Cheap Food for Storage (65+Examples)

This is a list of foods you can stockpile for emergencies like inflation, economic downturn, or job loss. When I say cheap eats, that is kind of tongue-in-cheek. As I write this article, the cost of all food is on the rise and probably will be for the foreseeable future.

If you have the ability, I suggest stockpiling dry staples and starting a survival garden ASAP. Following is a list of foods proven to be tried and tested over hundreds or thousands of years.

Storage Tip: If you want to store food and eat cheaply, learn to cook from scratch. By cooking and baking from scratch ingredients like dry rice, beans, and wheat, your family will eat higher quality food for less. Ok, here is my list.

Dry Goods

These foods have supported the Romans, Egyptians, and other ancient civilizations across the globe for thousands of years. They all have years of shelf life and, if stored properly, decades of shelf life. These are the foods you store so your family doesn’t starve.

  1. Dry beans
  2. Wheat
  3. Dry Lentils
  4. Dry White Rice
  5. Rolled Oats
  6. Dry Pasta
  7. Flour (White all-purpose)
  8. Hard Grains
  9. Soft Grains

To learn more about dry staples, check out the Ready Squirrel article, Cheap Long Term Emergency Food Supply.

Best Canned Food for Survival

Canned foods are some of the most accessible foods for short-term emergencies and are often used for disasters like Hurricane preparedness.

Canned meat, fruits, and vegetable are shelf stable, meaning they don’t have to be refrigerated. Most are ready to eat out of the can.

The downside of canned foods is that the shelf-life is not clear. Many preppers get around this by rotating canned foods by the “Best by Date.” To rotate canned food this way, eat the food before the best date and replace it with new cans.

Fresh is always better but isn’t always an option. Canned food fills a lot of gaps when it comes to emergency preparedness.

You will probably get sick of repeatedly eating the same food in a disaster. Canned food helps vary what you eat day after day.

Canned Meat

Meat isn’t cheap. I went into the market yesterday to pick up some grilled steaks and didn’t buy anything. $20.00 for one Ribeye. At the grocery store. Meat is one of the more expensive items on the list, but you should have stored at least some of it.

  1. Spam
  2. Canned Tuna
  3. Canned Ham

Are you interested in learning about all of the options regarding canned meat? Check out the comprehensive article, Canned Meat: A must-have survival food.

Canned Fruit

Unless you are lucky enough to live in an area that grows fruit, it will be pricey to purchase it fresh. The cost of diesel and fertilizers is rising, and with these items going up, the cost of delivered fruits will keep going up. If you can purchase canned goods and store them before prices take off, that’s a good thing.

  1. Pineapple
  2. Apple Sauce
  3. Peaches
  4. Mixed Fruit Medley
  5. Mandarin Oranges
  6. Mangos
  7. Pears
  8. Grapefruit
  9. Cherries

Canned Vegetables

Canned vegetables make a poor substitute for the fresh stuff, but worst-case scenario, you have some vegetables on hand if it isn’t garden season or you don’t have a survival garden.

  1. Mixed Vegetables
  2. Green beans
  3. Corn
  4. Peas
  5. Squash
  6. Tomatoes
  7. New Potatoes
  8. Spinach (not me)
  9. Carrots

Canned tomatoes are a staple in my household; I have difficulty keeping them on hand. We use them to make pasta sauce and salsa.

Think about how good a meal will taste, made from a can of tomatoes and a box of dry spaghetti. This is a cheap meal made from scratch and one I make often. If I have meat, peppers, or onions, I will add this to the sauce, but if not, I’m eating sauce spiced with cheap bulk spices and maybe some stewed beans to get a shot of protein.

Canned Meals

  1. Soups
  2. Stews
  3. Pasta Meals

How long do Canned Foods Last?

Canned foods have a shelf life of 2 to 5 years. High-acid foods like tomatoes and fruits will last 2 years, and low-acid foods like spam will last 5 years.

It’s true that some canned foods will still be edible beyond the “best by date,” but it’s impossible to tell exactly how long. Most preppers use the best-by-date to rotate canned goods, so they have a point of reference. This also ensures you aren’t eating canned goods that have gone bad.

Another issue with canned goods beyond the best by date is they tend to diminish in overall quality, including taste and texture, and the nutritional value declines over time.

Peanut and Nut Butters

The peanut butter will last a couple of years on the shelf, and it’s chock full of protein and fat.

Whether eating fat is good for you is debatable, but one thing is for sure the human body needs fats to function. How well your brain functions are directly tied to fat consumption.

Fat is the hardest thing to store in long-term storage. The best option is to have egg-laying hens for a daily supply of protein and fat. For the rest of us, there is nut butter.

