Skip to main content

Survival Skills: Top 23 Items for Emergency Food Supplies

Cynthia is a gardening enthusiast. She has a green thumb and always plants a variety of items for harvesting during gardening season.

What should you store for emergencies?

What should you store for emergencies?

Best Emergency/Survival Foods

Next to water, storing the right foods for survival is essential to ensuring long-term prosperity. Building an emergency food supply from scratch, however, can be an overwhelming process. Let me take some guesswork out of which foods are best suited to long-term food storage. In a survival setting, having readily available proteins, nutritious foods, and core ingredients for making homemade items will be essential.

There are many wonderful choices for foods that can be stored safely over the long-term. They also work well for short-term food supplies—as in the case of a natural disaster and the recovery that follows. Whether you have your eyes on a short-term or long-term food storage, the following 23 items are invaluable

Top 23 Items for Emergency Food Supply

Not every food is well suited to long-term storage. When building your emergency supplies, we must keep in mind shelf stability as well as nutritional value. The following are the top 23 items to consider:

  1. Honey
  2. Salt
  3. Apple Cider Vinegar
  4. Cornstarch
  5. Bouillon Cubes
  6. Corn syrup
  7. Maple Syrup
  8. Ghee
  9. Vanilla Extract
  10. Soy Sauce
  11. Distilled White Vinegar
  12. Bone Marrow Broth
  13. Chia Seeds
  14. Lean Beef
  15. Poultry
  16. Salmon
  17. Spirulina
  18. Apples
  19. Cherries
  20. Kale
  21. Spinach
  22. Watercress
  23. Chinese Cabbage

Foods With an Indefinite Shelf Life

When you are building an emergency food supply, you want to choose items that have a very long shelf life. As long as these items are stored in a cool, dry place and remain sealed, they can be stored forever:

  • Honey
  • Salt
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Cornstarch
  • Bouillon Cubes
  • Corn syrup
  • Maple Syrup
  • Ghee
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Soy Sauce
  • Distilled White Vinegar

These emergency food supply items can live on and on in your long term food storage and be used to create an abundance of different dishes. Most of these are pretty common items; many people may already have them in their homes, with the exception of ghee. Ghee is a clarified butter that has had all the moisture removed. This makes it a great choice for long-term storage; since there is no moisture, it will last indefinitely.

When storing honey long-term, it may become crystallized. That in no way means that it is not safe for consumption. Simply heating the honey and stirring will melt the crystals and leave you with smooth honey again.

Storing cornstarch will allow you to thicken sauces and soups. This creates a more filling meal, even when emergency supplies are being depleted.

Bone marrow is full of nutrients and good fats that help provide us with energy. Making marrow broth is simple and can be preserved and added to your long term food storage.

Bone marrow is full of nutrients and good fats that help provide us with energy. Making marrow broth is simple and can be preserved and added to your long term food storage.

The Most Nutrient-Dense Food for Emergencies

Spirulina is one of the most nutrient-dense superfoods in the world. It contains over 375% more protein than tofu and 10 times the beta-carotene levels you will find in carrots. I use spirulina for the health benefits associated with the nutrients. We always keep it on hand for health benefits alone, but it is a great option for an emergency food supply.

You can add spirulina to juices, smoothies, or even in main dishes. For my family, I find adding it to smoothies seems to go over the best. So far it has been the best way to get everyone on board with eating it. You may find other ways that work better for your family. I do suggest taking the time to actually see how you can best incorporate it for yourself and your family.

Spirulina is a nutrient-rich superfood.

Spirulina is a nutrient-rich superfood.

Energy-Support Foods

Proteins are extremely important in a survival situation. Protein is responsible for providing your body with much-needed amino acids, which are crucial for muscle growth and energy. In a survival setting, adrenal fatigue is not uncommon. Our bodies and minds are stressed and our adrenaline is pumping. Here are the foods that you should consider for health and energy:

Scroll to Continue

Read More From Dengarden

  • Bone Marrow Broth
  • Chia Seeds
  • Lean Beef
  • Poultry
  • Salmon
  • Spirulina

Bone marrow broth may not seem appetizing to those who are not connoisseurs of the culinary world. But it is valuable as far as survival foods are considered. Bone marrow is actually extremely nutritious and is a great source for omega-3 fatty acids and many other important nutritional elements. A fatty acid deficiency can weaken the immune system and affect brain functions! Bone marrow can usually be obtained fairly cheaply in many areas, as it is a byproduct of the butchering process. Some butchers do not even charge for bones. Canning bone marrow broth is the best option for adding to your emergency food supply.

Salmon is another great choice for health and nutritional benefits. The downside, however, is that the longest shelf life for canned or smoked salmon is around six to eight months. One idea is to raise salmon at home. It is a bit on the expensive side, as an aquaponics set-up is best, but it requires a cool set-up versus the common warm ones.

Chicken and turkey can be raised in order to have a long-term (fresh) supply of protein-rich poultry. If you do not want the labor of love involved with raising your own poultry sources, you can just as easily can both chicken and turkey meat for storage.

