat.

If you have the resources consider raising some laying hens for fresh eggs. Fresh eggs could keep you alive in an apocalypse.

#10 Canned Meat

Canned meat is not inexpensive, but I had to mention it because it’s necessary for those who can’t get animal protein and fat any other way. Canned meat like Spam is outstanding survival food.

The hardest thing to store in a long-term survival pantry is fat.

Regardless of what some may say, we need fat for bodily functions. That said, the cost of meat is skyrocketing. It doesn’t matter if it is in the cooler at the supermarket, in a can, or freeze-dried. You are going to pay for it.

Spam and the Keystone canned meats are good examples of survival meat you should consider storing.

To learn more about the canned meat that saved the world, check out the Ready Squirrel article, Canned Protein: 28 Examples for the Apocalypse and Canned Meat: A Must-Have Survival Food.

#11 Canned Vegetables

Canned vegetables are shelf-stable, and they round out your survival food menu filling in gaps and providing accessible nutrients.

Canned veggies aren’t as good as growing a survival garden or sprouting, but they are handy in the pantry.

Do your best to supplement canned vegetables with garden seeds for growing and viable seeds for sprouting.

Read more about sprouting seeds for greens, and check out the Ready Squirrel article, Sprouting Wheat and Other Grains for Survival.

#12 Professionally Packaged Survival Food

For some emergencies, it’s hard to go cheap because you need food to have specific characteristics or you don’t have the time to process bulk staples.

I like to keep some pre-packaged survival food on hand for short-term emergency kits because it’s ready to eat and has decades of shelf life.

Survival foods also work well in your bug-out vehicle, hurricane preparedness kit, and FEMA’s suggested 72 hours to two-week emergency kits for natural disasters.

If you are looking for high-quality, Professionally packaged survival food and gear head over to My Patriot Supply. This is a Ready Squirrel affiliate link so we get paid a cut of My Patriot’s profit for beans and bullets, at no additional cost to you. We do appreciate the support!

2 thoughts on “Affordable Survival Food: Beginners Guide”

  1. Hi Marc, Sounds like you are getting your long-term storage squared away. I haven’t been writing as much in the last couple of months because I was working on another project. Now that it is complete I will be writing a lot more.

    As far as shortages are concerned I would pack away as many dry foods as you can. Start working on fat, gardening, and the preservation of those things. Maybe look into a food hobby that you can sustain locally, brewing, distillation, etc., and start collecting manual tools and fasteners.

    We are living in strange times right now. Do the best you can with what you have.

    Keep on prepping.

    Regards, Scott

  2. Hi Scott,

    Everything alright over there in the States? Noticed there haven’t been as many posts lately, so hope you’re doing okay. In Europe things are getting a little more strained right now with flour and wheat being products of high demand, and in some parts oils being simply sold-out. A bright spot however is that far more people are now aware of what being a prepper even means and are no longer mocking it as badly, meaning that I’ve got the rest of my family thinking at the very least.

    I recently finished stocking up enough food to supply the 6 people in my family for half a year at the very least, and more likely 12 months using the seeds we have stored and our fruit trees. Furthermore, I recently bought around a 100 pounds of maize to pre-empt that shortage as well (with South Africa suffering from locusts). Do you have any ideas on what the next shortage is going to be? I am currently still scouring the web and physical stores for Crisco as such a specialty product is rarely sold here, and with the lack of alternatives of fats for long-term storage I’d like to have some just in case.

    Kind regards,
    Marc

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