13 Survival Foods You Should Always Have at Home

Ashley Hetrick
By Ashley Hetrick February 23, 2018 12:08

13 Survival Foods You Should Always Have at Home

Most of us have heard that the average American has less than 3 days worth of food at home.  That means we’re only 72 hours away from a food riot should supply lines be disrupted.  Even if you don’t have the money on hand to invest in food storage, there are certain foods you should always keep on hand to form the basis of your survival meals.

1. Baby Formulababy formula

Really?  Even if you don’t have babies?  Yes!

Baby formula is designed to be everything a body needs to survive.  Infants live exclusively on formula.  No water.  No solid food.  Nothing else.

Powdered infant formula tastes a whole lot better than powdered milk, and it’s better for you.  Dried and sealed, infant formula lasts for years.

Related: How To Choose, Use & Store Protein Powder for Preppers

Beyond that, if you’re planning to survive for the long haul, you never know when there may be an infant that needs tending.  While breastfeeding is an obvious solution, there are many reasons why that might not be possible.

If you’re storing formula powder, make sure you use clean or sterilized water to reconstitute it.

If you’re adamantly against baby formula for whatever reason, consider protein powder.  It wont help you feed infants, but it’s nearly as versatile when it comes to feeding adults and older children.

2. White Flourwhite flour

White flour lasts for a year, and has a surprising amount of protein.  While historically, people living on a mostly white flour diet had trouble with nutritional deficiencies, modern flour has vitamins and minerals added to it.

Related: How to Make Acorn Flour

With a little know how, all you need is white flour, water and salt to make good bread using wild yeast.

3. Coconut Oilcoconut oil

Along with white flour, a ready source of fat will go a long way to boost moods and fill stomachs.  Coconut oil has a long shelf life, and manufacturers say it should be good as the day it was bought for 2 years.  Practically speaking, it’s good much longer than that, and you likely wont notice a difference if you’re eating 5 year old coconut oil that’s been properly stored.

Unlike many other types of oil, coconut oil has the added benefit that it’s tasty even if you don’t have facilities for cooking.  Mash in a bit of sugar and coco powder and you’ve got yourself coconut oil truffles for comfort food and a ready source of energy, no cooking required.

4. Saltsalt

Salt is often touted as a survival food, but in reality you don’t actually need to eat much salt to survive.  Very small amounts will keep you healthy, and you’ll need to learn to adjust from our modern salt heavy diet.

The real reason to keep salt is for food preservation.  If you happen to be lucky enough to acquire fresh meat, salt is the only thing you need to keep it from spoiling.  Charcuterie is the art of preserving every part of the animal with little more than salt and technique, and transforming it into something spectacular in the process.

Before you find yourself in a survival situation, learning the basics of preserving meat without refrigeration could mean the difference between surviving and thriving.

In a pinch, cover the meat in salt.  A lot of salt.  Cover it completely and keep it covered.  It may not quite be the same as prosciutto, but it wont spoil.

5. Home-Canned Fruits, Vegetables & MeatsHome-Canned Fruits, Vegetables & Meats

 You’ll notice I say “home canned” rather than purchased.  Why?

Because once you open up a can of home canned hamburger, pasta sauce or potatoes, you still have something very valuable: a canning jar.

Beyond that, if you canned them yourself you also have the knowledge to do it again.  Store bought canned food will get you through the short term emergency, but the knowledge and equipment to refill those jars will carry you through the long haul.

If you’re going to spend money buying food, my personal preference would be dried fruit and meat.  Dried fruits and meats are light and portable, and keeping a store of water and dried fruits is much more versatile than a store of canned foods.

Beyond that, in a cold climate, canned foods may freeze and blow their seals unless keeping the storage room climate controlled.  I’d rather focus on keeping my family warm than having to worry about keeping the food at a good temperature at the same time.

Canned food is handy in many situations, because it’s instant.  You can open up a can and eat it as is with no preparation.  That convenience alone is worth keeping canned food around.  But for the best use of my dollar, if I’m going to store canned food, it’s canned food that I’ve put up myself at little cost. Also, here are 14 must-have canned foods you didn’t know existed.

6. Dried Fruits and Meatdried fruits

As I’ve said, dried fruits and meats are versatile.  They can be eaten out of hand or boiled along with other foods into a stew if you have cooking facilities.  They’re light and travel well in an emergency.

Dried fruits in particular will help keep your digestive system healthy in a crisis.  If your diet is otherwise nothing more than white flour and emergency survival foods, having raisins or prunes around to keep things moving along will make everyone a lot happier and healthier.

