Healthy foods, in particular, not only last longer when preserving them, but they actually retain more nutrients when stored correctly.
Let’s look at storing healthy food long-term and which is worth preserving.
11 Best Healthy Foods For Long Term Storage
- A fantastic source of protein, fat, and fiber.
- Lasts upwards of a year.
- And will last longer if frozen.
- A handy source of omega-3 fatty acids and protein.
- It prevents contamination that leads to premature spoiling.
- Properly sealed canned meats can last 2-5 years.
- Jerky is a go-to for easy (though expensive) protein.
- Dehydrating meat is a pretty straightforward process.
- Airtight packaging can extend jerky’s life by months.
- Rice, buckwheat, and oats are grains that are also gluten-free.
- Dry and tightly sealed grains can last years.
- You have a wide variety of uses for grains.
- Canned produce can last for years when you use an acid like vinegar.
- Canning will maintain color, flavor, and texture.
- Proper sealing and storing fruits and vegetables also reduces the chances of foodborne illness.
- Fiber will be really important when the world ends.
- High sugar and calorie content.
- Fruit is less likely to mold when dried.
- Storing beans is an easy way to ensure protein long-term.
- Dried beans can last years because they are naturally dry.
- Legumes contain minerals such as magnesium.
- Protein powder can last upwards of 5 years.
- If you’re looking for something that’ll last a little longer, dehydrated milk can last ten years.
- Reliable sources of protein and other nutrients.
- High in saturated fat.
- Coconut milk can last over a year when appropriately preserved.
- Coconut products have health benefits that may help you outrun zombies one day.
- Eating seeds provides protein, fat, and fiber if you’re not going to them.
- A wide variety of seed options. (chia, pumpkin, sunflower)
- Seeds offer tons of health benefits.
- Dark chocolate, hard candies, and jellies can last up to six months past best-buy dates.
- Chewing gum and other types of chocolate will start losing the good stuff in about nine months.
- You’re going to need sugar to go out and scavenge for firewood.
What else do I need to store for the long term?
Food is all well and good, but without things like shelter, you’re as good as gone.
Water is more important than food when it comes to survival, and you have to plan its storage as much as you do the yummies.
- The container needs to have a label that designates it as drinking water and the storage date.
- You will want to rotate and replace the water every six months or so.
- The storage space should be kept cool. (50 to 70°F)
- Never store water in direct sunlight.
- Keep water separate from poisons such as pesticides and gasoline.
FEMA recommends that people have a two-week supply on hand in an emergency. The ratio is one gallon per person or family member.
Sure, it makes everything taste better. But, it can serve a multitude of purposes.
- Helps build fires
- Rust proofing shelters
- Food preservation
- Medical and health reasons
- And we can’t forget essential skincare.
How much healthy food should I store for the long term?
You will need to do a little thinking and do a little math to figure out how much you want to store.
- How many people do you plan on providing sustenance for?
- How long are you planning to store the food for?
- How much space do you have or need to store the food you require?
- Will you share with neighbors, or do you plan to isolate yourself in a disaster?
You will want to store food for seven days at a minimum. If anything, the weather is unpredictable enough to want a week of food and water. Then, you will want to plan for three meals and at least one snack. But, again, it will depend on your family, whether you have children and all dietary needs.
Foods to Avoid for Long-Term Storage
No one likes finding out what they can and can’t do. But you can’t just decide to store your favorite food and hope it lasts.
Canned Fruit or Vegetable You Don’t Like
Are you going to suddenly like canned plums in five years? Probably not. And you will not likely be facing a life-and-death situation in five years, either. Know what is in the can and whether or not you consider it edible today, tomorrow, or next month.
Canned Tuna Fish
It doesn’t take canned tuna long before it starts losing texture and quality. Mushy and iffy canned fish isn’t appetizing and worth skipping unless you really, really like tuna.
How can something that tastes like cardboard only last a month or two?
Saltine crackers will not only become stale, but they also turn rancid and smell so bad.
Flour is not on the list of foods for long term storage because it does not store well. You might get 18 months of use, but going with grain is not only healthier, but it stores far longer.
Boxed Breakfast Cereal
Kids’ cereal isn’t meant to store long. But, if you have kids, having a little extra may benefit in a short-term crisis situation.
Oatmeal is a far better option when you’re looking at the long-term.
Store Bought Salad Dressing
Bottled salad dressing is one of those food items that we let go bad. A lot of times because we can’t just walk away from a bargain.
But, store-bought salad dressing will go bad within a matter of months. You’re better off making your own with shelf-staple ingredients.
Benefits of Storing Healthy Food Long Term
- Reduces environmental footprint
- Good prep for an inevitable disaster
- Preserves nutritional value
- It prevents spoiling and wasting good food.
What foods can you store for long term survival?
- Canned Meat and Seafood
- Canned Fruits and Veggies
- Dried Fruit
- Dried Beans
- Dehydrated Milk and Protein Powder
- Coconut Milk and Oil
- Seeds that You Eat
- Chocolate, Candy, and Other Sweet Stuff
Ways to Preserve Foods for the Long Term
When we need food, we go to the grocery store. But, before a Walmart or McDonald’s was on every corner, preserving extra food was the only way people survived seasonal changes and other natural disasters.
