61 Essential food items for your survival stockpile

61 Essential food items for your survival stockpile

The basics of prepping involve learning crucial skills that can help you survive when SHTF and knowing how to find resources for your various needs. Before disaster strikes and you decide to bug in at home, you also need to stock up on various tools and supplies.

Knowing which food items to stockpile is important, especially if you want to avoid getting stuck in near-empty stores with people who didn’t think it was important to plan for a disaster.

To make sure that you have everything you need to keep your family well-fed during a survival scenario, check your inventory for the items in this detailed preparedness food storage list. Start building your stockpile gradually so you don’t go over budget when buying groceries. In time, you should have enough food for each family member.


This section of the disaster food storage list includes staples that are inexpensive and versatile enough to pair with other foods. You can use rice or pasta as the base for different delicious, filling, and nutritious meals for the whole family.

1.       Beans and legumes

Beans are cheap, and they triple their weight when you soak and cook them, making beans a crucial food item in your stockpile. Stock up on various dried and canned beans so you can make something new with them to keep meals exciting while you’re waiting out a long power outage. 

Beans can provide at least 1,250 calories per pound. You can also sprout beans in as little as five days if you want them fresh.

To prepare dry beans, use a slow cooker and some water. The time it takes to soak them will depend on the kind of beans you’re cooking.

You can serve beans in the following ways:

  • Added to scrambled eggs with some salsa
  • Burritos
  • Mashed and cooked into refried beans
  • Pureed in olive oil and spices to make bean dip or hummus
  • Soups
  • Tacos

2.       Pasta

You can either buy dried pasta or gather the ingredients to make fresh pasta at home. Dried pasta does have one advantage: It has a long shelf life if stored properly.

Pasta can be served in several ways: with butter, cheeses, cooked meats, garlic, herbs, mushrooms, sauces, and vegetables.

Skip the instant ramen with its high MSG content and stock up on healthier types of pasta, such as:

  • Egg noodles
  • Gnocchi (made with potatoes)
  • Rice noodles
  • Soba (made with buckwheat)
  • Udon (made with wheat flour)

3.       Oats and oatmeal

Oatmeal is a fiber-rich food staple that’s low in saturated fat. Serve oatmeal with some honey or fresh (or dried) fruits. You can also use oatmeal to make cookies and other baked goods.

Alternatively, you can make savory oatmeal by adding herbs, spices, and eggs.

4.       White rice

In terms of caloric intake, rice is one of the most important grains in the world. Rice alone makes up one-fifth of the calories consumed by people worldwide.

Rice is an affordable and versatile food, and it can be used to make both savory and sweet dishes. Ideally, it is cooked in a rice cooker.

But in an outdoor survival scenario, rice can be cooked by boiling it in a pot. Learn how to do this by practicing at home so you don’t end up burning rice and wasting your resources.

Rice can be added to soups, stews, or casseroles. Pair rice with protein and vegetables for a complete meal.

Tip: Cook rice using broth to make it more flavorful and nutritious.

Baking ingredients

This group of staples is optional, especially if you’re not sure that you have all the tools you need to bake.

If you think you can bake at home, you need items like baking powder, baking soda, shortening, and yeast. Take note that baking powder and yeast have a limited shelf life.

5.       Flour

Learn how to make your own cake and pancake mixes using basic baking ingredients and white flour. You can also make fresh pasta at home with white flour, eggs, and other ingredients.

6.       Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)

Combining baking soda with an acidic ingredient triggers the release of carbon dioxide, which makes batter expand. With baking soda, you can make your own breads, cakes, and other baked or fried foods. Baking soda will last for at least two years in your stockpile.

7.       Baking powder

Baking powder contains baking soda and an acidifying agent (e.g., cream of tartar) and a drying agent (e.g., cornstarch). 

Buy aluminum-free baking powder and store it properly to significantly extend its shelf life. Baking powder can last for at least a year-and-a-half.

8.       Dry yeast

Dry yeast has a short shelf life, but it is an important ingredient in baking.

Protein and meats

This section covers protein-rich foods that are best paired with staples like rice and pasta.

9.       Eggs

Eggs are a great alternative to meats for a protein source.

There are various ways to prepare eggs, and you can serve them for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Use herbs and spices to make nutritious egg-based dishes.

 Fresh eggs don’t need to be refrigerated, but if you want to maximize storage space, stock up on dehydrated eggs instead.

10.   Canned ham

When storing canned meats like ham, rotate your supply to avoid spoilage. Buy high-quality products with a long shelf-life so you don’t have to worry about how long they’ll last in your stockpile.

