Long term food storage gives you and your family a reliable supply of nutritious foods at a very affordable price. They’re packed and tested to ensure a decades-long shelf life and can be the difference between life or death in a long term survival situation.
We compared some of the biggest names in the survival food industry to find the best options for long term food storage. The ten options below all offer comprehensive food storage options
1. BePrepared.Com’s Emergency Essentials
BePrepared.com, formerly known as Emergency Essentials, is one of the oldest and biggest manufacturers of food storage items around. They’ve been in the business since the 1980s and offer some of the highest quality and best tasting long term food storage options money can buy.
Why we like it: They have everything. The Emergency Essentials line of preparedness food runs the gamut from basic grains and dehydrated vegetables up to preplanned survival kits with quick-cook entrees and desserts. Even better, their high volume lets them keep prices low, some of the lowest you’ll find for long term survival food.
Flaws: It’s almost too much. The number of options they offer borders on overwhelming, with every imaginable type of sealed and shelf-stable food option available. If you aren’t looking to customize your long term food storage it can be easier to order a simple packaged survival kit for a set period of time.
2. Augason Farms Food Storage
Augason Farms has been in the preparedness food industry for close to 50 years. If it can be dehydrated, canned, or freeze-dried, they probably offer it for sale at reasonable prices and in three different varieties. All of their products are rigorously quality tested and taste delicious.
Why we like it: You can choose from ready to heat entrees, individual food items, and a whole lot more. They have one of the largest selections of shelf-stable long term food storage items out there that you can purchase individually or as part of their well thought out survival kits. They even offer options designed for people with dietary restrictions such as Celiacs.
Flaws: Their desire to innovate can lead to occasional stumbles. Some of their limited release entrees especially can be hit or miss flavor-wise. Make sure you taste test all their products before making a large buy to be sure it’s to your specific taste.
3. Mountain House Just In Case…
Mountain House is The name in the freeze-dried survival and camping food market. They make close to 70% of all the hiking and camping food sold and have commissioned some of the most widely cited modern studies on the taste and nutritional quality of modern food storage items.
Why we like it: Mountain Houses freeze-dried meals have a well-earned reputation for flavor and quality. They offer one of the largest selections of #10 can and pouched preparedness and camping foods available with the research to back up their long reported shelf life.
Flaws: They’re almost entirely focused on entrees and other prepared meals. If you’re looking for bulk grains, rice, and other whole foods to store you’ll have to look elsewhere. This also serves to raise its price substantially above some other options.
4. My Patriot Supply Ready Hour Long Term Food Storage
My Patriot Supply was created with the goal of providing excellent American-made survival food and equipment. Their line of Ready Hour foods includes individual food items, pouched and canned entrees, and comprehensive kits that provide everything you need to keep your family fed for three, six, nine, or 12 months.
Why we like it: All their products are made in the USA from quality American agricultural products. Their selection is vast and the individual entrees are delicious. Each portion is for a real day worth of calories, providing 2,000+ calories per daily serving.
Flaws: Price. Their foods are delicious, offer a long shelf life, and come in a big variety, but you pay a premium for it. They’re consistently more expensive than most other long term food storage options.
5. Wise Company Long Term Food Kits
The Wise Company offers a comprehensive line of dehydrated and freeze-dried preparedness foods. They have a large selection of different entrees, breakfasts, desserts, and other food items with a shelf-life of up to 25 years under the proper storage conditions.
Why we like it: Pre-assembled kits are one of the easiest ways to build your long term food storage. They offer different serving packs that cover periods from one to 12 months long and provide all the nutrition you need to stay healthy.
Flaws: The convenience of their ready-made kits comes at a price. They’re a bit more expensive on average than putting together a long term food storage yourself.
6. Legacy Food Storage
Legacy Food Storage offers a diverse range of long term food storage meals, kits, and individual food items. They provide free shipping in the Lower 48 and stand by every product they sell.
Why we like it: Their food is tasty, easy to store, and comes in a variety of options. You can choose from pre-built kits or purchase individual entrees and sides. They even offer some great bulk grains, freeze-dried meats, and other options.
Flaws: Their products only come in mylar pouches, no #10 cans. If you’ve already started your long term food storage with can organization systems or shelves it will be harder to store their products.
7. Western Frontier MREs
Meals, Ready to Eat, have been the U.S. Military’s standard field ration for decades. They come prepackaged with a full meal plus a flameless heating unit that allows you to prepare them at home or in the field without cooking equipment.
