How To Fill Your Belly On A Budget

Let’s face the facts – specialized survival food comes at a steep price. Regardless of the name brands you might consider, dehydrated or freeze-dried food options are quite costly. If you want true sticker shock, check out MREs (Meals Ready to Eat). It might take you most of their shelf life to save up enough money to invest in a few pallets of MREs for the long haul.

But rather than draining your savings account to stock the shelves in case the apocalypse strikes, head to your local grocery store. There, you’ll find an incredible array of shelf-stable foods that are perfectly suitable for any prepper’s pantry.

Rice and beans will definitely fill your belly

For generations, these items have been essential components of the survivalist meal plan. Their affordability and filling nature make them a popular choice. When consumed together, they create a well-rounded protein meal, supplying the body with vital amino acids.

Beans, often referred to as “superfoods,” are packed with an abundance of nutrients, including iron, potassium, and fiber. While pinto beans and kidney beans are commonly selected, it is advisable to store a variety of beans to avoid monotony in your meals.

Over time, beans tend to harden, making it nearly impossible to soften them through regular cooking methods. To significantly extend their shelf life, store them in a sealed container along with an appropriate-sized oxygen absorber.

As a general guideline, beans can typically last a couple of years on the shelf, and when sealed without oxygen, they can endure for a decade or even longer. However, if your beans do become rock-hard before you can consume them, don’t discard them just yet. Grind them into a powder and use the powder as a thickener in soups.

Dried split peas also fall into this category, with a shelf life of approximately a couple of years at room temperature.

When it comes to rice, there exists a vast array of varieties, far beyond the simple classification of brown or white. White rice undergoes a polishing process that removes the outer husk and bran layer, resulting in a pure white grain. Conversely, brown rice remains unpolished, retaining these layers. White rice is more prevalent and boasts a longer shelf life under similar conditions.

The bran layer in brown rice contains a small amount of oil that may turn rancid over time. If you detect a rancid smell or moldy appearance upon opening a container of brown rice, it’s best to discard it. Brown rice typically has a shelf life of about 6 to 12 months, though freezing can prolong its longevity. On the other hand, white rice, when stored in a cool and dry environment, can last for more than 30 years.

Therefore, it’s wise to diversify your survival food supply by including various beans and rice options while taking into account their respective shelf lives and storage conditions.


It’s rare to come across a survivalist who doesn’t have a few cans of Spam stashed away. While it has become a stereotypical prepper provision in recent times, Spam has actually been around since 1937. Although pan frying is the most popular method of preparation, there are countless other recipes that can be explored. Similar products like Amour brand Treet and canned hams offer variations of this type of preserved meat.

Tuna is another commonly found canned meat option that is relatively affordable. While during normal circumstances we might opt for tuna packed in water to save on calories, it might be wiser to consider the oil-packed varieties for your survival pantry. The oil helps extend the expiration date, and the added fat can be valuable in a long-term scenario where the diet may lack sufficient fat intake.

Canned chicken is a versatile addition to soups and various dishes and can even be consumed directly from the can. However, it often lacks flavor, so remember to season it to enhance the taste. Your local grocery store shelves also offer other options for canned meats, such as roast beef, Vienna sausage, potted meat, corned beef, and shredded pork.

If stored in a cool and dry pantry, most canned meats can last three to five years. Alternatively, some of these meat products are available in pouches instead of cans, typically with expiration dates of about three years. Pouch options might be more convenient for storage, especially considering pantry layout, and they are certainly lighter than their canned counterparts, which is advantageous when considering options for a bug-out bag or situations where weight becomes a concern.

Soups and stews

eating soup as a cheap way to fill your belly

When it comes to meal options during survival situations, soups and stews truly shine as a practical and wholesome choice. Not only do they provide a convenient means of obtaining a fairly complete meal, but they also require minimal effort.

A can or two of chicken soup, for instance, encompasses a harmonious blend of meat, vegetables, and starches, all within a single container. To elevate the flavors and textures, it’s as simple as whipping up a batch of just-add-water baking mix for delectable dumplings.

