What to do when paper money is worthless? Wait and see, or start stockpiling as much non-perishable food as you can so you have it when things go sideways. That’s what I’m doing.
I’m not a professional, and I’m not giving you advice, but I tell friends and family to start hoarding food instead of buying survival gear or hoarding gold. Take care of the basics first.
Food for the end: societal collapse
The best food to store for the end is dry staple foods such as dried grains, rolled oats, pasta, white rice, beans, sugar, and salt. Supplement dry food with canned fruit, vegetables, and meat because they are ready to eat and require no additional resources, round out nutrition, and reduce palate fatigue.
Dry and canned food aren’t your only option for long-term survival but they are the cheapest way to build a massive stockpile of food.
If you are interested in getting started with your year’s supply of survival food, check out the Ready Squirrel article, “How Much Food to Stockpile Per Person.” The article covers the FDA daily calorie requirements and what a year’s supply of food looks like. It’s a good article, so check it out when you get the chance.
If you are ready to get started building an inexpensive stockpile of food to protect you and you’re loved ones, read on.
Dry Food: The Least Expensive Survival Calorie
If you want to stockpile massive amounts of emergency food, there is no substitute for dry staples like grain and dried beans.
Pros: Dry Food
- Non-Perishable: Dry Food doesn’t have to be refrigerated
- Proven: Man has survived on dry staples for thousands of years
- Shelf-life: Popular survival grains and legumes store for 30+ years in oxygen-free packaging
- Sprouting: Beans and hard grains are seeds that can be sprouted under any condition
Cons: Dry Food
- Resources: To cook staples you need fuel and water
- Processing: Wheat and other grains have to be milled into flour if you are making baked goods (They can be eaten whole by boiling to make porridge.)
- Cooking Skill(s): You’ll need to know how to boil water at the very least. More advanced cooking skills necessary if you plan on baking with home-ground flour or brewing beer. (avoid storing flour if you want maximum shelf-life from grain)
- Repackaging Required: For maximum shelf-life dry staples need to be repacked into oxygen-free storage unless you buy them professionally packaged in say a #10 can. This kind of packaging prevents oxidation from light and oxygen and kills bugs within 2 weeks.
Warning: Only certain foods can be stored oxygen-free. Namely foods less than 10% in moisture and low in fat. Foods with a high moisture content should not be stored oxygen-free because there is a risk of botulism.
Also, don’t store food high in fats or lipids (brown rice) oxygen-free because fats will still go rancid, and shelf-life doesn’t increase.
Chart 1: Dry goods price by the pound
|Type of Dried Food||Cost Per Pound|
|White Rice *||.68¢|
|Dry Macaroni & Pasta *||.56|
|Rolled Oats *||.48¢|
|Hard White Wheat Berries||.84 (Montana Prairie Gold)|
|Hard White Wheat Berries *||.91¢|
|Hard Red Wheat Berries||$1.53 (Montana, Hard Red Winter)|
|Black Beans *||.67¢|
|Navy Beans *||.60¢|
|Pinto Beans *||.65¢|
|Black Eyed Peas||$1.61|
|Non-fat dry milk *||.31¢|
Canned Foods-Ready-to-Eat In Any Situation
Canned food doesn’t require you to do anything but open the can and eat. These foods are excellent for short-term emergencies and have a shelf-life of 1 to 5 Years.
These foods shine during natural disasters and catastrophes when you don’t have any resources like running water or electricity.
Pros: Canned Food
- Inexpensive: Canned food is inexpensive comparted to freeze-dried backpacker meals or professionally packaged emergency food
- Meal In A Can: Foods like Dinty Moore Stew, and pasta dishes are a main entree and can be eaten without additional food items.
- Ready to Eat: Canned food is ready to eat.
- All you have to do is open the can.
- To heat use a backpackers rocket stove, Nesbit tablets or an acohol stove.
- Shelf Stable: Canned foods are shelf stable and don’t require refrigeration
- excellent for short term emergencies like the Federal Emergency Management Agencies 72-hour kit.
- During a natural disaster or societal collapse it is likely that you will not have electricity for refrigeration so any perishable foods in the fridge or freezer with go bad quickly, canned foods won’t unless opened.
Cons: Canned Food
- Stock Rotation: Canned food has to be rotated into your regular diet.
- Prepper’s use the “Best Buy Date to rotate foods to ensure a fresh supply when they need it.
- Canned foods have a shelf-life of 1 to 5 years.
- Shelf life is actually “indefinite” according to the United States Food and Drug Department but canned food will begin to decline in flavor, texture and nutritional value over time.
- Prepper’s use the “Best Buy Date to rotate foods to ensure a fresh supply when they need it.”
- Refrigerate: Once opened canned food has to be refrigerated.
- Canned foods should be stored in a cool, dry location but they don’t have to be refrigerated unless opened.
- Try to get small cans of food so you eat all of it in one sitting. (You probably won’t have electricity to store opened canned food in the refrigerator.)
- Heavy: Canned foods are heavy because of metal and water weight
- They are not ideal for a bug-out situation or emergencies
- When leaving on foot all your supplies are carried on your back.
- You can carry cans in a vehicle but even then limit the amount you take,
- 100 cans weigh close to 100lbs.
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
Chart 2: canned food by the pound
|Type of Canned Food||Cost Per LBS|
|Canned Mixed Fruit||90¢ to 2.05¢ (USDA.gov)|
|Canned Pinto Beans||.80¢|
|Bush’s Original Baked Beans||$6.43|
|Canned Lima Beans||$1.33|
|Canned Mixed Vegetables||$1.12|
|Canned Black Beans||.95¢|
|Canned Navy Beans||.95¢|
|Canned Kidney Beans||.86¢|
|Canned Green Peas||.99¢|
|Canned Blacked Eyed Peas||.93¢|
|Dinty Moore Stew||$3.83|
|Starkist Canned White Tuna||$4.66|
|Keystone Canned Beef||$8.56|
|Canned Hormel Chili||$2.76|
|Canned White Chicken Meat||$3.98|
|Chef Boyardee Spaghetti & Meatballs||$2.34|
|Progresso Chicken Noodle Soup||$4.03|
|Campbell Chunky Beef n Veg||$1.30|
|Libby’s Vienna Sausage||$4.40|
|American Easy Cheese (canned cheese)||$7.76|
|Old Wisconsin Summer Sausage||$8.54|
Not Food: Water
I can’t talk about the best food for “the end” without mentioning emergency water. Clean water is the most important survival food.
Address water storage, cleaning, and filtration before prepping food
Water is more important for human survival than food. You can live for a maximum of four days without clean water, but you can survive for three weeks without food. Hydrating the body is crucial because it controls body temperature, breathing, digestion, brain, and cardiovascular function.
If you want to read more about water storage, check out the Ready Squirrel article, “How Long Can You Store Water: Beginner’s Guide To Survival Water Storage.”
Federal Emergency Management Agency: “Food and Water In An Emergency Pamphlet” (On Ready Squirrel’s site) link
Ready Squirrel: “Non-perishable and Shelf-stable Food List” (On Ready Squirrel’s site) link
Ready Squirrel: “One Year Food Supply” (On Ready Squirrel’s site) link