Best Survival Foods To Stock Up: Building Your Emergency Stockpile

Best survival foods for prepping

When SHTF, you want to be prepared. The first and foremost factor that will determine your survival rate is food and water. I have written an in-depth article on how long you can survive without food and water.

Here is the problem.

Most people do not know which foods to buy for survival. Some people will make the mistake of buying foods that are either too expensive or which will not last very long.

Some people also do not know how to plan and manage their pantry.

In this article, I will cover over 30 items that you can buy at your store today to fill up your survival pantry. These items will include water and water mixes for hydration, canned food, dried food, condiments, survival bars, etc.

That is not all.

I will also show you some of the best practices for building up and maintaining your survival stockpiles such as food rotation and storage.

Are you ready?

Drinks And Hydration

The human body can live for about two months without food but only 3-5 days without water. We need at least one gallon per day for each person, so you need to calculate how many gallons your household will need for at least three months.

Fresh Water

fresh water

Make sure that the water that you get is distilled and safe to drink. You can buy your own bottled water in bulk, or you can purchase empty containers to store tap water from your home.

I prefer to use large 25-liter containers because it will make use of the storage space more effectively. If you have space, then I would consider you to get a sizable 5000-liter tank outside. This large tank will be the same as 1320 gallons of water which will provide enough water for a year for four people.

Dried Powder Mixes (Milk Powders, Coffee and Cooldrink Mix)

Dried Powder Mixes

Storing clean drinkable water is your, but you can also add some flavors to complement the water. Some people do not like to drink water so it might be wise to add some powder mixes along the way. All of the flavors that I will recommend will not spoil but make sure that storing water is your priority.

1. Dried milk powders

It will be impossible to store fresh milk without the help of freezers because it will spoil within 2-4 days (depending on the temperature). So if you like milk, then why not add some dry powders that you can use to mix with your water. Powdered milk is also a great source of energy and protein because it has an excellent amino acid profile to build or maintain muscle mass.

It will never replace the freshness and taste of real milk but will make a great addition to your survival pantry. You also do not need to heat the water to mix the milk powder. You can also use it in your coffee and use as an ingredient in baking.

2. Add some Cool Aide and Tang

If you have kids or you also like to make your cool drink, then why not add some dried powder mixes. Cool Aide and Tang are only two of the most popular blends that you can use to make cooldrink.

These dried powders will not perish and will add energy, vitamins, and minerals to your daily intake of liquids. Some of these mixes will also add some essential electrolytes to keep your body in tip-top shape.

3. Do not forget about coffee and tea

What better way to start your day during a cold winters morning. When adding hot beverage supplies to your pantry, you must make sure that you have a way to cook the water. Coffee and tea can also be used as a barter item for that caffeine fix in exchange for other supplies that you might need.

If you have enough firewood and gas for a couple of months, then it will be a great idea to have some coffee or tea powder at hand. You will also need to add some sugar to your party as well (will talk more on this later). Some teas are also very healthy and have a calming effect on the body which will be helpful in fighting stress.

Many kinds of teas also have polyphenols which are potent antioxidants which will assist in the fight against inflammation.

Types Of Food That You Should Store

In this section, I am going to show you the types of food that you should buy. These foods will have a long shelf life which means it will not spoil that easily. The meals in this list will be nutrient dense and will not take up that much storage space.

Dried Or Dehydrated Foods

dried food

The good thing about dried or dehydrated food is that it does not spoil. Food that has moisture will spoil much faster than food that does not contain any moisture. One reason for this is that bacteria need water to survive. Dried food is also more concentrated which makes them easier to store. Let’s start with the first one.

1. Rice

Rice is a is considered a staple food in China, and there is the reason why. Rice is very nutrient dense and will not spoil. It has a lot of starch which provides the user with a lot of slow releasing energy. It can be cooked within 15 minutes which also does not take that much power.

Brown rice has a lot more fiber than white rice and is suitable for those that suffer from constipation. All you need to cook rice is two cups of water for each cup rice and a pinch of salt.

