Disasters can and do strike without warning, and when they strike, most of the population is vastly underprepared. Truth be told, the vast majority of people aren’t prepared at all, and hardly anyone has enough survival food to last them through the month.
It’s for this reason that when a disaster occurs, hoards of people will swarm the grocery stores and supermarkets in order to get as much food as they possibly can. You could end up being one of those people if you don’t start preparing right now.
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So take advantage of the comparatively small crowds and short lines you can find at grocery stores during the good times, because there could come a time when going to the store is like something out of a disaster movie.
This article will cover the primary criteria to follow when selecting grocery store foods that you want to store for survival. We’ll also list some specific foods you should consider getting, and we’ll share some tips on how to properly store all this food so it doesn’t go bad.
There are many criteria that you will want to keep in mind when stockpiling food for survival, including but not limited to each of the following, presented in alphabetical order:
There’s a golden rule to follow when storing food for survival purposes: you should aim to have at least two thousand calories per adult person per day. This is a good baseline to shoot for because it ensures that everyone will get enough food and thus also have enough energy.
This will at least be a factor for anyone on a budget. While it’s important to prep, you don’t want to take things too far and spend money that you don’t have.
Instead, if you are on a budget, focus on buying a little at a time and then slowly building up your preparations from there. Furthermore, set aside an emergency fund in your home (at least $1,000 cash would be a good goal) that you can spend on last-minute disaster preps if you have to.
The best way to ensure that you get proper nutrition from your survival foods is to get a lot of variety. Don’t just get beans and rice like some survival websites suggest. Instead, get beans, rice, fruits, vegetables, meats and proteins, and so on.
Just as you eat well-balanced meals in your everyday life (or least like you should), you should strive to do so in a major disaster scenario as well. Your body will need all the vitamins and nutrients it can get.
Last but not least, consider the shelf life of your food very carefully. Some foods will have an indefinite shelf life, but most will only last a few years or even just a few months under the proper storage conditions. Therefore, you need to research the shelf life of each food you store and rotate them out accordingly.
Now here are the best survival foods to consider stockpiling.
Fruits and Veggies
Most fruits won’t last very long on their own, but canned fruits and vegetables should last for at least one to two years beyond the date on the can.
- Mixed Fruit
Dried fruits can still provide you with the same nutrients as other kinds of fruits. Raisins, in particular, are loaded to the brim with fiber, Vitamin C, iron, potassium, and protein. If possible, go with organic dried fruits.
- Banana Chips
- Fruit Leathers
- Mixed Fruit
Canned vegetables, on their own, admittedly don’t offer much as a survival food. But the idea is that they can serve as an addition to other kinds of meals.
- Green Beans
- Mixed Vegetables
- Spaghetti Sauce
Grains and Starches
Resist the temptation and to stockpile Cookie Crisp and Lucky Charms and try to focus on the healthier cereals such as Cheerios or Rasin Brain. You want to get plenty of fiber and nutrients.
Flour is seriously one of the best survival foods because all you need to do is mix it with some salt, yeast, sugar, and water and you can make dough for bread, pizza, etc.
Flour is also very rich in fibers, minerals, and vitamins. In more ways than not, it really could be considered a ‘core’ food item to stockpile. By the way, be sure you get white flour as wheat and many other types of flours are usually only good for a few months.
- Pancake Mix
- Waffle Mix
- White Flour
Pasta is filled with tons of carbohydrates, it’s incredibly cheap, and it can be found at virtually any grocery store. To prepare it, all you need is some boiling water. Additionally, dried pasta will also last for years beyond the date stamped on the box or packaging.
So to put this into perspective: you could technically be enjoying spaghetti or mac and cheese for dinner during a major disaster scenario.
- Ramen noodles
Obviously, you can’t store regular potatoes for very long except for in a root cellar, but there are other options.
- Hashbrown mix
- Mashed potato mix
Here’s something that you undoubtedly expected to see on this list, but there’s a huge asterisk here: only buy white rice for survival and disaster preparedness and never brown rice.
Even though brown rice is technically more nutritious than white rice, it also has a much shorter shelf life and spoils more easily. White rice will last for years under ideal storage conditions, while brown rice will only last for a few months.
That’s also not to mention that white rice is very cost efficient, and can be bought in bulk on the cheap.
- White Rice
Although flour has a good shelf life under the right conditions, you’ll get a much longer shelf life out of grains like wheat. Here are a few suggestions.
Of course, there are many other types of wheat such as buckwheat, couscous, spelt, and so forth. It depends on your preferences.
Meat and Protein
BEANS (Canned and Dried*)
Along with rice, beans are considered to be a classic survival food. It’s not at all difficult to see why: beans are rich with proteins and nutrients, can be stored in bulk, have a shelf life of several years, and they can be bought very cheaply as well. In many ways, beans are a super food.