Why we like it: MREs are fully cooked and offer a diverse range of entrees, sides, and desserts. They’re the ‘TV dinners’ of emergency preparedness and have a place as part of an effective long term food storage.
Flaws: MREs don’t offer nearly the same shelf-life as other long term food storage options. If stored in ideal conditions they’re good for up to five years, with any significant fluctuation in temperature quickly reducing that shelf-life.
8. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, better known as the LDS or Mormon church, has been offering food storage goods to its members for decades. Mormons hold preparedness as part of their faith and the church has set up its own infrastructure to provide affordable food storage items grown on church-owned farms and packaged at church-run canneries.
Why we like it: The food offered is reasonably priced, well packaged, and offers an exceptional shelf life. It can be purchased online or directly at an LDS Home Storage Center, and you can even save a bit by packaging it yourself at numerous LDS canneries.
Flaws: The food storage items offered are extremely basic. You can get things like grains, rice, and a few dried veggies, but you won’t find any ready to heat entrees or similar products. There’s also the understanding that they serve the members of their faith first and the general public second. If there’s a shortage or situation they may close off sales to non-Mormons.
9. Thrive Life
Thrive Life is a relative newcomer to the long term food storage market and doesn’t have the same focus as many other manufacturers. They’re first and foremost a lifestyle brand that offers modern families an easier way to plan and execute their meals. That being said, they have a large catalog of interesting foods with shelf lives comparable to other, better-known companies.
Why we like it: They offer some individual items we don’t see in other manufacturers’ catalogs. These include ‘exotic’ grains like amaranth and spelt, plus fruits such as pineapple.
Flaws: As a newer brand they don’t have the history of quality and real-world examples of shelf-life behind them. They’re also less focused on the preparedness side and a lot more on a ‘lifestyle’ reimagining than we like.
10. Food Insurance Daily Bread Food Storage
Food Insurance Daily Bread is a line of entrees, dehydrated veggies, and other survival foods packed in buckets and #10 cans. They also offer a range of MREs and similar pre-cooked foods for those looking to add extra variety to their long term food storage.
Why we like it: Their individual products are well-made and packaged to last. They provide tasty and nutritious meals with shelf lives that rival the biggest and best food storage brands out there.
Flaws: Other than their prices, which are higher than average, their catalog is lacking. They don’t offer nearly the variety as some other food storage companies. It’s unlikely you’d be able to get everything you were looking for in a comprehensive food storage from Food Insurance.
What’s new with long term food storage
Who should buy long term food storage?
Long term food storage is one of the cornerstones of the preparedness movement. Below we’ve laid out some of the people who can benefit the most from building one.
Preppers who’ve already built up a short term active pantry – In the preparedness world, the LDS church has long been recognized as the old guard. They’ve been actively encouraging their members to take steps to prepare for uncertainty and unrest for over a century.
A huge chunk of long term research on food storage and general preparedness comes from the Mormon Church’s efforts. They recommend a two-step approach to food storage.
A 3-month ‘active panty’ made up of foods you already eat every day plus whatever amount of long term food storage you can build up. This allows you to rotate through everyday food items within their expiration dates while still putting up foods with a longer shelf life.
Once you have your 3-month stock of everyday foods you should move on to building your long term food storage (1).
People with extra storage space in their home – If you’ve got some extra space in your home that you haven’t decided what to do with yet, we highly recommend you consider food storage. It’s one of the best ways to prepare for any type of emergency or disaster and takes up a lot less space than you think.
Even if you aren’t already a prepper or otherwise interested in preparedness you can see the benefit of having a good stock of shelf-stable long term food storage on hand.
Modern homesteaders and others who want to try living totally off-grid – Many preppers with serious concerns about the future and the means to do so have embraced the homestead lifestyle. Like the pioneering settlers of the Old West, they find a plot of remote agricultural land and set up a working small farm for their family’s future.
If this is something you’re doing, it’s absolutely essential that you build up a long term food storage. All kinds of things can impact your productivity on a year to year basis.
Drought, extreme weather, or even something as biblical sounding as locusts can seriously reduce your output. If your goal is to live entirely off the grid through the product of your labor you need to have food set aside for lean years (2).
A comprehensive long term food storage means your family won’t go hungry even if your crops wither and die on the vine.
Everyone with the means to do so – It’s not often we put out a blanket recommendation, but long term food storage definitely merits one. There isn’t a single person out there who wouldn’t benefit from having a reasonable supply of shelf-stable food on hand.
Think of any emergency that you and your family might encounter. In basically every scenario you come up with I bet you’d be better off with a reliable stock of food.