Those that came before us didn’t have the magical technological wonders of the 21st century to dehydrate venison, either.
Now, if you want to Naked and Afraid some meat over a homemade fire pit, go for it. But you can cheat a little when it comes to this particular process.
When it comes to the healthiest perk of dehydrating, you can stretch the life of veggies and fruit up to a year.
Outside, BBQs are made famous by smoking meat and are used to add popping flavor to hunks of meat. But, you can smoke all sorts of things and preserve them for the long term.
We have smokers in modern times, which keeps the method simple even for a novice.
Sun-dried fruits and vegetables come in cute little prepackaged bags that cost too much and have too little. But you can do it, too. The process of sun drying is easy because fruit has high amounts of acid and sugars.
But, the environment has to be just right, or it will spoil. It should be no hotter than 85℉ (29.5°C), and humidity needs to stay below 60% during the entire process.
Fresh herbs and peppers need a warm and dry place. Just tie them upside down and walk away. A good little tip is that putting herbs in a brown paper sack will help them to do their thing on their own, too.
Once they’ve dried out, store them in old jelly jars to keep away the insects and pests.
Dry storage works for all sorts of different dry foods. Flour, flakes, and pasta are just a few that you can store for many years in the right conditions. It must be a dark, dry, and cool space that stays below 75 ℉ (24℃).
You have likely heard of botulism. The best way to avoid bacterial growth is to ensure that it is entirely dry. And, to keep out the pests, you will need to store dry goods in protective containers such as PET bottles or #10 cans.
The US NCHFP keeps up-to-date information on the safest way to go about canning food goods. When done safely, it is one of the best ways to store food long-term.
However, nutrients and the quality of canned food do deteriorate over time. You will want to rotate and replenish every gardening season to keep the healthy food healthy.
Fermenting tend to preserve and increase the nutritional value of fruits and vegetables. Sauerkraut and kimchi are two famous examples of fermentation. And salami and pepperoni are the results of fermented meat.
Rum and brandy make a Saturday night a little more enjoyable. But, you can use them to preserve certain fruits that you can enjoy as a gourmet treat or keep for medicinal qualities.
You will want 80 to 100-proof alcohol when preserving it for health and medical reasons.
Salting meat is the original long-term storage method. It is a simple way to preserve meat and a necessary step when fermenting certain types of veggies.
Cucumbers equal pickles, and vinegar is what makes the magic happen. Vinegar is a great way to preserve all sorts of tasty things, including herbs, to add taste to food.
Apple cider vinegar is a good pickling option because it adds additional nutritional value to food.
Preserved honey is one of those that will outlast us when the end of the world comes. Properly sealed honey does more than add a little sweetness or acidly to an otherwise bland doomsday meal.
Honey’s superpower is killing microbes and bacteria, which makes it incredibly helpful to the wounded and sick.
What food can be stored for 20 years?
You aren’t going to find many foods that will last 20 years. But, as we mentioned, honey and alcohol can evidently last forever.
But if you want to do more than get drunk and ride it out, you have a couple of options if you plan just right.
- Dried beans
- White rice
- Powdered milk
We are getting into the professional food preserver arena now. Root cellaring extends the life and nutritional quality of produce and other foods. But not everyone can afford the time or money to take on a project like this.
Saving Your Seeds
One surefire way to store food is storing the source of the food. A seed means years of possibility and access to a necessary lifeline.
And preserving seeds basically costs you nothing and could mean everything.
How to Store Seeds That Will Save the Future
- Choose a dark, cool, and dry space.
- Store seeds in a moisture-proof container. (mason jar, medicine bottle)
- Rotate your seed stock to have the healthiest and most viable seeds.
- Label your containers with the seed type and date.
- Perform seed germination tests.
FAQs about Foods for Long Term Storage
What foods should I stockpile for survival?
The best foods to stockpile for survival are the ones that will last longest, have the most uses, and that you will actually need or use. The beans and rice combo will give you the necessary nutrients and minerals. You aren’t stockpiling food for it to go to waste, so never buy more than you can keep up with. Rotate and check what you have stored to check for spoilage or insect infestation.
What is the one food you can live off of?
People have been living off potatoes since the beginning of time. It’s why it continues to be a worldwide staple. White potatoes have all of the essential amino acids that your body requires to build proteins, repair cells, and fight illness and disease. The downside is that they don’t store well long term. Potatoes only last a few months, and that’s as long as they are in a cool place.
What food can last 100 years?
Honey is the only one we know for sure that can last 100 years. We mentioned it a couple of times because its multiple uses go far beyond getting a sugar buzz during the apocalypse.
Isn’t it easier to just buy a bunch of MREs?
Easier isn’t always better. Sure, a lot of MREs last half a lifetime on the shelf. But macaroni and cheese powder will not taste anything like macaroni and cheese today or in a decade. If you do stock MREs, be sure to check the packaging for the exact expiration dates because they vary, and you may want to rotate or restock.
Can I store seasonings, so my food has actual taste?
Most seasonings will last a few years, but they do start losing their bang quicker. You will want to store them all in dry spaces to get the longest life span. Dried herbs and fresh spices are always the better routes to take, but it’s not always possible.