Which Foods Store Best Long Term?

Whether you’re trying to make the most of your food budget or preparing for an emergency, stocking your pantry with high shelf life items is always a great idea. All you need is storage space, knowledge, and preparation. The following ideas will get you on the right track to never again being caught foodless and hungry after the supermarket closes. Keep in mind that maximum shelf life is achieved by storing your food in a cool, dry, dark place, preferably in an air-tight, moisture-proof containers.

5 Foods Great For Long Term Storage

Dried Grains and Pasta

Long-lasting staples are a  vital component to a rainy day food supply. Grains like rice are cheap, easy to prepare, and last decades. Pasta won’t last quite as long, but will add variety. White rice will keep you from going hungry until you can hit the grocery store, but is lacking a lot of nutrients, not to mention flavor. Take care when choosing between whole-grain and refined – whole grains are nutritionally superior but relatively quick to go rancid due to their higher oil content. If you choose whole grains, keep them in the freezer if possible.

Canned Goods

Keep your pantry stashed with plenty of canned vegetables, fruit, and meat to round out your emergency food diet. They will add the protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals missing from the rice and pasta. With wise food storage, they can remain edible for half a century if it comes to that, though their flavor and nutritional value will begin deteriorating in three to five years.


Just because you’re eating emergency food doesn’t mean it has to taste bland. Salt doesn’t expire, and aside from being a necessary nutrient, will enhance the most boring dish with judicious application. Any other flavor deficiency can be fixed with a few dashes of dried spice. Spices are especially economical to buy in bulk, but will start tasting like sawdust in six months if pre-ground. Whole spices are often cheaper, and will last two to three years. Keep a spare coffee grinder around for fresh-ground spices on demand. If you do have dried spices on hand, before throwing them out, rub them between your fingers to see if the flavor returns.


Store sugar in a cool, dry place in an air-tight container. A tightly sealed container will ensure no bugs get into it and that it won’t absorb any odours. If your brown sugar hardens, you can use the age-old trick of adding a piece of bread to it.

Long-Lasting Fresh Produce

Far distant expiration dates aren’t always necessary to save money and stay prepared. If you stock up on fresh winter squash when it’s in season, you’ll have up to six months to take advantage of its delicious, nutrient-dense goodness. Sweet potatoes last a relatively short three to four weeks, but stocking up once a month – or when they’re on sale – is convenient and economical.

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Which Foods Store Best Long Term

Originally published here at 5 Minutes for Mom on March 10, 2013.
Written by Kristene Blackham, a freelance writer and a lover of the outdoors and traveling. She uses her spare time with her husband and cat. Her dream is to travel the world one day and try all the amazing food.


  1. says

    Four foods that provide a balanced diet and have long shelf lifes are known as the basic 4 (B4)
    1: Wheat – shelf life indefinite
    2: salt – shelf life indefinite
    3: honey – shelf life indefinite
    4: powdered milk – shelf life up to 5 years
    Additional long term storage food
    1: white rice – shelf life indefinite
    2: white sugar – shelf life indefinite
    3: beans (kidney/pinto/black) – shelf life to 8 years

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