People should face the facts and understand that survival food is quite expensive, and it’s not a feasible option for those wanting to equip their survival pantry. We should look at other options for stockpiling food, like, for example, the foods you find at your grocery store.
Dehydrated or freeze-dried food options are expensive, regardless of the brand name you consider or the deals you may get during holidays and other times of the year when “savings” are advertised.
Check out MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) if you want to experience wake-up to reality shock. By the time it takes to pay off the loan to purchase a few pallets of MREs, you may find out these foods have reached their shelf life.
Instead of taking out a home equity loan to stock the shelves of your pantry in case the apocalypse occurs, go to your local grocery store and see what options they have available. There, you’ll find an outstanding selection of shelf-stable goods that are ideal for any prepper’s long-term pantry.
Rice and beans
These have been the survivalist’s and prepper’s meal plan staples for decades. When consumed together, they make a full protein meal and provide the body with essential amino acids.
Beans are a so-called “superfood” that is high in nutrients such as iron, potassium, and fiber. Pinto beans and kidney beans are popular options. Consider saving a variety of beans, so you don’t keep eating the same food over long periods of time.
Beans will harden over time, making it quite impossible to soften them through cooking. Storing them in a sealed container with an appropriate-sized oxygen absorber will significantly increase their shelf life. As a general rule, expect at least a couple of years on the shelf in its current state and up to a decade or two if sealed without oxygen.
If the beans harden before you get to them, don’t toss them away; instead, grind them into a powder and add them to soup as a thickening.
Dried split peas are likewise in this category: they can be stored at room temperature for several years.
There are over a hundred different varieties of rice, and the variations go beyond the obvious brown or white rice. The outer husk and bran layer of white rice are removed, leaving only the white grain.
Brown rice, on the other hand, is unpolished and keeps those layers. White rice is more prevalent than brown rice and, all else being equal, will last far longer.
Brown rice’s bran layer contains a small amount of oil that might go rancid over time. Toss any brown rice that smells bad or seems moldy when you open it. Brown rice has a shelf life of 6 to 12 months. However, it will stay longer if stored in the freezer. White rice can be stored for more than 30 years if you keep it in a cool and dry place.
Instant mash potatoes
Most supermarkets also sell instant potato mixtures. Look for pouch variants that do not require the addition of milk or butter. Simply mix in some boiling water. Typically, one bag will serve two individuals. If desired, potato flakes can be added to soup as a thickening.
Soups and stews
These might be an excellent way to provide a somewhat balanced supper with minimal effort. A can or two of chicken soup has meat, vegetables, and carbohydrates all in one. Make some by adding water baking mix for dumplings, and you’ve got yourself a tasty meal.
Canned stew and chili are fully cooked and can be consumed cold if necessary. Hopefully, this will not be needed, as heating significantly improves the flavor. Pour a can of chili over a bed of rice for a substantial meal.
You should also consider dry soup mixes. Shore Lunch is just one example of a brand to look for. Although these do require a substantial amount of clean water (up to eight cups for some types), they also yield a substantial volume of soup. A family of four can eat one packet of wild-rice soup with a can of chicken.
The famous Spam and other meats
I’ve met just a few preppers and survivalists that didn’t have a few cans of Spam on hand. Spam has been around since 1937, despite being a stereotypical survivalist staple nowadays.
Pan frying is arguably the most frequent technique to prepare Spam; however, there are other different variations available. The Amour Treet brand and canned hams are both variations of the same product.
Tuna is another popular canned meat that is reasonably priced. While we might prefer to buy it packaged in water to save a few calories, the oil-packed versions might be a better option for the survival pantry. It has a longer shelf life, and the oil adds fat to the diet, which may be in limited supply in a long-term grid-down situation.
Canned chicken is an excellent addition to soups and other recipes, and it may even be eaten straight from the can. It is, however, frequently rather bland, so season it to improve the taste.