The versatility of canned stews and chili is also noteworthy, as they can be consumed directly from the can if necessary. However, it’s highly recommended to heat them to unlock their full flavor potential. For a truly satisfying and substantial meal, consider pouring a can of chili over a bed of rice, creating a hearty and filling combination.

In addition to canned options, dry soup mixes should also be a part of your survival food repertoire. Brands like Shore Lunch offer a range of flavors to explore. While they do require a substantial amount of clean water to prepare—up to eight cups for certain varieties—the payoff is well worth it, as they yield a substantial quantity of soup.

Take, for example, a package of wild-rice soup combined with a can of chicken; this combination can effortlessly feed a family of four. It’s important to bear in mind the water requirements when incorporating dry soup mixes into your survival plans, ensuring you have sufficient water reserves to meet your needs.

One of the advantages of soups and stews is their versatility. They can be enjoyed as standalone meals or combined with other ingredients to create even more satisfying culinary experiences. Adding in vegetables, herbs, spices, or even leftover cooked meats can elevate the flavor profile and nutritional value of your soups and stews. With a bit of creativity and resourcefulness, you can transform a basic canned soup into a gourmet delight.

Furthermore, soups and stews have a longer shelf life, making them ideal for stocking up in your survival pantry. Properly stored canned soups and stews can last for several years, providing a reliable source of sustenance during extended periods of uncertainty. Dry soup mixes, too, have a long shelf life, allowing you to keep them on hand for when the need arises.

Pasta and sauce

When it comes to easy and budget-friendly meals, pasta and sauce are go-to options that provide both sustenance and comfort. The versatility of pasta allows for countless meal possibilities, and the ease of boiling noodles makes it an ideal choice for survival situations. Pair your cooked pasta with jarred sauce for a simple and delicious dinner. Consider exploring the wide variety of pasta shapes and sizes available, as each brings its own unique characteristics to the table.

If you prefer more convenience, canned pasta options are also worth considering. Choose your favorites, whether with meatballs or cut-up hot dogs, for a satisfying and flavorful meal. While canned pasta may not provide the same level of nutritional value as fresh ingredients, the warmth and familiarity of a hot meal can significantly boost morale in challenging times. Remember to select pasta options with longer shelf lives, and store them properly in your pantry to ensure their quality and taste.

Instant mashed potatoes

Instant mashed potatoes are a convenient and filling food item that can be a lifesaver in survival situations. Look for pouch varieties that often require only hot water and stirring, eliminating the need for additional ingredients like milk or butter.

These mixes offer a quick and simple solution for a comforting side dish. In addition to their convenience, instant mashed potato flakes can also be used as a thickening agent in soups, adding texture and substance to your meals. It’s important to note that instant mashed potatoes have a longer shelf life compared to fresh potatoes, making them a reliable option for long-term storage. With these versatile potato mixes in your pantry, you can enjoy a hearty and satisfying potato-based dish whenever the need arises.

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Fruits and veggies

Fruits and vegetables play a vital role in providing essential vitamins, nutrients, and adding variety to the diet, making them an integral part of any survival food plan. Canned peaches or pineapple, for instance, offer a delightful treat due to their inherent sweetness.

While enjoying these canned fruits, it’s worth noting that the water from canned vegetables can be repurposed for soup-making, as it retains some of the nutrients leached from the vegetables. On the other hand, the water from canned fruits can be consumed as is, refreshing and hydrating.

When it comes to shelf life, it’s important to consider that citrus fruits generally have shorter lifespans compared to low-acid vegetables. However, with proper storage, citrus fruits can still remain in good condition for a year or even longer.

Preserves and jellies also serve as a wonderful way to incorporate fruits into your diet. A dollop of jam spread on a hot biscuit can be an indulgent treat, adding a burst of flavor and sweetness to your meals.

While canned fruits and preserves are excellent options for long-term storage, it’s essential to periodically check their expiration dates and rotate your stock accordingly to ensure freshness and quality. By including a variety of fruits and vegetables in your survival food supply, you can ensure a well-rounded and nutritious diet, even during challenging times.

