Are “Long-Term” Storage Foods That Important?

Posted on: August 26, 2015

This is going to fly in the face of a lot of what you’ve likely read or heard with regards to food storage but here goes: You don’t need to invest a ton of money into buying special “long-term” foods. Seriously, you really don’t. In fact, for many people doing so is just a bad idea all the way around.

A common question is some variation of, “What foods store the longest?” There are some foods, such as dried rice, honey, salt, and sugar, which will last essentially forever as long as they are protected from critters and the elements. They’ve found jars of honey, still perfectly preserved, sitting next to mummies several thousands of years old. That said, kinda hard to survive on just rice and honey.

Here’s the thing, folks. Shelf life, while important, falls far behind a few other considerations when choosing what to store. First and foremost is taste and personal preference. It makes absolutely ZERO sense to store food you don’t like to eat. I don’t care if you found it at an incredible price. If you don’t want to eat it now, you aren’t going to want to eat it later. Choose food items that you enjoy. Honestly, there is such a variety out there today, it would be foolish to do otherwise.

Many of the foods we eat regularly also happen to have long shelf lives. The aforementioned rice is a great example. Dried beans and canned goods are also commonly found in kitchens and pantries from coast to coast. These types of foods will last a long time and you’re already accustomed to eating them. Add a few extra bags or cans to your cart each time you go shopping and build up the supply slowly.

Second, choose foods that agree with you. We all have things we dearly love to eat but we pay for later, right? I mean, I love bananas but even just a few bites of one will give me stomach pains. If you’re considering adding a new food to your storage plan, try it first. Make sure it doesn’t give you indigestion. Disaster recovery is stressful enough without adding tummy troubles to the mix.

Another thing to keep in mind is that many, though certainly not all, of these special “long-term” foods require water to prepare. Water might be in limited supply, depending upon the nature of the disaster. Do you really want to be forced to choose between drinking the water and using it to prepare the only food you have on hand? If you’re going to invest in these long-term foods, plan ahead and be sure to store extra water as well.

Many long-term foods aren’t the healthiest things on the planet, either. Frequently they are loaded with sodium, which not only isn’t very good for you but will make you thirsty, causing you to consume more water. Now, I will freely admit I’m far from the healthiest eater on the planet so don’t take this as a pot meet kettle situation. But, you need to go into a food storage plan with both eyes wide open. If you’re going to rely upon these long-term foods as a primary source of sustenance, you’re going to suffer from some nutritional deficiencies unless you also stock up on vitamins and such.

A lot of these products are also fairly expensive. For the cost of one case (12 units) of MREs (Meals Ready to Eat), I could feed my family of five for several days. The food would be healthier, too.

Here’s one of my big issues with these special long-term storage foods. A proper food storage plan will incorporate regular rotation. Meaning, you use the food and replenish it as you go along. However, these long-term foods don’t encourage that practice. In fact, the whole point is that you can buy a few cases and they’ll be good for 25 years or more, right? This, to my mind, is the lazy man’s way to preparedness.

Now, with all of that said, I’m not suggesting you abandon any plans of buying these products. They have their place in some scenarios. You just need to determine for yourself if the long-term food option is right for you. What I suggest to most people is to concentrate their food storage plan on the things they already eat regularly but also have a stable shelf life, such as rice, dried beans, dried pasta, and canned goods. Then, add some long-term storage foods as a backup.

8 thoughts on “Are “Long-Term” Storage Foods That Important?

  1. We live on a sail boat and are getting ready to come back to the Pacific Northwest. For several years now we have used home canned Tuna we canned 10 years ago off the west coast. We have long-term food on our boat because of the weight. We would not use only the freeze dried or dehydrated. It would be supplemented with what we hunt, fish for, or grow. We have a seed vault of heirloom seeds. When we sail, we plant a little garden somewhere, on shore or an uninhabited island and come back a couple months later and pick whatever is still there. To our surprise one year, another cruiser had planted squash and cabbage beside our carrots, tomatoes and potatoes. What a surprise for us. We took a little of each and left some for others. I make jerky and fruit leather out of everything as well as can and dehydrate our own veggies. We can salmon and tuna when we can. Canned deer meat is so much better than canned beef. I feel with the store of staples we have we could be self-sufficient for a very long time. The reason for this post was to say that We use two of the prepared meal and add our own meat and veggies, casserole style and it makes for an awesome company dish. No one has guessed they were 25 year food.

