Survival Gardening

35 Long Shelf Life Foods to Stockpile * The Homesteading Hippy

It always pays to be prepared. Whether you’re stocking up for a rough storm season, an unforeseen disaster, or just because you want to buy them bulk and save a little bit of extra cash, keeping your pantry padded with all the necessities you need for cooking is a good idea.

long shelf life foods to stockpile collage

But not all foods are capable of going the distance. Sometimes, you’ll only get a week or maybe a month out of food, even prepackaged foods.

If you want to really be ready for bad times, or just keep your mind at ease regarding the freshness of your food, you should choose foods that have the longest possible shelf life.

In this article, I’ll tell you about 35 long shelf-life foods that deserve a spot in your pantry.

1. Instant Coffee (10+ Years)

It’s tough to imagine going without coffee in the morning, and for some of us, it might be tougher to imagine having to subsist on instant coffee.

It doesn’t hold a candle to the fresh ground stuff, but instant coffee is specially treated for a very long shelf life so long as it stays in that little factory vacuum-packed brick. Left sealed, it should last at least a decade.

2. Tea (2 Years in individual packets)

If you aren’t a coffee drinker, or just want something with a little less caffeine, tea is probably going to give you your fix.

Now, tea leaves by themselves can actually lose a lot of flavor and get stale if exposed to moisture and light, but once again, if you keep them in a factory-sealed package, and preferably those individual foil wrappers around each tea bag, it will go the distance, keeping its flavor for a couple of years, and being safe and good for years after that.

himalayan sea salt

3. Salt (Indefinite)

Salt is essential for pretty much everything you might do in the kitchen, no matter the recipe and no matter how you’re preparing it.

Salt can also be beneficial for certain cleaning tasks, so you’ll want to have plenty on hand. As long as you keep it dry and uncontaminated, it will never spoil.

4. Sugar (Indefinite, Will Clump Around 2 Years)

Sugar is nearly as important as salt is, and I know that most of us can’t go more than a day without using a cup here and a pinch there in the kitchen.

Also like salt, it lasts forever- so long as it isn’t contaminated! But sugar is highly attractive to pests, and if it gets moist you’ll have problems, so keeping it in an airtight, sturdy package is critical (not a bag!).

If your sugar does start to clump up, though, you can chisel off pieces and still use it normally.

5. Flour (6 months – 1 year)

Flour is probably the most fundamental staple you’ll use in the kitchen.

Depending on the variety, be it wheat, whole grain, all-purpose, bread or some other you can get at least 6 months out of your flower in the pantry, and if you keep it in a tightly sealed container, you’ll likely get closer to one year.

Even though that is still an entirely respectable shelf life, it’s one of the shorter ones on this list so you should only purchase what your reasonably use in a given period of time.

6. Cocoa Powder (20 Years, if sealed)

Cocoa powder isn’t something that we reach for every day, but it is incredibly versatile and considering how little sugar it contains it has a surprisingly long shelf life.

Whether you want to crank out some homemade hot cocoa or a delicious dessert, cocoa powder is perfect and if kept sealed it can, believe it or not, can last a couple of decades!

The flavor will degrade somewhat over time, but most of us will definitely use it up before that’s a problem…

7. Corn Starch (10 years)

Corn starch is another staple that’s indispensable for all kinds of different recipes. Properly stored, it can last at least 10 years and potentially longer, but the trick is it must be stored properly: keep it very cool, sealed and out of direct sunlight.

If you can do that, you can buy a large container of cornstarch and basically forget about it.

8. Maple Syrup (10 years)

More than chocolate and more than any other sweet treat, I absolutely love maple syrup. It’s hard to believe that the real thing is as good as it is and entirely natural!

Even harder to believe is the fact that, if you keep it cool, it will keep for at least 10 years in storage!

But in my experience, the container is actually the weak link: even if it costs more, get it in a glass bottle, not plastic.

9. Corn Syrup (20 years)

Corn syrup is something of a dirty word these days because lots of folks suspect it’s linked to all sorts of insidious health problems and obesity, even more so than sugar.

Nonetheless, it is a totally viable sweetener, and more importantly for our purposes, almost completely shelf stable. Keep it cool and dark, and corn syrup will stay fresh and safe for a couple of decades.

10. Honey (Indefinite, if sealed and cool)

There was hardly a more marvelous or miraculous food than honey. All natural, and requiring hardly any processing to make it ready to eat, so long as you can keep it in a sealed container and protect it from moisture, honey basically won’t ever spoil.

Now, you’ve probably seen yourself that honey will turn cloudy and crystallize over time but this doesn’t mean it has gone bad.

