Preppers take steps to prepare for everyday challenges, as well as the possibility of a devastating apocalyptic event that could catapult our world back to the late 1800s. No power, no natural gas, no running water, no sewer, and no well-stocked grocery store around the corner.
What are the most valuable foods to hoard for an apocalyptic event, when the world as we know it comes to an end? A substantial stash of basic high-calorie grains, legumes, and dried vegetables, along with a few basic staples that are difficult to produce at home, may prove highly valuable during an extended grid-down or other survival events.
Jonathan and I sat down and came up with a list of the top 10 survival foods that we would want to have in our survival cache if the world really fell apart.
The storage foods on this list had to meet the one or more of the following criteria:
- Require no special tools (such as a wheat grinder) other than cooking
- Contain essential nutrients and/or be calorically dense
- 25-30 year storage life
- Difficult (or impossible) to produce on our property
Due to the critical nature of each of these food items, we recommend that you consider your possible future needs and build a survival stash of each of these items. Create a storage location that is cool, dark and dry. Ideal storage conditions will significantly extend the shelf-life of each of these foods and give you a useable storage life of 25-30 years. For more details, see our post, 8 Food Storage Enemies and How to Slay Them.
Package these foods in containers that are appropriate for long term storage such as #10 cans, or Mylar bags inside of plastic buckets. You can learn more about packaging foods for long term food storage in the article Long Term Food Storage: Best Containers and Treatment Methods.
Top 10 Prepper Foods to Hoard
The definition of hoarding is to build a stock or store of valued objects that are stored in a secret location or carefully guarded. We look at these storage items as an insurance policy for really tough times. Build it wisely and take very good care of it.
One item that is incredibly important is drinking water. We have not included water on this list because it is in a category all of its own. This article is focusing on critical, long-term survival foods.
#1 – Grains
Grains are a great way to provide foundational nutrients and calories to a survival diet. Including a variety of grains will diversify the nutrients in your diet. Some grains are easier to prepare than others.
Many grains can be soaked, cooked, and eaten without grinding into flour. If you have a grain mill, then your menu potential dramatically increases to include bread and tortillas.
Some grains (wheat, spelt, rye, barley, corn) can be sprouted to increase nutrition and make them edible even without cooking. Ideal grain candidates for long term storage should be less than 10 percent moisture for the longest storage life.
Wheat – Spelt – Kamut (Khorasan wheat) – Einkorn
There are several types of wheat that will store for a very long time. From my personal experience, wheat tends to store amazingly well for much longer than 25-30 years. We have tested 60-year-old wheat that was stored in a basement, and it was in remarkably good condition.
Some grains, such as Einkorn, are lower in gluten and may be a better option for those with gluten sensitivity. Using the natural yeast or sourdough process to make bread will also reduce the amount of gluten.
Learn more about baking bread with only wheat, water, and salt in our post; Incredible Survival (and Daily) Bread Using Only Wheat, Salt, and Water.
Wheat can be sprouted to increase available nutrients, as well as making it edible without cooking or grinding. We tested wheat of varying ages stored in a variety of containers. Check out Learn more about sprouting grains in our post; Super Survival Sprouts: Powerful Nutrition from Your Stored Wheat.
Whole Oat Groats – Steel Cut Oats – Rolled Oats
Oats are one of the world’s healthiest foods. A bowl of oatmeal for breakfast can help you feel full longer, which is a great asset when food is being rationed. Rolled oats are simple to prepare and can even be eaten without cooking by soaking in water overnight.
Rolled oats are one of my favorite healthy survival foods. I wrote an entire post on oats and the reasons it makes sense to keep a stash of them in your survival food supply. You can find the article at, Oats – A Must-Have Pantry Staple.
Rice is high in calories, having about 205 calories in only one cup of cooked rice. It is fortified with a variety of vitamins and minerals. White rice is simple to prepare by boiling and simmering. That makes it another ideal candidate for survival food storage.
I think that white rice is an important grain to store because very few people have any allergies to white rice. Many of the other grains may not be able to be consumed by some people. Rice is pretty safe.
Although brown rice is healthier than white rice, brown rice is NOT good as a survival food supply because it will go rancid very quickly.
Flint corn is for long term food storage. It makes good cornmeal. Dent corn or field corn has a skin that doesn’t tend to soften even after cooking. It grinds well into a flour for tortillas. Cornmeal also has a shorter shelf life, so it is best to store the corn whole and grind it later.
Popcorn has a higher level of moisture than other varieties of corn and is not the best candidate for long term storage. Note that cornstarch has an indefinite shelf life and stores well but it has very little nutritional value.
Total Amount of Grain to Store
Grains will provide the basic calories needed for survival. Plan to store 300 to 400 pounds per person of grain. A #10 can of wheat weighs about 5 pounds, white rice 5.4 pounds, while a can of rolled oats only weighs 1.8 pounds. In general, an adequate amount of grain storage will include between 60 and 100 #10 cans for each person per year.
Take into account the food preferences, dietary restraints, and whether or not you have a grain mill to produce flour when deciding which grains you want to hoard in your survival cache. The hand grain grinder that we prefer is the Country Living Grain Mill.
#2 – Beans and Legumes
Dry beans and legumes form the foundation of a survival diet. Beans contain protein, complex carbohydrates, and fiber. They are literally a powerhouse of nutrients. When beans are combined with a grain, such as rice, they provide your body with all the essential amino acids and form a complete protein.
Beans are easy to prepare and require only soaking and cooking, along with a little salt, to make them edible. Sprouting beans increases some nutrients. A study on the effects of sprouting kidney beans demonstrated an increase in vitamin C of 81.56%, niacin 13.47%, riboflavin 11.2%, thiamin 6.63%, vitamin B6 2.02%, protein 1.7%, and folate 1.4%.
Store a variety of beans to diversify the diet and the nutrients. In addition to being a good source of calories, protein and fiber, each type of bean have unique vitamins and minerals.
- Black beans are my personal favorite and are high in folate (vitamin B9), manganese, magnesium, thiamine (vitamin B1) and iron.
- Chickpeas are especially high in folate (vitamin B9), manganese, copper, and iron.
- Kidney beans have folate (vitamin B9), manganese, thiamine (vitamin B1), copper, and iron.
- Lentils cook quickly and provide folate (vitamin B9), manganese, copper, and thiamine (vitamin B1).
- Navy beans (white beans) are rich in folate (vitamin B9), manganese, thiamine (vitamin B1) magnesium, and iron.
- Peas are high in folate (vitamin B9), manganese, vitamin K, and thiamine (vitamin B1).
- Pinto beans are incredibly cheap and are a good source of folate (vitamin B9), manganese, copper, and thiamine (vitamin B1).
Amount of Dry Beans or Legumes to Store
Recommended storage amounts for beans are 60 to 75 pounds per person per year. One #10 can of beans weighs roughly 5 pounds. One adult would require 12 to 15 #10 cans of beans for one year.
#3 – Potato Flakes
Potato flakes are the fast food of a survival food supply. Add boiling water and within a few minutes dinner is literally served. Potato flakes can also be used to thicken soups and gravies and can be added to bread to create a lighter, fluffier texture.
One serving of potato flakes has 212 calories. Potato flakes contain a surprising amount of vitamin C, thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, magnesium, potassium, selenium, phosphorus, and even a little calcium, copper, manganese, zinc, and iron.
Potato flakes are ideal for 25 to 30-year storage. Other forms of “mashed potatoes” that have oil or butter added will go rancid more quickly. Your long term survival stash of potatoes should not contain oils. You can also choose to store dehydrated potato dices or slices for long term storage, but hash browns typically have oils that go rancid.
Check out our post, Potato Flakes: Delicious and Versatile Long-Term Food Storage Staple to learn about the best varieties of potatoes to store, as well as the incredible ways that you can use potato flakes in cooking and baking.
Amount of Potato Flakes to Store
Storage amounts for potato flakes will depend greatly on whether you are using potatoes as the main food source or just to supplement your other staples. A stash of a dozen #10 cans (1.5 pounds each) per person would be a good estimate for an annual supply unless you are using them as a foundation in your diet.
#4 – Dehydrated and Freeze-Dried Vegetables
A variety of vegetables are ideal, but I’ve selected the 3 vegetables that I must have to cook the basics. If I have onions, celery, and carrots, I have the ability to make soups and broths. They are foundational aromatics.
As compared to freeze-dried food, you get almost three times as much dehydrated food in a can. Dehydrated food tends to shrink up dramatically during the dying process. Freeze-dried foods maintain much of their original size. Take that into consideration when planning your storage amounts.
Dehydrated onion flakes are an essential part of my everyday cooking, as well as in a survival food supply. Onions have some great health benefits (vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium, manganese), but more importantly to me, they can turn bland beans into a delicious feast.
I store one or two #10 cans of dried onions for each person in our one year supply of survival staples.