Serve chopped ham with beans or fry it with some scrambled eggs.

11.   Canned fish

Canned fish like mackerel, salmon, sardines, and tuna are a nutritious source of omega-3 fatty acids. They’re also a good alternative to other canned meats if you prefer lean protein.

12.   Canned chicken

To add variety to your meat and protein sources, get some canned chicken. It might take some getting used to, but canned chicken is best served with rice-based dishes.

13.   Peanut butter

Peanut butter is also full of healthy fats and proteins.

Don’t buy peanut butter with added sugars or hydrogenated oils. Healthy kinds of peanut butters are made with only peanuts, oil, and salt.


When SHTF, you still need to follow a healthy diet to maintain your overall well-being. These vegetables provide the vitamins and minerals that you need to stay strong during a long-term disaster scenario.

14.   Corn (dried grains)

As a grain, corn flour can be used to bake different kinds of food. Stock up on different types of corn grains like cornmeal, corn starch, grits, and popcorn.

15.   Corn (as a vegetable)

You can use corn to make salads or soups, or add it to other dishes. Be sure to buy GMO-free corn for your stockpile.

16.   Peas and lentils

Whole lentils have a longer shelf life than split lentils. Lentils are another fiber-rich food, and you can serve them on their own or add them to other dishes.

17.   Pumpkin and winter squash

Pumpkins and winter squash are nutritious. They can also be used in various recipes during months when you don’t have access to fresh produce. Store pumpkins and winter squash on open shelves or in baskets in your basement or any cool, dark room.

18.   Carrots

If you harvest carrots from your garden, take note that they will start decaying after you dig them up. During summer and autumn, harvest only what you’ll eat in several days. Preserve the rest so nothing goes to waste.

 19.   Celery and parsley

Celery and parsley are varieties of the same plant. These vegetables are great sources of vitamins B and C, iron, and dietary fiber, which are important when other vegetables aren’t available to you.

20.   Tomatoes

Fresh tomatoes can be added to salads, or you can use them to make salsa. Another option is to preserve them so you can enjoy tomato sauce-based pasta.

21.   Sweet potatoes

Canned sweet potatoes are very filling, and they’re rich in vitamin A.

22.   Seaweed

Seaweed is an acquired taste, but it is a nutritious food that can flavor bland staples, like rice or pasta. Since seaweed is naturally salty, it goes well with soups or salads. Seaweed is also very compact when dried.


Fruits will sweeten your day during a survival scenario, and they’re also a great source of essential nutrients.

23.   Raisins

Raisins contain iron, fiber, protein, and vitamin C. You can use raisins to enhance the flavor of rice pudding and oatmeal.

24.   Canned peaches

Juicy, canned peaches that are packed in light syrup are a great source of calories.

25.   Dried fruits

Dried fruits can be purchased by the bucket. You can serve dried fruits as snacks or add them to oatmeal or baked goods.

26.   Fruit leathers

Fruit leathers are a great space-saving alternative to whole fruits. When buying fruit leathers, avoid those with high-fructose corn syrup.

Choose fruit leathers that are fiber-rich and are made with natural ingredients.

27.   Applesauce

Kids will love applesauce – but you can also serve it to adults as a dessert or with cereals.

28.   Jams and jellies

You have two options when it comes to these types of foods: You can preserve your own jams and jellies, or you can stock up on store-bought spreads.

Stock up on jams and jellies such as:

  • Apple butter
  • Apricot jam
  • Blackberry jam
  • Grape jellies
  • Raspberry jam
  • Strawberry jam

With jams and jellies, even plain bread and pancakes can be turned into delicious treats.

Nuts and seeds

Nuts are a nutritious energy source, but they can go rancid quickly. If you’re stocking up on nuts, always rotate your stock to prevent spoilage.

Healthy nuts and seeds are often sold in bags instead of oil-filled cans and jars.

29.   Raw almonds, cashews, and walnuts

Snack on a handful of nuts for a filling treat or add them to baked goods or oatmeal for a crunchy texture.

30.   Canned chestnuts

You can purchase canned chestnuts in the Asian section of supermarkets. Chestnuts are full of fiber, iron, magnesium, potassium, and vitamin C.


Condiments are must-have emergency food items because they add flavor to an otherwise bland meal.

31.   Himalayan salt

Salt is a simple yet incredibly useful condiment. It enhances the flavor of meats and makes for good home remedies. Pink Himalayan salt has essential trace minerals like calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, and potassium.

32.   Canning and pickling salt

You also need canning and pickling salts, which are a type of pure granulated salt that doesn’t contain preservatives.

33.   Sugar

Sugar is a common ingredient used in various recipes, and you need a lot of it in your survival stockpile.

34.   Honey

To cut down on your sugar intake, you can stock up on honey instead. Honey is a nutritious natural sweetener, but you need to make sure that no one in the family is allergic to possible honey contaminants such as bee pollen or pollen from plants.

Honey contains amino acids, antioxidants, and vitamins that are good for your health.

Tip: In time, honey may crystallize. To decrystallize honey, place a sealed jar in a pot of warm (not boiling) water. Leave the honey in the water until the crystals dissolve.

35.   Mustard

Keep a variety of mustards in your stockpile to add flavor to meats and savory dishes.

36.   Ketchup

Adults and kids may want ketchup – just make sure to avoid brands that contain high-fructose corn syrup. Keep ketchup in a brown paper bag then store it in a cool, dark place to extend its shelf life.

37.   Tabasco sauce

Hot sauce will add flavor and spice to bland foods and meats.

38.   Soy sauce

Non-GMO soy sauce will go well with rice-based dishes, soups, and stews.

Herbs and spices

Herbs and spices should be in your emergency food cache to keep meals interesting for the whole family. Many will provide added health benefits too. Plan your meals and figure out which spices would go well with the staples and other items in your stockpile.

39.   Black pepper

You can grind peppercorns to make black pepper. Pair it with salt to enhance the flavor of meats or stews and soups.

40.   Chili powder

Instead of Tabasco sauce, you can stock up on chili powder. It is made of dried and pulverized chili peppers and it goes well with staples like beans and rice.

41.   Cinnamon

Cinnamon balances blood sugar so it’s beneficial for individuals with diabetes. You can use this spice when making oatmeal or toast, and it is often called for in baking recipes.

42.   Dill weed and dill

Dill weed is an herb, while dill is a spice that you need in your stockpile. Use dill when making egg-based dishes, potato salad, or tuna salad.

43.   Garlic

Garlic is a must for your kitchen and your survival stockpile. This well-known herb is full of antioxidants with health benefits and it goes well in a wide variety of dishes.

To save storage space, stock up on garlic powder or freeze-dried garlic.

44.   Onion

You can stock up on dehydrated or freeze-dried onions. They are also available in other convenient forms such as flakes, granules, and powders.

45.   Ginger

Ginger root is a useful spice. Aside from its culinary uses, it can be used to make home remedies for common health complaints like nausea and stomachaches.

46.   Thyme

Thyme is rich in iron. This fragrant herb adds a delicate and savory flavor to dishes that contain poultry and vegetables.

Beverages and drink mixes

You need to stay hydrated during emergencies. However, drinking plain water can get old after a while.

The beverages in this part of the list can cheer up your kids and brighten the mood of the adults in your group, especially if they are used to having a cup of tea or coffee every morning.

47.   Pineapple and vegetable juice

You can drink nutritious pineapple and vegetable juice to stay hydrated in a post-SHTF world.

48.   Coffee

Stock up on instant and ground or whole-bean coffee for a great pick-me-up every morning. Coffee doesn’t just boost your mental alertness – it can also improve your morale on a really bad day.

49.   Tea

Tea can help you stay warm on a cold day. Caffeinated teas can keep you energized while herbal teas can help you relax after a long and tiring day.

Different kinds of tea have medicinal properties, and some even have anti-cancer properties, such as green tea. Teas like elderberry, echinacea, and peppermint can prevent respiratory ailments such as the common cold. Chamomile is good for digestion and helping you relax so you can sleep, which could be handy in a SHTF scenario.

50.   Hot chocolate mix

Hot chocolate is a nice treat to have on a cold winter’s day. A cup of hot cocoa can also boost your energy.

Hot chocolate mix has a long shelf life when stored properly, in a cool dark place with no moisture.


Cheese, milk, and other dairy products can prevent food fatigue and provide you with essential vitamins and minerals.

51.   Hard cheeses

Waxed hard cheeses like Gouda, parmesan, and Swiss cheese go well with pasta dishes. They’re also an essential survival food because the wax casing prevents bacteria and mold from growing. 

Powdered parmesan cheese only lasts for about four months, but parmesan cheese encased in wax can last for at least 25 years.

52.   Milk

Milk is a crucial survival food, especially if you don’t have access to livestock like cows and goats. Other types of milk that you can store include condensed and evaporated milk.

