What is the single most important detail of hoarding food? Storing food that will stand the test of time. Right? Shelf life is extremely important when compiling your list of Foods to Hoard. You want them to last many, many years.
Foods to Hoard List
Suggested shelf life varies with products, brands, packaging and more. I’ve linked to a couple of resources, at the bottom of this post, that have varying suggestions.
I’ve written down some possible shelf lives with most of these items, but you should make your own conclusion for the health and safety of you and your family.
Foods That Naturally Have a Long Shelf Life.
Keep in mind that shelf life decreases when you open a product.
- Honey – Properly stored honey could possibly last decades and maybe even centuries according to some.
- Granulated Sugar – If you can store it properly and keep the moisture down, it may last forever.
- Molasses – Molasses is chock full of vitamins. When properly stored some say it could last 10 years, some say indefinitely.
- Salt – Is an important staple not only to make food tastier, but it’s also a great preservative. You can preserve other foods with salt by pickling or fermenting. Properly stored, salt should last indefinitely.
- White Rice – Can last for up to 30 years when stored properly. (7) Just watch out for those weevils! If you do have weevils in a SHTF situation, it’s good to know that weevils are actually edible. Throwing out any affected foods from weevils or pantry moths is a good idea to help cut down on the spreading though.
- Quinoa – Is a seed, packed full of nutrients and is said to last about 2 to 3 years! Quinoa cooks up just like rice, but throws whatever flavor you give it, right back atcha, much better than rice does!
- Maple Syrup – Usually good for a couple of years.
Foods to Make Yourself
- Pemmican (check out the Field and Stream recipe)
- Hardtack (See the American Table’s Recipe)
- Dehydrated Foods – Like Jerky, dried fruit, dried veggies, herbs, and more!
- Home Canned Foods
Processed Food to Buy at The Store
Botulism is nearly invisible. You can’t see it, smell it, or taste it, and just a sip of it can be deadly! Home-canned food items and low acidic canned items are most likely to contain botulism.
Here are my tips: Don’t buy dented, leaking, or bulging cans. Use a pressure canner, NOT a water bath canner to can low acidic foods. Check out what The CDC has to say for more info on botulism!
- Baking Soda – cleaning, cooking, baking soda has many uses.
- Steel Cut or Rolled Oats – typically stored for about 18 months, however a 28-year study was conducted and found “storage of all samples were considered acceptable for use in an emergency situation by at least 3/4 of consumer panelists.”
- Pasta – Pasta typically can be stored for up to 2 years unopened. I like to store a variety of pasta.
- Potato Flakes – 18 months. These can be bland. Make sure you have plenty of salt, herbs, and spices to give these some flavor.
- Powdered Milk – Powdered milk can be used as creamer or milk. You can make cheese, hot chocolate, yogurt, evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and more.
- Bouillon – Chicken bouillon and beef bouillon would be the most popular to buy. It’s basically dried broth or stock. It’s chock full of salt and can last for up to 2 years.
- Broth and/or Stock – Usually these have a 6/m-1/yr best by date. Great for making soups and stews.
- Instant Coffee – When you run out of the real stuff, you might want some of this. It will provide some caffeine at least!
- Instant Tea
- Kool-Aid type products or an instant juice powder
- Red Wine – Don’t stock too much of this. Spirits or liquors have a much better shelf life and more uses too..
- Spirit or liquor – Did you know that you can infuse alcohol? I took some jalapenos straight from the garden and infused in some vodka! These are good for making Bloody Mary’s. They say spirits last indefinitely. They make a good trade item too. With plenty of uses, and pests won’t really bother them too much, this makes for a really good item to store. (Although not really a food item.)
- Ramen Noodles – Not extremely nutritional, especially with the MSG, but these will stay good for about a year.
- Flour – White flour can be stored for about a year. Whole wheat flour can be stored for 4-6 months. I suggest you store whole wheat grains instead.
- Cornstarch – Good indefinitely. (8) Great for using as a thickener for sauces and whatnots.
- Peanut Butter – Good for only about a year.
- Powdered peanut butter – A longer-lasting alternative to the real stuff. Some brands claim it will last up to 10 years unopened.
- Coconut oil and other oils – Coconut oil should last at least a year. Maybe more. Oils aren’t some of the best Foods to Hoard, they tend to go rancid. Ghee or powdered butter will last much longer.
- Popcorn – You can buy Whole kernels, instead of buying bagged popcorn, and learn how to make pan popcorn! It could last indefinitely if stored properly.
- Olives – Most olives should stay good for a couple of years.
- Pickles – Same as olives…
- Pickled Hot Peppers – Same as olives…
- Nuts – Different nuts will have different shelf lives. Almonds are one of the best nut Foods to Hoard.
- Chocolate/Bars – Should last about 2 years. Great trade item. If you live in a hot climate, it might melt.
- Cocoa – If left sealed, cocoa should last for about 3 years
- Cream of tartar – is actually a byproduct of wine and grape juice. It helps calm down the swelling of whipped egg whites in some recipes such as meringue, angel food cake, etc…
- Hot sauce – Unopened, it could last up to five years.
- Whole Coffee Beans– Best by dates are usually about a year, but will still be okay to use after that, but might taste stale.
- Bottled Juice – unopened, shelf life will vary but usually lasts at least a year.
