Food for the Collapse: Top 4 to Stockpile

The possibility of Societal collapse is a solid reason to start stockpiling food for the apocalypse. Dry staples like white rice, dry beans, grain, canned and freeze-dried foods, and produce preserved from a survival garden will keep you sustained when the supply chain breaks down.

These 4 major types of food have a 5 to 30 year plus shelf life, and each serves a purpose in your survival food stockpile.

It is a distinct possibility that we will face economic collapse in our lifetime. If it’s not economic collapse, it could be any number of natural or manmade disasters that could cascade into a full-blown melt-down.

The worst-case scenario has you stockpiling food in bulk to save money on your budget or provide sustenance in case of job loss or another family emergency.

Let’s move on to the types of food you should store for the apocalypse.

If you like this article, check out Ready Squirrel’s most popular article on societal collapse, “26 Ways to Survive Societal Collapse.”

1. DIY Survival Foods In Oxygen-free Storage

The heavy lifter of long-term food storage is dry staples like wheat, white rice, and dried beans. White rice and beans do not give you all the nutrition you need but will sustain you for a significant amount of time.

The bulk of my long-term food storage is hundreds of pounds of hard white wheat, black beans, white navy beans, pinto beans, white rice, low-fat powdered milk, bulk sugar, salt, and condiments like soy sauce and vinegar.

6 Pros Of Dry Staple Food

  1. Inexpensive
  2. Long Storage Life
  3. Proven Track Record
  4. Bedrock Survival Food
  5. Sprouted for fresh greens
  6. Grow in a survival garden


You can purchase 100’s of pounds of dry staples like white rice, beans, and rolled oats for pennies compared to the other emergency foods.

Long Storage Life:

Dry staples, less than 10% moisture, like white rice, dried beans, rolled oats, and wheat have a shelf-life of 30 years when stored in Mylar with Oxygen absorbers. I suggest using the storage trifecta of a food-grade pale lined with a mylar bag and sealed with an Oxygen absorber.

Another good way to purchase staple foods is in #10 cans you can get from the LDS store online.

Proven Track Record:

Civilizations have survived on dry staples for thousands of years. Wheat, white rice, and dried beans fed people all the way back to early man.

Bedrock Survival Food

Staple foods are bland, but they act as an excellent base food for foraged, gardened, or hunted foods you encounter in an emergency scenario.

Sprouting Grains & Beans

As long as grains and beans are still viable, they can be sprouted for nutritious greens.

Hanging out in a cabin with 4 feet of snow on the ground and out of vegetables and fruit. Place a cup of wheat berries in a jar, cover with water and grow wheat berries. Sprouting can be accomplished in a closet or on a windowsill.

Grow In A Survival Garden

Grains and beans are seeds you can plant in a survival garden. If you plan on doing this, get some experience planting before you depend on it for food. Let’s take a look at the challenges of using staples for emergency food.

8 Cons Of Dry Staple Food

  1. Water Required
  2. Fuel Required
  3. Preparation Time
  4. Processing & Special equipment
  5. Heavy: Not easily transported
  6. Not ideal for bugging out
  7. Not ideal for short term emergencies
  8. Basic cooking skills required

If you are interested in this subject, you might also like Ready Squirrel’s comprehensive article, Societal Collapse: The Road to Self-reliance.”

#1 Water

Dry staples have to be cooked with a lot of water. If you plan to use them when things head south, make sure you have a way to get clean, potable water to cook.

Rice and beans are an example of foods that take a significant amount of water to process.

If you live in the Arizona desert and know you will barely have enough water to survive, dry staples are not a good choice for the bulk of your emergency food.

#2 Fuel

Bulk foods need a lot of fuel to make edible. In a situation where the grid is down and you are cooking with canned fuel or wood, you’ll need a lot of it to make sure you can cook the food.

Live next to a forest with lots of deadwood it’s not as much of an issue as living in an urban area without a natural fuel source.

#3 Preparation Time

Dry staples are not ideal when you are on the move and trying to stay hidden. If you are running from the golden hoard, you won’t want to spend a day cooking rice and beans over an open fire.

#4 Processing & Special Equipment

Certain foods like wheat need special processing to make foods like bread and pasta. You can boil wheat and eat it like porridge, and as mentioned, it can be sprouted.

If you plan on grinding wheat to flour, you’ll need a manual grain mill. You may also want to consider milling dry beans to make soups, sauces, and gravies.

Following are food charts based on a Brigham Young University PDF, emergency food to store for one person for a year. These quantities aren’t perfect, but they are an excellent base for survival foods.

#5 Heavy: Not Easily Transported

Based on the LDS food to store for one person for a year, you’re looking at roughly 554 lbs of food per person. That’s a whopping 2,216 pounds of staples for a family of four.

Food weight is a concern if you need to move it. Planning to bug out or not, it might be necessary to leave your location. Moving this much food will be challenging if you don’t have a vehicle.