Powdered milk is a great alternative if you want to store milk without giving up a lot of storage space. This type of milk product is easy to use when cooking, and it’s rich in calcium, protein, and other nutrients. It is a good idea to store different kinds of milk as well, if possible.

Tip: Use canned coconut milk instead of water if you want to cook rice faster.

Cooking oils

You will need various oils to cook and prepare meals after SHTF.

53.   Butter

You can buy either frozen or canned butter for your stockpile. Add a dab of butter to toast or corn on the cob.

54.   Coconut oil

Coconut oil is heat-stable and it won’t go rancid as quickly as other oils. Coconut oil is a healthier alternative to shortening, which contains harmful trans fats.

55.   Olive oil

Olive oil is calorie-dense, and it can provide you with energy. Cooking with olive oil also produces flavorful dishes.

Fats like those in olive oil are essential in a survival stockpile because they support absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and nutrients.

Vitamins and Minerals

Survival scenarios can be stressful. Maintaining your physical health will boost your mental condition so you can manage your stress accordingly.

Vitamins and minerals also help your body use food properly. They are required for various bodily functions and processes. It is important to stockpile quality supplements because you are less likely to have access to fresh food in a survival scenario.

56.   Vitamin D-fortified calcium supplement

Calcium and vitamin D are necessary for your body to be strong enough to fight infections.

57.   Magnesium

Magnesium is an important “stress supplement” and it can prevent damage from excess adrenaline.

Comfort foods/treats

This can vary depending on your personal preferences, but it’s always a good idea to stock up on comfort foods for the whole family. Treats will help your kids feel “normal” if they’re feeling scared and the adults can relax with some chocolates or a bag of chips.

Just make sure you don’t consume your supply of treats in one go since you may need to make them last for a long time, depending on the situation.

58.   Cookies and crackers

Serve cookies as a treat with a cup of soothing tea.

Crackers don’t have a lot of nutritive value, but they go well with salads and soups.

59.   Chocolates

Store chocolates in your stockpile for an antioxidant-rich sweet treat that can also boost heart health. Chocolate chips have a shelf life of about one year.

Dark chocolate is healthier than milk chocolate. Avoid chocolates that contain hydrogenated oils, which are bad for your cardiovascular health.

60.   Hard candies

When SHTF, handing out butterscotch drops, lemon drops, or peppermints can quickly put a smile on someone’s face.

61.   Vodka

Stock up on vodka for the adults. This alcoholic drink can also be used for cooking or bartering.

Vodka also has several medicinal uses, such as:

  • Anesthetic for blisters
  • Drying out cold sores
  • Relieving poison ivy
  • Mouthwash
  • Numbing agent if you have a toothache
  • Skin repellent for mosquitoes and other insects

Miscellaneous food items

This section includes specific optional items like pet food and items that have many survival uses.

62.   Pet food and treats

Don’t forget to save some pet food for your furry friends. Give them treats to help them calm down if they’re stressed or scared.

63.   Apple cider vinegar (ACV)

Apple cider vinegar is nothing short of miraculous. High-quality ACV can be used to make a simple salad dressing by combining it with olive oil, pepper, and salt.

ACV also has many survival uses, including:

  • You can use it as a natural bleach alternative.
  • It can be used to deodorize and unclog your kitchen sink.
  • It’s an effective and non-toxic wash for fruit and vegetables.
  • You can use it as a meat tenderizer or as a marinade.
  • It can enhance the nutrients in bone broths and soups.
  • You can use it to pickle foods like eggs, olives, and vegetables.
  • It can relieve acid reflux.
  • It can give you an energy boost.
  • It can be used as a natural acne remedy and bite/sting remedy.
  • It can be used as a natural facial toner, dandruff treatment, and mouthwash. 

64.   Cake and pancake mixes

This optional item is convenient, especially if you want to save time for other chores around your house when SHTF.


Foods that are difficult to store

You may need to find suitable replacements for the following items on this list since they might not last long enough in your stockpile.

  • Breakfast cereals – Cereals go stale if you don’t eat them soon. Their shelf life also shortens the moment you open a package.
  • Graham crackers or Saltines – These items will only last for several months before they turn stale.
  • Mayonnaise – Once you open a jar of mayo, it needs to be consumed immediately.
  • Salad dressing – Ranch dressing doesn’t last too long. If you want to store salad dressing in your stockpile, choose dry ranch mix instead.
  • Vegetable oil – This kind of oil will become rancid after a year in your stockpile. Use coconut oil instead.

