10 Best Foods for Long-Term Storage and How to Store Them

The last thing anyone wants is for food to be thrown away before it can be enjoyed, especially when it comes to food set aside for long-term storage. Whether you’re looking to stock up on shelf-stable staples, preparing for a natural disaster, or just wanting to know how to store food properly to ensure maximum freshness and edibility, these 10 best foods for long-term storage and their storage tips will get the job done. From hardy grains and hearty proteins to canned goods and even a few surprises, get ready to fill your pantry and your stomach with these time-tested favorites!

Quick Explanation of Key Question

Foods that keep well over long periods of time such as grains, powdered milk, legumes, nuts, canned meats, root vegetables, and dehydrated fruits are optimal options for long-term storage. Properly storing items in an airtight container in a cool, dry environment will help maintain their shelf life.

What Makes a Food Good for Long Term Storage?

What makes a food good for long-term storage? This is a complex question with several factors to consider. Generally, when deciding whether a food is suitable for long-term storage, one must consider the shelf life of the item, its nutritional content, and its ability to resist oxidation and degradation caused by light, heat, and humidity.

The shelf life of an item is particularly important since it affects how quickly the food can be consumed or rotated out of the pantry. Most canned goods have a shelf life of 3–5 years, while dry grains or beans can last up to 10 years or more in sealed containers. Properly stored nuts and dried fruits, too, remain edible for many years as well. Meanwhile, frozen foods tend to fare better at colder temperatures and can generally last much longer than typical canned or dried goods.

Nutrition also plays an important role in determining whether an item is suitable for long-term storage. Foods that are nutrient dense are preferable since their contained vitamins and minerals won’t be extinguished over time like their lessnutritious counterparts (i.e., highly processed items). This allows us to reap maximum nutritional benefits from stored food over extended periods of time. It also helps ensure that we are consuming healthy foods with high vitamin and mineral levels even during times of shortage or emergency scenarios.

Finally, proper preservation techniques are essential to preserve the freshness, flavor, and qualityof stored food items. Different foods lend themselves to different preservation methods—such as canning, freezing, pickling—but all preservation methods share common goals: they help prevent spoilage due to oxidation and degradation caused by light, heat, and humidity. As such, it’s important to store food items in cool and dark locations so they remain edible for longer periods of time.

Overall, it’s important to select foods with good shelf life values; use proper preservation techniques; and choose nutrient-dense options whenever possible when stocking up on supplies for long-term storage. Now that we understand what makes a food good for long-term storage let’s discuss how we can ensure we’re getting quality food items that pass these criteria in our next section: “Quality of Food”.

Quality of Food

When considering long-term storage, the quality of food is one of the most important elements to consider. Quality and shelf-life are major parts of ensuring your stored food stays optimal for consumption for when you need it. As such, many key factors can determine how long each type of food can be stored before its quality begins to decline. These include how quickly it spoils; the conditions under which it must be stored; environmental factors such as temperature, humidity, and light; and when it was harvested or last processed.

Therefore, you should always try to select quality products that have been freshly harvested or produced. Freshly harvested foods maintain more of their nutrients and taste than those that have been in storage for a while, so they are much better suited for both short-term and long-term storage. Buying organic when possible is also a good idea since it ensures that nothing artificial has been added to the food.

Another factor to consider is whether or not the food needs to be cooked before eating (e.g., canned beans). If this is the case, make sure to check the expiration dates on all containers before purchasing because these could vary depending on how long ago the food was processed. This is especially important for canned goods because after a certain date, their quality may begin to significantly decline.

Finally, there will always be certain types of foods better suited for long-term storage than others because they are naturally more durable or require minimal care while in storage (i.e., no refrigeration needed). Choosing such foods could help ensure your stored food remains at its highest quality over time.

Quality of food plays an integral role in determining what type of food best suits your long-term needs. However, nutrition value is just as important for selecting the most beneficial sources of sustenance in the long run. In the next section we will discuss important nutritional considerations for selecting well balanced foods that can provide essential macro- and micronutrients during future times of need.

  • According to the National Center for Home Food Preservation, vacuum sealed glass jars, plastic containers and cans with airtight seals are the best containers for long-term food storage.
  • A study published in 2015 found that properly processed canned foods can be stored safely for up to five years at room temperature.
  • A study from 2019 indicates that freeze dried and dehydrated fruits and vegetables retain the most nutritional value when compared to other long-term food storage methods.


