The best cheap long-term emergency food supply is also the best food you can store for long-term survival. I’ve spent the last couple of years storing dry staples like white rice, wheat berries, dry beans, and rolled oats to build the biggest emergency food storage possible on a budget.
Why are Dry Staple Foods Good For Emergency Food Storage?
Dry staples like rice, wheat, rolled oats, dent corn, and beans have kept every civilization on earth alive for thousands of years. These foods are hardy, full of nutrition, don’t require refrigeration, and have decades of shelf life when stored properly. They stand the test of time.
Following is a list of food you can use to build a long-term emergency food supply. Inexpensive emergency food supply—relatively inexpensive foods with the most extended shelf life that will keep you alive in case of famine or a family emergency like job loss.
White unpolished rice is the cheapest prepper food, a super staple that will last up to 30 years if stored properly. It is a proven survival food eaten by millions of people for thousands of years.
You can’t go wrong with storing white rice as emergency food.
What kind of rice should I store long-term?
Store any polished white rice for a long shelf-life, including long-grain white rice, Jasmine, Basmati, Arborio, and converted rice.
How Long Can I Store White Rice?
All types of polished “white rice,” including long-grain, Jasmine, Basmati, Arborio, and converted rice, will store five years inside store packaging and thirty years or more in oxygen-free storage.
Storage Tip: Storing white rice in Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers will kill bugs, eggs, and pupae and increase white rice shelf-life by decades.
What rices should I avoid for long-term storage?
Avoid Brown, Purple, and Red rice if you want a long shelf life. These types of rice have high oil or lipid content that goes rancid quickly and will only last six months on the pantry shelf. Do not store these types of rice in oxygen-free packaging.
What can I cook with rice?
Rice is eaten by itself or used as a base for meat, vegetable stir-frys, soups, and stews. It can also be sweetened and eaten like a breakfast porridge and is used to make rice wine.
Rice is filling and nutritious, providing both carbohydrates and a small amount of protein. See the USDA nutrition facts for one cup of cooked long-grain rice below.
Learn more about cheap survival food. Read the Ready Squirrel article, Cheap Survival Food for the Cataclysm.
Chart #1 White Rice Nutrition (USDA)
|Long Grain, White and Polished, Rice||Daily Value|
|Serving Size||1 cup cooked|
|Potassium 55 MG||1%|
|Total Carbohydrate 45 g||15%|
|Dietary Fiber .6 g||2%|
|Protein 4.3 g||8%|
#2. Dry Beans And Legumes
Dry beans are cheap, and they are one of the best cheap prepper foods. They contain excellent nutrition and protein, and when combined with white rice, they provide an entire amino acid.
I store primarily black beans and pinto beans because that is what’s available, but you have lots of choices depending on where you live.
Beans are a significant portion of my emergency food stores, and I consider them one of the top three best anti-famine foods for long-term storage.Scott, Ready Squirrel
How Long will dry beans last?
Dry beans will last a year in regular store packaging and up to 30 years in Oxygen-free packaging.
What can you cook with beans?
Boil and stew beans with spices, add them to soups and stews, sprout them for greens or grind tough old beans into flour and use as a thickener or bean dip.
What Kind of Beans Should I Store?
Store the type of beans that are the least expensive and most available in your area. For a comprehensive list of beans, their shelf life, and nutrition, browse the Ready Squirrel article, “How Long Do Beans Last: 16 Top-tier Survival Beans.”
Chart #2 Pinto Bean Nutrition (USDA)
|Cooked Pinto Beans||Daily Value|
|Serving Size||1 cup cooked|
|Total Fat (Lipid)||1.11 g|
|Vitamin C||1.37 mg|
Wheat is one of the best cheap survival foods, and it is a proven staple that has supported cultures for thousands of years. Both the Romans and Egyptians were big wheat eaters.
In the U.S., the wheat for long-term storage is called Wheat Berries, or wheat with the husk and oils removed, which drastically increases shelf-life.
Why is wheat a good survival food?
Wheat is nutritious and super flexible and has a longer shelf-life than all-purpose flour.
What can I cook with wheat?
Mill wheat into flour and use it to make bread and pastries or use it as a thickener. Add wheat berries, whole, to soups and stews or cook and add to salads or sweeten for breakfast porridge. Sprout wheat for nutritious greens and add to cold and hot salads or bread dough.
How Long will wheat last?
Wheat will last six months in regular store packaging, and in oxygen-free packaging, it will last 30 or more years.
Chart #3 Hard White Wheat Nutrition (USDA)
|Hard White Wheat (1 Cup)||Daily Value|
Salt is cheap in bulk, and it lasts forever. Unlike most dry foods in long-term storage, don’t store salt oxygen-free because it will turn to stone.
How Long Will Salt Last?
Salt will store indefinitely. The flavor and consistency will remain high quality as long as it is kept in an airtight container to prevent clumping from moisture and keep it from soaking up off-flavors.
What can I use survival salt for?
Salt is a food flavor enhancer and preservative for curing meat, pickling garden produces, preserving dairy, cheese making, and bartering. Roman soldiers were paid in salt. That is where the term salary originates. In ancient times, entire economies were built on trading salt.
During hard times salt is an excellent barter item. It is so cheap, store as much as you can.
Types of Salt Emergency Salt To Store
- Pickling Salt
- Sea Salt
- Iodized Table Salt
- Curing Salts
Sugar is super inexpensive when purchased in bulk, and it’s an excellent flavor enhancer and preservative. Sugar is another food that stands out as a barter item, and it is ridiculously cheap in bulk.