Lean cuts of red meat are another great choice for long-term storage. Red meat is very versatile and can be preserved by canning, and making jerky to add emergency food supplies. Red meat is a great source of not just protein and amino acids, but B12 and B6 vitamins that provide the body with energy.

Some people scoff at spirulina as a survival food. Though it is amazingly nutritious, they can't get past the thought of eating pond scum (microalgae). It is protein-packed, though; 60 percent of its dry weight is protein. It is also a powerful antioxidant with a host of other nutritional vitamins. It stores with ease for long-term storage in dry form.

Chia seeds (I saved the best for last) are a great option for protein and vitamins. They have a wonderful stand-alone flavor that I would compare to walnuts. They are also easily incorporated into other foods. Just a few tablespoons can give you the same amount of protein as consuming servings of foods like red meat and poultry.

Apples are loaded with vitamins and nutrients!

Apples are loaded with vitamins and nutrients!

Dehydrating to Extend Shelf Life

Dehydrating is one of my favorite ways to extend the shelf life of fruits and vegetables. I often snag marked down produce when we our outside of our own growing season here in West Virginia. This makes dehydrating produce a frugal option and money saver when it comes to building emergency food supplies.

You do not need a fancy dehydrator or even an expensive one. I have an inexpensive Nesco dehydrator I have been using for years. It is very easy to use, one of the easiest methods for extending the shelf life of foods to add to an emergency supply. Very simple, layout your produce of choice on the trays stack them together add your top, and turn it on. It really is simple, there's no need to watch it. Depending on the produce of choice, and the humidity level in your home/area where you are using it you may be waiting a day or so to get the desired dryness out of your chosen foods.

Mine has more than paid for itself at this point, and is a low-budget investment for anyone just starting out to build up an emergency food supply. My Nesco dehydrator comes in very handy for preserving my apple harvest and many other fruits and vegetables we grow annually. Taking advantage of marked-down fruits and veggies at the local market is a good place to start for anyone who does not have the space to garden.

I do store some of my dehydrated fruits in jars as I have a large number of jars here at home. Using the dehydration method does allow for easy storage in bags. Using mylar or vacuum seal bags will take up less space than canning jars. Freeing up space for other survival items if you have a small storage space to work with.

A dehydrator is a small investment with a bounty of options for anyone looking to start small on building up emergency foods for their families. It opens up a wide range of other possibilities too, from making and storing beef jerky to dried fish and other proteins.

Dehydrated fruits are an option for emergency food supplies. They are easy to store in many different ways.

Dehydrated fruits are an option for emergency food supplies. They are easy to store in many different ways.

Fruits and Vegetables for Emergency Food Supplies

It goes without saying that fruits and vegetables are essential for a nutritious diet. Nothing beats the nutritional value of fresh fruit. There are several options for adding nutritional fruits and vegetables to your emergency food supply. The two best options for long term storage of fruits and vegetables are:

  • Canning
  • Dehydration

Of course, you can freeze fruits and vegetables if you choose. Canning and dehydrating for proper long-term food storage will extend their shelf life greatly. Or an even better option is to plant fruit trees and enjoy knowing you will always have a harvest to depend on. The two fruits you should be storing are:

  • Apples
  • Cherries

Both apples and cherries have wonderful nutritional content. Both can be used in pies, as well as being a delicious treat if you choose to dehydrate them.

Vegetables make a great addition to the bone marrow broth I mentioned earlier. You can easily create some amazing soups with the addition to these nutritious vegetables:

  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Watercress
  • Chinese Cabbage

Canning these four vegetables will provide you with ample nutrition in your emergency food supply. Kale is a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals essential to proper nutrition. Though I must admit I am still looking for a way to make it more palatable. Kale is extremely bitter and peppery and takes a bit of preparation to make it consumable as a side dish. I prefer to go for powdered kale and add it to things like yogurt or smoothies to reap the health benefits.

Watercress is another great nutritional vegetable, that is also believed to have cancer-fighting qualities. Canning watercress soup is a delicious way to take advantage of this vegetable and add it to your long-term supplies.

Spinach is much more palatable than kale (my personal opinion). It can be prepared a wealth of ways, though when canning it does tend to get a bit of a slimy texture. It is another great vegetable to use in powdered form. I add powdered spinach to homemade noodles so the kids get the nutrition without me fighting them overeating "this weird green stuff."

Chinese cabbage is very versatile as an ingredient and as a part of your emergency food supplies. Even when canning you have many options. Chinese cabbage is great pickled, made into sauerkraut, or even making your own kimchi.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2016 Cynthia Hoover


Cynthia Hoover (author) from Newton, West Virginia on September 26, 2016:

Thank you Jodah! I am really passionate about having emergency food supplies on hand, just in case the need would arise. I think it is a worthy investment into a family's future to have long term food storage at the ready! We never know what will happen. Even something as simple as a job loss can make food a scarce commodity in the home.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on September 26, 2016:

A fantastic article, Cynthia. You have listed a very good selection of foods for long term storage as survival rations should the need arise. Thanks for researching and sharing this info.

Related Articles