#6 Not Ideal For Bugging Out

Using staple foods for bugging out is an option. As already mentioned, the staple food is heavy, making it more difficult to keep your pack weight within 20% of your body weight, but it’s also a challenge to stay hiding using dry staples.

If you are on the run and trying to stay hidden, there are better foods for this purpose, for instance, SOS lifeboat bars, granola bars, or even freeze-dried foods would be a better choice because they are so quick to make ready and wouldn’t require camp set-up for an extended period of time.

#7 Not Ideal for Short-term Emergencies

Dry staple foods are not ideal for short-term emergencies like hurricane preparedness. They take too much time and resources when compared to shelf-stable canned foods or store-bought packaged goods.

#8 Basic Cooking Skills Required

Staples food requires you to boil water. I’m not sure if that is cooking or not. But you do have to let dry ingredients simmer or boil in hot water. Needing to cook these foods shouldn’t deter you from storing them if they fit the survival scenario.

Each staple is easily made if you follow simple directions.

Let’s take a look at what a year’s worth of staple food, for one person, looks like.

You’re going to need a bug-out location to store your emergency food take a look at the Ready Squirrel article, “Survive Societal Collapse: Guide to Picking a Bug-Out Location.”

Chart #1 Dry Grain for Societal Collapse 1-year Supply Per Person

Hard Wheat132
White Rice 65
Rolled Oats29
Brigham Young University, “An approach to longer-term food storage.”

Chart #2 Dry Legumes for Societal Collapse 1-year Supply Per Person

Dried Beans 21
Split Peas 21
Lentils 21
Brigham Young University, “An approach to longer-term food storage.”

Chart #3 Dry Dairy for Societal Collapse 1-year Supply Per Person

Milk Non-Fat Powder49
Brigham Young University, “An approach to longer-term food storage.”

Chart #4 Other Dried Foods For Societal Collapse 1-year Supply Per Person

Food TypePounds
Sugar 70
Apple Slices 6
Potato Flakes 22
Dried Carrots 8
Dried Onion2
Iodized Salt8
Baking Soda1
Baking Powder4
Vitamin C Tablets365
Brigham Young University, “An approach to longer-term food storage.”

Check out one of our most popular articles, How Much Food to Stockpile Per Person, for charts on daily calorie counts and a more in-depth discussion of building an emergency stockpile of food.

2. Survival Canned Foods

Canned foods help round out the nutrition of dry staple foods and cut down on pallet fatigue (eating the same food day after day.) My family eats canned beans and the occasional can of sauerkraut, but we avoid eating out of a can for the most part so rotating canned food is a challenge. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of canned food.

5 Pros Of Canned Emergency Food

  1. Inexpensive
  2. Ready to eat
  3. Shelf-stable
  4. Good For Short-term Emergencies (FEMA 72 Hour Emergency Kit)
  5. Canned Meals

#1 Inexpensive

Canned food is relatively inexpensive compared to freeze-dried and professionally packaged emergency food.

#2 Ready To Eat

Canned food is ready to eat without additional action or ingredients. Most of us will want to heat canned foods, but it’s not necessary.

#3 Shelf Stable

Canned foods are shelf-stable, so they don’t require refrigeration until opened. The shelf life of canned food is somewhat controversial.

#4 Short Term Emergencies

Eat canned food without electricity, fuel, or water. Open the can and eat. They are excellent for short-term emergencies like FEMA’s 72-hour emergency kit, and they are a solid supplement for hard to get foods such as high-fat meats and fruits and vegetables in the off-season.

#5 Canned Meals

Purchase canned foods as a whole meal like Dinty Moore stew, canned pasta dishes, or hardy soups.

4 Cons of Canned Emergency Food

  1. Rotation Required
  2. Refrigerate After Opening
  3. Heavy
  4. Limited Shelf Life

#1 Rotation Required

Canned foods have a limited shelf-life, so rotate them into your regular diet, so you always have a fresh supply on hand.

Rotation is easier if you only store the canned foods you like to eat. This actually poses a problem for some.

My family eats mostly fresh perishable meat, fruits, and vegetables. Rotating these canned items is challenging. Most shelf-stable [canned] foods are safe indefinitely. In fact, canned goods will last for years, as long as the can itself is in good condition (no rust, dents, or swelling).

Most preppers rotate canned foods stored for emergencies using FIFO, or first in, first out, where the first can of food you purchase is eaten before the newer cans.

Though the best by date is not a “safe to eat date” for canned food, the date is used as a guideline for rotating foods out of emergency storage. Using the date ensures you won’t have stale, poor-tasting cans of food in your emergency storage.

#2 Refrigerate After Opening

Once opened, canned foods should be refrigerated. The only option is to eat the entire contents of an open can. Unless you have a big group to feed, avoid getting the super-sized cans.