  2. While I store beans,rice,canned goods ect I also store some of the freeze dried foods. I have # 10 cans of beef,chicken and vegetables to supplement and season and add flavor to the beans and rice. I also have some of the prepackaged meals as cooking rice and or beans can be time consuming and you can just add water to them to eat. As far as them being loaded with sodium I agree but canned food is also and if we have to change a lifestyle to one of hard manual labor you will need to consume more salt as you will sweat much more out. I feel food storage needs to have multiple options from staples like wheat,corn,beans,rice,sugar and salt and also canned goods both home caned and store caned along with food storage freeze dried.

  3. I can see if you’re just getting into prepping and you have a large chunk of money to get going to use the long term and short term. That way things aren’t all expiring at once.

  4. Hunkerdown said it all. Stocking dried beans, rice, flour, canned fruit and vegetables, pasta, etc. and making your own smoked meats, jerkeys, and fruit leathers will give you better nutrition and more calories per cubic inch then any bagged dehydrated garbage. You should include a seed vault if possible as well, it’s a small investment and a great long term food supply solution. (Learn the basics of canning, jarring, pickling, and curing)

    In my opinion the only real role for those buckets of ‘chunks + water = slop’ meals; is A situation where you MUST bug out and weight becomes the primary consideration.

  5. I’ve seen this kind of article before and while I agree there is sound advice in there, I also think it’s misleading. For me, the point of preparedness is for a real worst case scenario where there will be nothing on the grocery store shelves and no help to rely on (we live on the West coast where we’re due the ‘big one’ any time. Not to mention everything else that could go wrong in this precarious world.).
    While I do store canned goods and other store bought items, I have also invested in cases of 25-year food. I don’t intend to touch it or rotate it any time soon. It’s like an insurance policy and I don’t think taking out insurance is ‘lazy’, it’s being prepared for the worst. We do it for our houses, cars, appliances etc. Over the years we’ve all paid thousands of dollars in insurance premiums that we may never claim, so I think spending a few hundred on some food that will be there for the next 25 or so years is actually sensible rather than lazy. And for those of us not proficient in making our own stores like some of the posts here it’s about the best we can do! What if there comes a time when there’s no food to rotate? You’re stuck with what you’ve got, that’s what. Shame if that’s a tin of pinto beans that’s 10 years out of date.
    And to the other point about storing what you like: to be honest if it got to the point where my family was starving and there was no food available I don’t give a flying fudge whether I or they like the taste of the food or not, or if it’s got more sodium than we would normally eat (in a disaster scenario we wouldn’t be eating 3 meals and snacks a day so the sodium would likely balance itself), something to eat is better than nothing to eat. Along with supplements, I have bought a book on local plants that can be used for food and medicine so we can mix those in for essential nutrients.
    For water – invest in a water butt and a LifeStraw (you could drink farm puddle water with one of those).
    I keep MREs and sachet water in my car, along with a car safety & quake kit, just in case.
    Everything works, everything is relevant – what’s relevant and works for you? Don’t be put off if you like the idea of long-term food storage. This world is on the brink of…something. Be prepared any way you can.

  6. We store what we normally eat. Same as hunkerdown above. No worries at all we aren’t “tacti-cool” anyway!

  7. Most cans of fruit and veggies contain about a half cup of water in with
    the contents. i dont ever see this mentioned in food / water storage info
    It is in all truth not a very large amount of water, but it is there to be used.
    Just watch out for added sugar and salt if that is a concern.
    Having some fruit for instance packed with added sugar may be an additional source of sweetener to add to something else such as oatmeal
    if not eaten with the fruit.

  8. We dehydrate our own, order nothing on line, nothing of a commercial nature, and nothing anyone else has touched, except in the grocer. We got stuff that’s been underground in mason jars, and the mason jars in schedule 40 pvc pipe, since Moby Dick was a minnow and it’s still good. We rotate, we replenish, we eat very good, and healthy. If prepping doesn’t incorporate 100% of your life style then it isn’t prepping: It’s a hobby. thanks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *