Best Survival Foods: The Must Have Non-Perishables

Best Survival Foods: The Must Have Non-Perishables
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Food Stockpile Rows Of Pasta

Even with plenty of advanced warning, monstrous winter storms cause havoc when people realize that they need to be stocked in case the power goes out.

At that point, you inventory your food in your head and realize that pickles and frozen, uncooked, burgers won’t work in this type of emergency. You might rush to the store after work, but by then it’s too late.

The milk, peanut butter, and bread are gone, as well as the candles and camping stoves.

That is the basic problem with figuring out the best survival foods to stock should an emergency arise.

While a large part of the survival puzzle is the type of food you want to store, the rest of the solution resides in variables like getting the food in time and how you will prepare the food with a limited number of conveniences.

You need to prepare long before the actual emergency is broadcast to the public. By then, even with money in hand, the best foods will be gone.

Should you manage to get past these hurdles, you will still need a diet that can provide a sufficient number of calories with the right nutritional value to keep you healthy in a long-term emergency.

Evaluate the Criteria for the Best Survival Foods Carefully

If you are in a situation where there is no electricity, then you will need foods that can be heated with minimal heating. For those occasions when the emergency might be hunkering down for a heavy-duty polar vortex, you can assume you will have electricity for most of the time, but no access to grocery stores.

Every situation is different.

Floods will mean you need to protect the food from contaminated waters. Hopefully, you will have stored your bulk dried items in 5-gallon sealed containers.

Some crisis might mean you have to travel away from the homestead with staples that aren’t too heavy to carry.

You can’t prepare for all eventualities, but here are some basic criteria that you can extrapolate from different scenarios when searching for the best emergency foods:

Foods You Love to Eat – Eating the same thing day in and day out will get boring, so you should include a variety of different foods that you actually would eat, even without an emergency.

If you love butter, get canned butter. If you love cheese, go for canned cheese. It’s not only yummy, but it can provide needed fats and calories on an otherwise bland diet.

Don’t just stock items you never eat or do not know how to prepare because a SHTF scenario is not the time to get creative with your cooking skills.

Long-Lasting Foods – If you’re stockpiling foods before a crisis, it may be months or years before you use them. You can rotate your pantry, but there will always be some foods that will take longer to use than others.

Most preppers take this fact into consideration by opting for foods that are preserved in cans, dried, or simply have a long shelf-life. The best survival foods last at least one year without refrigeration or are eaten and rotated out before then.

You can also go with long lasting food buckets like those from Wise Emergency Food.

Nutritionally-Dense Foods – Beans and rice may not be a part of your best emergency foods strategy, but they are long-lasting foods that provide a complete protein when combined.

You can opt for different types of legumes that you might like better or find easier to digest than pinto beans, like garbanzos, red kidney beans, or lentils.

Flexible Foods – The best survival foods offer your diet some flexibility that is a good way to keep it from getting boring. Dried milk may not be something that will keep you satisfied on its own, but it can be used to create yogurt, cheese, puddings, and bread.

Foods that have some trading value can also be used in your own recipes and as barter for when you get tired of eating out of your own stock.

Foods You Don’t Have to Cook – You can include some foods that require some processing before eating, like red wheat berries, but ultimately, in the first few days don’t expect to do much cooking. You will need ready-to-eat foods.

The electricity grid might be down and/or you might also have to leave the area. If you’re on the road, you won’t have time to create a fire and cook.

Plan to have quite a number of light-weight food sources that aren’t required to be heated, like military MREs as some of the best survival foods in your pantry.

Basic Food Groups that Meet the Criteria

With these criteria in mind, let’s take a look at some of the choices you might opt to add to your best survival foods emergency pantry.

Remember that you will need to store these items in bulk.

You will also need to buy additional non-food items to make sure you can prepare the foods, should your emergency situation drag on past the ready-to-eat meals, like wheat grinders.

Create a balanced diet that is nutritionally dense, easy to store long-term, and tasty.

1. Drinks – Bottled water will be the most important food to add to your emergency pantry. You won’t be able to survive more than 3 days without potable drinking water.

However, you can also add calorie-rich powdered drink mixes that will create milk, vitamin-rich waters, or just flavored treats.

Even including Tang orange drink can be a way to get 100% of the RDA of vitamin C in your diet in an emergency situation.

Plus, it just tastes good.

These items are lightweight and also have a trading value. They can also double as medicinal supplies if you include teas and vitamin-powdered drinks.

2. Meats – Meat is the hardest item on your emergency list because it will have to be ready-to-eat. You can’t store butchered meat for long and you will be expected to hunt for food at some point.

You can store ready-to-eat canned meats like spam, ham, and chili, and they will make a satisfying meal. However, they won’t travel well, should you need to leave the area.

Some preppers will solve the meat problem by raising chickens, rabbits, and goats as ready sources of meat for long-term uses. However, you’ll want a good supply of freeze-dried meat packages too.

You can get freeze-dried chicken or beef that some companies claim have a 25-year shelf life. You will need to rehydrate this, but that’s easily done when you toss them into another recipe.

One of my favorite ways to stockpile meat is by making pemmican. It’s a way you process meat into dried bars that can last at least 50 years if processed and stored correctly.

3. Fish – One often-ignored source of protein is canned fish.

Tuna, sardines, herring, and other canned fishes can be eaten straight out of the can and are super-rich in nutrients. However, not everyone fancies fish in a can.