Quality of food is an important factor to consider when preparing for long-term storage. Freshly harvested foods retain more of their nutrients and taste and are better suited for both short-term and long-term storage. Canned goods should be checked for expiration before purchasing, as their quality may decline significantly after a certain date. Certain types of foods are better suited for long-term storage than others due to not needing refrigeration or requiring minimal care. Additionally, the nutritional value of food should also be taken into consideration for well balanced sustenance in the future.

Nutrition Value

Now that it’s been established which foods are the best for long-term storage, it’s time to consider their nutrition value. It’s no secret that canned goods typically have less nutritional value than fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, but some thought needs to be taken when choosing canned items. Vitamins A, D and K are naturally present in many fruits and vegetables but can be damaged over time through exposure to light and heat. For this reason, it’s important to stock up on canned items with low sodium or added sugars if possible.

On the other hand, longer shelf-life is a great asset of dried food products such as legumes, grains and nuts that can provide an excellent amount of protein. The process of drying these products will reduce their nutritional values somewhat but both vitamins and minerals will remain at a considerably higher rate than their canned counterparts.

Powdered milk is also a great source of protein, carbohydrates and B complex vitamins as well as vitamin A but must be weighed against its tendency to clump if not stored correctly. While storing food for long periods of time can sometimes mean sacrificing some of the desired levels of nutrition needed, having access to quality items may still be beneficial.

To conclude, when considering nutrition value in relation to long-term storage foods, it’s important to balance out convenience with nutrients. Taking a few extra steps during shopping, packing and storage can help preserve the nutritional value of stored items while keeping them accessible over the long term.

Next, we move on to talk about what conditions allow for long-term storage.

What Conditions Allow for Long Term Storage?

When it comes to preserving food for the long term, all conditions are not created equal. The ideal temperature for storing food is between 55-75 degrees Fahrenheit (12.7-23.8 Celsius). This range can be difficult to maintain in many environments and some foods may require very specific conditions that make them more difficult to preserve. It’s important to consider the following factors before selecting a storage method:

Humidity: Foods can contribute to or be affected by humidity levels in their environment. Humidity control is especially important when storing grains and cereals, as too much will affect their shelf life. Dehydrating and storing in airtight containers are two methods of controlling relative humidity.

Air Flow: A high airflow helps to prevent mold and other contaminants from forming on the surface of stored food products. Low airflow, however, can create stale conditions, impairing the food quality over time. Fans and circulation systems can help improve air flow during food storage.

Light: Direct light exposure can have a negative effect on stored food over time. Properly sealed containers help protect against light damage and maintain fresh flavors and textures for longer periods of time.

With so many variables at play when it comes to preserving food for long-term storage, it is important to educate yourself about best practices in order to choose the right combination of methods for your needs. The next section will discuss how temperature plays an important role in maintaining freshness and increasing the longevity of stored items.


When it comes to long-term food storage, temperature plays a crucial role in preserving the quality and safety of food. While some foods can be stored at room temperature, most are best kept in cooler temperatures.

For dry food storage, like pasta, beans, and grains, keeping them in airtight containers exposes them to less oxygen which helps preserve their quality for a longer period of time. Foods stored at cooler temperatures help slow the growth of bacteria and fungi and control enzymatic reactions that can spoil or degrade the quality of foods. For perishables items like fruits, vegetables, dairy products and meat, optimal temperature ranges should be maintained between 32-40°F to prevent spoilage and maximize their shelf life.

At the same time, extreme cold temperatures are not always necessary because they can have an adverse effect on certain foods. For example, seafood exposed to intensified levels of coldness can create a frozen muscle tissue that renders it tasteless and flavorless. The addition of more fat also increases its sensitivity to coldness so seafood should only be stored at temperatures close to freezing.

To guard against temperature fluctuations, it is recommended to monitor the storage area frequently for maximum efficiency. Consequently, when considering food storage for long term use, it is important to consider your storage environment carefully and the temperature at which you store your food items.

This section has explored how temperature affects the longevity of food items during long-term storage. The following section will delve into how other environmental factors such as light exposure, humidity and airflow impact long term food storage.


