Make Food Storage Meals Amazing: Include a Spice Bucket in Your Storage!

Approx Reading Time: 18 minutes

Beans, lentils, split peas, rice, pasta, wheat, and rolled oats can be wonderful foundational dry goods for a long-term survival food supply. While they provide valuable nutrition and calories, they are often rather bland without herbs, spices, and seasonings to excite the palate.

What is the best way to store spices for long term storage? Spices stored in a cool, dry, dark location in original air-tight packaging will give you the longest quality shelf-life. Spices will store for many years, but as spices age they lose their flavor and aroma. Fresh spices provide optimal flavor. The challenge is to correctly store the right combination of spices to give a “kick” to those bland foods.

In the post, we will explore which spices you may want to consider storing with your survival food supply and exactly how to store them for the longest shelf life. I will also share how I store my spices in a special red bucket with my long term food storage.

When we are experiencing challenging times, food is one thing that can bring great comfort. The aroma, the taste, and gathering around the table for a hot meal can bring memories of a better time and give hope for the future.

My Top Spices to Store in a Survival Food Supply

My survival food supply includes dry goods and whatever I can produce in my garden. I need to tailor my spice selection to fit those foods.

Space and money are both limiting factors when it comes to building your survival food supply. Dried herbs have a short shelf life, so it is important to keep them rotated to avoid waste. Store as many as you have space for and reasonably fit in your budget.

If I could only have a few spices my top picks would be:

  • Salt – Salt just makes everything taste better. Very few dry goods are palatable without the addition of a little bit of salt.
  • Seasoned salt – I sprinkle seasoned salt on eggs, vegetables, and even add it to my beans. Seasoned salt is the spice I go to more often than any other.
  • Lemon pepper – Chard is a survival green that grows prolifically and can provide many missing nutrients when cooking with just dry basics. The only way that I like cooked Swiss chard is sprinkled with lemon pepper.
  • Minced dried onions – The majority of our meals include onions as one of the main seasonings. I keep a lot of minced dried onions on hand. It may be hard to imagine going through that many onions, but when you are making beans and rice every day they come in very handy.
  • Garlic – You can store your favorite variety of garlic salt, garlic pepper, or granulated garlic. I would pass on the garlic powder because it has a shorter shelf life. Garlic is an aromatic that works miracles with basic ingredients.
  • Chili powder and cumin – These are the spices that find their way into over half of my bean recipes. Since beans are a foundational part of a survival diet, chili powder and cumin are high on my priority list.
  • Peppers – Black pepper, white pepper, crushed red pepper, or cayenne pepper. Pick your favorite(s) and let the bold flavors add some pizazz to otherwise bland ingredients. Creole seasoning has a delightful blend of peppers with a little bit of a kick.
  • CinnamonCinnamon does amazing things to bland rolled oats or a loaf of bread. Sprinkle cinnamon in cooked rice and suddenly you have a breakfast food or dessert.

I admit that I have many more spices in my pantry and growing in my kitchen garden than are on this list. I would hate to settle for just a few but the truth is, I would hate to have to live off just my food storage. Having these basic dried herbs and spices on hand will help me make the most of a tough situation.

The Best Spices to Store to Add Flavor to Dry Beans

Beans are delightful when you add aromatics and salt. Onions, garlic, and peppers are the perfect aromatics for beans. You can capture this amazing flavor by using minced dried onions, granulated garlic, or garlic salt. I avoid storing powdered varieties because they have a shorter shelf life.

Fresh cilantro can be amazing in combination with beans, but I am not a fan of dried cilantro. I would rather skip it than use the dried stuff, so I do not bother storing dried cilantro.

Good basic spices for enhancing the dry beans hiding in your food storage include cumin, chili powder, seasoned salt, creole seasoning, dried minced onions, garlic, parsley, peppers, rosemary, sage, thyme, bay leaves, and dry mustard.

White Beans

Chicken bouillon is a delightful flavor enhancer that gives white beans a little bit of an extra flavor boost. Basil, bay leaf, garlic, parsley, savory, thyme, minced dried onions, and vinegar are my favorite seasonings for white beans.

An easy white bean salad can be made by using a simple shelf-stable dressing. When times are tough, you can opt out of the fresh ingredients in the salad and just pour it over the beans and refrigerate.

Tuscan White Bean Salad Dressing
  • ½ teaspoon granulated garlic
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • Pinch dried rosemary

Combine ingredients for the dressing. Chill. Serve over 2 cups mixed greens, 2 diced tomatoes, ½ diced red onion, 2 cups cooked white beans, and ¼ cup feta cheese.