Related: 7 Super Cheap Foods To Stockpile That People Usually Throw Away

7. Peanut Butterpeanut butter

Not only is peanut butter a comfort food, it’s also full of protein and healthy fats that will keep you satisfied long after a meal.  It can be eaten right out of the container for a quick energy boost, and fully sealed containers last for years on the shelf.

8. Vitaminsvitamins

Nutritional deficiency can destroy your health.  In lean times, our ancestors had to contend with not only feeding themselves, but ensuring a balanced enough diet to prevent debilitating deficiencies.

A single cheap bottle of multi-vitamins can balance out nutritional gaps, and allow you to focus on calories rather than vitamin content.  Most vitamin brands have way more than the recommended daily amount of most key vitamins, so even a single vitamin per week per person can mean a dramatic improvement to their health.

9. Granolagranola

There are a lot of shelf stable snack foods.  Why go with granola?

It’s high calorie, with roughly 700 calories per cup, and at the same time it’s nutritionally balanced.  The mix of whole grains, nuts and sugars mean that granola is a complete meal that you can eat while on the move.

Granola also has a long shelf life, and it’s light and portable.

10. Dry Beans & Ricedried beans and rice

I’m calling this a single item, because you should always keep both beans AND rice.  Together they form a complete protein and the contents of a 5 gallon food storage bucket can feed you for a month for about $20.  Assuming you have the fuel to cook, there’s no better way to store calories and nutrition than a balance of beans and rice.

11. Sugarsugar

With a grocery store just around the corner, sugar is cheap and readily available.   For now.  In an emergency, sugar is a excellent source of energy and it’ll be scarce without global trade.

Sugar can also be used in food preservation, which will expand your foraging options.


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Ashley Hetrick
By Ashley Hetrick February 23, 2018 12:08
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  1. Pam February 28, 14:19

    Thank you for this article. It is one of the best I have read on the topic of food storage. These things are very doable. I learned a few new things, and that is a huge deal for me to find new ideas. I don’t worry about SHTF or the walking dead showing up. I do worry about hurricanes, as one who lived through many of them and found ourselves without power for weeks at a time. I can tell you that it leaves a lasting impact on your young mind. It was not a day at summer camp. Great ideas, well written. Thank you, again.

    Reply to this comment
  2. wonder February 28, 17:17

    I agree with you but on the white flour lasting for at least a decade I don’t know. All the charts I’ve seen show it to last about a year. they all recommend to store the wheat berries and grind as needed. They are suppose to last for 30 plus years if put up correctly.

    Reply to this comment
    • Raven June 13, 05:37

      The article actually says white flour lasts 1 year. 🙂

      Reply to this comment
      • Doug July 26, 20:14

        Raven, im 76 have stored food for 30 years. right now im using flour i put up in five gallon cans in 1992. its fine. I have 55 gallon barrels (plastic food grade) that have pure wheat kernals stored in them for sprouting of grinding. Put there in 1985. it is still usable. Key to storage of wheat and flour is the use of spearment gum and /or bay leaves. it kills the weevils. period. works great. I have also had powdered milk and eggs since 1975 still perfect. What keeps it that way is storage in an environment that doesnt change with the seasons. Earth on three sides insulated on top and the first two feet of the out side walls . Temp never deviates from 45-55 all year. so dont worry. Just make sure you have it.

        Reply to this comment
    • Tom July 26, 16:03

      I will write the following but do not take it as gospel…I saw a video on storing flour..what the guy did was sterilize his canning jars…then after they were thoroughly dried he filled them with flour and put them in the oven ..I THINK ..at 250 degrees some set time..then took them out and put the lids on…supposedly it killed all the eggs…I have also understood that freezing the flour for 48 hours did the same..

      Reply to this comment
      • Teapot Tootsie January 21, 16:31

        I have been freezing my ground grains and rice for many years–never been what you all call a prepper. Just do a lot of things I learned from my elders. Only had weevels once when I did not freeze. I like to make hardtack which is just flour salt and water. when constituted you can make bread, cake, pudding, soup thickener, etc. Just have to have a lot. I mostly throw some squares in soup. Just know what keeps a long time. Always have a variety of beans, corn, rice, and oats. When you only have a little flour you grind some of these to add to it for bread.

        Reply to this comment
    • Doug July 26, 20:09

      if your are going to store flour make sure to put spearmint gum in the mix. it will keep flour weevil free. or bay leaves

      Reply to this comment
    • Wizzardlevel9 August 28, 17:12

      I have found that in a warm humid Semi-tropical climate like in south Louisiana; if the flower is not stored in a sealed container or refrigerator you will get weavals in it in just a few months.