Carrots are a fantastic source of vitamin A, which is missing from most of the other survival staples. Tossing dried carrots into a soup not only enhances the flavors but supplies critical nutrients. Plan two or three #10 cans of dehydrated carrots per person annually.
Celery is packed with vitamin K and is a good source for vitamin C and potassium as well. I use celery in my soups, stews, and chili on a regular basis. Like onions, they are a foundational ingredient when cooking from scratch. I store two #10 cans of dried celery per person for a year.
#5 – White Sugar
White sugar has no health benefits, so it may come as a surprise that it is on our top 10 list. It is a source of calories, but it made our list because it is a good preservative.
During an extended grid-down or “end of the world” scenario, our survival may depend on our ability to grow and preserve our own food. White sugar is an important ingredient in home bottled fruits.
There is also something to be said about comfort foods. Jams, jellies, candies, cookies, cakes, and other high sugar foods can make a tough day just a little bit better.
Amount of White Sugar to Store
The recommended amount of white sugar for a survival food supply is 70 pounds per person. That may seem like a lot until you start bottling. Homemade jams and jellies require significant amounts of sugar. They would be a great addition to your survival diet. Sugar would also be a highly valuable barter item.
White sugar will clump during storage but it doesn’t actually “go bad”. The sugar will easily dissolve and still taste fine. Do not place oxygen absorbers in with sugar as it will make it go hard.
#6 – Honey
Honey made the list because of its sweetening properties, medicinal properties, and the fact that it stores almost forever. It will crystallize over time but can be easily liquefied by heating it. You can learn more about storing honey at Honey – Nature’s Perfect Longer-Term Storage Food.
Purchase pure honey without added ingredients. Check the label. Honey stored in glass quart jars or smaller plastic buckets is ideal for long term storage. Honey is incredibly heavy, which makes smaller containers nice.
Some honey comes in thin plastic containers. Those containers will degrade over time and the honey will leak out. It may be best to transfer the honey to glass jars for long term storage. Metal buckets will corrode over time and spoil the honey.
Amount of Honey to Store
The amount of honey you store will vary widely depending on whether or not you use any other sweeteners. It will be a highly valuable barter item. I store 12 quarts of honey per person in our year supply.
#7 – Salt
Salt is a priority in your food storage because it is something that you cannot produce on your own property. That also makes it a great barter item if you find yourself with more than you need. Salt is critical for food preservation and for staying healthy.
Store pure forms of salt such as pickling salt, sea salt, or my personal favorite, pink Himalayan salt. Salt has an indefinite shelf life, but some of the additives in salt do not.
Protect salt from moisture. I like to store salt in the original container inside of a plastic bucket. For me, it is much more convenient to use salt out of a one-pound container than out of a 25 pound bucket.
Learn more about storing salt at Salt: Why It Is Essential and How to Store It Right.
Amount of Salt to Store
A long term survival food supply should include 10 pounds of salt per person. We diversify our storage to include pink Himalayan salt, canning and pickling salt, kosher salt, and sea salt. It is all tucked nicely away in 5-gallon plastic buckets.
#8 – Baking Soda
Baking soda made the list because it can be used as a leavening agent, for cleaning, for personal hygiene, and for medicinal purposes. It is almost impossible to produce it at home. It is inexpensive to purchase and may prove invaluable in the future.
Learn more about the many uses for baking soda at Baking Soda: The Smart Prepper’s Secret Problem Solver https://theprovidentprepper.org/baking-soda-the-smart-preppers-secret-problem-solver/
Amount of Baking Soda to Store
Ideally, a survival food supply should include 7 to 10 pounds of baking soda per person. That amount is calculated to include 3 pounds for food preparation and cooking, 2 pounds for personal hygiene, 1 pound for medicine and first aid, 5 pounds for cleaning and deodorizing (per household), and 1 pound for miscellaneous uses.
Baking soda has an indefinite shelf life and is inexpensive. It is better to store more than you need (and be able to barter) than to run out.
#9 – Vinegar
Vinegar is a basic ingredient in food preservation and recipes. It is used in pickling and to acidify ingredients when bottling items such as tomatoes and salsa. Lemon juice can also be used, but it has a short shelf life.
Apple cider vinegar is well-known for its medicinal properties. Vinegar is also important as a cleaner and disinfectant.
Vinegar will store forever in the right container. Over time, vinegar will eat through plastic. The best containers for long term storage of vinegar are glass.
Amount of Vinegar to Store
We personally store a variety of vinegars. White distilled vinegar for cleaning and bottling, rice vinegar for my favorite recipes, and apple cider vinegar medicinal uses.