How long does sugar last?
White Table Sugar lasts indefinitely. The only thing you have to worry about with sugar is its consistency and flavor, i.e., you don’t want it to clump up from moisture, and you want to keep it in an airtight container, or it will soak up off-flavors from the pantry.
How Do You Store Sugar?
Store sugar in an airtight container, but avoid using oxygen-free storage. Sugar doesn’t oxidize and will turn to stone if stored without oxygen. Most preppers store sugar in a food-grade plastic bucket with a lid. No Mylar bags or oxygen absorbers are required.
#6. Hard Grains
Chart #2 Cheap Survival Food: Hard Grains
|Long-grain White Rice||30+|
|Hard White Wheat||30+|
|Hard Red Wheat||30+|
|Triticale (Hybrid of rye and wheat)||30+|
|Soft Wheat (Less Protein Than Hard Wheat)||30+|
|Ancient Wheat (Einkorn,Emmer,Spelt)||30+|
|Grain Corn (Field or Dent Corn)||30+|
Following is a list of soft grains you can store in long-term storage. Rolled oats are one of my favorite soft grains to store. Oats powered the Scotch highlander through battles and long marches.
#7. Soft Grains
Chart #3 Cheap Survival Food: Soft Grains
|Soft Grain Type||Shelf-life |
#8. Dent Corn
Dent corn is a cheap dry staple that is proven survival food. It was a primary staple of the Incas and Aztecs and is considered sacred by the Navajo people of the Southwestern United States.
What is Dent Corn?
Dent corn, also called field corn, maize, or cow corn, is grain corn that is milled into cornmeal and cornflour. You don’t boil dent corn, and Smother it in butter and eat it off the cob. It is used as a grain to make flour.
What is Dent corn used for?
In the United States, Dent corn is used primarily to feed livestock, but it is also used to manufacture corn chips, tortillas, and other corn-based snack products.
Flour is inexpensive and works as a substitute for wheat berries, but the shelf-life is shorter by decades. Still, flour is easier to find, and it is usually cheaper than wheat berries.
Flour With the Longest Shelf-life
All-purpose white flour has the most extended shelf-life of wheat flour because it has been processed to remove most lipids (fats) that cause whole wheat flour to go rancid quickly.
How Long Does Flour Last In Long-Term Storage?
Bleached flour stored in grocery store packaging has a maximum shelf life of 8 months. When stored in oxygen-free packaging, the flour will keep ten years or more.
Whole wheat flour has a maximum shelf-life of 12 months, and it is more expensive than all-purpose flour. Whole wheat flour isn’t a good choice for long-term storage.
In comparison, Whole wheat berries have a 30-year shelf life when the wheat kernels are left whole, producing whole-wheat flour when milled. So you are getting a long shelf-life and higher nutrition than with all-purpose flour.
What Can You Do With Flour In Long-Term Storage?
Use flour to make bread, pastries, and homemade pasta. Flour can also be used as a thickening agent for soup and stews or fry batter. The list of baked goods you can make with flour is endless.
Pasta is a cheap prepper food that can be found almost everywhere. Admittedly, I don’t have much pasta in my long-term food storage. I chose to go with wheat because it’s flexible, and I can do more with it.
How Long Will Pasta Last In Long-Term Storage?
Pasta stored for long-term storage in oxygen-free packaging it will keep for 30 years, packaged in its original store packaging for two years if stored in a cool, dry pantry.
What can you do with pasta in long-term storage?
Dried pasta is an excellent base for canned meat, fresh vegetables, soups, stews, and sauces. Pasta is one of those foods that will fill the belly when there isn’t much to eat. You can eat it cold as a salad or hot with just about anything, including beans, dressings, spices, and whatever other foods are available.
# 11Cheapest Canned Emergency Food
Canned foods are among the best foods for short-term emergencies because they are shelf-stable and don’t require refrigeration.
How Long Does Vinegar Last?
Vinegar will last indefinitely if kept in a cool, dry location. If vinegar is in a transparent container, keep it in the dark or cover it to avoid light oxidation, affecting the flavor.
What Can I Do With Vinegar In Long-term Storage?
In the kitchen, vinegar can make salad dressings, pickle and preserve food, as a meat tenderizer, or a marinade for meats and vegetables.
I use a lot of apple cider vinegar on garden salads, and I also like it on cooked green beans with lots of salt.
#13 Soy Sauce
Soy Sauce is a cheap condiment with an indefinite shelf-life.
How long will soy sauce last in long-term storage?
Left unopened and stored correctly, soy sauce has an indefinite shelf-life. If soy sauce is in a transparent container, keep it stored in a dark location or cover it to prevent light oxidation.
What can I do with soy sauce in long-term storage?
Soy sauce is an excellent flavoring for rice, pasta, vegetables, and meat, and it can be used as a marinade for meats and vegetables or added to sauces and dressings.
How long does soy sauce last?
The sauce will store indefinitely. If you purchase it in a transparent container, keep it stored in a dark location or cover it to prevent light oxidation.
Food Data Central, USDA, Beans, pinto, mature seeds, cooked, boiled, without salt USDA.
Food Data Central, USDA, Rice, white, long-grain, parboiled, enriched, cooked USDA
Food Data Central, USDA, Wheat, Hard White USDA