      Reply to this comment
  3. Enigma March 2, 04:46

    In North America white flour is chemically bleached. It’s not good for you.

    Better to store rice, oatmeal, unbleached corn flour and meal, and unmodified semolina (pasta).

    Natural full grains may also be acquired, continuously in Mormon manner recycled, and once into a crisis eaten for a few months (say, over Winter), but if a crisis endures there needs to be suitable land for planting them.

    Natural full grains are susceptible to yeasts, fungi, and ergot, so their storage isn’t as simple as denatured ones.

    Reply to this comment
  4. Frank April 25, 03:02

    When people talk about the cost of stocking food I don’t see it as that difficult if you take advantage of sales and good deals. I know it’s hard sometimes to see oneself buying a dozen jars, cans or boxes of something they don’t eat everyday or what amounts to more than double the usual amount, but buying food on sale is the easiest way to stockpile on a budget. Of course when you need it and it’s there, you’ll feel good about your purchases.

    And by learning how to dehydrate, can, smoke or even freeze dry fresh foods, we can add more variety to our pantry. Even using a vacuum sealer can help by extending the life of store bought or home prepared foods. Sprouting can provide fresh nutrition when vegetables are not available or we’re not able to garden.

    I liked this article because it covered some of usual staples that are long lasting, but also foods that create better meals or add nutritional value. I’d like to be setup with buckets of grain and the ability to make flour, but until that time, I can learn to store store bought flour to make it last longer.
    Sometimes we have to compromise between trying to do it all ourselves and buying stuff ready to use.

    Reply to this comment
  5. Enigma May 1, 04:02

    Generally speaking in historical terms, only isolated persons tried to ‘do it all’. As soon as any sort of community began to build, people began to specialize. That’s how specialties such as miller, baker, cobbler, and candlestick-maker developed.

    Reply to this comment
    • Dreaded January 21, 16:04

      Yes I agree with you Enigma that will happen in a long term shtf but not the first months to a year.
      What I am saying is there will not be the specialised style groups unless they are already organized.
      So for the first year I believe it will be friends and family groups mostly unorganised. There may be like me one individual that has the knowledge in that family to help them survive but they will lose people due to not enough food, water or protections. Then those small groups will start attacking other groups to take their food etc. This will not be my group I hope lol because I am an old he cunn that knows how to gather, hunt and fish. I am not preparing beyond having some ammo, guns, bows and a few meds because anything you prepare like 2 months or more of food can not be carried with you if you have to leave the area. In most cases you will have to leave to survive.

      Reply to this comment
  6. Stumpy May 28, 21:33

    You can make your own nut butter, Almonds, Pecans, Brazil nuts whatever you want. I’ve even seen cookie butter.

    Reply to this comment
  7. Enigma June 14, 14:03

    There are at least three ways of preserving grain meals and flours. One is continuous deep freezing (below 0F), by replacing oxygen in a sealed container, or via desiccation. (Latter should go immediately into water-excluding sealed containers too.)

    Replaced-oxygen method may be implemented by partially filling large metal popcorn cans with flour/meal, pouring in liquid nitrogen to fill to top, retopping can with its lid, and then duct-taping lid to can. Should last for years. No idea about taste.

    Can personally testify that packaged semolina pasta (essentially desiccated flour) lasts for years. That’s the cheapest and easiest form of storing grain starches.

    Reply to this comment
  8. Loisdelene July 23, 15:14

    I am prepping for the BLACKOUT. I have flour, sugar, oatmeal, cornbread mix, grits, pasta and many other dry goods. I have these stored in boxes in a spare bedroom. How long can I expect them to be good for? some I have had stored for 3 years, Should I vacuum seal them? I am running out of space. I canned over 600 jars of food over the last 4 years too.

    Reply to this comment
  9. Enigma July 24, 10:33

    Loisdelene et alia: When storing food, you currently should be eating the oldest stuff, and replacing those items with newer (and more?) stuff at the ‘other end’. Think in terms of a conveyor.

    Simplest arrangement is to have a ‘corridor’ or circulating (when it’s in a room) pantry. Oldest preserved items are nearest kitchen, and newest further away. That’s principally _preserved_ items, fresh items should get handled differently.

    Fully-desiccated denatured (no living kernel) grains and items such as beans may be stored for very long periods, but when those items approach 3-5 years you should be either eating them, feeding them to animals, or plowing such under or hydrating and composting them.

    Canned items are more iffy. Cleanliness and good process are paramount. There are forms of botulism which are odorless.