So why did I put an asterisk next to “dried”? Because although dried beans can last for an incredibly long time, they’re probably not worth the trouble in a survival scenario. Even after presoaking them, you have to cook them for at least an hour which is a huge waste of water and energy? You’re better off getting canned beans.
- Black Beans
- Baked Beans
- Black-Eyed Peas
- Garbanzo Beans
- Kidney Beans
- Lima Beans
- Pinto Beans
Just as you should be stockpiling canned fruits and vegetables because they last longer on the shelf, so you should stockpile canned meats as well.
Granted, canned meat is not going to taste anywhere near as good as a homemade beef roast dinner or BBQ pork ribs or a roasted chicken. But it will give you the exact same amount of protein, and furthermore, it will last for years on the shelf.
For this reason, you should have at least an entire shelf in your home filled with stacks of canned meats, and you should also consider it a survival food staple.
- Canned Beef
- Canned Chicken
- Canned Tuna (in oil)
- Vienna Sausages
- Mixed Nuts
- Sunflower Seeds
Peanut butter is a particularly valuable food item to have on hand, especially if you have children. It is filled with fat, protein, and other nutrients, and kids love it.
That’s also not to mention that peanut butter will have a shelf life of several years past its stamped expiration date, which further aids in its value as a survival food item.
- Almond Butter
- Cashew Butter
- Peanut Butter
Some protein bars have a shelf life of several years, and they’re very convenient to pack. If you need to leave your house on an expedition or supply run, for instance, you can stuff a few bars in your backpack for a quick and easy meal that will also supply you with badly needed energy and nutrition.
That’s also not to mention that because protein bars are very small, they don’t take up much space, and you can literally have entire boxes filled up with them in your pantry.
These things didn’t fit neatly in any other the other categories because most of them have foods from each one (for example, canned soup).
Imagine eating a hamburger without ketchup and mustard. Or a place of pancakes without syrup. It should be obvious why condiments are so important. Don’t forget about them.
- BBQ Sauce
- Hot Sauce
- Salad Dressing
- Soy Sauce
During a long-term disaster, you are going to get sick of water very quickly. Keep your morale up by having some juice, Gatorade, or hot cocoa. Coffee will be particularly important if you’re hooked onit.
- Cocoa Mix
- Gatorade Powder
- Juice Mix
- Protein Powder
A lot of your other foods will be useless if you don’t have salt, sugar, cooking oil, baking powder, and the many other ingredients that are important in so many recipes.
- Baking Powder
- Baking Soda
- Cooking Oil
- Powdered Cheese
- Powdered Eggs
- Powdered Milk
- Vanilla Extract
Don’t feel like cooking? Just open up the can or container and start eating. Personally, I don’t mind eating Hormel canned soups at room temperate. They still taste great!
- Canned Chili
- Canned Soup
- Hormel Meals
As I’ve already mentioned, morale is important during a crisis, and things like cookies and hard candies make it much easier to stay positive.
- Hard Candies
Tips On Storing Food
FOOD STORAGE LOCATIONS
In fact, the proper storage of food is really more important than the type of food or how much of it you store. Why? Because if you don’t store it properly, it will all go bad anyway, and you may as well not have stored anything.
First, you need to find a good location for your food cache. Here are some important qualities that you will need to look for in a food storage location:
- No direct sunlight
- Room temperature (no greater than eighty degrees Fahrenheit, but less than seventy degrees will make your food last a lot longer)
- Free of mold and pests
- Free of moisture (no dripping water or humidity or moisture of any kind)
Based on the above criteria, you should have no difficulty in coming up with a few different places in your home to store your food.
Related: 20 Food Storage Locations for People With Small Homes
FOOD STORAGE METHODS
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Food grade buckets with lids
- Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers
- Vacuum cleaner with hose
- Hair straightener
Here’s how to store dry foods/ingredients:
1. Fill all of your Mylar bags with food. Just take your food out of the original packaging and pour it into the bags. One type of food per bag.
Why all of them? Because in the next step, you’ll open the oxygen absorbers, and once those are open, you need to use all of them within a few minutes. Otherwise, they will absorb too much oxygen from the air and become useless.
Be sure to leave about an inch of space at the top. Then write down the name of the food on the outside of the bag using your Sharpie.
2. Start sealing the bags using the hair straightener. However, don’t seal the bags all the way at first. Instead, leave enough space for the vacuum hose.
3. Add the oxygen absorbers. This step needs to be done quickly. Put one absorber in each bag, then use the vacuum to suck as much air out of the bag as possible. While holding the opening closed, finish sealing it with the hair straightener.
4. Put the bags into the buckets. Fit as many bags into the bucket as you can, then seal them. You might need a rubber mallet to get the lids in place.
As a final piece of advice, remember that all food will need to be rotated. While many foods have an indefinite shelf life, assuming that you store them under the proper conditions as we talked about, most others have a finite shelf life a few years.
As a result, it’s your responsibility to carefully research the individual shelf life of each and every food you buy, and then rotate it out appropriately. For more info, check out these 10 tips for rotating your food storage.