Maybe the sky is falling, and perhaps it isn’t. Still, a robust stockpile of food set aside for food shortages or economic collapse is a commodity and an added safety net for any emergency.
Stockpiling food for shortages can also save you money by buying food in bulk at a reduced price. I’ve shared enough information to get you started with your emergency pantry, including links to other articles on Ready Squirrel. Let the fun begin.
Bulk Dry Food (how to prepare for food shortage)
Most of my long-term food storage is dry food like beans, rice, wheat, and rolled oats. They are packaged in sealed Mylar bags inside lidded 5-gallon food-grade buckets and treated with 2000 to 2500cc oxygen absorption.
This method will get you a 30-year shelf-life for all main staples like dry beans, white rice, wheat, and rolled oats. Depending on the food type, other dry foods packaged this way will last 10 to 30 years.
If you aren’t ready to start re-packaging foods, store rice, beans, wheat, and rolled oats in an airtight container for a 1 to 3-year shelf life. Ok, let’s move on to the food lists.
*Oxygen-free storage is not used for wet foods, higher than 10% moisture, or high-fat foods because there is a risk of anaerobic bacteria called botulism.
12 Bulk Foods For Shortages
Bulk Staple foods are a commodity. When currencies devalue and inflation increases, commodity items increase in cost and may become scarce. So bulk foods are good for calories and barter should a Zombie apocalypse raise its ugly head.
I’ve listed Amazon links below if you need to purchase bulk foods online. Keep in mind you will always get better deals if you purchase food locally at big box stores like Sam’s Club or Costco.Scott, Ready Squirrel
If you purchase anything on the following Amazon links, Ready Squirrel gets a cut of Amazon’s profit at no additional cost to you. We appreciate it and put it towards beans and bullets.
#1 White Rice
White Rice is one of three foods (rice, beans, wheat) you should store for food shortages. It is one of the tried and tested food staples that have kept entire civilizations alive for thousands of years. White rice is cheap and lasts at least 30 years when packaged in sealed Mylar with oxygen absorbers.
Interestingly, eat rice with beans, and it provides a complete protein.
Learn more about rice by reading Ready Squirrel’s article, “How to preserve white rice for long-term storage.”
#2 Hard Red Wheat
Hard wheat is another one of the must-have survival foods. Man has harvested wheat in some form for 10,000 years, so it’s proven survival food.
Hard red wheat has the most gluten, which causes bread to rise, but it is also the gamiest tasting. People often find the transition from store-bought bread to bread made with red wheat challenging, so they start with Hard white wheat or mix them.
#3 Hard White Wheat
Hard White Wheat is what I store in bulk. It is high in gluten but not as high as Hard red wheat. It is mild tasting and said to be the best transition to making your bread.
Need food-grade buckets, Mylar bags, and oxygen absorbers? Check out the Ready Squirrel article, Mylar Bags For Rice Storage (high-speed bulk food containers), and links to suggested products.
#4 Rolled Oats
Rolled Oats are one of the few soft grains with a long shelf life. The Scotch highlanders survived on a diet of oats in bannock bread and some form of animal fat, either cheese, butter, or milk.
Oats are in my top 5 survival foods to store. You can eat them like breakfast food with preserves, butter, or real maple syrup or use them as a base for found meat and vegetables.
Dry Beans are high in protein, very satisfying, and go with just about any long-lasting grains. Stew them with vegetables or add whatever fatty foods you can get your hands on.
Beans stored correctly in Mylar bags have a thirty-year shelf-life. In regular packaging, expect a shelf-life of one to two years.
Lentils aren’t technically a bean; they are a pulse. They contain protein, vitamins, and minerals and eat like a bean, but they cook much quicker. I stew lentils with carrots, onions, celery, and bouillon cubes and use them as topping on white rice with a shot of Tobasco.
White Bleached Flour is a solid addition to your emergency pantry. Use flour to bake just about anything and as a thickening agent. Store flour in Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers for maximum shelf-life.
