It’s easy to fill your home's pantry and empty space with random food you buy from the store. You just pick the best deals and focus on bulk over anything else. However, you risk stepping back and realizing you’re inundated with poor quality and bad-tasting food, some of which you may not even eat.
If you want to stockpile food correctly, it’s a much more involved process. Knowing the best foods to stockpile comes from experience and personal preference. Luckily, knowing which foods to stock up on is not rocket science.
Keep reading to learn about food storage, its pros and cons, tips for doing it correctly, and the 12 best foods to stockpile.
When you start to build out the food storage you have at home, you want to remain organized. We recommend methodically thinking about foods to stock up on. An easy way to do that is to plan your food prepping and organize your food into three categories:
The short-term food category includes food you regularly buy and prepare. We recommend having at least two weeks of short-term food storage.
Having two weeks' worth of short-term food is convenient because it cuts down on the trips you have to make to the store. Two weeks of food also ensures you’re prepared for any last-minute surprises, such as falling ill or minor weather events.
Examples of food items included in short-term food storage:
You know your short-term food stockpile is well done when you can make a nutritious meal when seemingly “nothing” is in the fridge or pantry. In other words, your short-term foods should be diverse and balanced enough to throw together in a pinch, and you should consume them quickly.
The medium-term food stockpile category includes all your staple foods, specifically staples that are dried, canned, frozen, or otherwise preserved. Medium-term foods typically have a two- to five-year shelf-life.
Examples of food items included in medium-term food:
Medium-term foods are the backbone of the majority of the meals you make and some of the best non perishable food to stock up on. You can seamlessly combine them and incorporate fresher, short-term ingredients to make a well-balanced and nutritious meal. You can keep these foods for weeks and even months, but make sure to consistently rotate them into your diet to prevent spoiling.
The food you keep at home or at your bug-out location for long-term storage should be professionally prepared and packaged. By this, we are referring to freeze-dried and dehydrated foods prepared by a high-quality company with a 25-year shelf life.
Examples of some of the best survival food to stockpile:
Total Pouches: 21
Total Servings: 175
Total Calories: 28,340
Calories / Serving: 162
Net Weight: 17 lbs.
Think of it this way: Your long-term storage is your emergency food supply. It’s an insurance policy in the form of freeze-dried and dehydrated food. You hopefully never have to use it, but it gives you peace of mind. And when you do have to chip into your cache during a disaster or emergency, you are glad you invested.
There are many advantages to stockpiling food. The most obvious advantage is being able to remain food secure in otherwise food-insecure scenarios.
For example, hurricanes that cause flooding make grocery shopping impossible and unsafe. However, if you stockpile correctly, you won’t have to go to the store. Or, if wartime conflicts break out in your country or around the world and disrupt supply chains, you can simply go to your pantry for the food item that is no longer available in stores.
Another significant advantage of stockpiling food revolves around saving money and understanding why are groceries so expensive. One of the most effective ways to save money on groceries is to buy in bulk. Buying in bulk cuts down on the individual costs you pay for the wrappers and containers that hold your food items.
In addition, most foods and other store-bought items go on sale every couple of weeks. When those prices drop, it’s best to plan and buy more.
Lastly, another advantage of stockpiling food is that you can help someone in dire need because you plan and prepare.
Unfortunately, there are some disadvantages that come with stockpiling food.
The first disadvantage to stockpiling is that you may accidentally overconsume. With food storage comes responsibility, and until you are well disciplined, you may find yourself overconsuming the food items you have stored sheerly based on how convenient they are.
Another disadvantage is that food storage, especially medium-term foods, takes up a lot of room. Depending on your living situation, finding the space to store bulk staple food items adequately may be hard.
Similarly, short- and medium-term food storage items require regular rotations. In other words, because of the shorter shelf-life, you must rotate (eat) your items to avoid spoiling. Therefore, foods you don’t eat very often are not the best foods to store in your short- or medium-term stockpile. If you over-prepare and under-consume, you will be left with spoiled food.
A lot can go wrong with stockpiling food if you do it incorrectly. Here are some tips to help ensure food stocks are well-designed and maintained.
Dry food storage depends on two vital things: darkness and dryness. Pantries, basements, and root cellars are perfect places to store food, because they are out of direct sunlight and remain dry.
Short- and medium-term food items require routine rotations to avoid spoiling. This means you need to be monitoring for expiration dates, eat through your cache, and replace items with fresher ones from the store.
As your food storage grows, we recommend keeping heavier items towards the bottom of your storage area. Storing heavier items lower down will make them easier to access and remove any serious falling hazards.