Many preppers assume they won’t be eating fish unless they’re catching it fresh with their fishing rods. However, if you happen to be one of those people that enjoy canned fishes, you might as well stock up.

These are even items that you can stock up on with a Dollar Store budget.

4. Dairy – You can freeze some cheeses, however if your power goes out, so will your frozen food stockpile. That makes dairy one of the hardest food groups to include in your emergency foods pantry.

Learn how to make your own cheeses and yogurts with dried milk.

Own a goat.

Buy canned cheese, but be aware that this may be the first item to disappear off your shelf when people get hungry.

5. Grains, Nuts, and Legumes – Grains, nuts, and legumes, when put together produce a complete protein similar to meat and dairy. They tend to also come in dried forms that store well.

If you store red wheat berries, they can be ground up and made into bread. Combine that with nut or legume and you have a complete protein. You can get very creative in this area.

Pasta and beans comprise a complete protein and both have a long-term shelf life and make some of the best survival foods that are also cheap to buy in large quantities.

Use peanut butter instead of raw nuts to make a complete protein with crackers, and they don’t have to be heated to enjoy.

It’s not all about rice and beans.

Don’t forget to include grains, nuts, and beans that you can sprout for additional nutrition, like: wheat berries, sunflower seeds, and garbanzo beans.

These can provide needed greens in a situation where you might have low-light growing conditions.

6. Fruits and Veggies – Dehydrated fruits are easy and light-weight to store. They can be tossed into a variety of recipes to create diversity in the diet.

They are nutrient-rich, too.

They can be used in recipes when you’re not under an emergency situation, too, and rotated out. Combine them with grains and nuts for quick foods that don’t require heating to be served right.

Most preppers will assume that they won’t be storing too much of these and instead be focusing on the seeds to grow these in their garden to supplement their other emergency preps. However, there’s no reason you can’t buy them now and figure out how to use them when dehydrated before the need actually arises.

Should You Include Non-Essential Foods?

Oils are required to keep the body healthy and cook food. Sweeteners, spices, and alcohol are not necessary or nutritional, but can help you season foods that may not otherwise be palatable.

Are they non-essential? It depends on who you ask.

7. Oils – Pick an oil that you enjoy that has a long life and doesn’t go rancid. Canned butter has a shelf life that exceeds a year.

Extra virgin coconut oil has a shelf life of at least 7 years to 15 years.

It is one oil that should be considered for its high nutritional value as well as its ability to be solid at room temperature. It has anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties.

It can be easily melted with the warmth of your hand and it can work double-duty as a hair conditioner, hand cream, and salve. However, if you’ve never cooked with coconut oil or used it, you’ll need to experiment before the actual emergency happens, or it won’t do you much good.

If Crisco is something you’re more familiar with, stock up on that. It won’t be as nutritionally dense, but it won’t go to waste either.

8. Sweeteners – Honey is another sweetener that can be stored long-term and has medicinal value.

Some say honey never goes bad, although that may be hard to prove.

For those that prefer something that is not in liquid form, you can store white sugar, which is also said to last indefinitely.

You can use either to preserve foods like wild fruits and berries as well as roots.

9. Spices – Salt was once a trading spice, and can come back again should the SHTF.

It is valuable for making food flavorful and for preserving foods. However, other spices that meet the same criteria are seasoning packets that are cheap to buy and won’t be available at an open grocery store during an emergency.

10. Alcohol – What alcohol might make it into your survival foods pantry?

Don’t go for the flavored liquors and wine.

Instead, focus on distilled spirits that can be used in medicinal applications (like to sterilize a wound) and that can also be used to preserve other foods, like fruits.

Good choices are vodka, rum, and whiskey.

If you learn how to make moonshine or how to ferment foods into alcoholic wines and beers, you will have a skill in demand after the SHTF.

Why Frozen Food Is Not The Solution

Preppers who think they’re going to be sitting pretty while their neighbors starve just because they have a freezer chest stocked with game, cheese, and frozen food are going to be bitterly disappointed should the power go out for lengthy periods of time.

They might even think that doesn’t matter because they have a generator. However, if they’re trying to figure out whether to use that generator to keep their refrigerator and microwave on to defrost food, instead of keeping warm, they’ll soon figure out that keeping warm and dry will take precedence.

Building a pantry that includes the best survival foods is not the same as hoarding food.

It requires a thoughtful approach to how you will survive when all conveniences are stripped away and you’re left on your own.

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  1. Juls says

    Hello – my concern about #1 survival food,( beans/rice/legumes) is they take water and fuel to soak and cook. So you are burning up your fuel and your water supply. I realize they are healthy, but I cannot store enough water and fuel is expensive! Any ideas? Yes I have a fire pit and wood/coals.

    Jewel in Raleigh, NC

    • Just In Case Jack says

      One way to use beans/rice/legumes without needing water or fire is to grind them up to a fine powder. This is how you can turn wheat grains into flour. Now you can use the powder/flour to make lots of edible foods. You’ll need a good hand mill or grain grinder like this one:

      Most of the recipes will require some water tho.

      To avoid needing to use fire and use up your precious fuel when SHTF, you should invest ina a solar oven:


    • Jim Banks says

      Use of a simple solar oven (I have 3) will solve both problems. You can purify water if it is visually clear and does not have chemical contamination. You can cook / bake almost anything.

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