The flour will store ten years in Mylar, maybe 15, but that is debatable. Flour kept in regular airtight containers will maintain quality for up to 6 months in the pantry.
Learn more about storing flour. Check out the Ready Squirrel article, Flour or Wheat: Maximum Shelf-life
#8 Field Corn
Field Corn or maze has been a food staple for thousands of years. I haven’t stored any corn though I have stored cornmeal. If you purchase whole-dent corn, make sure your wheat or grain grinder has an attachment to handle this tough grain.
Field corn stored in Mylar and treated with oxygen absorbers will last 25 to 30 years. Dent corn stored in airtight containers will last six months or more.
Learn more about storing field corn in the Ready Squirrel article, How long can you store dried field corn?
#9 Corn Flour or Meal
Corn Flour is a fluffier version of cornmeal with a wheat flour consistency. You can use it either for baking or breading for deep-fried dishes. If you want to make cornbread and hushpuppies, go with cornmeal.
Cornmeal will store in an airtight container for up to 12 months and ten years in Mylar treated with oxygen absorbers.
Whatever you think of sugar, know it is a superstar for food shortages or economic collapse. It isn’t just a flavor enhancer. It is also a preservative. Because of the sugar preservative, the jams and jellies grandma makes have a sweet shelf life.
Keep white table sugar in food-grade buckets without oxygen absorbers, and it lasts indefinitely. That’s forever.
Sugar is what I consider a survivalist commodity. It is inexpensive, keeps forever, and super easy to store—an excellent item for post-SHTF bartering.
White Table Salt is another one of those survival commodities. The word salary comes from the Latin word meaning salt. The Roman empire paid soldiers in salt, and wars were fought over it.
Store salt in a food-grade bucket without oxygen absorbers, which will last indefinitely.
Salt is an excellent barter item for a post-SHTF scenario like food shortages or economic collapse.
#12 Dry Pasta
Pasta is easy-to-make comfort food that will store for up to 30 years in Mylar bags treated with oxygen absorbers.
Storage tip: store macaroni instead of the long pasta. It takes up less volume and is easier to store in Mylar bags.
For a comprehensive list of foods to store with Mylar bags and buckets, read the Ready Squirrel article, “What foods can I store in a 5-gallon bucket?”
Learn more about Mylar bags. Check out the Ready Squirrel articles, Mylar Bags For Rice Storage (high-speed bulk food containers) and Mylar Bags For Food Storage: Beginner’s Guide
Canned foods are excellent emergency food to store for food shortages and economic collapse.
They shine for short-term emergency kits like FEMA’s suggested 72-hour Kit.
Canned foods are a fantastic way to fill the nutritional gaps in bulk food storage. And let’s face it, eating just beans and rice can get pretty bland.
Canned food for emergencies
Canned foods are excellent for food shortages or economic collapse because they are shelf-stable with a shelf-life of 2 to 5 years. They don’t require refrigeration and are ready to eat.
These characteristics make them ideal for emergencies or catastrophes where running water and electricity are unavailable. Just open the can and eat.
My family’s most significant challenge with canned food is rotation. FIFO, or first in, first out, is commonly used to ensure you always have fresh cans of food. Our problem is we hardly eat canned food. There isn’t a way for my family to solve this problem. Let me know if you have any good ideas.
The primary canned foods you want to store for shortages contain a lot of fat and meat protein. Fat is the most challenging food to keep long-term.
To learn more about emergency foods high in fat, read the Ready Squirrel article, Survival Fat: 29 foods to store for the apocalypse
How Long Will Canned Food Last?
The optimum storage environment for any food storage is above freezing and below 75 degrees Fahrenheit; Dark, cool and dry. Low-acid canned foods have a shelf life of at least two years. High-acid canned foods have a shelf-life of at least five years.
Preppers use the “best by date” on canned food to rotate them out of their food storage. FIFO, or first in, first out, is the standard method used to rotate.
You ensure you always have that food on hand by eating the oldest canned food and replacing it with new cans.
