There are a lot of foods which you can store almost indefinitely, the problem is that even foods which have a long shelflife can go bad extremely quickly if you do not store them correctly. If you store food for a long time then they won’t taste the best after 25 years, and most foods that can last for 25 or more years are jam-packed with chemicals that alter their taste.
The foods that last for 25 years are powdered milk 2-25 years, dried beans 3-40 years, liquor 25+ years, canned foods 2-30 years, oats 2-25 years, instant beans 1-30 years, apple cider vinegar 25+ years, pasta 4-30 years, dehydrated fruits 5-25 years, baking soda 2-25 years, cheese 1-35 years, white rice 5-30 years, salt 5-25 years, corn 5-40 years, honey 1-50 years, bouillon cubes 2-25 years, lentils 3-30 years, wheat 1-25 years, cocoa 3-25 years, powdered eggs 10-30 years, potato flakes 25-30 years, corn starch 50+ years, sugar 5-30 years, corn syrup 1-25 years, pemmican 5-25 years, MRE’s 5-30 years, maple syrup 1-50 years, ghee 5-30 years, twinkies 10-30 years, hardtack 5-30 years, instant coffee 2-25 years, ramen noodles 1-25 years, soy sauce 3-25 years, spam 5-25 years, tea 2-25 years, whole nuts 1-30 years, vanilla extract 1-25 years, and white vinegar 5-30 years.
One of the best foods that last for a long time is rice, however not all rice is good for long storage. Brown rice might have a higher nutritious value but it has an average shelf life of only around 6 months. My personal recommendation is to buy white rice in bulk Click here to check it out on Amazon.com
What you need to keep in mind that the actual shelf life of most items will be determined how you store them and if you actually open them. If you open a pack of food than the shelflife goes down significantly. On the other hand, if you do not store the food as intended then the food will spoil even before its estimated shelf life. The food items which have a best before date are referring to the quality and taste, and not that the food has gone bad beyond the best before date.
While most preppers store food and water just enough to last them 3-6 months, which is better than nothing but in certain situations that will not be enough. In major SHTF events like, nuclear winters, volcanic eruptions, pandemics, and so on where you have limited time to stay safe outside which in turn will limit your ways on how you will resupply yourself with food and water. Usually, people who prep with foods that last 25 years also have either a bug-out place or a bug in plan, whichever it is you can be certain that security for their supplies is one of their main concerns. If you need more information about how viable a bug in plan is, then check out my article Staying home during SHTF ( Can you? ).
Usually, governments are the ones who stockpile food and water that lasts 25 years, although there are some prepper communities and individual preppers who also do it. One common thing between preppers and how the government prepares is that these foods are meant for entire communities. Like all governments, the US government has also an SHTF plan, which includes the hire of succession for social stability, food, and water supplies which last around 25 years, a shelter for hundreds of thousands of people, and a detailed plan on how to rebuild after a major SHTF.
The US government has a detailed plan for any SHTF situation if you want to read more about it check out my article on US government SHTF plans.
No matter how long term you are prepping with food and water, having at least some food items that last longer than your average foods is a good idea. As a prepper you should have a food pantry, most usually go with a working pantry which means that they rotate items that they use and resupply afterward. They do this because most foods only last for a couple of months or years at best, but with a good rotation system you can stretch out the food pantry to last almost forever provided that you have the means on how to resupply them.
The problem with a working pantry is that you have to constantly resupply them, this is not difficult under normal circumstances but in a major SHTF event once you lose the ability to resupply your pantry you will end up limiting your food supplies to last only for a couple of months. While you might think that you can always grow crops and hunt, but you only need one bad harvest for all your plans to shatter.
Powdered milk 2-25 Years
Powdered milk contains a lot of proteins if stored correctly these will last you well above 20 years. Usually, these come in ziplock bags which are also airtight, the problem comes when you open it up and it comes in contact with air. Once these are opened you have to eat them in a matter of a couple of weeks as they will go bad due to the oxygen and even due to the temperature fluctuations. In the worst-case scenario, you could end up with water condensation in the powder making it chunky, at this point, they are still edible but their shelf life is a lot shorter.
Do note that most powdered milk will have a “best before” label, this refers to the taste and not to the quality.
