One of the basic prepping tenants is stockpiling easy-to-store foods that are readily accessible in case of an emergency or crisis. Yet, it goes without saying that while a fresh deli sandwich might sound great, some foods store easier and for longer than others. Today, let’s take a look at some foods that make excellent hoarding basics and can fill you up in a hurry.
There have been accounts of archeologists discovering pots of honey in ancient tombs while excavating the pyramids of Egypt. The oldest sample they found was reported to be around 3,000 years old! The best part? It was still totally edible. Not only is honey excellent to have on hand as a meal supplement, it also acts as a great natural sweetener for oatmeal, teas, and other semi-bland foods in your prepping pantry. Moreover, honey is also touted for its medicinal properties and makes an ideal throat soother or even a topical antibiotic in a pinch.
2. Dehydrated Milk, Whey and Eggs
Acting as a basis for other dairy products such as yogurt, sour cream, cream cheese and more, dehydrated milk can be reconstituted quickly to serve as an excellent source of protein, potassium, vitamin D and calcium – all critical elements your body needs. The same goes for eggs, which can be purchased in powdered form and stored without harmful additives or preservatives. It’s helpful to store dried milk and eggs alongside moisture absorber packets to ensure they stay dry. If your milk is packaged in #10 cans, this may be unnecessary.
In addition, it’s also helpful to stockpile another nutrient-rich ingredient: whey. One of the most complete proteins available, whey is chocked full of essential, branched-chain amino acids. Unlike casein, which constitutes the thick part of milk after it sours and separates, whey is the yellowy, liquid portion. In powdered form, both casein and whey offer a protein power boost, but a scoop or two of whey powder added to a quick smoothie catalyzes protein synthesis quickest.
3. Dried Beans
Some studies have shown that dried beans can last up to 30 years and still retain their taste and health properties. Packing around 1,250 calories per pound, beans make an excellent, fiber-rich and carbohydrate-heavy meal. Store your beans in a dry, enclosed container, inside of mylar bags if possible. While they can last decades, it’s best to consume dried beans within 7 to 10 years if possible. To increase softness when you cook them, add ¼ of a teaspoon of baking soda for every pound of beans into the pot while cooking.
This one won’t act as a meal replacement, but it’s an essential part of any stockpiled pantry. Stored in the absence of any moisture, salt can last indefinitely. It’s a critical part of many other food preservation methods such as canning or picking. In addition to those salts, also stock up on simple iodized salt. In addition to flavoring food and restoring electrolyte balance, it can also help kill bacteria from wounds. Like honey, it can also be mixed with water for a quick sore throat remedy. Iodized salt is also used to cure meat.
5. Rolled Oats
If you’re used to starting each morning with a bowl of oatmeal, you’re in luck. Rolled oats have a shelf life of around 30 years and are great sources of fiber, while also being low in saturated fat. If you plan to cook the oats, be sure to have plenty of distilled water on hand to do so. To cut down on cooking time the next morning, you can soak the oats overnight. One cup of oats to about four cups of water is a good ratio to use. Then, the cooking time should only be around 10 minutes instead of the standard 30.
6. Pasta and Rice
There’s a reason marathon runners “carb up” on a big bowl of pasta the night before the big event. Arguably no other food packs as powerful of punch when it comes to carb-fueled energy. Dried pasta can last up to 30 years, while white rice can last around 20 years. The best part about stockpiling pasta is that it’s typically found already dried, with little to no moisture content or fat. Feel free to get creative with this one and mix it up a little, as eating bowl after bowl of spaghetti can bore even the most ambitious prepper. Stockpile a few boxes of rotini, macaroni, penne, or linguini. You can even add gnocchi pasta (made with potatoes), couscous, or even Asian-inspired pastas such as ramen, soba, rice noodles, or chow mein.
7. Potato Flakes
Nothing says comfort food like a warm bowl of mashed potatoes, and with dehydrated potato flakes on hand, you can have just that in a matter of minutes. Lasting around 30 years if stored properly in a #10 can, these handy flakes have an incredible shelf life. In mylar bags, they can last around 15 years. In addition to simply mixing them with hot water for a quick side, you can add potato flakes to other recipes, such as onion rings or even breads, for a satisfying crunch.
8. Dehydrated and Freeze-Dried Fruits
Dehydrated and dried fruits make great snacks for a quick jolt of energy. In particular, raisins are jam-packed with fiber, iron, protein, and vitamin C. Keep in mind that dehydrated and freeze-dried are two different terms, and depending on the preparation method of your fruit, you’ll need to store them differently. Dehydration removes around 80% of the moisture from the fruit, while freeze drying removes up to 99%. In general, dehydrated fruits will last around 15 to 20 years. On the other hand, freeze-dried fruits can last a little longer, around 25 to 30 years.
9. Dehydrated Carrots
One of nature’s most delicious and nutritious vegetables, carrots are loaded with vitamins and minerals and are rich in beta-carotene. When dehydrated, they can last up to 20 years! Excellent as a meal or snack on their own, they can also be powdered and added to other vegetable powders such as onion, beans, and potatoes for a great seasoning.
10. Canned Meat
Lasting only around three years, canned meat doesn’t have quite as long of a shelf life as other items on this list, yet it’s an essential in any prepper’s stockpile. One surprisingly nutritious and convenient option? Spam. Reasonably priced and high-quality, the meat consists of pork shoulder and ham, unlike other processed meats that are otherwise mechanically recovered remnants. While it might not win you any health awards, it does provide a quick dose of protein, sodium and fat – all items that your body craves when it’s working hard. It’s also versatile, and works just as well straight from the can as it does fried on a sandwich or chopped and added to a stew. Also look for canned, chunk chicken breasts, canned beef stew, chili, and canned tuna. When it comes to the latter, look for options canned in oil, as they’ll last longer than water-canned alternatives.
Stockpiling Your Prepper’s Pantry
While the above list isn’t exhaustive, it serves as a basis for your stockpiled pantry. The key to achieving the maximum shelf life for all of these items is to store them in an area that has very little to no moisture present. If kept cool and dry, these will last you for years to come, ensuring that no matter what happens, you and your family won’t go hungry.
About the Author
Courtney Myers is a North Carolina-based freelance writer and work-from-home mother of two. In her 10 years as a professional writer, she’s worked in proposal management, grant writing, and content creation. Personally, she’s passionate about teaching her family how to stay safe, secure and action-ready in the event of a disaster or emergency.