2. Pasta

Pasta is also a dried form of wheat which is used as a base for many dishes. It has a lot of energy and can be quickly cooked. The only problem that I have with pasta is that it needs a lot of water too prepare if you want to avoid it getting stuck to each other. You also need a pinch of salt and a tablespoon of oil. If you buy pasta, make sure it not too thick and are solid. Spaghetti is a good example.

3. Potato flour

What I like about potato flour is that it can be added to stews as a thickening agent and also as a binding agent. The best way to consume potato flour is by adding it to other food. If anyone in your family is gluten intolerant, then potato flour is an excellent alternative in food.

4. Oatmeal

Oatmeal is very nutritious and is a good option for breakfast. It does not take up that much water. Depending on the type of oatmeal that you bought, it will take anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes for the oats to be ready to eat. All you need to add is salt and some sugar. You can also add a mix of powdered milk for a creamier texture and taste.

5. Dried fruit

dried fruit

The problem with fresh fruit is that it spoils easily and will not last that long. If you want to add some fruit to your pantry, then maybe you should dry it out first. You can also use a dehydrator to draw out all of the moisture. You can dry almost any fruit.

The most common are grapes (in the form of raisins), apples, peaches, bananas, prunes, apricots, mangoes, and berries. My mother always used to cook the dried peaches with water for dinner, but you can also add them to your oatmeal for a wonderful breakfast.

6. Vegetable soup powders

Vegetable soup is not only nutritious but delicious as well. It will never spoil, and you can add to stews for some extra flavor and is also a thickening agent. You only need to add boiling water and wait for a minute or two for the soup to set. What I like about vegetable soup is that you do not need to cook the water for long. Once the water is starting to cook, you can mix it within your soup in a bowl or cup.

7. Lentils

Lentils are a great addition to your meal which will also provide some extra protein to your nutrient profile. They are the most nutritious compared to other powders. The only drawdown on lentils is that you need a lot of water to cook them (3 cups water for 1 cup lentils) and you need to prepare it for at least 25 minutes.

8. Butter beans

butter beans

When it comes to the ultimate dried food that has the best nutrient profile for protein and energy, then dried beans will be number one. It also takes the most power and water to cook these beans effectively. Beans need to be soaked overnight to make them softer and easier to cook. You should also add some salt to the water which will allow it to cook even faster.

On a stove top, it can take up to 4 hours to cook the beans which takes a lot of energy or gas (if you use a gas stove). The best way to cook beans is with the help of a pressure cooker which can reduce the time to 50 minutes.

9. Powdered eggs

Powdered eggs are eggs that were dried in a food dehydrator. Eggs are a great source of protein and can last for years. The best way to use powdered eggs is to make French toast or Swedish pancakes. Just add some boiling water and salt to your taste. The amount of water that you will need will depend on how thick you want the mix to be.

10. Whey powder

Whey protein is also an excellent quality protein because it is made from dairy. It can easily be mixed with cold water as a refreshing drink to maintain your body weight. You can also mix it with your milk powder to provide a drink that is richer in taste and nutrition. Bodybuilders also use whey powder as a protein source for muscle recovery.

11. Cheese encased in wax

Forget about the sliced cheese you buy in supermarkets. You need to have the real deal where the cheese is entirely covered in wax. Cheese does not easily get spoiled from the inside out but will start to grow mold on the outside. The mold will then begin to eat the cheese from the outside in. You can eat the cheese as is or add it into your pasta.

12. Beef jerky

beef jerky

If you are a meat eater, then beef jerky is something that you must consider. You can make jerky by cutting meat into thin strips, trimming it from the fat, rubbing it with salt and then letting it dry. You can dry it with the help of a food dehydrator and also with the help of a fan somewhere away from the sun. You can eat jerky as a snack or add it to your stews and soups.

13. Wheat flour

Wheat flour is best used in baking bread and cakes. It can also be used as a thickening agent. It is high enough in energy, fiber, vitamins, and minerals to supplement a healthy diet. You can also make some pizza along with some of the other ingredients mentioned. Wheat flour can also be used as an ingredient in hardtack which is next on the list.

14. Hardtack

Hardtack can also be considered the 18th-century survival biscuit where it is made from wheat flour, salt, and water. Hardtack only uses 1/2 cup of water for each cup of wheat flour where it does not use a lot of water.

