Long Term Food Storage Guide: Shelf Life and Food List for Emergency Preparedness

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Home food storage is important not just to guard against natural disasters, but also personal crises or economic catastrophes. An emergency preparedness food supply is a must-have for any family who wishes to be self-sufficient.

How Much Food to Store

In general, a long-term food storage supply indicates enough food to last one year or more. Many people are overwhelmed by the idea of stockpiling that much food all at once, and choose to focus on building a supply sufficient for a few days, weeks, or months first.

Food storage is a gradual process, and people with emergency food storage should be continually adding to and using items in storage. People should also learn how to store water along with their food.

Food Storage List

A survival food supply can sustain life if there is no other way to get food for an extended period of time, but it doesn’t mean people have to eat bland meals of spaghetti, rice, and beans every day for months on end. Some of the best types of food for storage that combine nutrition and variety are:

  • Flour and/or wheat (wheat has a longer shelf life)
  • Oats
  • Rice
  • Beans (pinto, navy, refried, and so on)
  • Pasta (a variety of types)
  • Vegetable oil
  • Shortening
  • Mayonnaise
  • Peanut butter
  • Honey
  • Sugar
  • Cooking essentials like baking powder, baking soda, salt, and yeast
  • Powdered milk
  • Canned meats, including tuna
  • Canned fruits and vegetables
  • Crackers
  • Dry cereal
  • Granola bars
  • Popcorn
  • Nuts or trail mix
  • Boxed sides such as stuffing or mashed potatoes
  • Dry soup mixes
  • Powdered drink mixes

Commercially packaged foods will have a “best by” date listed on them, usually 1-2 years. Home canned foods are good for about one year.

Some food products can be canned using the dry pack method, which significantly lengthens shelf life. According to the LDS (Mormon) Church’s Provident Living website, under ideal conditions dry packed sugar can last 20 years or more, macaroni for 8 years, and rice and white flour for 3-5 years.

Home Food Storage Safety Tips

Food should be stored in air-tight containers, away from sources of heat and light. Packages should be stored in a dry, cool location. If possible, they should be kept in the basement where they are not directly in contact with any walls or floors in case moisture seeps in.

Using and Rotating Food Storage

Organization is key when it comes to home food storage. Each package should be labeled with the item name and the date of packaging. It should be organized neatly with like items, with the oldest item in front. Regularly use and rotate food storage items into everyday cooking and eating to prevent wasting food.

Emergency food storage serves many purposes, for families from all walks of life. Know what foods store best for long term use, store them safely, and don’t forget to rotate and replenish the home food supply often!