Check out the delicious meals we made by using 29-year-old dry beans from our food storage in our post, Food Storage Experiment – Are 29-Year-Old White Beans Edible?

Pinto Beans

Spices you might consider storing to enhance the flavor of pinto beans might include pepper (white, black, cayenne), chili powder, cumin, minced dried onion, granulated garlic, garlic salt, seasoned salt, creole seasoning, oregano, parsley, savory, and bay leaves.

Pinto beans are magic in that you can cook them and then just add salt to make them surprisingly delicious. Substituting seasoned salt for salt is a scrumptious twist. I like to add creole seasoning to change things up.

Pinto beans are the perfect base for a wide variety of flavor combinations. My all-time favorite recipe for pinto beans is incredibly simple and delicious. I make this recipe with or without the bacon depending on the ingredients that I have available. Sometimes I substitute dehydrated peppers for the can of green chilies.

Chevy’s Copycat Beans
  • 3 cups dry pinto beans
  • 3 slices bacon
  • ½ cup onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can green chilis, diced
  • 1 ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 Tablespoon salt

Soak pinto beans overnight in water. Discard soaking water. Sauté onion and bacon until bacon is crisp. Break up the bacon and return to pan with onion and add garlic. Sauté for 1 minute. Add beans to vegetables and cover with water. Simmer covered over medium low heat until beans are soft. Add spices and salt and simmer for 15 additional minutes.

You can get old dry beans to soften up when you know a few simple tricks. You will love this post, Dry Bean Food Storage Myth – Actual Shelf-Life Revealed.

Black Beans

Black beans are my absolute favorite bean. There is something about the unique flavor, color and texture that draw me to this dark little bean. Good seasoning combinations for black beans include bay leaf, chili pepper, cilantro, coriander, cumin, garlic, ginger, oregano, parsley, savory, and thyme.

Black beans are surprisingly good with just the addition of seasoned salt or creole seasoning. This is one of my favorite black bean recipes.

Cuban Black Beans
  • 3 cups dry black beans
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 Tablespoon white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon honey or white sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin

Soak beans overnight. Discard soaking water. Cover beans with water and cook until tender. Sauté onions and pepper until soft. Add garlic and sauté 1 additional minute. Add vegetables and remaining ingredients to the beans and simmer for 15 minutes until flavors blend.

I like to serve the black beans over yellow rice that is made with chicken stock, chives, and turmeric. This is an incredibly basic meal that everyone loves.

Best Spices to Store to Add Flavor to Lentils

Lentils are a hidden treasure when it comes to legumes. I like to add them to my chili when I am making a vegetarian version. It gives it the texture as if it had hamburger in it.

If you are storing lentils, consider these spices; bay leaf, cardamon, cilantro, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, curry, ginger, mint, parsley, oregano, thyme and turmeric.

This recipe for lentil patties comes from my friend, Janet. She used to cook lentils frequently because it was an inexpensive, nutritious way to keep her large family fed.

Janet’s Lentil Patties

Take equal quantities of cooked brown or green lentils and brown rice.  Mash the lentils and brown rice together and set aside.  Fry chopped leeks or onions, and fresh garlic until fragrant.

Add 1 can of tomato paste. Season to taste.  I add a liberal amount of cumin.  If family likes it spicy you can add chili powder to taste.  Mix all together with rice/lentils and leeks. 

Form into patties and coat with flour, then beaten egg and breadcrumbs.  Fry in olive oil. Coleslaw goes well with this.  Mixture can be frozen for later.

Best Spices to Store to Add Flavor to Split Peas

Split peas are quick and easy to cook. Chicken or pork bouillon is a great base to flavor split peas. Garlic, onion, bay leaves, thyme, black pepper, parsley, and salt are good seasonings to have on hand if you store split peas.

Split peas can be ground into flour to make an instant soup. The pea flour tends to produce a bright green soup that is delicious and beautiful to look at.

Delicious Instant Split Pea Soup

  • 2 cups water
  • 1-2 teaspoon chicken or vegetable soup base
  • 1 ½ tsp dehydrated carrots
  • 1 ½ tsp dehydrated onions
  • 1 ½ tsp dehydrated celery
  • 1-2 tablespoon real bacon bits
  • ¼ cup split pea flour

Bring water, soup base, carrots, onions, and bacon to a boil.  Cook 2 minutes to soften veggies. Whisk in pea flour. Simmer for 1 minute. Serve hot topped with shredded cheese, sour cream, bacon bits or croutons.

