Which Survival Foods To Buy?

When building your survival food pantry, it’s not always easy to know which survival foods to buy. Fortunately, you have two relatively easy solutions:

You can buy some of those “survival food” cans or packages that offer very long shelf lives so you don’t open them until you need them,


You can run down to your local supermarket and discover the huge selection that has been sitting there all along.

Both methods have their pros and cons. In this article, however, we’re going to consecrate upon the survival foods offered locally, just a few minutes from your home.

How to Spot Good Food Candidates for Your Emergency Pantry

Some foods are simply better candidates for your emergency pantry than others. Here are 6 easy-to-remember guidelines that will help you find foods made from healthy, nutritious ingredients and that will last a long time:

A Long Shelf Life
Naturally, you’re not going to find foods with 30 year shelf lives at your local food store. But you will find plenty of food options that can last up to a year or more. Check out the expire dates on food packaging and you’ll discover many great foods that your family will enjoy during even the worst of times.

Storage Durability and Suitability

Skip over most items that come in fragile packaging (like potato chip bags) and instead opt for products that come in cans or solid boxes. For the most part, avoid items that need to be kept frozen or cold—if you lose your electricity, they could easily spoil.

Criteria #3: Ease of Preparation
Foods that are ready to eat right out of the can or package are ideal for your pantry. Go easy on foods that need to be cooked—you may not have an operable stove or oven. Reheatable or rehydrated foods can be a bit easier to prepare since that usually takes fewer resources and fewer modern conveniences.

Nutritional Benefits

Be sure you select foods that are packed with nutrition. Avoid those empty comfort foods like chips or sweets. While some of those are OK (they lift spirits and boost morale), select healthy foods that will provide your family with the energy they’re going to need.

Since shelf space in your pantry is so precious, the more nutrition you can pack into a small space, the better.

Dietary Restrictions
Does someone in your family have a dietary restriction such as gluten or lactose? Then naturally you’ll want to avoid adding those foods to your emergency collection. Likewise, if you have religious restrictions over the types of foods you can eat, or if someone has a food he or she particularly does not like, then you’ll want to avoid those also.

Keep Space Limitations In Mind
As preppers, we like to say there’s never enough space for the emergency stores we’d like to have.

When you’re shopping, try to find foods that are densely packed (such as bags of rice or beans, for example). Vegetables are usually good candidates, but bags of pasta (half pasta, half air) are not.

Shelf Stable vs Non-Perishable

Shelf stable foods consistent mainly of canned foods that have a shelf life of a year or so, and for that reason have to be rotated from time to time to avoid spoilage.

In our pantry, we mark each can with the date we stocked it so that we can rotate it out a year later or on its expiration date.

Non-perishable foods, on the other hand, have a shelf life well beyond most other foods. They include items like white rice, dry black beans and hard white wheat—ideal staples for your emergency supply pantry. (See our food list below.)

Other great non-perishables include flour, sugar, spices, oils and other foods that do not require refrigeration after opening.

Which survival foods to buy?

Survival Foods You Can Buy Every Day

You may be surprised at the variety of survival foods available at your local food store. Here are just some of the options that will serve you well in your emergency pantry:

Here’s a great starter list of nutritious grains that can be a major part of your survival stores:

  • Long and short grain rice, and basmati (Indian)
  • All-purpose flour
  • Rolled oats
  • Quinoa
  • Cornmeal
  • Wheat berries
  • Dried corn
  • Popcorn
  • Cake flour
  • Pasta

Check out our article on
“How MUCH Food Should I Store?”


You’ll find an endless assortment of canned fruits and vegetables at your local store, plus raw foods that might be suitable for canning if you’re into that kind of activity.

The list is endless. Pay attention to expiration dates on cans, and rotate your stock regularly. Canned goods can last a year or even longer before expiring.

Beans are a rich source of protein and can be mixed with other foods for a delicious addition to your emergency food list:

  • Navy beans
  • Black beans
  • Pinto beans
  • Lima beans
  • Lentils
  • Kidney beans
  • Chickpeas/Garbanzo beans
  • Black-eyed peas

Adding fats to your emergency food diet helps foods taste better, improves satiation, and can last one to two years on the shelf:

  • Vegetable oil
  • Shortening
  • Lard
  • Peanut butter (rich in protein)
  • Olive oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Coconut milk (ideal for Indian and Thai dishes)

Canned meats are great to have on hand for emergencies, and you’ll find plenty of delicious options at  your local store, including these:

  • Sardines
  • Canned salmon
  • Vienna sausages
  • Canned tuna
  • Spam
  • Canned chicken
  • Dry-cured bacon
  • Imitation bacon bits
  • Country ham

Hung Up on Quantities?
See our article: “How MUCH Food Should I Store?”

Adding spices to your emergency pantry helps your otherwise bland foods taste better. Here are some of the popular spices you’ll want to stock up on:

  • Salt
  • Granulated sugar
  • Chicken bouillon
  • Italian seasoning
  • Honey
  • White vinegar
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Soy sauce
  • Cinnamon sticks
  • Garlic powder
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Chili powder
  • Paprika
  • Cumin

Not every food item at your local store works well for long term storage. Here are a few foods to avoid.

  • Granola. Who doesn’t love a good granola bar now and then? Unfortunately, they have a shelf life of 6 months or less. So if that doesn’t work for you, avoid granola entirely.
  • Nuts. Another product with a short shelf life. If you add them, remember to use them before they expire!
  • Brown rice. Due to an oily layer that limits shelf life to 6 or 12 months, you may want to select white rice as a much longer lasting survival food.
  • Whole wheat flour. Same as brown rice—short shelf life.
  • Beef jerky. Besides being expensive, it usually only lasts a year or two.

Which Survival Foods to Buy?
Your Options Are Almost Unlimited.

The good news is that much of what you will want to store is available locally. You don’t need to purchase huge buckets that you won’t open for 30 years. Visit your local supermarket. Make a few purchases every week.

Faster than you might think, you’ll have everything you might need.  

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