Dried beans 3-40 Years
In addition to being packed full of proteins, these also have a lot of healthy fats and vitamins. If you stock up with dried beans make sure that they come in an airtight bag or container, usually, if you find them in an airtight bag or container in large amounts these will cost you a lot more if you would just buy them unpacked by the pound. The reason why these will cost more is that they are targeted to preppers, while your everyday dried beans unpackaged are targeted to anybody.
If this is the case in your local area go and buy them in bulk, get some vacuum-sealed bags and put them in it, make sure to add also an oxygen absorbent before you vacuum seal it.
Liquor 25+ Years
Most people probably do not stockpile liquor but as a prepper, you always should, these have almost an unlimited shelf life and in addition to consuming it, you can also barter with it. Just be careful as only hard liquor has a long shelf life and not softer liquours like wine and beer. You might think that vine ages and gets better with time, this is true but the current wine market is saturated with synthetic wines made out of chemicals and powders which do not have the qualities of classic wine.
Canned foods 2-30 Years
You can find a vast variety of canned food from canned meat, canned vegetables to canned foods. Most of these have a lower shelf life than 25 years but if you take a look at my article Longest lasting canned foods ( Up to 30+ years ), you will find out that there are some canned foods especially canned meats that have an extremely long shelf life, even beyond 25 years, in addition to this you will learn what are the survival foods that last forever.
Oats 2-25 Years
No matter if you get these in powdered, rolled, or in any other form, oats are rich in fiber and carbohydrates. One of their benefits is if you store them correctly they can easily be edible even after 25 years, in addition to this they are also extremely cheap and you can prepare them in several ways. Eating oats will satiate you fast as these will bloat in your stomach fast making you feel full a lot faster than most other kinds of foods.
Instant Beans 1-30 Years
These are more on the expensive side of things as pound for pound they do cost a lot more than the same amount of dried beans. However these still have an extremely long shelf life, but the major hurdle you might come across is to get a high-quality one which is also affordable and you can buy them in bulk.
Apple Cider Vinegar 25+ years
In addition to consuming it, you can also use it to preserve food with it. It has a very long shelf life provided it is stored in a cool environment without major temperature fluctuations. Every prepper should have at least a few gallons of apple cider vinegar mostly due to its preservative attributes.
Pasta 4-30 years
Pasta has a long shelf life, easy to cook and doesn’t need special conditions to be stored. Although there are a lot of types of pasta not all of them have a long shelf life, dried pasta is fine for long storage but pasta which has been precooked is not, the same goes for any kind of pasta you find in either a can or with some sort of sauce as the sauce will deteriorate the pasta with the passing of time. Pasta is probably one of the best survival foods with long shelf life, provided that you store it correctly.
Dehydrated fruit 5-25 years
This is one of those foods which you are better off creating yourself, while there are thousands of different kinds of dehydrates foods available on the market most of them have an extremely limited shelf life. The biggest problem is with bags with mixed dehydrated fruits, as not all dehydrated foods have the same shelf life and the ones with the lowest shelf life will start to go bad and contaminating the other fruits.
In addition to this most packaged dehydrated foods have a lot of chemicals and conservatives in them, if you decide to buy dehydrated fruits make sure that these are vacuum sealed and only contain one kind of dehydrated fruit in it.
Baking soda 2-25 years
In addition to cooking you can also use it as a cleaning agent, you can easily buy baking soda in bulk for cheap, just make sure that it does not come in contact with water as this will alter its shelflife drastically.
Cheese 1-35 years
While not all cheese is good for storing long term, but the once that are good for long term storage will last you for decades provided you store them properly. Your best options should be Parmesan cheese, as this has very little water content in it. There are a lot of hard cheeses on the market, before buying them in bulk inform yourself of how you should store them if it needs to be put in a fridge than its shelf life will not be long.
White rice 5-30 years
This is probably my favorite food item to stockpile, very nutritious, easy to cook, cheap and fairly easy to store. While you can store them in buckets my recommendation is to also include an oxygen absorbent and seal the bucket. White rice has a long shelf life but if you are buying it in bulk odds ar these are not the highest quality and in addition to the rice you might and up with dirt, insects and insect eggs in your container. Adding an oxygen absorbent will prevent the insect eggs to hatch and will also kill off any insects.