    Reply to this comment
  10. Bozi August 28, 14:53

    I’m using flour that I bought when the kids were home and I made way more bread. White flour tends to go rancid. After I open a bag I keep it in the deep freeze. I keep some in an icecream bucket that I can have at room temperature when I mix. I use a little along with the wheat flour that I grind right before I mix. My big concern is how can I grind 8 cups of wheat quickly when there is no power?

    Reply to this comment
    • Enigma August 29, 08:36

      Stored in dry atmosphere and metal cans (see those large ones sued for holiday popcorn) likely last for some years, but soon or later you’d need to grow your own grains. Folk aforetime built water or wind grist mills. Depending on environment.

      Someplace online there’s articles about West Asian (Arab) wind-driven grist mills. Advantage is, grindstones are direct-drive at bottom of structure. Some kind of clutch needed between driveshaft and stones. Not as tall and noisy as European designs.

      Reply to this comment
    • AJ October 16, 14:27

      There are a number of manual grain mills, some can also be used with electricity. I have a Family Grain Mill which is fine but does not grind as fine as commercial flour on the pass. Do a search and you will find some.

      Reply to this comment
    • Janet October 16, 18:33

      Years ago I bought a small grain grinder in Germany that has a clamp to attach to a table or like surface. I has a handle on one side to hand crank. It can wear you out if you’re grinding a large amount of grains but teamwork will help there or just taking breaks. No electricity is needed. Mine is a Schnitzer. You can get something similar at Amazon or just look on the web for non-electric flour grinders – look for ones with stones.

      Reply to this comment
  11. Dean August 28, 15:09

    Could you explain, in simple but precise terms how to make diesel fuel from waste vegetable oil.
    Is it legal to use your vehicle in every state?

    Reply to this comment
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    I love looking through and I think this website got some really utilitarian stuff on it!

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  13. Pamella December 12, 13:04

    Please remove me from this email list. I get these updates every day on this same topic and I have tried to remove myself and delete my membership several times. I like your newsletter, but I do not want all of these comments. Thank you

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  15. Dreaded January 21, 16:22

    I am not trying to be negative about this or any other article and this article does give you a lot of good information that is factual and can be used in most situations.
    But this is just for one scenario and that is if you can stay in your area or the area you have prepared.
    You need to ask yourself things like am I in a flood zone likely to flooded, am i in a zone that would have to be evacuated because of severe damage, nuclear bomb, reactor going critical, or in a city etc.
    What I am saying is this any preparation you make you need to look at every detail of your individual situation. This is because like me for instance. I am on high ground but have flood areas around that could cause people to be forced to move my way. In my situation I would really need to prepare an area in a more remote location. People in cities will have to kill or be killed, or run out of the city and hope they get out without trouble. These city people will need a prepared remote location.
    These remote locations are a problem because first they are not near you so you can keep an eye on them and will be most likely found by someone and they will have control of them if they are not well hidden.
    So prepping like this will be useless to most people.

    Reply to this comment
  16. people continue February 18, 01:33

    I got what you mean,saved to fav, very nice internet site.

    Reply to this comment
  17. esmerlda February 23, 03:31

    I am a 74 yr old prepper. I was raised on an 800 acre farm, and we learned to dry, can, and store foods in a large root cellar. Now, that I’m a “city” dweller, I still do most of these things, but, my step daughter and her hubby, that live with me, are really city kids, and will not learn to do what I do.It is very frustrating to see the waste that these two do. At present, I have about 3 yrs worth of stored foods,both canned, and store bought, and cannot find anyone who is like me, to trade, or barter with. I do not eat chicken, or anything that had feathers. ( A stigma from the farm. We had 3000 chix at all times.) From age 8 on, I had to kill 8 chix every Sunday, and we cooked, and canned them. My uncle and I would kill, butcher, and skin the cows we used. My aunt and I would cook up the meats, and can it. We made our own sausage, hot dogs, dried beef, and anything else we could think of. We had 11 milking cows, and I remember making cheese, both cottage, and semi hard, along with yogurt, and making our own butter from the cream.
    It is a shame, in this throw away world we live in now, that more people do not know how to go back to the basics. I absolutely love the “Ask a Prepper– how to, and read it all the time. I have even learned a thing or two from what people write. I used to teach kids at risk, how to cook, and some of the basics. I wrote a survival manual for them, and our Chamber of Commerce wanted a copy to use in their survival manual. Now that I’m older, and don’t have anyone to pass on my knowledge, I find it a shame. It would be wonderful to teach the younger generation on the old school basics.
    Thank you for this column, and all who write in it.

    Reply to this comment
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