Canned Foods Stored For Emergencies
Canned meat is expensive, but it’s good to have some on hand. Keystone is the best-canned meat you can get; it’s all-natural with no added water or artificial ingredients.
If you have the resources plan ahead and raise egg and egg-laying chickens. The fresh egg is awesome survival food. Fat and protein in a perfect little package.Scott, Ready Squirrel
Learn more about canned meat! Read Ready Squirrel’s comprehensive article, Canned Meat: A Must-Have Survival Food.
Canned Vegetables are hard to get excited about, but it’s a good idea to have at least enough to get by for 72 hours. If you live in an urban area and you don’t have the space for a garden, then you’ll want at least a two-week supply of veggies on hand.
My plan for backup vegetables is to sprout wheat berries for greens. This can be done in any environment, just place the sprouts in a window for more clorophyl.Scott, Ready Squirrel
Canned fruit is delicious and fits the bill in a pinch. I’d rather eat fresh pineapple, but the canned stuff is excellent when fresh isn’t available.
Remember that high-acid food only lasts two years in the pantry.
Canned soup is a meal in a can. Soups work well in short-term emergencies and round out your dry food stocks with variety and ease of use.
Open the can, heat it and eat. Remember to have an outdoor cookstove or backpacker-type stove and enough fuel to heat canned meals for short-term emergencies.
I love Dinty Moor Stew. It is a fine meal when sitting around a campfire without power. As with the soup, you get a complete meal in a can.
Making a meal like this from scratch would be difficult, if not impossible, during a natural disaster or catastrophe.
#6 Pasta Meals
Canned pasta meals are another comfort food you can eat during shorter-term emergencies.
I prefer making pasta from scratch, but it takes a lot of fuel, water, and time, resources you want to conserve in an emergency.
Bega canned cheese has no preservatives and a shelf-life of 2+ years. Do anything with this cheese you would do with the fresh stuff.
#8 Evaporated Milk
Use evaporated milk as a thickening agent in soups and stew or add to coffee or tea for a shot of fat and a boost to your morale.
If you purchase anything on the following Amazon links, Ready Squirrel gets a cut of Amazon’s profit at no additional cost to you. We appreciate it and put it towards beans and bullets.
10 Survival Bars: Emergency Food Ration
Survival Bars are a cost-effective way to store some doomsday calories.
Survival bars are the least satisfying foods you can eat for survival. Still, they are arguably one of the most important for short-term bugout situations or during the initial stages of a natural disaster or catastrophe.
These “open and eat” survival bar rations are ideal for bugout kits, go-bags, vehicles, food caches, and everyday carry bags.
My favorite bar below is the S.O.S. ration, but It’s just because I’m familiar with it.
#1 Katadyn NRG-5
Katadyn NRG-5 bars come packaged airtight and waterproof and will last 20 years. Ideal for survival kits and bugout bags, one 500g package contains 2,380 kcals or a two-day survival ration for one person.
Keep in mind these bars are survival rations packed with calories and nutrition. They are not for your pleasure, so don’t expect them to taste like a snickers bar. Typically eaten as is or broken up like a sea biscuit and eaten in porridge.
This NRG-G 5 bar is the German Version of the BP-5 bar and has 15 more years of shelf-life.
#2 Grizzly Gear Emergency Food Ration
The Grizzly Gear emergency food bar is a lemon-tasting 3-day ration with a whopping 3600 calories.
The practical shelf life of the bar is five years. When I’m writing this, these bars are provided by 4patriots under different packaging. (see below)
#3 Compact Provisions Food Bar (BP-5)
BP5 bars are a survival ration. Each 500 g box contains 2,385 kcals.
These bars are not packaged for long-term storage and have a maximum shelf-life of 5 years.
As with most survival bars, these don’t taste like a sweet protein bar, but they pack a powerful punch for calories and nutrition.
Each box contains a 2-day survival ration for one person that provides 72 grams of protein.
#4 4Patriots Emergency Food Rations
4Patriots food bars are a non-perishable lemon-flavored food ration with a 5-year shelf-life. One package contains a 3- day ration of 3600 total calories for one person.