Salt 5-25 years
Salt has virtually an unlimited shelf life, in addition to this salt is extremely important for humans. If you do not get enough salt you will have a lot of health complications like drowsiness, fatigue, and loss of coordination. People have used salt for thousands of years, not only for eating but also for preserving food. Salt absorbs moisture and also kills bacteria, you can easily preserve any type of meat using only salt and in some cases even smoking it.
Corn 5-40 years
Corn can be found all over the world and it is considered a staple food in a lot of countries. Just be careful while stockpiling corn, always get dehydrated or dried corn as corn in a can doesn’t have as long of a shelf life as dehydrated corn. Canned corn can be still stored for 1-2 years but anything longer than that you will notice the can will start bloating, at this point it is no longer safe to eat.
Honey 1-50 years
Honey has an extremely long shelf life, by long I do not mean a hundred years but rather thousands of years. There have been numerous cases where people found honey in ancient Egyptian Pyramids and the honey was still edible. People tend to underestimate how addicted we are to sugar, as this is in almost every food we buy today. In an SHTF situation, you have a hard time finding sugar and honey is a great substitute for it. In addition to high nutritious value, honey can be also used to treat some infections and wounds due to its antibiotic factor.
Bouillon Cubes 2-25 years
These are usually used to make certain soups and sauces, while these have an extremely long shelf life they have almost 0 nutritional value other than the salt content in them. However, using bullion cubes is a good way to spice up any food.
Lentils 3-30 years
While these are not one of the most popular legumes, lentils have a long shelf life and only need water to be cooked. Depending on the area where you live you might find these to be expensive to stock up with, but if you can get them in bulk for cheap do add them to your food pantry.
Wheat 1-25 years
If stored properly wheat can have an extremely long shelf life, you will have no problem finding this in bulk for cheap. Although you will have to process wheat into white flour before consuming it in most cases, the white flour has also a long shelf life provided it does not come in contact with water.
Cocoa 3-25 years
This is more of a spice than a food item, long shelf life, and fairly low cost. Although all food products have an expiration date these usually are good to be consumed even after the expiration date. One thing to look out is for cocoa mixed with sugar, milk and other products as these do not have such a long shelf life. My recommendation is to get dark brown cocoa in the purest form possible for extended shelf life.
Powdered eggs 10-30 years
Powdered eggs do have an extremely long shelf life, these can be eaten on their own or combined with other foods. One of the major problems with powdered eggs is that they are quite sensitive to temperature variations so if you decide to store them make sure they are in a well-ventilated area, in a waterproof bag and as an extra precaution even an oxygen absorbent.
Potato flakes 25-30 years
Do not confuse potato flakes with potato chips, as only potato flakes are good for long term storage. Only stockpile potato flakes which are in a vacuum-sealed bag, the ones that are not in a vacuum-sealed bag usually have some sort of gas pumped in the bag not only to make it look fuller but also for preservation purposes. Once you open up one of these bags the flakes will instantly start to absorb the surrounding moisture and will end up going bad in a matter of days.
If you have ever eaten chips from a bag that has been opened for several days you probably know what I am talking about.
Cornstarch 50+ years
You can make your own cornstarch from dried corn, but there is really no need for it as cornstarch can be easily found in bulk for cheap. In addition, to be used as food, you can also use cornstarch as a makeshift adhesive.
Sugar 5-30 years
Extremely long shelf life provided it is stored correctly. The biggest problem with sugar is humidity, sugar tends to absorb water from the air, and if you have major temperature fluctuations this can easily happen. My suggestion is to vacuum seal it with an oxygen absorbent for extra safety.
Corn syrup 1-25 years
Not all corn syrups are good for long time storage if you are planning to ad corn syrup to your food pantry make sure that you get it in its purest form. After opening the corn syrup container its shelf life decreases dramatically due to exposure to oxygen, in this case, you should always keep it in an airtight jar or can.
