Here’s a fun thought experiment: If you could only stockpile 10 foods, which foods would you choose? And I don’t mean your ten favorite foods. I mean the foods you’d need to survive. Could you get all the vitamins and nutrients your body needs from just ten things?
The short answer is yes, absolutely. You can not only survive but thrive on just ten foods. But when your nutrition options are this limited, not just any ten foods will do. Below are the ten foods you would want to stockpile if ten is all you could have.
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Dried beans such as pinto beans are a prepper favorite, and for good reason. They store well for years, they’re filling, and they’re nutritious. Unlike many vegetables, beans are a good source of protein, enabling you to fulfill your body’s protein requirements (though beans do lack a couple essential amino acids that you will have to get elsewhere). Beans are also easy to prepare, and they contain “good” carbohydrates, fiber, and iron.
Of all the fruits you have to choose from, the blueberry is richest in nutrients. Blueberries are a great source of vitamin C and fiber and also contain tannins to prevent urinary tract infections, ellagic acid which can help prevent age-related diseases, and a wide range of antioxidants that can help prevent diseases.
Fresh blueberries will only last for a few days, but after that point, they can be dried. Once dried, blueberries will last for 1-2 years if refrigerated or 6-12 months if un-refrigerated. Both dried and fresh, blueberries make for a tasty snack that can be enjoyed by itself or along with your mixed nuts and cereal.
Considered to be one of the healthiest vegetables in the world, broccoli is an excellent source of nutrition. Broccoli contains B vitamins, vitamin C, calcium, vitamin E, folate, potassium, and more. It’s also full of antioxidants that can help fight disease.
Unfortunately, one thing that broccoli does lack is a long shelf-life, so you can’t count on broccoli remaining fresh in your stockpile for more than a couple weeks. Unless, of course, you dehydrate it. While it’s fresh, broccoli can be steamed or eaten raw.
Beta-carotene is essential for keeping your vision sharp, so carrots are a necessary addition to your food stockpile. In addition to beta-carotene, carrots also contain nutrients such as vitamin A, fiber, and antioxidants. You can boil your carrots or eat them raw along with your broccoli in a makeshift salad.
On average, fresh carrots have a shelf-life of about 4-5 weeks. However, if you cover your carrots in soil and place them in a root cellar, carrots will last for about 6 months. Alternatively, you may wish to stockpile canned carrots, which have a shelf-life of about 5 years.
Grain products are an essential part of a balanced diet, and cereal is the best option to go with if you only have one grain product to choose from. Cereal stores much longer than bread and other grain products, it’s filling, and it’s easy to store and transport.
Choose your cereal carefully, though, as a nutritious whole grain cereal is going to be much more valuable than some of the more sugary cereals on the shelf. If you pick the right cereal, though, you’ll have a source of nutrients such as fiber, magnesium, and protein that is also quite tasty and filling.
Although technically you can get enough protein from nuts and beans, it’s a lot easier to get your protein requirement if you also eat chicken. Of course, protein isn’t the only great thing about chicken. It’s also a good source of niacin, phosphorus, selenium, and vitamin B6.
Chicken only keeps for days in the refrigerator, but it will last in the freezer for up to a year. Or better yet, get some canned chicken, which will last in the pantry for several years. Chicken will turn a collection of side dishes into a big, hearty meal.
7. Mixed Nuts
A can of mixed nuts makes for a tasty snack that can be stored for years in a freezer (or a few months unfrozen) and contains a wide range of essential nutrients such as Vitamin E, selenium, protein, fatty acids, magnesium, fiber, and more.
Mixed nuts can be enjoyed as-is or ground up into a butter that you can use to make some of the other foods in your stockpile a little tastier. They are also a very filling snack, making them great for reducing the hunger pains that come with such a limited diet.
Potatoes contain so many of the nutrients necessary to survive that our list could almost be shortened to just this one item. In fact, the executive director of the Washington State Potato Commission once went for two months on a diet of nothing but potatoes and water.
Potatoes are a good source of protein, are rich in carbohydrates, and contain a range of essential vitamins. Unlike beans, though, potatoes only last a few weeks. However, you can extend the life of your potatoes by storing them in a cool, dark place. If you want a potato product that lasts even longer, you can stockpile potato flakes. Potato flakes are made from dried potatoes and will last 10-15 years if unopened.
9. Powdered Milk
Humans survive the first few months of their lives on a diet of milk and nothing else, so it makes sense that milk contains most of the nutrients necessary to survive. Obviously, stockpiling fresh milk isn’t a viable option, but canned milk and powdered milk are decent substitutes.
It might not taste as great as fresh milk, but it still contains all of the same nutrients. This includes nutrients such as B vitamins, calcium, protein, iodine, and phosphorous. If left in its original container, powdered milk will last about two years. However, if you place your powdered milk in an airtight plastic container, it will last upwards of ten years.
It’s difficult to get enough vitamin C on a diet of only 10 foods, and as sailors from a few hundred years ago know well, not getting enough vitamin C can lead to a range of diseases such as scurvy. If you stockpile oranges, though, not getting enough vitamin C won’t be a concern. Oranges are also a great source of fiber, folate, and potassium.
They can be enjoyed fresh for a few weeks if refrigerated or they can be dried to make them last for up to 2 years. They can also be squeezed into a delicious juice if you grow tired of drinking powdered milk and water. If you aren’t a fan of oranges, other citrus fruits such as grapefruits, lemons, and limes come with all of the same benefits.
The ten foods listed above combine to make the most complete and balanced diet possible when your options are limited. However, there are plenty of other foods that are worth considering for your 10-food stockpile. Some of these honorable mentions include:
- Honey – Honey lasts indefinitely and contains a number of nutrients. Most importantly, though, honey makes for a great way to add some flavor to the other foods in your stockpile. Honey also has a few medicinal uses, which makes for an added benefit.
- Oatmeal – Oatmeal is full of nutrients, has a long shelf life, and makes for a tasty meal.
- Pasta – Next to cereal, pasta is the most convenient grain product to stockpile. It also tastes great, though you probably won’t be able to prepare too many tasty Italian dishes with only nine other ingredients to choose from.
- Peanut Butter – Peanut butter is filling and nutritious and makes for a tasty addition to a wide range of snacks. It also stores well, lasting several months even after being opened.
- Powdered Eggs – Eggs are incredibly nutritious, but they don’t keep for very long. Like milk, though, eggs come in a powdered variety that lasts for much longer.
- Protein Bars – Protein bars make it easy to get all of your protein requirements in one food. They typically don’t have much nutritional value besides protein, but they do store well and are filling.
- Raisins – If you don’t like dried blueberries, raisins are a great substitute. They’re full of vitamins and nutrients and can stay fresh for several years.
- Rice – In some parts of the world, people survive on a diet that is comprised almost entirely of rice. It’s certainly a grain full of nutrients that stores well and can be prepared in a variety of ways.
- Tomatoes – Canned tomatoes make a great addition to most dishes. They’re also convenient, have a good shelf-life, and contain nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, fiber, and antioxidants.