Environment is an important factor in thinking about long-term food storage. The right environment can mean the difference between food that lasts for decades and food that has gone bad after just a few months. When considering long-term food storage, it’s important to consider temperature, relative humidity, ventilation, and light.

Temperature should be kept at a fairly constant level, ideally between 55 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Extreme temperatures should be avoided, as they can speed up the rate of spoilage. Relative humidity should also be kept relatively low, around 60%, to avoid mold growth on stored food. Proper ventilation is also important to help keep foods fresh for longer periods of time. Incorporating fans or ventilators can help keep air moving, maintaining optimal levels of oxygen and removing excess moisture from the space where the food is being stored.

Light should be limited in some cases when storing food for extended periods of time. Light has the ability to degrade certain types of foods more quickly due to its spectrum of frequencies that trigger reactions in organic molecules within food. Limiting the amount of ultraviolet radiation hitting stored food can dramatically increase its shelf life by slowing down these reactions significantly.

Considering all aspects of the environment before deciding on a place to store your food is an essential step in making sure your long-term storage goals are achieved successfully.

With all of that said, what are the most popular foods for long term storage?

What Are the Most Popular Foods for Long Term Storage?

When it comes to long-term food storage, there is no one size fits all solution. Everyone’s preference for food storage will vary greatly based on individual tastes, geographical location, and what resources are available in the area. With that being said, some of the most popular foods for long-term storage include grains, legumes, beans and nuts.

Grains are a staple food in many cultures and have been used for a variety of items including cereals, pastas, flours and other baked goods. Their longevity and versatility makes them an ideal choice for long-term storage. In addition, grains require minimal processing before they can be eaten, making them more accessible than other foods. When stored properly, grains can last up to thirty years without spoiling.

Legumes are another great choice for long-term food storage as they offer both carbohydrates and protein in one package. Though their shelf life is shorter than grains, legumes can still last up to five years with proper care. Popular choices for legume storage include lentils, peas and split peas among others. Additionally, legumes can also be sprouted to help extend their shelf life even further.

Beans are similar to legumes but have slightly different nutritional content and shelf life potentials. Certain types of beans can last up to ten years when held in the right conditions while others may only last a few months of poor handling or incorrect storing techniques. Commonly canned or dried beans are favored amongst those who choose to store their own foods due to their nutritional advantages and easy availability.

Lastly, nuts are another reliable option when it comes to long-term food storage options. Nuts contain essential fatty acids which make them an excellent source of both energy and nutrition no matter what type is chosen. Most types of nuts can last anywhere from six months to two years with proper storage techniques employed during preservation. Almonds, walnuts and pecans are popular choices for nut storage but any nut can provide you with lasting sustenance over time.

Considering these various popular food choices makes it easy to understand why so many people opt for the long-term storage option when planning meals or building stockpiles of food supplies. The next section will outline the specifics of how best to store these popular items with grains being our primary focus this time around.


When it comes to long-term storage of food, grains should be at the top of the list. Grains are nutrient-dense and full of vitamins, fibers, minerals, and essential oils. Whole grains, such as oats, millet, brown rice, quinoa, bulgur wheat, and barley, have both high protein and high energy that make them an excellent choice for extended shelf life.

Grains also store well in a variety of conditions. When stored properly in airtight containers or bags in a cool and dry place away from sunlight or excessive heat, grains can easily last for up to two years. Moreover, sealed facilities can offer additional protection from contamination or bug infestations.

It’s important to note that some debate does exist as to whether or not white rice should be included among the “grains” due to its lesser nutritional content compared with whole grains. Advocates of white rice argue that it is convenient because it cooks quickly and is easy to digest. On the other hand, nutritionists caution against relying solely on white rice as a source of carbohydrates and suggest that more nutritious grains be consumed instead.

Overall however, grains prove to be an essential component of preparedness planning when considering their caloric density and extended shelf life. As such they represent a viable option for stocking up on food reserves for long-term storage.

Next we will discuss how to store fats & proteins for longevity in storage.

Fats & Proteins

Fats and proteins are essential components in creating a safe and long-lasting food storage solution. Fats and proteins help preserve other foods being stored, provide additional nutrition to meals, and can offer a unique flavor profile.