The only drawdown about this cracker is that it requires 60 minutes of oven power to bake. It is also very hard to eat and can easily break a tooth. The best way to eat this biscuit is with coffee, as a cereal or as a stew thickening agent.

15. Peanut Butter

How can I not mention peanut butter? Most people will consider peanut butter as comfort food. You should also make sure that you are not allergic to peanut butter or any of its contents. Peanut butter is high in energy, protein and also has some healthy fat in them. Spread it over a slice of bread or on a piece of hardtack.

Canned Food

There are three reasons why I have chosen canned food as a food that you can store for survival is that canning is a method for preserving food and has a shelf life from 1 up to 5 years. The second reason why I loved canned food is that it is already cooked.

You only need to heat it, and you are ready to go. The third reason for why I liked canned food is because of the variety. You can buy almost any type of food in a can. I once noticed that you could get a burger in a can, but I don’t know how that will taste.

1. Canned meat

canned meat

Canned meat can include many kinds of meat. The most common is going to be spam. It was first used in the second world war and consists of many different types of meat and also parts of animals. It can also be called corned beef.

You will also get canned fish such as sardines and pilchards which are very high in omega three fatty acids. You also have the option to buy canned meatballs or canned sausages which are also a great source of protein. There are also fish spreads, chicken and turkey canned meat.

2. Canned Fruit

canned fruit

Canned fruit is one of my favorite and will definitely in my survival pantry. The types of fruit that you will get in cans are peaches, guavas, cherries, pineapples, pears and also mixed fruit.

You can heat it and serve it along with your meal, or you can eat it out of the can at room temperature. Canned fruit provides a lot of energy in the form of sugar and polyphenols which are very healthy.

3. Canned vegetables

canned vegetables

When it comes to canned vegetables, you will have access to a large variety which is good. You get mixed vegetables, sweetcorn, carrots, peas, sauerkraut, green beans, tomato, mushrooms, baked beans, asparagus beetroot, chili and also chickpeas.

As you can see, there is a long list of all the different vegetables which gives you many recipes to work with. You can eat it at room temperature or mix it with spam on a heated pan to make spam stew.

4. Canned spaghetti

Canned spaghetti is also very tasty and nutritious. Most of the time you will get spaghetti in tomato sauce or mixed with meatballs. You also have the option to buy spaghetti rings which are also tasty.

You can also mix spaghetti with spam or vegetable or anything you like. It is already cooked and is an excellent option for those that do not want to cook the spaghetti themselves.

5. Canned stew or soup

If you do not feel like mixing anything and you want to have an already mixed meal, then canned stew is for you. Canned stew or soup can contain almost any combination of the vegetables and meat that I have discussed previously.

You can have beef, chicken, turkey, duck which are mixed with carrots, potatoes, peas, beans, and sweetcorn. This meal is the closest to having a well-balanced meal.

Cooking Oil

cooking oil for survival

You will need to have access to cooking oils if you decide to fry your food. I would not recommend a deep fryer because they take up too much power, you will rarely find one that works with gas. In a survival situation, cooking oil will only be useful in a pan burning on a gas stove or an open fire.

When it comes to cooking oil, you can use extra virgin coconut oil, olive oil, canola oil and also lard. Coconut and olive oil are probably the healthiest oils that you can use for cooking. Coconut oil will last the longest and has the least amount of fatty acids compared to all of the other mentioned.

Extra virgin coconut oil has a shelf life of around ten years which is very long. These fats are also great for adding some flavor to your food. Oils are an excellent source of energy and support the fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin A, D, E and K.

Lard is made out of pig fat and is also a good option for adding flavor to some of the foods. It can also be stored for long periods which can exceed two years.

Condiments & Seasonings


It is easy to forget about spices, seasonings and all of the other condiments that will add flavor to our food. Remember that the food will either canned or dried which means it will not be fresh so we need to do everything to make it taste as good as it can get.

1. Iodized salt and pepper

Have you ever eaten a meal that had no salt in it? I did, and it did not taste delicious. You can add salt to almost any food, and it will make it taste even better. Salt is also essential to keep our sodium levels up and also acts as a preservative in vegetables and meat. Pepper does not have any nutritional value but will make the food taste better by playing with your taste buds.

