Fat is one of the most challenging types of emergency food to store for a survival scenario or natural disaster because it has a relatively short shelf-life and it isn’t provided in a high enough quantity by staple emergency foods like dry beans, rice, and wheat.
For this reason, it’s important to plan ahead so you have enough fat-rich foods to make it through a catastrophe. If you aren’t raising livestock for meat or dairy and you don’t have a fresh supply of avocados or olives, stockpiling fatty foods is your only option.
My fat stockpile is primarily olive oil and Crisco. Let’s take a quick look at why you need to store fat for emergencies.
Why do you need fat to survive?
Fats are an energy source essential for the proper functioning of the human body. Eating fat: balances hormones and body temperature, fights inflammation, helps the body absorb fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K, balances blood sugar and aids in brain function.
According to the Food and Drug Administration, the human body needs 20 to 35% of daily calories from fat. The suggested 2000 calorie per day diet should provide at least 700 fat calories per day or 44 to 78 grams of fat.
Why fats and oils have a relatively short shelf-life:
Fats and oils are affected by oxidation from the oxygen in the air and light. Even in oxygen-free storage, all fats will go rancid all of the time.
Package fats in an airtight container and they will last longer but will still go rancid via chemical breakdown.
What happens if you don’t get enough fat in a survival situation?
According to Ashley Reaver, a registered dietitian in Oakland, California, there are six signs your body needs more fat.
- Joint Ache
- Weak Immune System
- Dry Skin
- Brain Fog
Plan your long and short-term emergency food supplies, so you have enough fat to weather the storm.
When storing fat for emergencies, think about scenarios you are likely to encounter, like power out scenarios where refrigeration is unavailable or bug out situations where you are on the move to escape a catastrophe.
Check out the Ready Squirrel article, 17 Ways to Prepare for Food Shortages.
How Much Fat Should You Eat Per Day?
The dietary reference intake (DRI) for fat in adults is 20% to 35% of total calories from fat. That is about 44 grams to 77 grams of fat per day if you eat 2,000 calories a day. It is recommended to eat more of some types of fats because they provide health benefits.Cleveland Clinic
Following is a list of fats that have enough storage life that you can rotate them in your emergency food pantry. Integrate them into long-term storage and rotate them with FIFO or first in, first out. This will ensure you always have an emergency fat stock in your survival pantry.
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Crisco is a form of hydrogenated vegetable oil, and it has a good shelf-life of 8 to 10 years.
Use Crisco to bake bread and pastries or to stir-fry foraged meat and vegetables from your survival garden.
1 Tablespoon of Crisco contains 12 grams of fat.
#2 Canned Butter
I’m a fanboy when it comes to butter. It actually grosses my wife out how much butter I put on my toast.
There is nothing better than a slice of homemade bread slathered with high-fat butter and black raspberry jam.
Canned butter is an excellent source of fat with a shelf-life of 3 years or more.
If you are storing wheat to make bread your emergency staple, canned butter is a no-brainer.
1 Tablespoon of butter contains 12 grams of fat.
Check out The Ready Squirrel article, Canned Protein: 28 Examples For the Apocalypse
#3 Canned Cream
There is a multitude of canned creams you can store for fat.
Evaporated Milk, Condensed milk, and heavy cream powders contain fat you can easily add to your survival diet.
Carnation Evaporated milk has 2 grams of fat per 2 Tbsps.
#4 Powdered Milk
Whole powdered milk is an excellent source of fat.
I’m not a fan of drinking powdered milk, but it works well as a coffee creamer, added to cereal, oatmeal, and grits or use it in baked goods like biscuits, muffins, pancakes, or instant potatoes.
Whole Milk powder has a shelf-life of 12 months. Augason Farms “non-fat” powdered milk has a shelf-life of 20 years.
Hoosier Hill Farm Whole Milk Powder contains 2 grams of fat per Tbsp.
#5 Canned Cheese
Looking to keep cheese around that doesn’t require refrigeration and will provide a decent source of fat if SHTF?
Look no further than canned cheese with a shelf-life of up to 15 years. You heard that right 15 years.
Use canned cheese just like fresh cheese: shred it, use it on sandwiches, pizza, pasta, and other hot dishes.
One 7.1oz can of Bega Canned Australian Processed Cheese contains 48 grams of fat.
#6 Dark Chocolate
With a shelf-life of two years, dark chocolate with high cacao content provides an excellent and enjoyable source of emergency fat and a bump of caffeine. Keep in mind dark chocolate isn’t sweet.
Avoid storing milk chocolate as an emergency fat because it has a limited shelf-life.