Beef is a great source of both fat and protein, and it can be preserved through salting, drying, or curing. This form of food preservation was used by Native Americans and pioneers alike. Salted beef can last up to 7 years if kept in the right environment. Dried beef (known as jerky) has an even longer storage life of 8 to 10 years. For those looking to stock up on proteins for the long run, these methods are well worth considering.

Though relatively high in fat content, fish is also an excellent source of protein when considering long-term storage solutions. Canned tuna and sardines are great options for storing in moderate climates as cans can act as effective barriers against air and bacteria. If opting for frozen fish, it should be consumed within 6 months for optimal freshness.

On the fat side, extra virgin olive oil is an incredibly healthy source that can last up to 1 year if stored properly out of direct sunlight in a cool, dark environment. Coconut oil is another excellent option that lasts even longer due to its higher saturated fat content—up to 3 years!

Cheese is a great option for increasing your intake of both fat and protein while preserving them over the long term at the same time. A harder cheese like Parmesan has an extremely long shelf life if vacuum-sealed—up to 10 years! Alternatively, processed cheeses like cheddar and American have shorter lifespans with little compromise on taste quality; 2 to 3 years depending on packaging type.

In conclusion, fats and proteins play an integral role in creating a sustainable food storage solution for the long-term future. With careful consideration on which products you choose coupled with appropriate storage methods you should have no trouble preserving them over time.

What Are the Best Storage Methods? In the next section we will discuss practical tips for storing your food items safely such as vacuum-sealing, freezers, refrigerators, dry areas etc., so that you can enjoy the benefits of your carefully selected food items for many years down the line.

What Are the Best Storage Methods?

When it comes to food storage, the best methods depend on the type of food being stored. To ensure freshness and maximum shelf life, some foods must be kept refrigerated or frozen while others have longer shelf lives when kept at room temperature. It is important to note that while some foods may last longer when stored at higher temperatures, they may still spoil if exposed to temperatures that are too hot or too humid.

Refrigeration is a great option for short-term storage of many types of food, including meat, dairy products, and certain fruits and vegetables. Since refrigerators typically reach temperatures of 38 degrees Fahrenheit and below (4 degrees Celsius and below), many food items can be safely stored for days or weeks without spoiling. As an added benefit, the cool temperatures slow down the enzymatic actions which cause food to ripen and spoil.

For long-term storage, freezing is typically the most reliable method as freezing slows down enzymatic work and prevents bacteria growth even further than refrigeration. This makes it ideal for storing most meats, as well as baking staples like dough and butter, with little to no degradation in quality. Additionally, freezing can also lengthen the shelf life of various fruits and vegetables by up to three months or more, depending on the item.

Many items often thought of as “canned goods” do not actually need to be canned in order to be stored effectively. With traditional home canning techniques no longer regarded as safe, modern methods involving airtight plastic jars or containers are preferred options by health experts for both short-term and long-term storage solutions. The airtight nature of these containers traps moisture in and preserves the food inside from bacteria, helping them last for 6-12 months.

Though there is no single storage method that works for all types of food items, understanding the effects temperature has on their shelf lives will go a long way toward making sure you get the most out of your expanding pantry. In our next section we will discuss what foods should be avoided for long-term storage so that you can make the most informed choices for your kitchen!

What Foods Should Be Avoided for Long Term Storage?

When it comes to what food is best for long-term storage, there are some foods that can make the cut. However, as mentioned earlier, there are also certain foods to avoid. In general, when looking to store food for longer periods of time, it is best to avoid any food with a high water content—this includes vegetables, fruits, and dairy—as the moisture encourages the growth of bacteria and fungi.

You should also avoid storing any food that contains fats or oils in them. Storing them can cause them to become rancid and spoil quickly, making them unsafe to consume. Additionally, cooked foods should be avoided as well as they can easily contain bacteria due to their higher temperature and are more prone to spoilage. Lastly, any fresh meat products such as poultry, fish, and beef should be avoided. As these types of food contain higher levels of proteins it can cause the growth of harmful bacteria if not refrigerated or frozen properly.

It is important that you take into consideration these potential risks when stocking up on long-term storage food items. However, despite these considerations it is possible to find non-perishable items that have long storage life times if stored properly.