2. Molasses and sugar

Sugar will mainly be used along with the coffee and in some cases will make food such as pancakes and cakes taste better. I cannot imagine how a cake will taste without any sugar in it. Molasses is also a great and healthier alternative than sugar.

Molasses is the byproduct of the processing of sugar. It gives sugar a brownish color, and the fewer molasses are present, the whiter will the sugar be.

4. Worcestershire and Tabasco sauce

Worcestershire and Tabasco sauce can make any meaty meal taste good. Worcestershire will make the stews taste even better and also works well on eggs. Tabasco sauce tastes great with almost everything. It also has a hot taste to hit which most people desire.

5. Apple cider vinegar

Vinegar is an essential ingredient if you want to make food such as pickles, soups, salad dressings and also sauces. It is also a preservative and has many health benefits to it. You can also use it to clean surfaces and to clean your hair.

6. Herbs and Spices

There are hundreds of spices available in the supermarket today. I would not recommend you to buy a large variety of spices as they can take up a lot of space. Personally, I would only purchase dedicated spices for chicken, beef, vegetables, and fish.

If you want to take the individual route, then you can consider rosemary, oregano, basil, paprika, ginger, cinnamon, garlic powder, mustard and also curry.

7. Maple syrup

The best way that I use maple syrup is by pouring it over my oatmeal for breakfast. You can pour it over waffles, baked beans, pancakes and also french toast. Maple syrup is made from the maple tree and has a sweet taste to it.

8. Honey

Honey is high on energy and also has other amazing benefits for using. It also has a very long shelf life of up to two years which is a lot. It might crystallize but can quickly be returned to its viscous state by heating it.

You can add honey to your oatmeal or in your coffee. It has medicinal purposes where it is a potent antimicrobial and can be used as a salve to heal burns. It has a low glycemic index and is a healthier substitute that sugar.

Survival Bars And Candy

granola bars

Being in a survival situation will never be pleasant, and you need to do anything within your ability to keep your spirits high. This is the reason why wrapped bars and candy will make a great addition in your survival pantry. The survival bars that I will list need to last for at least six months and need to be rich in energy and nutrients.

The bars that I refer to is energy bars, chocolate bars, granola bars and also hard candy. Energy and chocolate bars are high in energy and can be easily carried. Granola bars are mixed with dried fruit and oatmeal which makes it an excellent addition for breakfast.

These bars are individually wrapped which makes them great for travel or bugging out. These bars are perfect for those that are on the move.

MRE (Meals Ready To Eat)

meal ready to eat

MRE stands for meals ready to eat and is also the staple for soldiers that are on missions. It is not very tasty but has all of the nutrients that your body will ever need. It can be stored for a very long time and requires minimal preparation before eating.

They can also be very expensive but will make an excellent addition for you and your family. Before you decide to buy them at bulk, first buy one packet and taste all of the foods to see if you are willing to eat it. Most of these packets once opened will last up to 72 hours.

Multivitamins & Minerals

multi vitamins and minerals

A good multivitamin can take you a long way in giving your body all of the micro nutrients it will need. When you are in a survival situation, you will have less access to freshly produced food which is why you will need a good supplement that will provide for your body in the long run.

You also have the option to buy each vitamin, but it is better to get a good multivitamin for the sake of simplicity.

Pet Food

dog food

How can you forget about your pet? If SHTF then you also need to make sure that you have enough food for your pets as well. A dog can help to protect you and your family from burglars or attackers. Cats can catch mice and rodents to keep your place clean.

Forget about the smaller dog food bags and buy the largest ones that you can get to save money. For cat food, you should make sure to buy enough canned food or pellets for them

Best Practices

If you can understand the basic principles behind a survival pantry, then your life will become a lot easier. In this section, I will cover essential topics such as food rotation, economy and also food storage.

Start Small

Food survival pantry

If the sky has not fallen yet, then why should you try to do everything at once? Storing a survival pantry takes time and planning and is almost impossible to do in one day without overwhelming yourself. You want to make good informed decisions so start planning first before heading to the store.