As noted above, these are the same bars as the Grizzly Gear brand with 4Patriots packaging.
#5 S.O.S. Rations (3600)
S.O.S. 3600 Rations are considered top-shelf, with a 5-year shelf life. Each 1.6-pound package contains 3600 calories or a three-day ration for one person.
S.O.S. bars are one of two survival rations recognized by the U.S. government, along with the Datrex rations mentioned below.
This type of bar is also a government issue to U.S. special military units operating in the field.
#6 The Survival Tabs
Unopened “The survival tabs” are suitable for 15 years on the shelf.
The Survival Tabs are survival food in a bucket.
Each container holds 180 tablets for one person’s 15-day emergency food supply. The company suggests a daily ration of 12 tabs containing 240 calories total.
That is pretty light on the calories, so think of these as a supplement to other food sources or a worst-case scenario ration.
#7 Mainstay 3600 Emergency Food Rations
Mainstay Food Ration bars contain 3600 calories, a 3-day ration for one person.
These bars will last five years in the pantry and are excellent as emergency rations during a natural disaster or catastrophe.
Keep at least one package of emergency bars in your emergency kits, and don’t forget your everyday carry.
#8 Datrex Emergency Food 3600
These Datrex 3600 Emergency Food bars are USCG-approved and considered top-shelf by many preppers.
These Datrex are coconut flavored, provide a 3-day ration for one person, and will last five years on the shelf.
Outstanding for survival and emergency kits, including bugout bags and emergency vehicle kits.
#9 ER Bar 3600 Emergency Rations
ER Bars are a dense, moist lemon-tasting survival bar containing 3600 calories in each 1.68-pound package (27oz)
ER bars are suitable for emergency and survival kits and are USCG-certified.
#10 Mayday 3600 Emergency Food Bar
Mayday food bars provide 3600 calories per package and last on the shelf for five years.
These are an excellent addition to any survival or emergency kit, bugout bag, or everyday carry kit.
5 Emergency Ration Kits
Emergency rations kits are an excellent thing to have on hand.
Freeze-dried foods like this would be my first choice because they have a good shelf-life, and you can get them in pre-made meals.
I wouldn’t make professionally packaged survival food the bulk of my survival pantry. I’m always going to suggest that the bulk of your emergency and survival food be staples like beans, rice and wheat packaged for long-term storage.Scott, Ready Squirrel
#1 Ready Wise 30-day Emergency Food Supply
Wham, bam, thank you, mam. The Ready Wise 30-day kit is the most popular ready-made survival kit on Amazon, probably because it’s half the price of most other emergency food kits, and it’s more like “fast food for the apocalypse.”
The kit includes enough food to provide 1800 calories and 50g of protein per day for 30 days for one person.
Because this food is freeze-dried and packaged for the long term, it will last on the shelf for 25+ years.
To prepare, add hot water and wait 15 minutes.
#2 Patriot Pantry 4-Week Kit
This kit includes 2000 calories per day for 28 days for one person.
The food is packaged to last on the shelf for 25+ years.
Comparing this kit to the Ready Wise 30-day kit isn’t realistic because it is over twice the price.
#3 Augason Farms 30-day
Augason Farms 30-day kit provides 1854 calories and 46g of protein per day for 30 days for one person.
The food will last unopened on the shelf for 25+years.
#4 Legacy 120 Servings
This emergency food kit includes 2000 calories per day for 30 days for one person.
Legacy is said to be quite tasty. To prepare meals, add hot water.
#5 Ready Hour 4 Week Kit
The 4-Week Emergency Food Supply averages 2,000+ calories per day for one person for 30 days.
Ready Hour food will last 25+ years on the shelf.
9 Instant Foods For Shortages
Instant foods are not the most nutritious emergency food, but they are ideal for adding other ingredients and a warm, quick meal. Additionally, they are cheap and easily prepared with a backpacker’s stove and a titanium cup.
#1 Instant Pasta
This pasta is shelf-stable and made with boiling water.