Conclusion & Final Thoughts:

Though there are many precautions to consider when choosing and storing long-term storage food items, you can still find some items with a long shelf life if you store them correctly. Having an understanding of which items work best and maintain good sanitation while preparing your meals will ensure your food stores remain safe throughout their shelf life. In the next section we will take a look at how you can maximize your storage time by using proper techniques at each step from purchasing your supplies all the way through proper preparation and storage techniques.

Conclusion & Final Thoughts

When it comes to long-term food storage, planning and preparation are essential for optimal results. It can be intimidating to start from scratch, but with the proper supplies and a bit of research, it is entirely possible to create a stockpile of these 10 best foods for long-term storage that will last for months or even years.

All of the items mentioned above can provide an adequate amount of energy and nutrition for survival in many types of emergencies. But some foods fare better than others in terms of long-term storage. Listed above were grains, legumes, rice, dried fruits, nuts and seeds, honey, salt, oil, canned goods and powdered milk.

Each of these foods can be stored properly to maintain their quality and durability. With the right techniques and supplies – such as oxygen absorbers, mylar bags and airtight containers – you can easily stock up on these foods to be ready for any situation.

Choosing the right foods that are cost-effective and nutritious is key for successful long-term food storage. When dealing with this type of project, it is important to think about what types of scenarios could occur and plan accordingly. This way you will have enough food on hand to sustain yourself during tough times without having to worry about running out or going through it quickly.

Ultimately, having a well-stocked pantry will make a huge difference in times of emergency or disaster. The key is picking the right foods that are cost-effective yet packed with nutrients needed by people in order to survive difficult periods. Store them up properly following the right protocol and you’ll be able to make your food stock last for months or even years ahead!

Responses to Common Questions with Explanations

Which types of food are best suited for long term storage?

The best types of food for long-term storage are those that can be easily canned or dehydrated, as well as those with a long natural shelf life. Canned goods like beans, tomatoes, and tuna have an incredibly long shelf life as they are preserved in an air-tight container. Dehydrated foods such as fruits, vegetables, and grains can also last up to several months when stored properly. Lastly, certain foods naturally store very well over long periods of time when stored in the right environment with the correct humidity and temperature levels, such as potatoes, root vegetables, grains and nuts. All of these items are great options for long-term storage because of their durability and longevity.

How can I ensure that the food I store is still safe to eat after long term storage?

The best way to ensure that food is still safe to eat after long term storage is to store it correctly. This means choosing airtight containers and storing the food in a cool, dry environment away from sunlight and humidity. Additionally, consider using vacuum sealing to remove excess air from the containers which can speed up the process of spoilage. It’s also important to regularly check the contents of the containers for any signs of mold or mildew and discard any foods that are not in good condition. Finally, make sure to always keep food stored for long-term at or below 40 F (4 C) and pay attention to any expiration dates on packaged items such as canned goods. Following these steps can help you ensure that the food you store will remain safe to consume long after it has been stored.

What are the best methods for preserving food for long term storage?

The best methods for preserving food for long-term storage are:

1. Canning: This process requires heating and sealing food in airtight jars or cans to prevent bacteria from growing and preserve the flavor and nutrients.

2. Dehydration: This method involves removing moisture from food, halting the growth of bacteria, making it a great way to maximize shelf life.

3. Freezing: By freezing food at extremely cold temperatures, you can extend its life span significantly and maintain its nutritional content.

4. Vacuum Sealing: Removing oxygen from the environment helps to reduce spoilage and keep food fresh for months or even years.

5. Pickling: Pickling is a popular way to preserve foods with acidic components like vinegar or lemon juice that slow down the growth of bacteria.

6. Fermenting: Fermentation creates an anaerobic environment which limits the amount of oxygen available for bacterial growth and preserves flavors, vitamins, and minerals naturally present in foods.

7. Curing: The process of curing meats and fish involves exposing them to salt which helps to stop microbial growth and reduce spoilage over time.

8. Sugaring/Syruping: Adding sugar or syrup to fruits preserves them by creating an environment that is less conducive for bacterial growth but still allows the fruit’s flavor to stay intact.

9. Smoking: Smoking foods exposes them to nitrogen smoke which inhibits the presence of oxygen and prevents spoilage while adding unique flavors at the same time.

10. Salting: Salting is another way of drying out moisture, which slows down the reproduction rates of bacteria resulting in longer shelf life for your food items!

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