Baking mixes

When it comes to stocking your survival pantry, baking mixes are a versatile and valuable addition. Look for a variety of just-add-water options that can be used to create an assortment of baked goods. From fluffy biscuits to savory dumplings and comforting pancakes, these mixes offer convenience and ease of preparation.

It’s worth noting that baking mixes typically have a shelf life of at least a year when stored properly. To ensure maximum freshness, consider transferring the mix to a sealable plastic bag after opening to minimize exposure to air and moisture. With these baking mixes on hand, you can enjoy a warm and satisfying baked treat even in challenging situations.

Cooking oil

In a true survival situation, the importance of fats in the diet cannot be overlooked. Cooking oils not only provide essential nutrients but also offer versatility in meal preparation. Opt for vegetable, canola, or olive oils, as these options have longer shelf lives compared to animal fats like lard, which can quickly go rancid.

Cooking oils not only serve as a valuable source of dietary fats but also enable you to explore various cooking methods such as frying, sautéing, and baking. By having a selection of cooking oils in your survival pantry, you can enhance the flavor and nutritional content of your meals while expanding your cooking options even in challenging circumstances.

Baking staples

Baking staples, including flour, salt, and other essential ingredients, are indispensable in creating a wide range of meals and baked goods. Flour serves as the foundation for bread, cakes, and pastries, providing structure and texture. Salt, a valuable seasoning agent, enhances flavors and helps balance the taste of various dishes.

Additionally, sugar plays a significant role in baking, adding sweetness and contributing to the texture and moisture of baked goods. Honey, although slightly more expensive, offers numerous health benefits and can serve as a natural alternative to sugar. With these baking staples in your survival pantry, you gain the ability to create comforting and nourishing meals from scratch.

Moreover, they are cost-effective, store well on the shelf, and provide you with endless options for preparing meals that bring comfort and satisfaction even in challenging situations.

Spices and condiments

spices and condiments are a must for a survival pantry

In the realm of survival food planning, it’s important not to overlook the power of spices and condiments in enhancing the flavors of your meals. These seemingly small additions can make a significant difference in transforming ordinary dishes into satisfying and appetizing creations. Consider incorporating the spices and condiments that you frequently use in your day-to-day cooking, such as pepper, garlic powder, and other favorites.

Condiments like barbecue sauce and hot sauce are excellent additions to your survival pantry. When properly sealed and stored on the shelf, these flavorful companions can last for a year or more, ensuring you have a variety of tastes to enhance your meals. Whether you prefer the tangy sweetness of barbecue sauce or the fiery kick of hot sauce, these condiments can add depth and excitement to otherwise simple dishes.

Gravy mixes also deserve a place in your survival food arsenal. With their ability to instantly transform a dish into a savory delight, gravy mixes provide richness and flavor. Whether it’s a comforting beef gravy or a creamy chicken gravy, these mixes can elevate the taste of stews, roasts, mashed potatoes, and more. Ensure you have a selection of gravy mixes that suit your preferences, offering you the opportunity to enjoy satisfying meals even in challenging circumstances.

Beyond these staple condiments, it’s worth exploring the vast world of spices and flavor enhancers available. Cumin, paprika, cinnamon, and oregano are just a few examples of spices that can add complexity and depth to your culinary creations.

Herbs like basil, thyme, and rosemary can infuse dishes with aromatic goodness. Consider your personal taste preferences and the types of meals you enjoy most, and select a variety of spices and herbs that align with your culinary style.

Remember, spices and condiments not only enhance the flavor of your meals but also contribute to the overall enjoyment and satisfaction of your culinary experience. They can be the secret ingredient that turns a mundane meal into a delightful feast.


the bestforever foodsthat never spoil v2Building a well-rounded and versatile survival food supply requires careful consideration of various food categories. By diversifying your pantry with items like specialized survival food, shelf-stable foods, canned meats, soups and stews, fruits and vegetables, baking mixes, instant mashed potatoes, pasta and sauce, cooking oil, baking staples, spices, and condiments, you can ensure a range of options for nourishing meals even in challenging circumstances.

Suggested resources for preppers:

Harvesting and canning wild greens

The #1 food of Americans during the Great Depression

Survival Foods of the Native Americans

If you see this plant when foraging, don’t touch it!

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