My family eats these as a side dish when we are too tired to cook. We also eat them by themselves as a ready-made meal.
These packages come in all different flavors and noodle types.
You can usually pick these up at Walmart for a buck a package.
#2 Ramen Noodles
One of my favorite lunches is ramen with an egg stirred into it.
Ramen soup packages are super simple to make with boiling water, and you can add scads of ingredients to make them pop.
For me, Ramen soup is a quickly-made comfort food and excellent emergency food when you can boil water.
#3 Instant Rice Dishes
When I was a kid, my mom always made minute rice. It is quick and easy to make.
I haven’t eaten minute rice for years, but it is a no-brainer if you cook it on a camp stove, and much easier to make than regular rice.
#4 Instant Potatoes
Instant Potatoes are pretty flexible.
Eat them by themselves, or reconstitute them with water and fry potatoes cakes.
Other uses for instant potatoes include: breading for deep-fried dishes, taco-like shells, or a shepherd’s pie.
Also, mix in peas, corn, or other available vegetables or meat.
#5 Instant Couscous
Cook couscous with a 1:1 ratio of couscous to water, boil water, mix with instant couscous, and eat within 5 minutes.
Couscous is pasta made from semolina flour (durum wheat).
Use couscous as you would rice, as bedding for cooked vegetables or meat, or eat it by itself. If you want to kick your couscous up a notch, add a bouillon cube to the boiling water.
#6 Instant Oatmeal
Instant oatmeal is the breakfast of champions. Easy to make and pre-flavored. My personal favorite is sugar and cinnamon. I’m also a massive fan of rolled and steel-cut oats, but they belong more in the dry staple category.
My ideal bowl of oatmeal is steel-cut Irish oats, heavy cream, honey, or raspberry preserves.
#7 Instant Grits
Instant Grits are made from dent corn, also known as field corn.
The instant variety is prepared with hot or boiled water.
Quick and easy to make and excellent survival food, add hot water, stir and eat within a minute.
Rice or Pasta Roni are examples of food that require only boiling water to make edible.
Excellent for a vehicle bugout kit and cooking on a backpacker or camp stove.
#9 Nissin Cup Noodles
What can I say? Cup O’ Noodles. Delicious and easily made with boiling water.
With a backpacker’s stove, fresh water, and a case of cup noodles, you could live a significant amount of time without other food.
4 Oils and Fats
You need fat for your body to function properly. There are two choices for emergency fat storage, rotate them or raise animals or plants that provide the fat needed.
One of the easiest ways to produce quality fat is by raising chickens. The eggs provide fat and protein.
Storage Tip: Crisco has a ten-year shelf-life. This is the longest fat shelf-life I can find. If you know of one that lasts longer, please comment at the end of this article.
#1 Coconut Oil
Use coconut oil as a butter substitute or stir-fry meats and vegetables. You can also eat coconut oil out of the jar or add it to the fruit.
Coconut oil doesn’t taste like coconut. It has a bland flavor.
Crisco is the longest-lasting fat I can find. If you find one with a longer shelf-life, let me know in the comments. Crisco has historically been used in baked goods but can also stir fry and sautee.
Crisco has one of the best shelf-lives of any fat you can store. Expect it to last up to 10 years in a cool, dry location.
Lard is pig fat and can be used for grilling, sauteeing, frying, or baking. In a pinch, you can use it like Crisco when baking.
Lard is also excellent for cast-iron emergency cooking outdoors or sweating garlic and onions in a dutch oven for stewed beans.
#4 Beef Tallow
Beef Tallow is traditionally used as an ingredient for recipes that require fat and for sautéing, searing, and deep-frying. It can also be used for candle and soap making and as a body salve if you are desperate.
Tallow has a higher flash point than peanut oil (typically used to deep fry turkeys).
Thanks for stopping by Ready Squirrel. Keep on prepping! Drop a comment if you have suggestions or questions.
Thanks for hanging out with Ready Squirrel; let us know if you have any suggestions in the comment section below.
Keep on prepping!
Best Regards, Scott