- Candy – Contains a lot of sugar, and sugar lasts quite a while. So you do the math… The only downside is to make sure you store this stuff away from the ants!
- Dried Beans – Are one of the best Foods to Hoard! They say they only last a couple of years, but you can also plant some varieties and grow more beans! Grab a 5-gallon bucket full of black beans!
- Dried Corn – Could be shelf-stable for 8-10 years. Rehydrate by boiling for about an hour. You could also throw it in a soup.
- Ghee – Unopened, they say that Ghee can last for 15 to 20 years! Pretty good right? What’s Ghee you ask? It is just clarified butter. Yep. That’s it.
- Powdered Eggs – I’ve eaten some eggs from Mountain House and I loved them. Holy cow, they were so good. You must try their scrambled eggs with bacon! Ahh, so good.
- MREs – Or Meals Ready to Eat! These are usually complete meals for one person. All in all, I don’t mind MREs except for the price! I would rather have Mountain House Meals though.
- Cereal – Not all cereals are made equal as far as shelf life goes. Stock up on varieties such as Cheerios and Shredded Wheat.
- Baking Powder – 18 months. A leavening agent that causes the expansion of doughs.
- Cornmeal – Good for about 12 months. Make some cornbread to go with those beans!
Foods to Buy Online
- Freeze Dried Food – I’m an ambassador with Mountain House, for good reason! They have amazing products. They love to send me some samples here and there. My favorite is Turkey Dinner Casserole (tastes like chicken…kidding tastes like turkey and stuffing on Thanksgiving!) You can buy it on Amazon or you can go straight to Mountain House to purchase their fine products! Below you can find some more of my favorite Mountain House products!
- Whole Wheat Grains – Best to buy them from an emergency food supplier, or bulk buy them on Amazon. You’d also have to have a grain mill in order to turn them into flour. Better than storing flour. Whole wheat grains will store for longer if properly stored.
- Bulk Herbs & Spices – It’s a good idea to stock up on popular dried herbs and spices. These are going to be in high demand and a good trade item. Popular items would include, garlic powder, onion powder, ginger powder, rosemary, oregano, thyme, chili powder, cumin, turmeric, dill, paprika, and basil.
Staple Foods to Hoard…
- Worcestershire Sauce – Some say unopened it will last indefinitely, opened and refrigerated up to 3 years.
- Soy Sauce – should last up to three years unopened.
- Mustard – 1-2 years unopened. Up to 1 year refrigerate and it should last about a year.
- Vinegar – Some say vinegar just doesn’t go bad, and some say just 2 years. Vinegar is actually used as a preservative. Make some pickles! Clean the house! Vinegar has so many uses it’s one of the perfect Foods to Hoard.
- Vanilla Extract – Because it’s made with alcohol, its shelf life should be pretty high, maybe indefinite.
- Ketchup – Ketchup is usually good for a couple of years. This one isn’t that much of a surprise it is?
- Seeds – Some seeds can be food, but you might want to hoard some seeds for actually growing more food. Eventually, stockpiles will run low, and you’ll need a game plan.
- Yeast – Yeast unopened should last for about 2 years. 4 months after opening when refrigerated, or 6 months in the freezer. You’ll need some yeast to get that flour to rise and make some delicious bread.
Don’t Forget to Store Water!
It’s not a food item, but it is extremely important for survival. Check out my post about keeping a Backup Water Supply.
How to Package Foods to Hoard
- Use mylar bags to store loose items such as rice, pasta, cornmeal etc…
- Add desiccant packs to the mylar bags to help keep moisture down.
- Use a heat press bag sealer to seal mylar bags, and try to squeeze most of the air out of the bag before sealing!
- Use food grade 5 gallon buckets. Store the mylar bags in the buckets, and add more desiccant bags to the buckets.
Storing Foods to Hoard Properly
- Temperature – Whenever possible try to store most foods around 75ºF or below.
- Light – Light can remove nutrients in food, and decrease their shelf-stable properties. Keep most food items away from light if possible.
- Moisture – Yet another enemy. Moisture from the air can completely ruin some foods. Storing them in an airtight container is great. Even better if you add desiccant packs and vacuum pack them in mylar bags.
- Pest Issues – Rodents and insects can be a huge problem when storing food. Keep your food storage area, neat and clean. Check your stash often for moths, weevils, holes, etc… Throw out any exposed foods.
FIFO or First in First Out
Fifo or First in First Out is very important when it comes to hoarding foods. The oldest food must get eaten first. This will help avoid having expired foods in your stockpile.
When you add more to your stockpile make sure the newest items go to the back of the shelf or the bottom of the bucket. That way it’s not right on top and easiest to grab and eat before the older food items.
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-  Bjcp.org. (n.d.). Shelf Life and Stability of Honey. [online] Available at: https://www.bjcp.org/mead/shelf.pdf [Accessed 5 Mar. 2019].
-  Dulles South Food Pantry. (n.d.). Shelf Life Food Safety Guidelines – Dulles South Food …. [online] Available at: https://dsfp.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Food-Safety-Guidelines.pdf [Accessed 2019].
- (8) http://www.eatbydate.com/other/baking/how-long-does-cornstarch-last-shelf-life/
- (9) https://www.foodsafety.gov/keep-food-safe/foodkeeper-app
- (10) https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/facpub/39/
- (11) https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/HYG-5401