Modern life has led people away from their backyard gardens and well-stocked root cellars. These once farmhouse staples helped ensure that families could feed themselves no matter how long the road to town was, what the weather was like, or their economic situation.
While access to grocery stores makes it seem like there’s no need to worry about keeping food on the table, there are many potential emergencies that could happen: losing your job, blizzards, or even economic collapse. These things could leave your family without a secure food source. Even if you don’t live in a farmhouse it’s easy and wise to stockpile emergency foods.
Below you’ll find a list of 35 emergency foods you should be stockpiling. With all of these foods on hand, you’ll be eating well no matter what happens.
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1. Flour/Wheat Berries
Obviously, flour is a staple of the modern diet, but there are a few things to consider before running out and buying big bags of it. First, whole wheat flour doesn’t store well. The oils have been released from the wheat berries and it can go rancid quickly. Second white flour offers little nutritional value.
For these reasons, the best option may be to purchase whole wheat berries which store well while retaining their nutrition, especially those in #10 cans. Whole wheat berries can be easily turned into flour with a hand crank mill, they can be cooked whole as hot cereal, or they can be added to soups and stews. Wheat berries can also be planted.
Salt is so much more than a seasoning. In a survival situation it is essential to preserving food. It can be used to salt meats and pickle or can garden produce.
This is another essential preservative. With sugar, it’s easy to put up fruit and jam for winter.
5. Baking Soda
It’s cheap and absolutely worth stocking up on. It’s an important leavening agent in many recipes and can be combined with a little vinegar and used in place of eggs in quick breads and cake recipes. It also makes a good, natural cleaner and deodorizer. It’s just over a dollar a pound.
6. Baking Powder
Another leavening agent, baking powder is an important part of many recipes. It’s also cheap and easy to store.
7. Dry Yeast
It may be advisable to store both bread yeast as well as yeast for brewing beer or wine. Even if you have these on hand, it’s also important to learn how to make sourdough or wild yeast starters so that you could make your own bread even if your supply ran out.
8. Dehydrated Milk
It may not be as tasty as fresh milk, but dehydrated milk can add essential fats and proteins to your diet in a survival situation. It’s also important for many recipes that just wouldn’t be the same with water, plus it lasts a long time.
9. Rendered Lard
Modern recommendations are to freeze lard, but not that long in the past it was commonly just kept in canning jars or crocks and even used to preserve meat. If you’re making lard at home, make sure you render it, removing all the perishable parts.
10. Vegetable Oil (olive, coconut, etc.)
Vegetable oil can add important fats to a survival diet and is important for many dressings and sauces. It’s also great for many herbal preparations and soaps. Oil doesn’t last forever so it’s a good idea to rotate your stock or at least regularly check and make sure your oils haven’t gone rancid. I’m a big fan of Nature’s Way Coconut Oil.
11. Dried Flint/Dent Corn
Flint or dent corn are varieties that are grown to be dried, ground, and used as a grain not sweet corn. They last virtually forever and are easy to grind to make cornbread, tortillas, grits, etc. Plus you can plant some to grow more as needed.
While you can always make your own pasta, having some on hand is convenient in an emergency. It offers a quick and filling meal, plus it’s fairly lightweight and easy to store.
Many families are accustomed to eating cereals, but they’re also important because they’re fortified. Most cereals contain a large part of your daily vitamin requirements.
Plain popping kernels are easy to store and great for keeping spirits high. For the amount of space they take up, they offer a lot of snacks.
15. Instant Potatoes
Instant potatoes offer a lot of benefits for little cost. They’re filling, cheap, last practically forever, and are lightweight and small in storage. They also only require boiling water, so you won’t use much fuel making them.
Crackers can help create a sense of normalcy in a survival situation. They are also great for stretching meals. Things like soup are much more filling with a handful of crackers.
17. Canned Meat/Fish (chicken, turkey, tuna, salmon)
Canned meat and fish are convenient and require no cooking or extra water. They can be added to any meal or eaten as is.
18. Dried Meat/Pemmican
Canned meat and fish are healthy and tasty, but they’re much heavier and bulkier than their dried or smoked counterparts. Consider adding beef jerky or pemmican to your home food storage at the bare minimum. Both are shelf stable and easy to make at home.
