When stocking up for emergency or survival supplies, food is incredibly important. However, foods can be bulky, perishable, or difficult to prepare, and not optimized for stocking up in case of an emergency.
Foods to Stock Up on Before it’s Too Late
Features to Look For
When considering which foods to stock up on before it’s too late, look for foods that:
Have a Long Shelf Life
While you will need to periodically check your reserves and rotate items for freshness and longevity, the longer you can safely store survival foods, the better.
Require Little or No Water to Prepare and Eat
In a survival situation, fresh potable water may be in short supply. Look for foods that don’t require additional water before they can be eaten.
Are High in Nutrients
When every inch of storage space counts in your pantry, or every gram of weight counts in your pack, look for foods that give you the most energy and the most nutrients possible.
Do Not Require Heating or Preparation
You may not always be able to light a fire or heat a stove. Look for foods that can be eaten without heating or consuming fuel.
With those things in mind, here are some of the best foods to stock up on before it’s too late.
Foods That Can Be Safely Stored for Extended Periods
The following foods can be stored for 10 years or longer, in optimal packaging and conditions:
- Maple syrup, honey, and corn syrup. Properly stored, maple syrup, corn syrup, and honey can be kept indefinitely
- Sugar, baking soda, and sea salt. White sugar, brown sugar, and powdered sugar can also be stored indefinitely, as can unprocessed salt and baking soda
- Dry powdered gelatin. Unflavored powdered gelatin has an indefinite shelf life
- Corn starch. Corn starch also has an indefinite shelf life
- Vinegar and soy sauce. Soy sauce and all vinegars can be stored unopened indefinitely
- Hard liquor. Wine will eventually turn into vinegar, but hard liquor can be stored indefinitely. Because of their high liquor content, so can real vanilla extract and some other pure flavoring extracts.
- Pemmican can last for up to 50 years
- Dried pasta. Dried pasta can be stored for up to 30 years
- Dehydrated fruits and vegetables. Thoroughly dehydrated fruits like apples, raisins, and apricots can last for up to 30 years in storage. Dehydrated root vegetables like carrots can last for up to 20 years
- Instant coffee. Freeze-dried coffee will last for up to 25 years
- Powdered milk. Powdered milk can be stored for up to 25 years
- Unground flour. Unground flour can last for up to 25 years, to be ground as needed when cooking
- White rice. White rice can last for up to 20 years in storage
- Powdered eggs. Shelf-stable powdered eggs can last for up to 15 years
- Powdered peanut butter. Powdered peanut butter can be stored for up to 15 years
- Freeze-dried meat. Freeze-dried meat can last for up to 15 years in storage
- Bouillon cubes. Bouillon cubes and powder will last in storage for up to 10 years
- Hard grains. Buckwheat, millet, and wheat can be stored for 10-12 years
Remember: When buying food for long-term storage, it’s best to purchase from a survival specialist, because the packaging will be more durable and air-tight. Always consult the manufacturer’s expiration date.
Optimal food storage requires protection from moisture, oxygen, and UV light, so always keep foods sealed until they are needed, and consider using moisture or oxygen absorbers to maximize shelf life.
Foods that Require Little to No Water For Preparation
Water is essential for survival, so you may not have extra for cooking items like pasta or beans. And if you survival diet is low in naturally moisture-rich foods like fresh fruit, drinking water becomes even more critical. Here are some no-water survival foods.
- Pemmican and food bars. Pemmican and food bars are ready to eat at any time, with no preparation or rehydration required. They are excellent survival foods
- Canned foods. Most canned foods last for 2-5 years, and don’t require additional water to eat
- Dehydrated fruits and vegetables. Dehydrated fruits, vegetables, and fruit leathers can be eaten as needed
- Jams and jellies. Unopened jams and jellies can last for up to 2 years in storage. They are a great source of energy that doesn’t require water
- Nuts, seeds, and nut butters. Unopened nut butters can last for 1-2 years in storage, and nuts and seeds can last for up to a year when stored in an airtight container
- Dried meats and fish. Dried meats and fish are a great source of protein that don’t require water to prepare
- Pickles and preserves. Pickles and pickled foods can last up to 2 years in storage, and don’t require water to eat and enjoy
- Oils and fats. Oils and fats are essential survival supplies, and versatile in uses
Remember: Many foods that don’t require water for preparation or re-hydration are extremely high in salt, which will cause you to drink more water. Instead of purchasing foods like meat jerky, cereal bars, nut butters, or pickles, consider making your own so that you can control and reduce the amount of salt.
Survival foods need to give you the maximum amount of nutrition and energy for the amount of space, weight, water, or fuel they require. When considering nutritional content, pay attention to:
Fats give you 9 calories of energy per gram, while protein and carbohydrates give you less than half of that, at 4 calories each. Remember that some essential micronutrients are fat-soluble, while some are water-soluble.
To get the most benefit, make sure that every meal includes some fats and some water, to help you process dietary vitamins and minerals.
- Vitamin C. Humans require a dietary source of vitamin C for survival. Without it, our bodies cannot synthesize collagen, which leads to a disease known as scurvy
- Our bodies require a delicate balance of sodium and potassium for regular heart functions. If your survival diet is high in preserved foods with high salt content, you need to ensure you are also consuming foods high in potassium
- Vitamin D and magnesium. While we can synthesize our own Vitamin D from sunlight, both Vitamin D and magnesium are necessary in order for our bodies to utilize calcium, and we need calcium every day to avoid depleting it from our bones
- We need to consume iron every day in order to avoid anemia
- B-complex vitamins. Not all B vitamins are essential to eat every day: some, like B12, can be stored and used when needed. However, B-complex vitamins are not only critical for health, but for energy, and many of them are needed daily
Remember: We normally consume all the micronutrients we need in a healthy, balanced diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables. However, if fresh foods are scarce in a survival scenario, we need to maximize the nutrients in our stored foods, and consider vitamin supplements if necessary.
Foods That Require Little to No Heat or Energy for Preparation
Beans and grains are famous survival foods, because they can be stored for such long periods of time, but they require water and fuel to cook and eat. In an emergency, it isn’t always possible to prepare a fire or stove to heat and cook foods, so always keep a stock of survival food that doesn’t require cooking.
The list of no-cook foods is nearly identical to the list of no-water foods above, assuming you are willing to eat cold canned foods, (which most people are in an emergency).
Best Survival Food to Stock Up On
As you can see, by all our criteria, pemmican is the single best survival food. Native Americans relied on it for centuries, and it’s full of protein, energy, and nutrients.
Properly made and stored, pemmican can last for decades, and it’s easy to make yourself. Making your own pemmican not only allows you to control the amount of salt and nutrients in it, but it also allows you to create different flavors that will add variety to a survival diet.
Here’s a simple, flexible guide to making and storing pemmican. Pemmican is also ideal because once you know how to make it, you can make it as much or as often as needed.
When stocking up a survival food supply, don’t just focus on pemmican (or any other near-perfect survival food). Build a food supply that is as enduring and diverse as you have space for, so that you have as many food options as you can.
It’s impossible to plan for every single survival scenario, and stocking up on salt, seasonings, and condiments helps your food taste better and adds nutritional variety to your diet.
Pemmican may be the staple of the survival pantry, but it shouldn’t be the only thing in your survival food stocks.