#3 Heavy

Canned food is heavy, so it isn’t ideal for moving around. Avoid using it for bugging out on foot, and limit how much you store for a bug-out vehicle.

#4 Limited Shelf-life

Commercially canned food has a “best by date,” which is somewhat controversial. The best by date does not indicate if food is safe to eat. It indicates when canned food is beyond peak freshness.

High acid [canned] foods such as tomatoes and other fruit will keep their best quality up to 18 months; low acid foods such as meat and vegetables, 2 to 5 years. If  cans are in good condition (no dents, swelling, or rust)  and have been stored in a cool, clean, dry place they are safe indefinitely.

United States Department of Agriculture

Did that USDA quote say that canned foods could be safe indefinitely? Yes, as long as they are stored in a cool, dry location and don’t show any signs of damage, leaking, or bulging. When in doubt, throw it out. That said, nutrition value will decline after the “best buy date.”

Read the Ready Squirrel article, “What Would Societal Collapse Look Like: End Game.”

3. Freeze-dried Survival Food

Freeze-dried food is an outstanding emergency food and can be purchased as individual ingredients like meat, fruit, and vegetables or as whole meals.

To make freeze-dried meals boil water, pour into the food packet, wait 10 minutes and eat.

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of freeze-dried foods.

5 Pros of Freeze-dried Food

  1. 30 Year Shelf-life
  2. Lightweight
  3. Retains 97% of its nutritional value
  4. Maintains color, texture and taste
  5. Available as individual ingredients or meals

Cons of Freeze-dried Food

  • Expensive
  • Requires fuel and water to prepare
  • Food can be freeze-dried with a home unit but the units are expensive(Harvest Right)

When I hiked the Vermont leg of the Appalachian trail I ate a lot of Mountain House meals. They are excellent for occasions when you are tired and need fuel. Just boil and eat.

Scott, Ready Squirrel

4. Survival Garden & Food Preservation

Any food you purchase will eventually run out. A survival garden gives you the means to get from one season to the next by preserving produce and meats with canning, pickling, and fermentation.

Chart #4: Garden Space Needed To Feed 1 to10 People

When planning a survival garden, you need on average 100 sqft of gardening space per person for a year’s fresh food supply. If you are canning to store over winter, bump that up to 200 sqft per person.

# Of PeopleSQFT Of Garden Space With CanningGarden Dimensions With CanningFresh Eating GardenGarden Dimensions Fresh
120010′ x 20′10010′ x 10″
240020′ x 20′20010″ x 20′
360020′ x 30′30015′ x 20′
480020′ x 40′40020′ x 20′
5100025′ x 40′50020′ x 25′
6120030′ x 40′60020′ x 30′
7140035′ x 40′70020′ x 35′
8160040′ x 40′80020′ x 40′
9180040′ x 45′90030′ x 30′
10200040′ x 50′100025′ x 40′

Learn more about which foods to store in long-term survival food storage, check the Ready Squirrel article, “Top Foods For Long-term Storage (preparing for societal collapse)”


The bulk of your emergency food for societal collapse and catastrophes should consist of dried goods stored Oxygen-free, canned foods, and freeze-dried foods for special occasions.

Bulk Dry Foods:

A cheap way to store hundreds of thousands of calories for long-term survival. Plan ahead of time to have the tools, fuel, and water needed to cook them. If you haven’t noticed, dry staples are my favorite emergency food overall.

Canned Foods:

Canned foods are ready-made meals, excellent for short-term emergencies. They require no additional resources to make ready to eat, and they round out the nutrition of dry foods and deter pallet fatigue.

Freeze-dried foods:

Retain 97% of their nutrition and shine for special emergency needs. These foods are super lightweight because they have almost all water weight removed in the freeze-drying process. Excellent for moving out of foot in a bug-out situation.

You can store a significant amount of freeze-dried food for societal collapse or TEOTWAWKI if you can afford it. It’s subjective, but I prefer stewed dry beans and white rice to freeze-dried foods. You will have to test it and see which you prefer.

There is no doubt that you get more bang for your buck with dry staple foods, rice, beans, wheat, rolled oats, etc. than freeze-dried foods.

Survival Water

The only thing more important than water for human survival is air. You are prepping food at this point but don’t forget about emergency water preparation.

If you need electricity to source water, it is not survival water unless you use your own solar system to power the pump. Emergency water sources depend on manual operations like a hand pump, a self-contained power source, or a bucket.

You can store survival water in 55-gallon barrels, using water catchment (rainwater) or natural fresh-water supplies like a lake, stream, or river. Pre-packaged water is good for short-term emergencies but insufficient for long-term events.

Purchasing pre-packaged water is good for short-term emergencies, but it will not sustain you long-term.

If you are ready to learn more about emergency water, check out the Ready Squirrel article, “Cleaning Emergency Water for Survival.