Food storage planning tips

Here are some tips that can significantly extend the shelf life of everything in your preparedness food storage cache.

  • Plan your meals and determine how much food you want to store before you buy anything. Having a detailed plan will help you keep track of your progress without overwhelming you with the many decisions you have to make during the entire process.
  • Look at what your family eats in one week. Consider the foods that everyone likes, then balance this with novelty foods to prevent food fatigue. Be sure to include nutritious foods and substitutes wherever possible.
  • Budget your money to prevent overspending.
  • To ensure that food storage doesn’t become a chore, involve the whole family. Ask the kids to help decide on certain treats that you’ll stockpile for them.
  • Use coupons and keep an eye on store promos to make every cent count.
  • If you have a spare room in your house, make sure it’s optimized to make your food last for as long as possible. Even if you live in an apartment, you can stock up on survival food by maximizing closet space and the space under beds.
  • Try cooking with the items you have in your stockpile to make sure that you can keep it up when SHTF.
  • Rotate your supplies to avoid spoilage.
  • Track the supplies in your stockpile. Use a notebook or a spreadsheet on a computer so you know which items need to be consumed or replaced after a certain length of time has passed.

Food storage basics

These tips and tricks can help you maximize storage space and extend the shelf life of most items in your stockpile.

  1. Store similar food items together. This makes it easier to locate things when you’re in a hurry.
  2. Before you store flour in your stockpile, keep it in your freezer for several days then seal it up in a Mylar bag. The cold will kill weevil eggs and prevent them from hatching in your stockroom.
  3. Add bay leaves to staples like beans, flour, and rice, especially if you’re not using Mylar bags. Bay leaves smell pungent and they can keep ants and other pests out of your supplies.
  4. Set aside some money to purchase Mylar bags. These bags are a bit pricey, but they will help extend the shelf life of the food in your stockpile by several years. Seal Mylar bags properly to keep out oxygen and moisture. You need several one-gallon and five-gallon Mylar bags.
  5. Purchase oxygen absorbers to get rid of any oxygen left in your Mylar bags. Use 300cc absorbers for one-gallon Mylar bags and 2,000cc absorbers for the five-gallon bags.
  6. Store extra oxygen absorbers in an airtight container.
  7. Once you seal Mylar bags, secure them in five-gallon storage buckets with lids. The buckets will protect the bags from bugs, rodents, and flooding.
  8. Label everything in your stockpile. Use stickers on Mylar bags or write dates on each bucket using a permanent marker.
  9. Glass jars will keep foods fresh for much longer than plastic containers. Since plastic is semi-permeable, air can reach the food and hasten the breakdown process. Either buy foods in glass jars or remove items from their original packaging and keep them in clean, sealable glass jars.

A note on your water supply

You also need to stock up on clean drinking water for the whole family to prepare for long-term emergencies. If you don’t have enough space in your home, consider possible sources of water and learn several methods of purification to ensure that your water is safe to drink.

Common water purification methods include:

  • Bleach
  • Boiling
  • Distilling
  • DIY water filters
  • Water condensation
  • Water filters
  • Water purification drops or tablets

Home gardening and food preservation methods

Learn how to grow your own food so you don’t rely solely on your stockpile when SHTF. Ask fellow gardeners about common crops that grow well in your area.

You should also consider your family’s diet and food preferences before deciding on the fruits and vegetables that you’ll plant in your garden.

If you decide to take up home gardening, consider learning about food preservation methods as well. This allows you to preserve surplus produce from your garden. Canning fruits and vegetables also gives you access to out-of-season produce, which can break up the monotony of your meals in a long-term disaster scenario.

Here are some common methods of preserving food:

  • Home canning
  • Curing
  • Drying
  • Fermenting
  • Freezing
  • Jellying
  • Pickling
  • Smoking
  • Vacuum packing

Home canning is one of the most straightforward food preservation methods. If you have the budget, invest in a pressure canner so you can preserve your own produce and make jams, jellies, and sauces. A pressure canner can cost $50-100, but it is a worthy investment for any prepper.

You’ll also need other tools like:

  • Jars – Buy quart or pint jars.
  • Bands and lids – Get regular and wide-mouth bands and lids for your jars. Never reuse lids.
  • Jar funnel
  • Jar lifter
  • Canning salt
  • Canning rack – This is optional, but it’s a convenient tool if you prefer water bath canning.

Take things one step at a time and refer to this preparedness food storage list and guide as you build your stockpile.

If we missed one of your favorite survival stockpile items, let us know in the comments.