In fact, you can reverse the process simply by immersing the honey container in hot water and letting it “thaw.”

11. Olive Oil (18 months)

One of the most used basics in any kitchen. And, as most of us know, it can and will go rancid. But what you might not know is that this is only really a problem with an open bottle.

A sealed bottle of olive oil can easily last longer than a year, and usually a lot closer to 18 months before there’s any worry of spoilage.

Because of this, I wouldn’t hesitate to keep a larger bottle stashed in the pantry for a good while.

12. Dried Spices (18 months)

Spices and other aromatics give the meals we make their essential character, and so long as they are dried and preferably sealed spices will last a long time indeed before they are totally devoid of flavor; they basically don’t spoil.

Expect any factory-sealed bottle of spices to last at least a year and a half, and you can even package your own if you can vacuum seal them to protect them from moisture.

13. Butter Flakes (2 years)

Butter definitely has a shelf life, particularly when it isn’t refrigerated, but these dehydrated bits of butter make a good substitute that’s safe and shelf stable for a long time in the pantry.

It’s never the first thing I reach for when I need butter, but it is definitely convenient as a backup or just-in-case item. Sealed up tight and kept out of direct sunlight, it will last a couple of years.

14. Instant Potatoes (Indefinite, if sealed)

Instant potatoes are another mainstay in my long shelf-life pantry, and they should be in yours also.

They’re convenient, quick, and once you learn how to make them right surprisingly good if you don’t have the genuine article on hand.

These usually come in a sealed, foil-lined bag, and if you don’t open them they will last basically forever.

But, as expected, they are incredibly vulnerable to moisture, so make sure you keep them in a really dry spot.

powdered milk in bowl
powdered milk in bowl

15. Powdered Milk (2+ years, if sealed)

Powdered milk is another ace-in-the-hole that I keep on hand as an emergency item, and as an infrequent addition to certain recipes.

This is sort of an all-or-nothing inclusion: once you break the seal on the package, you’ve generally only got about 30 days until it starts to clump up, spoil, and get moldy.

But, if it’s sealed and kept in a cool, dark environment, that same package might last for many years and be completely safe!

16. Soup Mix (2+ years)

Dried soup mixes are a great way to add variety to your pantry, and they do double duty both as an entree or side, and as ready-made flavoring mixes for other recipes.

You know the drill by now: just keep them in those sealed packets they come in, and you can expect them to stay good for years. Once you open them, use within 30 days.

homemade bouillon
homemade bouillon

17. Bouillon Cubes (2+ years)

Bouillon cubes are a great accompaniment to the soup mixes I just mentioned.

They pack concentrated flavor in tiny little bricks that hardly take up any room at all, and left in their factory packaging, it will be many years before they spoil.

But, as expected, they’re incredibly vulnerable to moisture, so if the package gets damaged or they’re in a humid environment they won’t last.

I recommend getting the ones that come inside a sealed plastic bottle and are individually wrapped. The foil wrapped ones that come in a little cardboard sleeve never last as long.

18. Dried Pasta (2+ years)

Dried pasta is one of the very best items to keep in your pantry. Super versatile, easy to prepare and can be used in countless recipes and in many different ways.

Plus, it is calorie-dense and it fills you up. Dry pasta, kept in airtight packaging, will last at least 2 years and probably much longer. When it does start to get a little bit stale it’s still safe, you’ll just need to boil it a bit longer.

19. Dried Beans (10+ years)

Beans are a mainstay food around the world and with good reason. They are filling, a great source of protein and they have an excellent nutritional profile of vitamins and minerals.

Dried beans, as long as you can keep them safe from moisture and pests, can last decades.

When they do get really old, you’ll need to soak them a lot longer to prepare them for boiling, and then boil the hell out of them to make them edible, but they should still be safe and nutritious.

20. Seeds (1 year)

Seeds are a great way to add interest, flavor, and nutrition to a variety of dishes and many kinds of seeds even make a great snack, like sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds.

Seeds contain fats and oils that will go rancid in time, but if you can keep them in the dark, keep them cool and dry they will last at least a year.

But be wary if they have been exposed to humid conditions, and take extra care to protect them from pests: mice and rats love nothing better!

21. Jerky (6 months or longer)

Dried, seasoned meat in the form of jerky has been a reliable and reasonably tasty snack since pretty much forever.

You can make it out of pretty much any kind of meat yourself, or buy it from the store in a plastic bag that will keep for many months on end without spoiling.

It’s a great source of protein to have on hand. Depending on whether or not it is homemade or store-bought, your jerky will last anywhere from 6 months to a year or a little longer. In any case, make sure it’s in an airtight container!

