Which Long Shelf Life Food Options Do You Have?

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The reason to store food for the long haul isn’t a mystery.

Reasons vary from as simple as going shopping less often to life-threatening ones like wars or natural disasters.

Having food with a long shelf life is a convenient option to have if the worst happens.

A recent example is the coronavirus pandemic that initially caused worldwide panic. With supermarkets emptied and food manufacturing plants shut down, the danger of food shortage that can affect billions of people was a scary experience.

We know history tends to repeat itself. While we may not see a pandemic of this scale in our lifetime again, there are still artificial or natural events that can put pressure on food supply and demand.

This post helps to explore the different food options that can save millions in the case of an emergency.

Why Do We Preserve Our Food?

Throughout the known history of humanity, we have always had reason to preserve and store our food.

It involves simple methods like heating, salting, drying, and freezing – but in recent times includes more modern techniques like canning and pasteurization.

The need to preserve and keep these for later consumption is a trait we have inherited from our ancestors and for good reasons.

While modernization has taken care of most of the problems, there is still a need to have food for long durations. Some reasons are for convenience, for emergencies like losing your job, when the prices increase, and situations that leave you unable to access supermarkets or food manufacturing companies.

What Are Survival Food Companies?

The idea of a world with little or no access to food is frightening – the primary reason survival food companies exist today.

These companies weren’t available years ago but their presence now plays a significant role to many. You can look at them as long-term food options for any emergencies or unforeseen crises that happen in the future.

Their packaging allows for the food to last up to 25 years, and it lasts this long because the packaging gets rid of any component that causes spoilage while using innovative technology to preserve it.

Companies get rid of components that include moisture, oxygen, heat, and light. These are avoided in their packaging, preserving the nutritional value of the food and its fresh taste, which you will appreciate when eating them years from now.

Long Shelf Life Food Options

You might want to store your food in smaller quantities or know how long the various food types last before they get spoilt. In this section, we will discuss the different food types and what their shelf life is.


This category of food includes rice, oats, ramen noodles, flour, and pasta.

Rice, pasta, and oats brought off the shelf unopened and properly packed can last up to 2 years, although brown rice and flour can only go for about 6 months past the “best before” label.

Meanwhile, ramen noodles can last up to a year and 4-5 months if stored in a cool and dry area. This period doesn’t apply to fresh ramen and wheat ramen. An oxygen absorber will help with extending the shelf life.


Beef, fish, chicken, beans, and nuts provide us with the essential proteins we need in our bodies. Fresh meat, fish, or chicken will spoil unless they are frozen, canned, or dried.

Dried meat (including fish and chicken) of any kind known as jerky can last up to a year if commercially packaged and 4 months if homemade. Dried beans can last up to 2-3 years without getting spoilt.

Unfortunately, after the third year, it loses its taste and stays longer to cook. Nuts get spoiled quickly because of the fat, but peanut butter can last up to 2 years if in the ideal condition.

Vegetables and Fruits

Fruits are an essential source of nutrients to the body.

If dried/dehydrated, they can last up to a year without rotting. Fruits like dried apricots, raisins, and prunes can maintain their quality for 6 months and 1 year if stored in an air-tight container and kept in the fridge.

Vegetables are different. Depending on how you dry them, they can last up to 5 years. Freeze-drying can make the vegetable fit for consumption for years compared to regular drying, which can keep them edible for a year.


Extra virgin olive oils and coconut oils can last for up to 2 years if left unopened. If opened, it’s best to use them between 3 months before they become rancid.

Sweets and Sweeteners

Sugar and salt technically don’t get spoiled if not exposed to moisture and air. In fact, they are excellent preservatives.

Experts recommend disposing of granulated sugar after two years, although it is still likely to serve its purpose. While salt doesn’t expire, iodized salt has a shelf life of about 5 years. Other sweeteners like honey and maple syrup don’t go sour either.

Honey, if properly stored, keeps its sweetness but crystallizes. You can melt this, and not a cause to throw away.

Most canned foods have a lifespan of more than 20 years, as long as their pack isn’t faulty. Although the taste will degrade with time, they are still edible.

The shelf life of most properly stored food can last for at least 6 months to 1 year if you follow proper storage procedures. You can also research ways to preserve these items using everyday items in your kitchen.

Last Updated on October 23, 2021

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My name is Andy Wang, and I'm a retired chef. I used to work at the City Vineyard restaurant in NYC. I also had a culinary degree from the Institute of Culinary Education in New York. And this blog is where I share my love for knives and cooking with people like you.