We’ve done a lot of talking about food storage—but don’t forget the water! Water storage is an entirely separate, but equally important topic to consider. You can have all the food in the world, but you won’t make it very far without water.
When it comes to securing food, grocery stores are plan A. That makes the food storage you have at home in case of emergencies plan B. But have you thought about a plan C if your food storage cache runs out?
Staple ingredients and necessities should be your priority for stockpiling food. But that doesn’t mean you can’t include a few luxury items. Nice things like chocolate, good coffee, and other creature comforts go a long way in boosting morale during stressful situations.
If you want to start stockpiling food, you don’t have to go to the store and spend thousands of dollars at once. Instead, we recommend slowly stocking up on items each time you go to the store. This strategy will help your food last longer and go easier on your budget.
The last thing you want after building up an impressive stockpile of food is a pest infestation. To avoid dealing with pests like insects and rodents, devise a plan ahead of time that makes sense for your home. Monitoring for pests and taking proactive measures is just as important as monitoring the expiration dates and rotating food items.
If you grow your food or like to store fresh foods in a root cellar, we recommend refraining from washing your produce before storing it. Believe it or not, your food will last longer if you put it away dirty, so it’s best practice to not wash your food until it’s time to cook it.
During food insecure times, when you cannot eat the typical foods your body is used to, it makes sense that you may need extra nutritional help from vitamins. Therefore, we recommend keeping a cache of vitamins along with your food.
Rice and other whole grains like quinoa, barley, wheat, bulgur, and farro are irreplaceable sources of protein and fiber. They are critical ingredients in a variety of dishes that provide tons of nutrition, feed many people, and keep you satiated. They tend to be one of the first foods to stock up on.
Beans and other legumes are one of the most important foods you can stockpile. They are the ideal protein source when you cannot obtain animal protein. Their versatility in various dishes is unparalleled, and their shelf-life is impressive.
You will be surprised how long hardy vegetables like potatoes, carrots, squash, and cabbage can last under the right conditions. Hardy vegetables prefer cool, dry, and dark spaces with good ventilation, like a DIY root cellar.
Almost every type of fruit and vegetable can be canned. You may have an entire garden of fruits and vegetables, but only one shelf in your pantry. Yes, you sacrifice some freshness and flavor, but the nutritional content of canned fruits and vegetables is better than nothing.
There are many options for stocks and broths—everything from cans and cartons to bouillon pastes and cubes. Stocks and broths are the foundation for nutritious and delicious soup or stew.
A life without pasta is a life not worth living. Pasta is delicious, nutritious, and has a fantastic shelf life. We like pasta because there is such a wide variety of shapes and sizes, many of which are easy to store. We also love the versatility of pasta—it’s obviously great for anything Italian, but don’t forget about the Pan-Asian pasta types. They all are some of the best non perishable foods to stock up on.
Just because you are eating from your stockpile doesn’t mean the food has to taste bland. We recommend keeping a stockpile of your favorite spices and dried herbs, in order to continue cooking with as much flavor as you are used to.
Oils and condiments are crucial for yummy-tasting food, just like spices and herbs. They don’t take up a lot of space, but they do add significant flavor.
We often forget how nutritious nuts can be. Peanuts, almonds, walnuts, and pistachios can all provide our bodies with essential vitamins and minerals, making them prime foods to stock up on. They are the perfect snack, and also fantastic as a topping to salads and baked recipes.
Coffee and tea can be important sources of caffeine. If you are accustomed to drinking one or the other, it will be essential to have some stocked to get your daily dose. Instant coffee is by far the easiest to store. However, you do sacrifice flavor.
Powdered milk and other powdered drink supplements like lemonade are also good foods to store.
Fresh meat is a luxury. When the luxury gets taken away, it’s possible to still get the animal protein your body requires. The best way to continue eating animal protein is with a stockpile of freeze-dried, dehydrated, or frozen meat.
Bread is an important staple that can quickly be frozen. The easiest bread to freeze is whole and unsliced loaves; however, you can also freeze bread items like English muffins and bagels.
Stockpiling food is not hoarding. Stockpiling food is an intentional decision to methodically collect and prepare certain foods that can preserve the food security of you and your family throughout potential disasters.
In other words, stockpiling food is preparedness, and there is nothing wrong with being prepared.
For more helpful articles and for answers to questions like, “how much emergency food should I have,” head over to our Practical Prepper Blog. You can learn about the subtleties of freeze-dried vs. dehydrated foods and hone your survival skills.