19. Dried Bone Broth (aka portable soup)
It may sound weird, but people have been making this portable soup for centuries. It was a favorite among woodsmen, travelers, soldiers, and even housewives. It’s super convenient, but unlike modern bouillon, it’s incredibly nutrient dense and easy to make at home.
20. Bouillon Cubes
While not as nutritionally dense as bone broth, bouillon may still be worth storing. For little cost and space, it adds a lot of flavor to meals. It can be tossed in with rice, used to make gravy or sauce, or even cooked with instant potatoes. Be sure to get chicken and beef cubes.
Seasonings are important to both everyday meals and food preservation. Everyone will be sick and tired of the food stores very quickly if there’s no seasonings for different meals. Keep what your family loves and regularly uses on hand, plus ones for canning, like pickling spices.
While they take quite a bit of time to cook, they’re easy to store, very cheap, and full of protein. Another consideration is that in a long term survival situation, they can easily be planted to replenish food stores.
While often overlooked, lentils are an excellent, versatile source of protein. They’re also light and cook much faster than beans.
24. Textured Vegetable Protein
TVP is sometimes thought of as being just for vegetarians, but in an emergency it’s great to have around. TVP is full of protein, super lightweight, and has almost no flavor. It can easily be seasoned on its own or mixed with a traditional dish to stretch more valuable foods. If you can’t find it at the store, you can find it on Amazon.
It’s great for filling side dishes or as the base for a simple meal. When stocking up on rice, consider that while brown rice is much more nutritious, its shelf life is much shorter–about a year. This is because white rice has been processed to remove much of the natural oils and proteins found in brown rice.
Oats are another great option for stretching other foods. For examplem they can be mixed with meat or beans to make burgers or tossed in bread recipes. Obviously, they also make a great hearty, cold weather breakfast combined with some dried fruit and nuts or seeds.
27. Seeds (pumpkin, flax, chia, sunflower)
Many seeds offer tons of nutrition and are light, easily stored, and tasty with a little salt or seasoning. Chia and flax seeds are notable for their Omega-3s.
Storing nuts and/or trail mix can be an excellent choice for a quick, protein-packed snack without the need to cook.
29. Peanut Butter (or other nut butter)
Especially if you have kids, peanut butter can offer a sense of normalcy and quick protein. Note that the dehydrated peanut butters on the market are nice and light but offer less fat than traditional peanut butter. If you have a grinder, you could also store peanuts and process them as needed.
30. Dehydrated Fruit
Store bought dried fruit can be quite expensive, but it’s easy to make at home. Simply cut up your fruit of choice into fairly small pieces and place the in a dehydrator. You can also experiment with fruit leathers. All you need is fruit puree spread in a thin layer on a dehydrator tray. Great combinations include applesauce and blackberries, strawberries and bananas, and peaches and raspberries.
31. Dehydrated Vegetables
While canned vegetables certainly have their place, dehydrated vegetables are often an awesome choice because they’re lightweight and take up much less space. Corn, sweet peppers, and tomatoes are all good options. Just like with fruit, these will be cheaper to make at home.
32. Canned Fruits & Vegetables
They’re full of important vitamins and will last for extended time periods. They also usually have quite a bit of liquid as another small source of clean water to keep you hydrated. Tomatoes are especially important, either diced or whole, as they can be used to make a variety of meals, condiments, and sauces.
33. Pasta Sauce
Pasta sauce and a box of pasta are one of the quickest, easiest meals to make in an emergency. It can also be used in a variety of other meals.
Many people would have a hard time giving up their morning coffee, even in an emergency situation. Having at least some coffee on hand can make a rough time a little bit easier. Coffee grounds can then be re-used in the garden or to scrub things for cleaning. You can even put them in homemade soap for a built in scrubber.
Even if you don’t typically drink tea, it’s a good idea to store some. Tea takes up very little space and offers a flavorful caffeine boost. Plus, tea is antibacterial and can be used to clean small cuts. Herbal teas are also a good idea for their many medicinal uses. I really like this black tea.
These basic pantry staples are truly valuable emergency foods. No matter where you live or what your situation is, it’s important to be prepared for disaster. Keeping nutrient-dense foods on hand can help keep your family healthy and happy no matter what’s going on in the world around you.