When you read about what to stockpile for an emergency, you tend to see the same recommendations. Water tops every list, and rightly so since water is essential to survival.
In terms of food, however, rice, beans, pasta, and canned vegetables show up frequently as staples to have on hand. Then, you usually see powdered milk, granola bars, and other long-lasting foods. These are good options, but many other choices are often overlooked as survival foods.
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Here is a list of energy-rich foods that offer a long shelf life as well as nutrition that you will need in an emergency scenario.
Nicknamed the “mother of all grains” by the ancient Incas, quinoa contains eight grams of protein per cup and offers eight essential amino acids. You can store uncooked quinoa in air-tight containers in your pantry for months.
High in protein, lentils boost energy and support healthy digestion. You do not need to pre-soak dried lentils, so they are easier to prepare and gentler on your water supply than other beans. Best of all, whole lentils (as opposed to split ones) will store well for up to five years in air-tight containers.
3. Rolled Oats
Rolled oats are a filling and nutritious food source that will stay fresh for up to 30 years when stored correctly in air-tight containers and under dry, cool conditions. Rolled oats provide iron thiamine and dietary fiber.
4. Dehydrated Fruit
Offering a range of healthy vitamins and nutrients as well as calories, most dehydrated fruits will store well for up to five years. And you don’t have to think raisin and dates. Try dried cranberries, figs, dried cherries, dried apricots, banana chips, dried mangoes, dried blueberries, and dried plums.
You can dry fruits in your oven, in a dehydrator or even out in the sunlight. For best results, remove and replace store packaging with mylar bags or other air-tight containers.
5. Dehydrated Veggies
You know about stockpiling canned veggies, but did you know that your own dehydrated carrots can last for up to 20 years under proper conditions? Dried corn can have a 10-year shelf life.
If you’ve never dehydrated fruit or veggies before, check out our beginner’s guide to dehydrating food.
Pemmican has been called the ultimate survival food. Invented by Native North Americans and traditionally made of venison or buffalo, pemmican is low-fat dried meat (traditionally dried over a fire) that is mixed with fat and berries and then pressed into biscuit-sized shapes. When prepared properly, pemmican can last up to 50 years! Here’s how to make your own pemmican.
Eating dehydrated meat in the form of jerky is another way to get protein in an emergency situation. Jerky takes up little space in your pantry and stores well for long periods. You can make your own jerky from a variety of meats in your oven or dehydrator or even over a fire. Check out this delicious beef jerky recipe.
8. Canned Tuna
Inexpensive and easy to eat, canned light tuna is a versatile food to stockpile. According to the FDA, canned light tuna has lower mercury levels than other canned tuna varieties. Canned light tuna offers high protein, and you can eat it spread on crackers, as a sandwich, or in pasta dishes.
Both fresh and canned tuna contain essential fatty acids (omega-3s). Check the quality and integrity of the cans before purchase and note their expiration dates, rotating cans out when needed. Most canned tuna stays fresh for up to two years.
9. Canned Pink Salmon
Canned pink salmon offers a shelf life of up to six years when stored unopened in a cool, dark pantry. The fish is filling and offers healthy omega-3 fatty acids in a high-quality protein form. A USDA study found that there were slightly higher levels of two omega-3 acids in canned pink salmon than there were in fresh salmon.
Millet is an affordable, nutritious and filling alternative to wheat and rice. It’s also a good option for people who must avoid gluten. Millet contains vitamin B, iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, zinc and healthy fats. It also offers protein and dietary fiber.
Kamut is another nutritious grain to consider for your stockpile. It is easy to digest and provides more energy than regular wheat. This ancient grain contains up to 40 percent more protein than modern wheat, and it is richer in zinc, magnesium, selenium and healthy fatty acids. Its high lipid content has given it the nickname of the “high-energy grain.”
12. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is solid at room temperature and is able to withstand high cooking temperatures (such as over a fire in a survival situation). It routinely has a shelf life of more than two years, and you can use it as a replacement for butter in baking and cooking.
Coconut oil also has many other purposes in an emergency scenario, including as a skin moisturizer, healing balm and as a hair product.
13. Garbanzo Beans or Chickpeas
These beans are flavorful, protein-rich and inexpensive. In their dried form, chickpeas have a shelf life of up to 30 years or even more.
Canned tomatoes are a natural for the emergency pantry. You can use them in soups, stews, and sauces. Whether you are storing your won home-grown tomatoes or store-bought ones, it is important to check tomato containers frequently in the pantry for spoilage. Here’s a video that explains how to can tomatoes.
Raw honey has an incredibly long shelf life if you are not turned off by the way it crystallizes over time. To get it back to its liquid state, all you have to do is warm it up and stir it for a few minutes. Use honey as a sweetener and as an energy booster. Molasses and maple syrup are other good choices as sweeteners for your survival pantry.
16. Nut Butters
Calorie-dense and easy to store, peanut butter makes many pantry lists for preppers, but don’t neglect the benefits of other nut butters. Two kinds of butters that are good choices for both nutrition and long-term storage are sunbutter (made from sunflower seeds) and almond butter. They are quick and easy sources of energy and nutrition.
17. Nuts and Seeds
Portable and tasty, nuts and seeds are a great survival food. Try hazelnuts, almonds, walnuts, cashews, pecans, Brazil nuts, as well as sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and alfalfa seeds. Nuts and seeds are susceptible to heat and humidity, however, and will go rancid without proper storage methods. Here are some tips for storing nuts and seeds in your pantry.
Food Storage Tips
Now that we’ve listed some items to include in your pantry, let’s go over some other emergency pantry tips.
- Do have a hand-operated can opener available. You counter-top one won’t do you much good when the power is out.
- Don’t forget the water. Plan to store at least one gallon of water per family member per day.
- Do include foods that your family enjoys on a daily basis. During a stressful situation, it is wise to have familiar foods on hand to lower everyone’s stress levels. For example, if your kids hate peas now, they will not be happy to eat canned peas from your emergency pantry.
- Don’t forget your pets and livestock. Store enough animal food and water to meet their basic needs in a crisis.
- Do remember to include food and other necessities for your infant and toddler in your emergency pantry.
- Don’t be caught in the dark. Keep flashlights, batteries, matches and candles in an easy-to-find location. If your pantry is in your basement or a dark closet, keeping these items in or near the pantry is a good idea.
- Do check your food items on a regular basis, rotating them into your regular meals and replacing with fresh ones as necessary. While most of the items on our list have a long shelf life, it is crucial to look for any problems that could occur during storage due to heat, sunlight, moisture or insect infestation.
- Don’t lose track of what you have stored. Use a notebook or a computer spreadsheet to note the items and the dates they go into storage. Follow the FIFO rule (First In, First Out), noting changes in your inventory when the items rotate out.
Finally, building up an emergency food supply can seem rather daunting and even depressing at first. It also can be expensive to think about purchasing all of these items all at once.
Don’t feel you have to get it all done right away. You can build up your food supply gradually on a week-by-week basis. If there is a sale on something at the supermarket or if you have a bounty from your garden, you can eat some now and put some aside for both short-term and long-term storage. Then add more items as you go.
Also, if you are short on space, don’t feel you need to have a special room set aside for your emergency food supply. Many people are able to stock items well on high closet shelves or in plastic storage bins under dressers, sofas or dressers.
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