What Are The Cheapest Survival Foods?

The cheapest survival foods are dry foods that allow you to store in bulk without breaking the bank. Amazingly, these foods are inexpensive comfort foods that provide decades of shelf-life and high nutritional value.

The cheapest survival foods are bulk dried staples like hard grains, dried beans, white rice, rolled oats, and pasta. They are inexpensive with a shelf-life of up to 30 years, easily rotated into your diet, and excellent backup food for emergencies.

There isn’t any way around it. Storing bulk staples is an excellent way to save a lot of money on your family’s food budget. Take a look at the list below to get an idea of the cheapest and the best types of food to store.

14 Of The Cheapest Survival Foods

Below are 14 excellent survival foods that are popular with preppers. These foods are inexpensive, high in nutrition, and have decades of shelf-life if stored properly.

Bulk-Dried Food TypeCost 50 LBSCommon Use In CookingShelf-Life In Years
White Rice$27.99 Compliments meat, beans, and vegetables.30
Basmati or Jasmine Rice$39.99 long-grain white rice with a fruitier flavor.30
Rolled Oats$32.49Eaten as hot porridge or used in baking 30
Hard Wheat Berries$34.02Ground into flour and used in baked goods like bread. 30
Dent Corn$42.50Ground to make Masa for corn tortillas30
Pasta$26.15Good base for sauces, gravies
Pinto Beans$76.29 soups, stews, over rice 30
Kidney Beans$85.50 soups, stews, over rice 30
Navy Beans$83.27 soups, stews, over rice 30
Garbanzo Beans$53.49 hummus or combined with garden produce for salads30
Split Peas$55.98 added to soups and stews.30
Lentils$56.57porridge or added to soups and stews.30
Fat-free Freeze Dried Milk$344.99Baking
Powdered Eggs$250.00Baked goods or scrambled eggs10
The prices of bulk foods fluctuate, but they are almost always less expensive than purchasing in small quantities or pre-prepared.
For maximum shelf-life, store packaged staples need to be repackaged into long-term storage containers like Mylar Bags, food-grade buckets with oxygen absorbers, or purchased in hermetically sealed #10 cans.

Click to learn how much food to store per person.

#1 Cheapest Food

The cheapest survival food is, hands down, white rice. You can’t go wrong by adding white rice to your emergency pantry because it’s so flexible and goes will all food types while providing starchy carbohydrates and a feeling of fullness.

The cheapest food to survive on is white rice. Easy to prepare, inexpensive provides solid nutrition, can be purchased in most locations, and has a 30-year shelf-life if stored in hermetically sealed containers.

Kick white rice up a notch and add dried beans to your survival food. Together they provide the perfect protein with nine amino acids.

Rice and Beans: Top Cheap Foods

Rice and beans should be considered as top foods when looking for inexpensive survival food. There is a reason half the planet depends on them for daily sustenance.

Together, Rice and beans are the two best survival foods. They provide a lot of nutrition; they give a perfect protein with nine essential amino acids when eaten together.

Also, they are cheap, filling, flexible, and store for up to 30 years.

You can’t survive on rice and beans alone. Supplement with other foods like fruit, vegetables, edible forage, and animal fat for a well-rounded diet.

That said, rice and beans are as close to perfect survival food as you can get.

Read Ready Squirrel’s article, “Cheap Long Term Emergency Food Supply: Epic Dry Staples.”

Food grade bucket and Mylar bags

Hidden Costs of Cheap Survival Food: Storage Containers

The hidden cost of cheap survival food is repackaging survival food from store-bought packaging to airtight, food-grade containers. Store packaging won’t protect food well enough for long-term storage, and there is no way around it.

The hidden expense of cheap survival food is purchasing food-grade containers that create an oxygen barrier. Without these, Oxygen will reduce the life of foods by decades. The most popular containers are Mylar bags, food-grade buckets, and the addition of Oxygen Absorbers to remove Oxygen.

Cost Of Typical Food-grade Buckets

Here is a list of typical food buckets and how much they cost. Keep in mind that not all buckets and lids are created equal. Some models are better made and provide a better seal.