Have a look at your pantry to estimate how much open space you have available to fill. You can begin by building a 4-day supply and then building it until you have a week’s worth supply and then enough for a month etc. This strategy is especially useful for those that cannot afford to buy all of their items in bulk. You should also not wait until the last day to do this as you might not have another opportunity.

Do Not Store What You Cannot Eat

food that you cannot eat

If you are allergic to a specific food or you don’t like it, then do not buy it. To give you an example, last week I bought 2 liters worth of goats milk at a discount to mix with my fruit smoothies. I soon realized that I did not like the aftertaste of the milk, so I poured it down the drain.

If you have ever tasted goat milk, then you will know what I refer to. It was also more expensive than normal cow’s milk. The same goes for food allergies and intolerances. If you are allergic to nuts or dairy, then you should not buy it.

I once bought a bottle of coconut water and soon realized that I could not digest it and suffered from diarrhea. The lesson what I want you to learn here is that you should only buy food that you and your family will and can eat. This is the reason why you should start small and test the food first before you go all out.

Buy Bulk

buy food bulk

Okay, so now that you have a plan and you know which food you like and can tolerate, it is time to go bulk. Most of the times you will be able to buy products at bulk in large wholesale stores. The reasoning behind buying bulk is that you will save more money per item or per pound. If you purchase the units individually, you will pay more per item.

So which type products do you buy?

You only want to buy products bulk which has a very long shelf life as you do not want to waste your money on a product that will expire within a month or two. The best type of products to buy is canned products and dried products such as pasta, rice, grains, and beans. Protein powders are also an excellent example of a product that you can buy at bulk.

Food Rotation

food rotation

Some products will not last that long, so it is important to rotate them with fresh food once it has expired. Food rotation can be a hustle because there are so many products to keep track off. You can start by making a list of all the products you have stored and annotate the amount and a letter on them.

Let’s you bought 30 cans of baked beans then you can use a code such as AA30. The next product will be AB00, AC00, AD00 and so forth. Make sure that when you buy a large number of a specific product, that all of them have the same expiration date. One recommendation that I have is to have a large calendar available.

Then you should mark the code of the product to the month in which it will expire on the calendar. When packing your shelf, allocate a product with a code by marking it with a black marker and update your calendar. If the product has a shelf life which is longer than a year, then you can still mark it on the calendar but make a note of the year in which it will expire.

Once you have all of the product marked on the calendar, you only need to view the calendar once at the end of the month to know which products have reached their expiration date.

Optimize Storage Space

food storage and space

Optimizing storage space can be a problem especially if you live in a small apartment or house. If you have a large house and you can allocate an empty room specifically for storage, then it will be ideal. You can start by placing large detachable shelves against the walls of the room that you have allocated to place all of your food.

If you do not have a room to which you can allocate your emergency storage, then you should go through every room and look for empty cupboards and shelves. You can also store some of your food inside boxes and place the boxes in places such as under your bed, under a desk or in a closet.

You should also go through all of your closets and get rid of all the items that you do not need. You will be surprised to know how many spaces you will have available once you go through this process. Sometimes you will come across items that you rarely use which you can sell at a second-hand shop.

Food Preparation And Appliances

can opener

You have done all of the planning on getting your hands on food that has a long expiration date, but you do not have the tools or resources to prepare the food. In most cases, you will need to have energy and water to prepare most of the meals. Also make sure you have enough utensils such as knives, forks, and spoons.

Canned foods

Canned foods are already prepared, and you only need to to have the right tools to open the can. You can also heat the contents of the can in a pot or pan that is driven by a gas stove or open fire.

Dried and uncooked meals

The food that falls in this category is pasta, rice, grains, and beans. These foods will be your staple so make sure you have enough water to cook them in. Do not rely too much on power or electricity. Switch to gas operated stoves and make sure you have enough gas tanks stores somewhere outside your home. Also, make sure you have enough pots and pans to cook the meal.

Final Word

So now you know which foods to look out for if you decide to stack up on your survival pantry. Go through each section and make sure that you are familiar with each food and its type. 

You can also take a pen with a piece of paper and make a note of some of the foods that you would like to buy and test. 

Have you started your survival pantry yet? Leave a comment below and tell us what you have bought.

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