The Ultimate Long Term Food Storage List: Tips and Ideas

June 29, 2023 8 min read

best foods for long term storage

The key to getting prepared for unexpected emergencies and disaster scenarios starts with creating a long-term food storage list. A list of the best food for long-term storage will help you methodically plan ahead for unexpected disasters and keep your family fed despite disruptions to food access. 

If you want to know what to put on your list and how to prepare a well-stocked emergency food pantry, keep reading for some of our favorite long-term food storage ideas and tips. 

The Importance of Having a Well-Stocked Long-Term-Food Pantry

long term food storage ideas

For many people, the grocery store is their lifeline. They rely on their local grocery store to have exactly what they need at any time and on any day of the week. 

But for the prepper, a well-stocked pantry is their lifeline. Yes, a prepper still needs to go grocery shopping occasionally, but for the most part, a prepper has anything they need a stone’s throw away in the pantry. 

That’s because a well-stocked prepper pantry is essential for maintaining food security and always having something to prepare and eat, no matter the occasion.

It could be that the roads are flooded from a hurricane and shopping is inaccessible, or food shortages from an economic depression have emptied the shelves. It could be as simple as feeling demotivated or sick and not wanting to go shopping.

Whatever the case, when you have a well-stocked pantry filled to the brim with a cornucopia of delicious and nutritious foods with a long-term shelf life, you feel much more at ease and in control. 

Ideas for Choosing the Best Foods for Long-Term Storage

For some people, when they think of prepping a stockpile of long-term food storage, they imagine grabbing anything and everything from the grocery store shelves and hoarding a pile of food in their pantry. 

But actually, creating a stockpile of long-term food storage is much more methodical than that. And it all starts with a long-term food storage list. But how do you know what to put on the list?

For one, you can take our recommendations (coming up in the next section). But we also recommend you consider the following points when thinking about the best foods for long-term food storage.  

Long Shelf Life is Everything

The first thing you want to consider when choosing the best food for long-term storage is shelf life. The shelf life is the amount of time that a certain food item can be kept in your pantry (without being opened) and not spoil. 

To determine the shelf life of a certain food item, look for the date labels on the top, bottom, or sides of the product. 

Food with the longest shelf life can last for months, years, and sometimes decades without spoiling. After opening, their shelf life is shortened, but many foods remain stable. For example, an unopened box of pasta can sit on our shelf for one to two years. But even after opening, the pasta will remain unspoiled for months.  

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Store Foods You Enjoy

Canned anchovies have a shelf life of about one year. That’s pretty impressive. However, that will do you no good whatsoever if you despise the taste of anchovies. 

So– just because a food has a reliably long shelf life doesn’t mean you need to add it to your list. Instead, the best foods for long-term storage are foods that you enjoy eating.

Ultimately, when it’s time to prepare a meal from the pantry in an emergency scenario or when you’re sick and cannot go shopping, you will want to eat something that makes you feel good and boosts your morale.   

Consider Your Family’s Diets and Nutritional Needs

The food items you put on your long-term food storage list should not be random. Instead, your list should be crafted to consider the different diets and nutritional needs and preferences of your family members. 

For example, if you are gluten-free, it’ll do you no good to stockpile flour. Instead, you’ll need something like almond or rice flour. Or if you have a teenager who consumes food like a garbage disposal, you may want foods rich in protein to fuel their growing bodies.

It’s also worth considering vitamin and mineral supplements, especially if your diet lacks something in particular. For example, fresh fish is rich in B vitamins, but if you don’t have any canned fish, a B vitamin supplement may be necessary.   

Keep Food You Know How to Cook

This point is similar to the consideration about keeping the food you know you like– you should know how to properly prepare the long-term food you prep in your pantry. 

For example, if you have pounds of flour but don’t know how to make a simple bread recipe, your flour will spoil and take up valuable space. 

Similarly, it’s helpful to be creative when it comes to incorporating your stored food items into your meals. For example, lentils make a great protein supplement in a red sauce pasta dish instead of meat, and nuts and dried fruits make for wonderful toppings on oatmeal.  

Get Long Term Food Storage When It’s On Sale

Lastly, you do not have to purchase bulk amounts of food at full price. Instead, whenever you can, shop for foods when they are on sale. This will save you a lot of money in the long run and allow you to prep your pantry with a limited budget. 

The Ultimate Long-Term Food Storage List

 long term food storage list

What food items end up on your long-term food storage list is up to you. However, we like to think that we know a thing or two about the best foods for long-term food storage, and so we want to provide you with some guidance. 

When compiling your list, it can be helpful to do so by creating categories. In particular, we want to share long-term food storage ideas that pertain to seven important categories.

