How to Stock an Apocalypse Pantry with Nutritious Foods That Never Expire
If, for no reason, you’ve recently wondered how long you could survive after society’s complete collapse, the answer was probably unsettling. If you’re like most of us, your pantry and fridge are full of perishable foods that might be healthy and delicious, but will be inedible days or even hours after the lights go out.
One strategy is to start a survival garden, but another way to go is to put together a bit of a “preparer” pantry of dry and canned goods, or do both in parallel. Such a pantry can provide you and your family with a supply of food that you cannot get from a garden, such as processed meats and grains, so if you have room for a stockpile, why not put one together? A survival pantry would also be useful in emergencies that don’t quite reach the “end of the world” standard, such as the extended blackouts that often follow hurricanes. All the food in your fridge could go bad and the grocery stores could be closed, but at least you’ll have enough beans to get by.
However, for an “apocalypse pantry” to be truly effective, you need to ensure two things: that the food hardly ever expires, and that the food you have is nutritionally complete. The idea that all canned and dried goods last indefinitely is a myth, so you need to think about how you prepare your emergency supplies. Here’s how to stock your apocalypse pantry.
Beans are amazing – just about any dried legume will last more or less forever as long as you store them properly. They’ll also provide plenty of protein and carbs for your diet, and are versatile enough that you can at least vary the type of beans you eat while squatting. One thing to keep in mind is that you need to soak dried beans before cooking them, and the older the beans get, the more soaking they will need.
White rice is a great staple ingredient and keeps about half the world alive. Dried and stored properly, white rice will almost never spoil. It offers fiber, protein, and good stuff like manganese, thiamin (a form of B vitamin), and iron. The rice needs to be cooked, of course, so it’s not as convenient as opening a box of Spaghetti-Bones and going to town, but if you stock enough of it in your pantry, you’ll be well fed. .
Freeze-dried fruits and vegetables
A healthy diet requires certain things that we can only get from fruits and vegetables or, sometimes, dietary supplements like vitamins. But vitamins only have a shelf life of about 2 years, fresh fruits and vegetables spoil within weeks, and while pickled or canned fruits and vegetables will last for years, they certainly won’t last forever. .
The closest thing to fruits and vegetables that don’t expire are the freeze-dried versions. These fruits and vegetables have had all the moisture removed in sub-zero temperatures. Without all that moisture, properly sealed and stored freeze-dried products can last for decades, up to around 30 years, depending on where you get your freeze-dried products. It’s not “forever”, but 30 years is practically forever under apocalyptic conditions.
Grains, even whole grains, can be difficult to store long term. Breads and cakes obviously spoil very quickly, and even plain old flour will be fine with you in about a year. And while hard grains in general can last a decade or more, eventually they all go bad. So the trick is to store the grains in a more primitive state: white or red wheat grains.
These hard little nuggets of gritty goodness last virtually forever and provide a tonne of nutritional value, including a slew of vitamins and plenty of fiber. You can cook them by boiling them (and season to taste with salt, sugar, honey or whatever). You can also grind them into flour if you plan on baking a lot of Apocalypse Bread.
Powdered milk is gross, but it will feed you. On a shelf, powdered milk can last up to ten years without spoiling. But if you can somehow keep it cold, like freezing cold, it will last until Big Crunch. Running a freezer after societal collapse can be a challenge, but if you live in a cold region, there might be a natural option to keep your yucky milk powder fresh.
We tend to focus on things like meats, vegetables, and grains when thinking about our diet, but there are plenty of other important things to consider. Spices and flavoring agents may not seem like a necessity, but some of them are. The human body needs salt, for example, to function properly. You can get enough salt from the food you eat, but having a stash of salt in your emergency pantry is a good idea – just make sure it’s non-iodized salt. Sea salt will last until the sun turns red and swallows the planet; iodized salt will actually deteriorate in a few years.
Other things to store that will last forever and be useful both in terms of nutrition and sanity:
- Sugar. You do not have need sugar, but it will never spoil and can make many things more palatable.
- Dried spices. These will become stale and lose their potency, but will not actually spoil.
- Raw honey. Honey may crystallize over time, but a little heat will restore it, so it never goes bad. And it can be a good substitute for sugar.
- Vinegar. Vinegar (whatever it is – apple cider, balsamic, distilled, red wine, rice or white wine) will last forever and is useful for cooking, pickling and even cleaning.
- Baking soda. Useful for cooking and cleaning, and will sit in your pantry long after you’ve gone to your reward. Baking soda eventually loses potency, but it never goes bad on its own.
Alcohol and instant coffee
Okay, you might not think a bottle of Jack Daniels is a need, but I would say that in the apocalypse, nothing could be more important. And an unopened bottle of whiskey or other hard liquor will last for decades. (Once opened, however, you’re on the clock.) And instant coffee, properly stored, will be there for your kids to inherit.
Obviously, any emergency pantry needs to be stocked with canned, preserved, and dried goods that will feed you and yours well for years to come. But if the emergency lasts more than a few years, having a section of your bunker dedicated to food that will never expire and keep you going is a good way to ensure your survival.