22. MREs (3 years at room temp.)

For pretty much everyone that served in the military, these are hated, but you can’t cover up the fact that MREs really do last for a long, long time in storage.

These complete, high-calorie meals are, as the name suggests, ready to eat right out of the package. Kept at room temperature they will last at least 3 years in storage.

The best part is all of the components are individually wrapped, so you can break them down to eat only what you want at a meal.

23. Freeze-Dried Foods (10+ years)

Compared to every other kind of food storage, freeze-dried foods last the longest and maintain the best quality. Freeze-dried foods can easily last a decade and potentially much longer.

Most foods you can think of can be freeze-dried, and though they are expensive to buy from retailers, you can also invest in a home freeze-dryer to recoup costs over time- though the machine itself is also very expensive, so it needs to be a central part of your food storage plan.

24. Dried Fruit (6 months)

Dried fruit is another ancient staple when it comes to great shelf life. Properly dried using a dehydrator or even the power of the sun alone, your fruit can last many months if it is kept cool and dry in a good container.

25. Popcorn (5 years, sealed)

Popcorn is a wonderful snack, a good source of calories and a surprisingly good source of various minerals.

Whether you like the microwave stuff, loose kernels for your popper or the stove top foil bowls of it, your popcorn will last for at least 5 years in storage if you keep it out of direct sunlight and cool.

canned zucchini relish

26. Canned Food (2 years on average)

You know it, you love it. Whether it is vegetables, fruits, meats, broth or something else most types of canned food will last a lot longer than the sell-by date on the label suggests.

Invariably, as long as it is kept at room temperature or cooler, it will last at least a year and probably closer to two, although fruits might lose a lot of their flavor by then.

spam can

27. Spam (1 year)

Spam is almost a punch line some people hate it so much, but you shouldn’t overlook this delicious canned ham.

It can last for a year or longer in storage, and if you consult the ingredients list you’ll find it is surprisingly clean.

Spam has a ton of salt and also a preservative in it, but otherwise it is just pork. Highly versatile at dinner time and in a pinch you can eat it right out of the can

28. Vinegar (5+ years)

Vinegar is not something you probably want to drink on its own, but you’ve got to have it in the kitchen if you do any amount of cooking.

Most kinds of vinegar will last for months even after they have been opened, and if you keep the bottles sealed they will last for years.

Note that the clearer the vinegar the longer it lasts, so don’t expect your balsamic and red wine vinegar to last as long.

29. Liquor (Indefinite)

As most of us already know, liquor can keep for ages and remain completely safe to drink.

Whether you want to have it on hand for cocktails or for adding interesting notes to the dishes you prepare, know that it will last indefinitely and basically preserves itself!

glass of black raspberry wine
glass of black raspberry wine

30. Wine (Indefinite)

Wine will also last indefinitely if properly stored and not contaminated. Wine is also notable for generally improving in quality over time, so don’t be afraid to put back some bottles of your favorite.

31. White Rice (25+ years)

White rice is another global staple capable of lasting for a very long time in storage so long as it’s protected from pests, kept cool, dry, and away from direct sunlight.

Note that you can store most kinds of rice for a reasonable amount of time, but white rice lasts the longest; kept in an airtight container, it can last an unbelievable 25 years or longer!

By comparison, brown rice is usually only good for half a year because the fats in it will go bad and spoil.

32. Oats (10 years)

Oats are one of the very best whole grains you can keep in a pantry long-term. Delicious, nutrient-dense and a great source of energy.

If you keep them in a vacuum-sealed container your oats will last for at least 10 years.

Note that like most grains oats are very vulnerable to rodents and insects, so make sure you store them properly.

Boiling the barley

33. Barley (5 years)

Barley is also a great candidate among cereal grains for long-term storage. Keep it cool, dry and sealed and you can get at least 5 years out of barley and probably a lot longer.

Once again, you must do everything you can to protect it from pests.

34. Wheat (10+ years)

Wheat isn’t as tasty or desirable as some of the other grains we’ve covered, but it’s a reliable standby the world over for a very good reason. Proper storage will get you a shelf life measured in decades…

35. Quinoa (3 to 5 years)

Quinoa is one of the very best “grains” (actually a seed) you can eat, and one of the very few vegetarian proteins that is nearly complete, nutritionally speaking.

If you had to eat nothing but this, you’ll be in pretty good shape.

Uncooked, it also lasts a long time in your pantry if kept cool and dry, although it won’t last as long as real grains above because it contains more volatile oils and accordingly fats which can and will go rancid in time.

Expect a shelf life of between 3 and 5 years stored properly; still a long time!

long shelf life foods to stockpile pinterest

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