I store 4 gallons of vinegar for household cleaning. For cooking, bottling, and medicinal storage, I store about 2 gallons per person per year.
#10 – Ascorbic Acid Powder
Vitamin C is essential to life and health. It tends to be missing from a survival food supply because it is sensitive to heat, and is available mostly from fresh fruits and vegetables. The very best way to get vitamin C is from fresh food. However, L-Ascorbic Acid Powder may be your best option in a survival situation.
Vitamin C supplementation is highly recommended during situations of high stress, and to help fight off illnesses. Vitamin C is a vital nutrient that enables your body to heal.
Ascorbic acid is also used in food preservation. Dipping fruit in an ascorbic acid solution can reduce oxidation and minimize browning during the dehydrating process. It is also used in bottling to help prevent discoloration.
It is better to store L-Ascorbic Acid Powder than vitamin C supplements because the powder is pure and will not degrade in storage. The binders and fillers used to create supplements shorten the shelf life.
Amount of Ascorbic Acid to Store
The amount of ascorbic acid that you need will depend on whether you are just using it to supplement your diet, or if you are using it to preserve food. Ascorbic acid is stable. Potency will slowly reduce over time, but should not be significant.
I would purchase an 8 pound bucket for a family or a 1 pound bag for each person.
Where to Find Our Top 10 Survival Foods
I would never want to enter a serious long term situation without the basic foods that we mentioned above. You can purchase those items, packaged correctly for long term storage, and secret them away in a cool place for 25-30 years as an insurance policy.
The least expensive place we have found to purchase basic beans, grains, white sugar, potato flakes, dried onions, and dried carrots is through The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Home Storage Centers. Click here to find a location near you. You do not need to be a member of that church to purchase food storage at a home storage center.
The next best place is through The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints’ online store. It is highly convenient to order, and the food is delivered right to your doorstep. It costs a bit more online due to the cost of shipping the products.
Many volunteers work hard to provide these products at very low prices. We do not receive any type of affiliate commission when you buy food from them. It is the best way to get high-quality long term food storage at reasonable prices.
Expanded Food Storage Staples
My next favorite place to get food storage is through Auguson Farms. They sell a wide variety of foods, packaged in #10 cans and buckets, for long term storage. Remember, not everything stores for 25-30 years. When creating a survival food stash, you want to make sure to get the longest shelf life foods.
If you start asking around, you will probably be able to find a local supply of honey. It is best to store honey in glass jars or thick plastic buckets. Thin plastic containers will degrade over time. Click here to see an example of a good option for honey to store long term.
You can pick up baking soda wherever you normally shop. I like to purchase it in the thick plastic bags but you can also buy the cardboard boxes of baking soda. Store the containers inside of a 5-gallon bucket.
I purchase vinegar at my favorite grocery stores. Glass is best for long term storage. Over time, plastic will leak.
Ascorbic Acid Powder
I purchase my L-Ascorbic Acid Powder here from Amazon. It is available in a variety of sizes in Mylar bags or in an 8-pound plastic bucket. You can probably find it in other places. Just make sure that it is food grade and pure ascorbic acid.
Now You Know What to Hoard – Get Busy!
I am actually not an advocate of hoarding. I like to have a clutter-free life. However, I think hoarding a supply of basic foods to insure against a time of scarcity is critically important. It can be a bit expensive and you may have to slowly build up your food stores over time. That’s okay. Just get the job done!
One Important Tool
We intentionally didn’t include any tools or supplies on our list. Most of these foods can be successfully consumed without expensive tools. If funds permit, I would recommend purchasing a Country Living Grain Mill that can grind grains and beans without electricity. You need a special bean auger to grind the beans and you can find that here. We have purchased a set of spare parts for ours “just in case” because Jonathan loves his bread.
There are a lot of other fun tools and supplies you may want to include in your long term survival stash. Just make sure that you don’t get distracted with “toys”, and neglect what really matters … the food!
You may be interested in some of our other posts as you build your cache:
- Food Storage and Storage Room Shelving – Recommended Products
- Long Term Food Storage: Creative Solutions to Build a Critical Asset
We don’t know what challenges we will face in the future. We do know that there will be challenges and that taking steps to face those challenges can make a huge difference in our ability to thrive. Stocking up on a supply of important foods “just-in-case” may allow you to weather the storms in relative comfort.
Every good prepper understands that hoarding or stashing away a supply of necessities makes good sense. If you already have your survival cache, check on it. Make sure that it is still ready to take care of you (and others) when you need it.
Thanks for being part of the solution!Jonathan and Kylene Jones