Best Spices to Store to Add Flavor to White Rice

White rice is good with just the addition of a little bit of salt. Scrumptious flavor combinations are only limited by your available spices and imagination. Just about any seasoning can be used with white rice to create a flavorful side dish.

My favorite spices to store for white rice recipes include chicken or beef bouillon, turmeric, cumin, garlic, dried onions, chives, Italian seasoning, parsley, thyme, peppers, chili powder, curry, bay leaves, and cinnamon.

Soy sauce is a basic staple at our home for making variations of fried rice. White rice can be turned into breakfast cereal or quick dessert when you add cinnamon.

Jones Family Fried Rice
  • 4 cups cooked rice
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups frozen vegetables
  • Soy sauce to taste

Scramble and cook the eggs. Set them aside. Sauté the onion in olive oil until translucent. Add the cooked rice and stir until the grains of rice separate. Add the frozen vegetables. Stir over medium heat until the vegetables are heated through. Add the cooked eggs and soy sauce. Keep stirring until piping hot.

You can change-up this recipe a hundred different ways. Fried rice is a great way to use basics from your food storage. Use garden fresh vegetables, canned or even freeze-dried. Or omit the vegetables all together. Add meat or even tofu if you like.

Soy sauce is the magic seasoning in fried rice. It has a very long shelf-life so we make sure to keep a good supply of soy sauce in our pantry.

Best Spices to Store to Add Flavor to Pasta

Macaroni and spaghetti will store for 25 to 30 years if packaged correctly and stored in a cool, dry location. Pasta requires little fuel to cook and can add variety to a survival diet.

Cooked pasta can be enhanced with the addition of a little olive oil, garlic salt, and pepper. Top it off with shelf-stable parmesan cheese and you will be amazed how fast it disappears.

Spices that I store to flavor our pasta include Italian seasoning, basil, oregano, pepper, salt, red pepper flakes, garlic, dill, chives, parsley, and minced dried onions. Simple oil and vinegar dressings can create delicious pasta salads.

Simple Garlic Pasta
  • 1 pound pasta (cooked to “al dente”)
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tablespoon dried parsley
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese
  • Salt to taste

Place olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add dried (or fresh) spices to the oil. Stir well. Add pasta and ½ cup salted cooking water and stir. Pasta should be moist but not soggy.  Heat for 2 or 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and serve.

Simple and delicious, thanks to the miracle of spices.

Best Spices to Store to Add Flavor to Rolled Oats

Our favorite way to prepare rolled oats is with apples, cinnamon, and a little bit of salt. Sometimes we substitute the apples with berries or raisins, but cinnamon is always the favorite spice.

Occasionally, we mix it up a little with pumpkin pie spice (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg) or cocoa powder. We just never seem to get tired of cinnamon. 

For more recipes using stored rolled oats visit our post, Oats – A Must-Have Pantry Staple.

Best Spices to Store to Add Flavor to Wheat

Bread is known as the staff of life. Yet so many people resist storing wheat in their long-term survival food supply. They are missing out on all the fantastic breads that you can create from wheat.  

My very favorite sourdough whole wheat bread is made simply with water, wheat, and salt. Learn how to make natural yeast survival bread in this article, Incredible Survival (and Daily) Bread Using Only Wheat, Salt and Water.

In addition to yeast breads, you can make a variety of quick breads like pancakes, biscuits, muffins, flatbread, and cornbread, not to mention cakes, cookies, and brownies. None of these are possible without flour.

Yet given just a few basic herbs and spices and the potential varieties are endless. Make sure that to store leavening ingredients such as yeast, baking soda, and baking powder.

A few spices unique to sweet breads may include salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, and cocoa powder.

Spices you want to have on hand for savory breads might be salt, Italian seasoning, everything bagel seasoning, garlic, oregano, thyme, chili pepper, black pepper, cayenne pepper, paprika, dried onions, chives, caraway seeds, rosemary, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, celery seeds, and parsley. Shelf-stable parmesan cheese is also a fantastic addition to savory breads.

Whole Wheat Applesauce Muffins
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • ½ cup honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ½ cup applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 ¾ cups whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup rolled oats

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease 12 muffin tins. Mix oil and honey together in a mixing bowl. Add eggs and beat well. Add applesauce and mix. Add baking soda, vanilla, salt, and cinnamon. Mix. Stir in flour and oats just until combined. Fill the muffin tins and sprinkle top with oats. Bake 20 minutes or until done.