One 3.5 oz Lindt 85% cacao chocolate bar contains 4.7 grams of fat
Ready to start stockpiling Protein? Read the Ready Squirrel article, Emergency Protein: Top 19 High Protein Survival Foods
#7 Canned Fish
Canned Herring, Mackerel, and Sardines in oil have the highest fat content.
Canned fish has a shelf life of up to 5 years.
1 6oz can of Polar Herring in mustard sauce contains 20 grams of fat.
1 15oz can of Bumble Bee Chub Mackerel contains 26 grams of fat.
1 3.75oz can of Chicken of the Sea Sardines in olive oil contains 16 grams of fat.
#8 Canned Nuts
Planter-style nuts and mixed nuts have a shelf-life of approximately 12 months. Not the longest shelf-life but wow, do they pack a punch. 15 nuts provide 15 grams of fat and 80 calories.
Canned nuts are probably edible beyond the 12-month mark, but they will decline in overall quality.
#9 Nut Butter
Almond and peanut butter are high-fat foods you can store in the pantry.
Both types of nut butter will store in the pantry for two years.
2 Tablespoons of Skippy Peanut Butter contain 16 grams of fat.
2 tablespoons of Justin’s Classic Almond Butter contains 19 grams of fat.
#10 Whole Egg Powder
Fresh eggs are an ideal fat source, but they are perishable.
Instead (you don’t have laying hens running around) store powdered whole eggs that will keep unrefrigerated in the pantry for ten years.
Augason Farms Whole Egg Powder contains 6 grams of fat per 2 1/2 Tbsp.
#11 Canned Soups
Low acid canned soups will store on the pantry shelf for 5+ years, and high acid soups will store for two years.
Look for chowder soups, as they are more likely to contain higher fat percentages. For example, an 18.5oz can of Progresso clam chowder contains 16 grams of fat.
One 18.5 oz can of Progresso Clam Chowder contains 16 grams of fat.
#12 Refried Beans
Not all refried beans are created equal when it comes to fat content.
Check the can to make sure you are getting the amount of fat you want to store. Some brands are fat-free.
Look for traditional-style refried beans as they have the highest fat content.
Goya Ducal refried beans contain 24 grams of fat per 15 oz can
#13 Corned Beef Hash
Corned beef hash is pre-cooked and ready to go. The traditional style of hash is loaded with emergency fat.
One 14oz can of Hormel, Mary’s Kitchen, Traditional corned beef hash contains 48 grams of fat.
Spam is an outstanding source of emergency fat and delicious survival food for long-term storage.
Without Spam, most of the planet would have gone hungry during WWII; 150 million pounds of spam supported the war effort.
You may think it’s mystery meat, but it’s not. The traditional lunch meat contains only six ingredients: pork, salt, water, potatoes, starch, sugar, and sodium nitrite.
Spam will keep on the shelf for 2 to 5 years.
Spam doesn’t have an expiration date, but it has a three-year best-by date, which indicates peak freshness.
I’m not suggesting you try it, but there are Youtube videos of people eating 20 to 30-year-old cans of spam.
Eat Spam cold out of the can, or heat it in a pan or on a grill.
One 12oz can of Traditional Spam contains a whopping 35.9 grams of fat.
#15 Hormel Chili
Hormell chili is a campfire staple, a high-fat canned food cooked around campfires for generations.
Hormel chili with beans has a best buy date of 3 to 5 years. If stored properly and undamaged, the chili will remain edible beyond that date.
One 15oz of canned Hormel chili with beans contains 18 grams of fat.
#16 Dinty Moore Stew
Stew is a hearty and satisfying meal, perfect for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) 72-hour emergency kit.
Soups and stew are excellent emergency food because they are pre-cooked, ready to eat, and contain many ingredients that would be difficult to prepare from scratch in an emergency scenario.
Dinty Moore has the best buy date of 3 years, but it will remain edible beyond that date if properly stored and undamaged.
Once the best buy date passes, there is a chance the stew will decline in nutritional value, texture and flavor, so it’s best to rotate canned foods by eating them before the best buy date.
One 15oz can of Dinty Moore stew contains 20 grams of fat.
Ready to start stockpiling dry staple foods? Read the Ready Squirrel article, Supreme Long Term Food Storage Containers & Gear
#17 Chef Boyardee Spaghetti and Meatballs
A meal in a can that provides a good amount of fat, Chef Boyardee is a ready-to-eat comfort food best if heated in the can or eaten cold in a pinch.
Chef Boyardee Spaghetti with Meatballs has a best-by date of 24 months. After the best by date, color, texture, taste, and nutritional value may decline, but the can should be safe to eat.
One 14.5 oz can of Chef Boyardee Spaghetti with Meatballs contains 22 grams of fat.
#18 Vienna Sausage
Inexpensive and ready to eat out of the can, some prefer to eat Vienna sausages sliced on a sandwich, cooked on a stick over a campfire, or fried in a pan on a camp stove.