  1. Protein sources: you can never have enough of it.

  2. Canned food items: the tried and true long-term food.

  3. Dried staple foods: these are the building blocks of your meals.

  4. Herbs and spices: without these, your food will be bland.

  5. Condiments: for some, food is just a vehicle for condiments and sauces.

  6. Sweeteners: let’s be honest, we all have a sweet tooth.

  7. Snack foods: three meals a day is nice, but three meals with snacks in between is better.

 

Protein Sources

Pemmican

Jerky

Powdered Eggs

Freeze-dried meat

Legumes 

Protein powders

 

Canned (or Boxed) Food Items

Fruits and vegetables

Beans

Tuna

Soup

Pickled vegetables

Broths and stocks

 

Dried Staple Foods

Rice

Oats

Flour

Pasta

Quinoa

Popcorn

Baking powder

Cornstarch

Fruit 

 

Herbs and Spices

Salt

Pepper

Garlic powder

Oregano

Cinnamon

Basel

Thyme

Cumin

Onion powder

 

Condiments

Bouillon

Hot sauce

Ketchup

Mustard

Oil

Vinegar 

 

Sweeteners

Agave syrup

Honey

Jams and jellies

Brown sugar

Maple syrup

Powdered jello

Powdered sugar

White sugar 

Stevia 

 

Snack Foods

Trail mix

Protein bars

Nuts

Chocolate bars

Breakfast bars

Sunflower seeds


The Best Alternative to DIY Food Storage

For many of you, a well-stock pantry consists of food items like pasta, bags of flour, boxed broths and stocks, trail mix packages and other snacks, jars of jam, jelly, and pickled veggies, and containers filled to the brim with other staples like sugar, rice, beans, oats, herbs, and spices.

We think that’s fantastic because that’s exactly how many of our pantries look also. However, we also think that your long-term food storage list and pantry should contain professionally prepared and packaged freeze-dried and dehydrated emergency food

Advantages of Valley Food Storage Emergency Food

At Valley Food Storage, we make high-quality and delicious freeze-dried and dehydrated emergency food. Our products range from bulk items like fruits and vegetables to complete meal kits. 

With whatever product of ours you try, you are guaranteed to enjoy the many advantages of Valley Food Storage food.

  • Impressively long shelf life: our freeze-dried and dehydrated food products can last upwards of 25 years, all the while maintaining their nutritional value and great flavor.

  • Super reliable packaging: our packaging is responsible for maintaining freshness and preventing the food from spoiling from exposure to light, moisture, air, or insects and rodents.  

  • Nutritious ingredients: our food is made with high-quality, non-GMO ingredients. 

  • Tons of variety: our menu selection is super robust and has something for everyone. We have many classic dishes like mac n’ cheese and chili, as well as lesser-known favorites like Italian wild risotto and sweet and sour Asian rice. 


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Tips for Maintaining Your Long-Term Food Storage

The first step in creating a stockpile of long-term food storage for emergencies is shopping. After that, all you have to do is maintain your long-term food supply.

Here are some tips to help you maintain your food storage and stay ahead of the curve so you are never caught off guard and unprepared. 

First In, First Out

Over time you will need to rotate out old food and restock with fresh food. Don’t worry– that doesn’t mean you have to throw anything away. Instead, as certain foods’ expiration dates get closer, you must eat them so they don’t go to waste and replace them.

As you replace older items and add new foods, we recommend using the “first in, first out” strategy. This strategy helps you use up your food storage methodically, whereby you rotate out only the oldest items and make room for new items. 

For example, when you restock your favorite canned soup, put the new cans behind the old cans. Then, when it comes time to enjoy a can of soup, eat the older cans first. 

Label Everything 

In our opinion– the more labels your pantry has, the better. For example, each section of your pantry should be carefully labeled so that you know where everything goes. This will also help other people in your family navigate the pantry and keep it organized. 

Or, if you buy a bag of rice and want to repackage it into an airtight container, label the container with the name of the rice and the date you purchased it.

You can even rewrite the expiration dates of certain items in black Sharpie and large font on the front of the item so you don’t have to worry about tracking down the tiny text that originally came on the item. 

Estimate Your Needs Ahead of Time 

It can be tricky to figure out how much emergency food you should have. That’s because every family is different– they are different sizes, have different preferences and dietary restrictions, and have differently aged members.

Therefore, it’s hard for us to tell you exactly how much food you should prep for your family. However, we can offer guidance regarding how to start thinking about the quantity of emergency food you need.  

  • Short-term storage: a good rule of thumb for short-term food storage is to have a minimum of three days of food stockpiled. Three days of food will allow you to keep everyone fed in between grocery shops and during short-term emergencies like a bad storm.

  • Medium-term storage: typically, medium-term food storage consists of food that will last you anywhere from a few weeks to multiple months. Your medium-term food storage is ideal for responding to food shortages and drawn-out emergencies. 

  • Long-term storage: your long-term food storage should allow you to stay fed for multiple months and even years. Long-term food storage is where freeze-dried and dehydrated food really comes in handy because it’s perfect for scenarios where resupplying at the grocery store is no longer realistic.    

Whatever the case, it’s critical to estimate your needs ahead of time. The last thing you want is to get caught off guard and not be able to feed your family when SHTF.  

Final Thoughts On Long Term Food Storage Ideas

The only thing that could make matters worse as you respond to a SHTF scenario like a natural disaster is not having enough food and water to keep your family fed and hydrated. That’s why it’s essential to plan ahead and prepare a stockpile of long-term food storage. 

Prep your pantry with the most delicious and nutritious freeze-dried and dehydrated emergency food on the market. We’d be happy to help you build out your long-term food storage.