Pemmican 5-25 years
While the Native Americans used meat, fat, and vegetables to make pemmican, the modern pemmican you find in stores contains mostly meat and it is packed full of preservatives. My suggestion is to make your own pemmican, all you need is meat, animal fat, and some vegetables. Mix all the ingredients together add a lot of salt the smoke it, after it is ready put them in a vacuum-sealed bag as these are very sensitive to temperature fluctuations and to humidity.
MRE’s 5-30 years
Meals ready to eat usually have only a few years of shelf life and most commonly they are used by the military. However as the prepping community is growing so it is the prepping industry and now you can find MRE’s with shelf lives over 25 years, one of the major obstacles with these long term MRE‘s is that they are extremely expensive for something you might never end up using. If you still decide to use MRE’s to stockpile your food pantry you should know that most of these do not contain actual foods with 25+ years of shelf life, they have common foods in special bags pumped full of preservatives.
Maple syrup 1-50 years
Maple syrups have high sugar content and extremely long shelf life. Just like honey, in addition, to be used as a food source you can also use it to treat some minor wounds or as a makeshift adhesive. The biggest threat as for how long the shelf life of the maple syrup lasts is oxygen, once this comes in contact with oxygen for a prolonged time mold can form on top of it. In this case, the maple syrup is still edible, just remove the mold and make sure that you close the lid properly.
Ghee 5-30 years
Ghee has been used for thousands of years in ancient India, While some consider it as butter it is not actual butter rather than a purer form of butter. Conventional butter has an extremely limited shelf life but ghee has a very long shelf life. The problem with Ghee is that it usually costs way too much to be stockpiled efficiently.
Twinkies 10-30 years
Although not the healthiest foods on this list, Twinkies do have an extremely long shelf life. Although I might argue that the long shelf life is not due to its nutritional contents but due to the preservatives included in their fabrication.
Hardtack 5-30 years
Hardtack has been used by millennia especially by armies, although not very nutritious and an awful taste this does last for a long time. Their biggest threat is how you store them as sailors have found during centuries that insects love hardtack and some of them even use it for their larva.
Instant coffee 2-25 years
Provided it has no natural dairy products in it, instant coffee has virtually an unlimited shelf life. You can not only use it for its nutritional value but also as a bartering item.
Ramen Noodles 1-25 years
Just as in the case of pasta these are excellent for stockpiling for a prolonged time. Provided these come in dried form, as the ones which are pre-cooked or have some sort of sauce will diminish its shelf life to only a couple of months.
Soy sauce 3-25 years
With a very high sodium content (salt) these have an extremely long shelf life. Some soy sauces have such a high sodium content that you could, in theory, use them to preserve meat with it once the liquid has evaporated and only the salt remains or by pickling various foods in soy sauce. Keep in mind that during a major SHTF finding water will also be a big problem and as soy sauce has so much salt in it you will need a lot of water to digest it.
Spam 5-25 years
Usually, when you think of long term foods you do not think of spam, but in addition to being cheap, highly nutritious it also has an extremely long shelf life. It does contain some preservatives but what it truly makes it nonperishables for a long time is its high salt content.
Tea 2-25 years
Tea has been used for thousands of years, these were considered a luxury item at one point in history but today you can find tea at any market. One important thing to keep in mind before buying tea is that you only should buy tea leaves, not tea mixed in with fruits as these have a lot of lower shelf life.
Whole nuts 1-30 years
Provided you store them correctly they can have a very long shelf life. Make sure that you vacuum seal them and keep it in a dark cool environment.
Vanilla extract 1-25 years
Although mostly considered a spice this will come in handy on special occasions to make life feel more normal in an SHTF situation. Due to its high content of alcohol it has virtually an unlimited shelf life, just keep in mind that alcohol evaporates quickly and if the bottle isn’t sealed properly it will go bad fast.
White vinegar 5-30 years
In addition to being consumed this can also be used as a cleaning product, disinfectant and as a food preservative. You can virtually pickle almost anything with white vinegar.
There are a lot of foods that you do not think that can last for over 25 years, but if stored correctly you can drag out these foods shelf life for even longer. The biggest threat for how long will the shelf life be of any food is water, oxygen, and constant temperature fluctuation. My recommendation is to create a food pantry and before you buy any food to make sure that there is no mold on the walls forming and that the temperature is fairly constant during the year.