Vienna sausages have a best-by date of 5 years if properly stored in a cool, dry location. As long as the can is undamaged and has been properly stored, sausages will still be safe to eat beyond that date.
One 4.6oz can of Libby’s Vienna sausages contains 13 grams of fat.
#19 Canned Olives
Olives are an excellent source of fat in an emergency. I eat them right out of the can or on a salad.
Check the fat content on whatever olives you decide to purchase, as they differ by olive type and brand.
Canned olives are at peak quality within the first two years; after that, they may decline in flavor, texture, and nutritional value.
Realistically, I can see olives lasting years beyond the best by date.
One 6oz can of Ripe Pitted Black Olives contains 16.5 grams of fat.
#20 Chia Seeds
One tablespoon of Chia seeds provides 4 grams of fat.
Add chia seeds to a salad, oatmeal, baked goods, granola, or smoothies. Avoid eating chia seeds by themselves because they swell 12 times their weight when liquid is added.
Unopened Chia seeds will last in the pantry for two years or more.
One 8oz bag of chia seeds will provide 72 grams of protein
#21 Olive Oil
An excellent source of fat, olive oil pairs well with homemade wheat as a daily staple food.
Add in some canned olives, homemade bread made from survival wheat, and olive oil, and you are eating like a roman on the march.
Olive oil has the best buy date of 24 months, but it may last longer if stored in a cool, dry location.
One Tablespoon of olive oil contains 14 grams of fat.
#22 Coconut Oil
Get a healthy dose of fat when cooking with coconut oil. Use it to stirfry, bake, sautee, or as a hit of energy and fat right out of the bottle.
Coconut oil has a best by date of 24 months.
One tablespoon of coconut oil contains 14 grams of fat.
Ghee is used as cooking oil to saute, roast, and stirfry meat and vegetables, but you can do anything with Ghee you can do with butter.
Ghee has a shelf life of 12 months.
1 tablespoon of ghee contains 14 grams of fat.
Lard is a solid white fat rendered from a pig. Used as cooking oil for baking, sauteing, grilling, or stir-frying.
Lard is ideal for high heat frying because it has a higher flashpoint than most oils. Use it for savory dishes like fried chicken, hush puppies, cornbread, french fries, and tempuras.
Lard has a useful shelf life of 6 months at room temperature and 12 months in the refrigerator.
One tablespoon of Lard contains 14.5 grams of fat.
Tallow is a solid semi-solid fat rendered from cows and sheep; use it as cooking oil to deep fry potatoes, vegetables, chicken, and tempura.
Unopened tallow is shelf-stable in a cool pantry for 24+ months.
1 tablespoon of tallow contains 13 grams of fat.
A mixture of shredded dry meat is pounded into powder and mixed with an equal amount of rendered fat. When available, fruit berries like cherries, saskatoon berries, and blueberries can be added.
Pemmican is used as a lightweight, high-energy, shelf-stable food often carried in a bugout bag or when refrigeration is out.
Depending on the ingredients used to make it, Pemmican has a 1 to 5 years shelf-life.
One 2.2oz bar of pemmican contains 26 grams of fat.
#27 Katadyn NRG-5 Emergency Food Ration
Katadyn emergency food bars are outstanding food for short-term emergencies and disasters. These are open and eat rations ideal for bug-out bags or emergency vehicle kits. The airtight packaging provides a 20-year shelf-life, and each box contains nine 56 gram bars.
One 56 gram Katadyn Emergency food bar contains 13 grams of fat.
#28 Peak Refuel Freeze-dried Meals
Peak freeze-dried backpacker meals provide an emergency food ration that will store for five years. To prepare, add boiling water and wait 10 minutes for the meal to be reconstituted.
Take a look at the different meals to find those with the highest fat content.
One 5.5 oz bag of Peak Refuel Homestyle Chicken & Rice contains 37 grams of fat.
One 5.5 oz bag of Peak Refuel Chicken Alfredo Pasta contains 33 grams of fat.
One 5.5 oz bag of Peak Refuel Beef Chili Mac contains 29 grams of fat.
#29 Mountain House Adventure Meals
Backpackers and outdoorsmen typically use mountain House adventure meals as quick meals, but they are ideal for emergency food and have a 30-years shelf life. You heard that right. Mountain House meals will keep for 30 years.
Storing Fats and Oils For the Longest Shelf-life
For maximum shelf-life store fats and oils in airtight containers in a cool, dark location. When possible, use sealed airtight containers that are opaque to slow fat and oil oxidation from light. The best temperature for storage is above freezing and below 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you refrigerate opened oils they will solidify and turn white but this doesn’t affect edibility.