  1. Peanut butter
  2. Almond butter
  3. Hazelnut Butter

Dried Fruit

Many dried fruits are sugar-packed, but they also provide much-needed nutrition. They make a good snack and can also be mixed into baked goods to make them more attractive.

  1. Raisins
  2. Banana Chips
  3. Apricots
  4. Dates
  5. Figs
  6. Cranberries
  7. Dried Apples
  8. Prunes

Food Preservation

Start storing vinegar, salt, and sugar to preserve fruits, vegetables, and meat. Vinegar seconds as a natural cleaning agent and can be used to pickle. Sugar is excellent for fruit preserves and for boosting fermentation in fruit ciders.

  1. Vinegar
  2. Salt
  3. Granulated White Sugar
  4. Soy Sauce

Dried Food (Quick Food)

I’m a big fan of Ramen noodles because they can be doctored with available meat, vegetables, and herbs. Often, I eat a package of Ramen and stir in an egg and a 1/2 cup of frozen corn or peas.

  1. Ramen Noodles
  2. Mac and Cheese
  3. Noodle Meals
  4. Dry Packaged Meals
  5. Nuts
  6. Seeds
  7. Baked Goods (Betty Crocker Cake Mix, Muffin mixes)
  8. Corn Bread

Vitamins and Food Supplements

Store Cheap vitamins and supplements to fill the nutritional gaps your food pantry doesn’t provide.

  1. Multi-vitamins
  2. Protein Powders
  3. Protein Bars
  4. Body Builder Bars

Dried Spices

Spices are the secret weapon of food storage. Take spices like salt, red pepper, chili powder, and cumin to make some pretty fantastic meals from essential bland ingredients like dry beans. I like to buy my spices in bulk at a big box store like Sam’s club or Costco.

Spices don’t go wrong, but they decline in how much flavor they give food. To fix the diminishing flavors, use more of the sauce as it ages.

Salt and sugar are an exception to this rule. As long as they are correctly stored, they will keep the flavor they have the day you package them.

Remember that you can also grow a window garden of the herbs you use the most. I like to have both dry and fresh on hand when possible.

  1. Red Pepper Flakes
  2. Rep Pepper
  3. Black Pepper
  4. Italian Mix (great for tomato sauces)
  5. Basil
  6. Chili Powder
  7. Curry
  8. Ground Cinnamon
  9. Ground Cumin
  10. Paprika
  11. Ground Ginger

Salt is a unique case spice. It’s a preservative and has an indefinite shelf-life. Salt is outstanding for barter, as is white granulated sugar. In my mind, salt goes way beyond being just a food item. It is so inexpensive and helpful in a survival situation it should be stored in bulk.

Learn more about salt as survival food. Check out the Ready Squirrel article, How many salts Do You Store for Long Term Survival?

Feel Good Foods

Once you get your bedrock foods in place, it doesn’t hurt to store some foods that are good for morale. Feel good foods that raise the spirits in a survival situation.

  1. Coffee
  2. Tea
  3. Hard Candy
  4. Powdered Coffee Creamer
  5. Meat and Vegetable Bouillon Cubes

Food That Needs the Refrigerator

Regarding stockpiling for emergencies, it’s a good idea to store the bulk of your food items as non-perishable and dry staples. Still, collecting the freezer is also a good idea because it allows you to get more creative with family meals.

  • Frozen Corn
  • Frozen Peas
  • Meat on sale, Pork, Chicken, Beef
  • Make stocks and broths and freeze them

Cheap Meals for a Week

This is just an example of how many meals you can make with some cheap ingredients. You probably already have some spices, leftover vegetables, or meat. If not, these ingredients alone will create some great meals for one person for a week.

What you need

  • One Fresh Apple
  • One onion
  • One lb. of fresh carrots
  • Powdered Cinnamon
  • 5 Bananas
  • 4 Fresh Jalapenos
  • Package of Tortillas
  • One lb. of Pinto Beans
  • One lb. of Brown Rice
  • One lb. of Quick Oats (filling)
  • One dozen Eggs
  • Vegetable or Olive Oil
  • Soy Sauce

Cheap Meal Ideas: The Concept

Cook your pinto beans and the pound of rice and store them in the fridge. One person can eat off of these ingredients for a week. Yes, it’s boring; yes, you are eating the same ingredients over and over. The idea is how to think about elements and how they are combined.

Cook your pinto beans and the pound of rice and store them in the fridge.

Quick oats, top with cinnamon and cook. Slice a banana or 1/2 of your apple, place it on the cooked oats, and eat.

Fry or scramble eggs, chop some onion and jalapeno, and place ingredients inside a tortilla or two.

Stir fry some of the precooked rice in an oiled pan, and add three eggs, soy sauce, chopped onion, and carrots. You can also add peas, green onions, or any vegetables you have on hand.

Eat some stewed beans with a side of onions, jalapenos, and warmed tortillas.