Type of 5-gallon Food Grade BucketCost Per Bucket
Titan Food Storage Bucket with Gasket and Lid$7.47
Titan Food Storage Bucket Bucket Without a Lid$6.22
Lowe’s Food-Grade Bucket With Lid$4.48
Tractor Supply/ no lid$3.49
Walmart/no lid$2.96
Home Depot Leaktite/ Bucket and Lid $10.20
If you purchase buckets in bulk, you can get reduced pricing.

If you are willing to do some footwork, you can also get free food-grade buckets from bakeries, coffee shops, small restaurants, and small businesses in your area. Just make sure they were used to store food and not solvents, disinfectants, or other non-food grade items.

bucket and Mylar bag

Cost Of Mylar Bags

Look for Mylar bags that are at least five mils, are made for food storage, and make sure they aren’t opaque. You don’t want them to let in light because the food will oxidize quicker.

5 Gallon Mylar Bags 18″x 28″#ItemsMilCostCost EA
DiscountMylarBags.com 10 Pack5$25.99$2.60
DicountMylarBags.com50 Pack5$99.99$2.00
IMPAKCorporation.com50 Pack4.3$88.00$1.76
Sorbentsystems.com50 Pack7$124.95$2.50
Vacuumsealersunlimited.comTen pack5$18.99$1.89
Vacuumsealersunlimited.com150 Pack5$259.99$1.73
Packfreshusa.com10 Pack?$17.99$1.79
Packfreshusa.com50 Pack?$64.99$1.29
You can also find Mylar bags on sale on E-bay, Amazon, Walmart, and other online retailers.

Cost of Oxygen Absorbers for For Storing Food In A 5-gallon Buckets

Depending on the type of dry food stored in 5-gallon buckets, the suggested size of oxygen absorber is 2000cc or more. Look at the chart below to get an idea of what you will be spending on Oxygen Absorbers.

Company2000 CCCostCost EA
Sorbent systems 10 Pack$10.20$1.02
Sorbent systems 240 Pack$102.00$.42
USAemergencysupply20 Pack$17.99$.89
USA emergency supply240 Pack$215.88$.89
Vacuum Sealers Unlimited10 Pack$8.99$.90
Vacuum Sealers Unlimited340 pack$299.99$.88

Some sellers offer free shipping if you buy larger quantities of absorbers, so keep that in mind when figuring out how much you pay per absorber.

How Many Oxygen Absorbers Needed to Store Food In A 5-Gallon Bucket

Below are the recommended number of CC Oxygen absorbers to put in a 5-gallon bucket for specific types of dry food. Pretty exciting.

Number of absorbers by food type: 5-gallon Food Grade Bucket

Absorber Size CC
Pasta and Beans/
Absorber Size CC
100cc: Use 20 Absorbers100cc: Use 30 Absorbers
500cc: Use 4 Absorbers500cc: Use 6 Absorbers
1000cc: Use 2 Absorbers1000cc: Use 3 Absorbers
2000cc: Use 1 Absorber2000cc: Use 2 Absorbers
Information Provided by USA Emergency Supply

How Much Survival Food Do I Need?

How Many Oxygen Absorbers For Storing Food In A 5-Gallon Mylar Bag?

Below are the recommended number of Oxygen absorbers to put in 18″ x 24″ Mylar bags typically used in 5-gallon buckets for storing cheap survival foods like rice, beans, and pasta.

Number of absorbers by food type: 18″x 24″ Mylar Bag

Absorber Size in cc
Pasta and Beans/
Absorber Size in cc
100cc: Use 20 Absorbers100cc: Use 30 Absorbers
500cc: Use 4 Absorbers500cc: Use 6 Absorbers
1000cc: Use 2 Absorbers1000cc: Use 3 Absorbers
2000cc: Use 1 Absorber2000cc: Use 2 Absorbers
Information Provided by USA Emergency Supply

How Much Dry Food Will Fit in a 5-gallon Bucket?

A five-gallon bucket will hold different amounts of dry food because some foods have more air space due to shape and size. You can fit 36 pounds of tightly packed white rice in a 5-gallon bucket that will only store 20 pounds of rolled oats.

Twenty to thirty-seven pounds of dry goods or survival food will fit in a 5-gallon bucket. 18″x 24″ Mylar bags have the same storage capacity and are typically used to line five-gallon-food-grade buckets.

Check out the Ready Squirrel Article, Pounds Of food In A 5-gallon Bucket, for more comprehensive information on how much of each dry survival food will fit in a 5-gallon food bucket.