Nine Foods That Last For Decades

Nine Foods That Last For Decades

Maybe you were always taught to stock up on non-perishable items, but your survival emergency food is about more than tinned goods.

There are many foods that have long expiry dates and which can last for decades without getting spoiled. Some might even surprise you!

Can you really stock up on a variety of emergency foods?

You don’t have to be limited to eating rice and beans, although these are healthy staples. Your emergency food stash can be filled with lots of other types of food, but you should choose foods that won’t expire before you’ve even used them.

You know the drill: you want to stock up on foods in case of an emergency, but you don’t want the food to go to waste if emergencies don’t strike.

That’s why you need to focus on foods that can remain nutritious and fresh for decades, not just a few weeks or months.

With that in mind, here are nine foods that can last for many years so they’re the wisest to add to your emergency survival food stash.


White Rice On The Table

Rice commonly crops up in articles about emergency food ideas, and it’s clear to see why: it can last for decades!

The interesting thing about rice is that even though it contains oil in its brain that can indeed rot, if you properly store rice it will remain fresh.

It needs to be kept in a dark, dry, and cool place so that it’s tasty and safe when you open it to consume it.

What about the different types of rice?

As you already know, there are many different types of rice, such as white rice, basmati rice, and others.

You might be wondering if one type of rice will be able to last longer than others. The good news is that white rice, wild rice, jasmine rice, and basmati rice will all last indefinitely.

Brown rice, on the other hand, lasts much less so it’s in your best interest to purchase the most long lasting rice types for your emergency food pile.


While you might think that pasta will only last a few years before spoiling, this fact will make you realize the opposite is true: when researchers found pasta in an Egyptian pyramid, they boiled it and ate it, only to discover that it hadn’t lost any of its freshness, as Cooking Light reports.

It’s definitely a long lasting food to add to your emergency survival storage!

The important thing when storing pasta is to do so in the same place you would store rice: make sure it’s in a cool, dark, and moisture-free place.

Dried Beans

Bowl of Dried Beans

These are an excellent and nutrient-rich emergency food, but make sure you keep them away from moisture because that can cause the beans to grow bacteria and mold.

If you’re in a flood-prone area of the world, make sure your dried beans are stored on high shelves instead of on the floor.

In a study by Brigham Young University, when pinto beans that were 32 years old were given to people, the beans still had their taste intact and the researchers discovered that the beans had maintained their protein content, so they’re definitely a healthy food to have handy during emergencies. 

What about canned beans?

If you have stocked up on beans that are in cans, you might be wondering if these will last as long as dried beans.

The good news is that you can safely consume canned goods for up to four years after their expiry dates, so always check those when purchasing them at the store.

You should also make sure they’re kept in dry, cool places and don’t eat them if their cans are leaking, showing signs of rust, or have any dents on them.


Honey Stick In Honey

This delicious, antibacterial and healthy food never spoils.

You can easily store it for 20+ years and it will remain tasty while giving you a nice burst of sweetness in your food.

Honey is also safe to eat after it has crystallized, so that’s good to know if you were worried about that.

Why is honey such a long-lasting food? It’s thanks to honey’s antibacterial properties, as well as how it has a low water content, for why it can last forever.

Powdered Milk

In an emergency when you can’t get fresh milk from the store, you’ll surely miss it but you can make do with powdered milk so stock up on it as much as you can.

Powdered milk has had its water content removed, which helps to prevent it from becoming stale.

This is why powdered milk can last for up to 10 years after its best-before date. Just make sure you store it in an airtight container.

Hard Grains

Wooden Spoon Filled With Hard Grains

The next time you shop for groceries, add some hard grains like spelt and buckwheat to your trolley.

These grains can last for up to 12 years when stored properly in airtight containers.

What keeps them so fresh?

It’s thanks to their hard outer shells that prevent the seeds’ germs from releasing volatile oils that can become rotten and create unpleasant flavors.


This is essentially a dried meat snack that was invented by the Native Americans who used to take lean meat from large game and dry it over an open fire before mixing it with some fat.