This is a great basic recipe for muffins. Change up the fruit and the spices for some fun varieties.

Store Herbs and Spices to Invigorate Basic Food Storage

Experiment and come up with a few family friendly recipes created from basic dry ingredients. These meals are budget friendly and can be surprisingly delicious and nutritious.

Spices are best when they are fresh. Using your spices regularly will help to keep them rotated, ensuring that you always have a fresh supply. It is a good idea to stash a supply of your favorite herbs, spices, and seasonings to make sure that your long-term survival food supply is palatable.

Best Methods for Storing Spices Long Term

Culinary herbs and spices are actually a short-term storage item. It does not do any good to package spices for long term storage because they are realistically not going to last for 25 to 30 years.

To learn more about the difference between short term and long term food storage visit, The Difference Between Short-Term and Long-Term Food Storage.

Culinary herbs do not go bad over time, they just lose their potency and aroma. Since that is the reason that we use them, it makes sense to rotate them so they will be able to make our food taste spectacular.

No Need to Repackage Commercially Bottled Herbs

Culinary herbs packaged in containers for everyday use can be stored in the original, unopened containers. This is the ideal way to store spices because they come in packaging designed to protect them from the environment. It also makes using them quite convenient.

Packaging Bulk Herbs for Short Term Storage

Bulk herbs and spices should be repackaged into air-tight containers. Mylar bags, glass jars, and plastic PETE/PET bottles are all good options. Best results will be achieved from glass jars or Mylar bags due to the inability for oxygen to permeate through the walls. Oxygen absorbers will help extend the life of bulk herbs and can be used for low oil, low moisture dry herbs.

Survival Food Storage Spice Bucket

One way to always ensure that you have a back up supply of spices when life gets challenging is to stash your favorite herbs and spices away in a designated bucket. I like to store the spices in their original containers and include a few important basic seasonings such as vinegar, soy sauce, and honey.

My list of spices and basics that I just cannot live without includes:

  • Seasoned salt, creole seasoning, lemon pepper, and Cajun seasoning
  • Granulated garlic, minced dried onions, and chives
  • Cinnamon and nutmeg
  • Basil, oregano, chili powder, cumin, crushed red pepper, black pepper, and cayenne pepper
  • Baking soda, baking powder, and salt
  • Vinegar, soy sauce, and honey

We packaged 3 buckets with enough basic spices and seasonings to last about 4 months each. The idea behind the sealed bucket is that we know that we always have the basics, and that they have not been used up without us realizing it.

My kitchen pantry is always stocked with a huge variety of spices. These buckets are officially part of our short-term food supply that needs to be regularly rotated. In 7 years or so, we will open the bucket and put the spices in our kitchen pantry or donate them to a local food bank and replenish the supply. But if things get tough, we will have everything we need to make our basic dry goods into delicious meals.

Grow Fresh Herbs and Spices

Culinary herbs grow like weeds. Some like cilantro, will reseed year after year without any effort on your part. Chives and oregano are perennials and grow back year after year.

You can easily increase your supply of fresh herbs by growing some in your landscape, in a pot on your patio, or inside of your kitchen window. Every little culinary herb that you can produce increases your food security and gives you a resource to improve the flavor of your basic food storage. 

Learn more about growing herbs inside your home at How to Grow an Indoor Survival Garden.

Storing Culinary Herbs is the Ticket to Amazing Food Storage Meals

You get to choose. You can have plain beans and rice that will fill hungry bellies for dinner. Or you can have my incredible Cuban black beans over yellow rice that will have your family begging for more. The only difference is the addition of a few select herbs and spices.

Spices do not have to be expensive. You can pick up a wide variety of them at the local dollar store or stock up when they go on sale. I like to keep my kitchen cupboards stocked with my favorite spices and then a backup for when I run out.

My bright red spice buckets are a simple way to ensure that when I need to depend on my survival food supply, I will have the culinary herbs and seasonings that I need to make my family’s favorite meals. Those familiar meals will bring comfort when times are tough and help us to make it through.

Thanks for being part of the solution!

Jonathan and Kylene Jones

Kylene

Kylene Jones is a blogger, content creator, published author, motivational speaker, homesteader, prepper, mother, and grandmother. She practices self-reliance, provident living, and emergency preparedness in her everyday life. She loves working with her husband, Jonathan, and is committed to helping our community be prepared to thrive during the challenges that lie in our future.