Other canned meat options include roast beef, Vienna sausage, potted meat, corned beef, and shredded pork, all of which may be found on the shelf of your local grocery store.
Most canned meats will keep in the cupboard for three to five years if kept cool and dry. Many of these meats are sold in pouches rather than cans. These often have three-year expiration dates.
Pouch options may be easier to store, depending on the arrangement of your pantry, and are certainly lighter than canned alternatives if weight is a problem, such as when evaluating options for a bug-out bag.
Pasta and sauce
Tossing some spaghetti noodles into a pot of boiling water is about as simple as it gets. To go with that, heat up some canned sauce, and you’re ready for dinner.
Dry pasta, of course, comes in a bewildering number of forms and sizes. All of them, however, are simple to prepare and will undoubtedly satisfy stomachs on the cheap.
Another option is to use canned pasta. Select your favorites, with or without meatballs or hot dogs sliced up. Although not as healthy as other options, hot food is always a mood booster.
In our normal lives, we typically try everything we can to avoid fats, yet in a true survival crisis, fats are a crucial part of the diet. They can, however, be difficult to procure.
Cooking oils can fill the void. They also provide us with extra cooking alternatives. Stick to vegetable, canola, or olive oils instead of lard or other animal fats, which will become rancid far too quickly to be useful in the survival pantry.
Fruits and vegetables
These give essential vitamins and nutrients while also adding variety to the diet. Fruits with high sugar content, such as canned peaches or pineapple, will be especially appealing.
Use the water from canned vegetables for soup whenever possible, as some of the nutrients from the vegetables will have leached into it. Water from canned fruit can be drunk on its own.
Citrus fruits typically last less time than low-acid veggies. Even so, they’ll be alright for at least a year.
Preserves and jellies are another way to get your fruit fix. A little jam smeared on a hot biscuit is a delicious treat.
When you store canned goods, you should pay attention to the signs that may indicate the food has gone bad. If the cans have visible rust, are punctured, or are deformed (bulging or dented), there’s a high chance the canned food has gone bad.
Look for a few boxes of baking mixes that require only the addition of water. These can be used to make biscuits, dumplings, pancakes, and other dishes.
If properly maintained, these blends should last at least a year on the shelf. Unless you’re going to use the full box at once, store the mix in a sealable plastic bag once it’s been opened to keep air out.
Many dishes can be started with simple flour, salt, and other baking necessities if you have the experience and skills. They are affordable, easy to store, and incredibly adaptable.
Sugar and salt are very valuable for your food pantry. While honey is not cheap, it has numerous medicinal properties and can be used as a sugar substitute when necessary.
Spices and condiments
Spices and other methods of enhancing dishes should not be overlooked. Pick the ones you use the most in your daily cooking, such as pepper and garlic powder.
Condiments like barbecue sauce and chili sauce can be kept sealed for a year or longer on the shelf. Gravy mixtures can also be delicious additions.
The deal with expiration dates
Most foods sold nowadays have a “best by” or other expiration dates. It is critical to note that this date is simply the final date on which the maker or producer will guarantee the flavor and texture of the product.
The passage of time does not imply that the food has gone bad and must be discarded. In reality, many canned items are still edible years after their best-by date.
Making meal plans for your family for two weeks is a terrific method to plan ahead. Plan out each meal, including snacks, on paper. Stick to meals your family is used to eating, but focus on shelf-stable items. Make a list of all the ingredients you’ll need for each meal, including the quantities. Once you’ve determined what you’ll require for two weeks, use easy math to expand it to a month or more.
Don’t try to buy everything at once. Add a few products to your shopping basket each time you go shopping, and your cache will grow over time. Rotate your stock on a regular basis, using the oldest things first and then replacing them. You’ll see your pantry filling up sooner rather than later.
Recommended resources for preppers and homesteaders:
The Hidden Poisons in Your Pantry
How to build an underground cellar for less than $400
10 Best MREs for Emergency and Survival Scenarios