It’s an excellent survival snack because it’s high in protein and you don’t have to worry about refrigerating it or heating it before you can eat it, which is perfect if you’re somewhere without electricity or fire.

Best of all, pemmican has an indefinite lifespan.


Jell-o Boxes

It might surprise you to find out that Jell-O can last forever, as long as you keep it unopened.

Stock up on some Jell-O boxes for your emergency food fund as they can last indefinitely but stick to keeping them in a dry, dark cupboard for best results.

They’re great for kids and adults alike, especially when you need a bit of sweetness. After all, in an emergency food not only keeps you alive but ensures that you maintain your morale.

Ready-To-Eat Meals

While foods you buy from the grocery store can help you, it’s always a good idea to have some ready-to-eat emergency meals in your survival stash.

You can purchase this type of emergency food from shops and online, and they come in packets.

How they work is that they come freeze-dried so you just have to add boiling water to them to enjoy.

They’re usually packed with lots of calories to keep you going and best of all many can last in your pantry for up to 20 or more years as long as you haven’t opened them, so you don’t have to worry if you’ve stocked up on them but not got to them yet.

Where Should You Store Your Emergency Food?

Storying Emergency Foods

It’s totally pointless to spend money on acquiring foods for emergencies only to let them go to waste.

A few times in this article we’ve talked about how you should ensure that your emergency foods are kept in places that are dark, dry, and cool to keep them fresh and healthy.

But you should also ensure that the place where you store your food is free of pests and has good ventilation in it.

Finally, always spare a thought or two for choosing the correct temperature. Your stored foods should be put in a room that’s less than 80 degrees Fahrenheit to keep them fresh.

Where in the house should you store your emergency foods?

Some good ideas for where you should store your foods are behind clothing in the closet, in a pantry, in the basement, in a spare bedroom, or in a linen closet.

It’s a good idea to keep them out of the way so that they won’t be accidentally eaten.

To really think like a survival prepper, it’s a good idea to diversify where you keep all your food. Don’t put all of it in one place.

If something should happen to that area of the house, such as if there’s a flood, then you’re going to lose all the food you’ve been slowly stockpiling.

It should also go without saying that you must keep all your emergency foods unopened.

While a packet of Jell-O can last forever if left unopened, if you open it you have to consume it within three months, and other types of long lasting foods will also spoil when they come into contact with the air so you want to ensure you keep these foods unopened and completely separate from your daily food storage.

Related Questions

Woman Putting Food In Fridge

Should you store food in the freezer?

While keeping many survival foods in the freezer can boost their lifespan, what happens when there’s no power during an emergency and you have tons of food that’s going to expire?

It’s therefore better to stick to ready-to-eat foods for emergencies.

What about long-lasting drinks?

Make sure you stock up on bottled water, instant coffee, and powdered milk.

Unopened bottled water can last for indefinite amounts of time, and both instant coffee and powdered milk can last for decades so they’re good choices.


You never know when you’ll be unable to go to the shops to purchase food, such as if there’s a natural disaster in your area.

You never know when the power will go out indefinitely and cause all your refrigerated and frozen goods to spoil very quickly.

You never know when a pandemic will strike and force you to stay home so you can’t get your hands on all the groceries you usually purchase.

These are just some examples of why it’s always a good idea to have some food stocked up in the house that’s kept for emergency situations.

In this article, we’ve looked at some of the best long lasting foods to stock up on because they can last for decades before spoiling or losing their flavor.

From rice and Jell-O to dried beans, stocking up on most (if not all) of the foods on this list will ensure you get a healthy and varied diet no matter what happens.

It’s also a good idea to have a mix of ready-to-eat emergency food packets and pantry food so that you’ll have the best of both worlds.

Greg - Prepping Insider

Hey, I'm a prepping enthusiast. Prepping for me is simply something of a passion. I have personally lived in many different rural properties that have given me a wealth of knoweldge and experience in practically living out survival and preparation situations. It’s not about getting the latest survival gadgets or buckets of food as its more of a lifestyle.

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