If you’ve got the resources to put aside food for the future we highly recommend you do. After all, everyone has to eat no matter what.
How we ranked
There were five primary metrics we looked at when creating our list. These were nutrition, taste and variety, shelf life, calorie density, affordability.
Nutrition – Nutritional density and quality are just about the most important parts of long term food storage. The human body cannot function properly without the correct amount of fats, carbohydrates, protein, sugars, and essential vitamins and minerals (3).
A lot of so-called survival food packs in calories from a single macronutrient group like carbs or fats, but lacks the other essentials. We looked at the types of food different long term food storage manufacturers offered and the nutrients they contained when making our list.
Taste and variety – There’s no getting around it, a lot of survival food doesn’t actually taste that good. This isn’t a problem if we’re talking about lifeboat rations or emergency food to be eaten over the course of a few days to a week, but it becomes one when looking at months or even years.
When building your long term food storage you need something that your family is going to be willing to actually eat. We considered the taste, texture, versatility, and customizable options when comparing various long term food storage options.
Shelf life – Long term food storage needs to have a significantly extended shelf life over everyday foods. Research done over the past few decades has shown that many food storage items can last for 30 years or longer when properly packaged and stored (4).
When comparing different long term food storage options we paid close attention to the packaging, seal mechanisms, ease of storage, and other key metrics. These all impact how you can store your food and what kind of shelf life you can expect.
We also looked at any preservation methods used to extend shelf life. Dehydrated and especially freeze-dried foods store for longer periods of time and show overall less qualitative decline than other types of food (5).
Calorie density – Calorie density is an important part of any food storage. The more calories a food provides per pound the greater the calorie density.
Foods high in sugars and fats have a high calorie density. For food storage, you want a good mix of high- and low-density foods, but you definitely want a lot of high-density food.
The higher a food’s calorie density the less of it you need to store to meet your daily calorie needs.
Affordability – There’s a pretty large price range for different long term food storage items. Products with more processing or storage required such as freeze-dried pouches or sealed and deoxygenated #10 cans are more expensive than those that come in cheaper or less durable packaging.
We made sure to include several high-quality basic food storage items that, while not quite as good in taste or nutritional density, give you good value for your money in terms of survivability.
Brands we trust – Mountain House and Emergency Essentials are two brands we can highly recommend. Mountain House is extremely well known for their hiking and camping food pouches, but they also offer a comprehensive line of long term food storage items in high-quality storage systems.
Emergency Essentials is one of the oldest and most respected names in the preparedness world. They offer a massive line of long term food storage products that includes everything from basic grains and rice up to individually packaged entree packs designed for the whole family.
Things to avoid – The biggest thing to watch out for when looking at long term food storage is mislabeled or out of date product. Only order your food from a reputable supplier that stands behind what they sell.
We highly recommend you spot check every order of long term food. Open up a canister or pack at random and see how it looks, feels, and tastes. This is a great way to ensure your emergency food storage is in tip-top shape.
We took each of these factors into account when picking and ranking the products on our list. You can rest easy knowing that any of them will provide you with a reliable source of food in challenging times.
Long term food storage prepares you for supply chain disruptions – The author Alfred Henry Lewis is reputed to have said that “There are only nine meals between mankind and anarchy”. This statement has never been more true than in today’s highly interconnected world.
The modern supply chain is faster, more efficient, and more fragile than ever before. A thousand things have to work perfectly to get foodstuffs from a farm in Iowa to your local grocery store shelves.
Just one mistake, interruption, or missed deadline can cause a cascade failure down the line. Even more frightening, once the food stops appearing on shelves people start to panic.
If you’ve got comprehensive food storage you can avoid the rush of panic buying and know for certain that your family will have food on their plates for the foreseeable future (6).
Long term food storage gives you a welcome buffer in times of financial strain – By the middle of April 2020 more than 22 million American’s lost their jobs due to coronavirus. That’s 22 million people suddenly and unexpectedly without income, unable to buy food, pay their bills, or support their families (7).
That may be an extreme example, but anyone can lose their job, or suffer a slowdown at work that cuts their income. Most American’s spend close to 10% of their income on food (8).
Building long term food storage when times are good allows you to feed your family without additional cost during lean times.
Long term food storage protects your family in unstable times – People always have to eat no matter what’s going on in the world. History has long shown that famine is one of the greatest producers of refugees. The last thing you want is for your family to be among them (9).
Having a responsible amount of long term food storage on hand buffers you against instability. It allows you and your family to hunker down during local unrest and ride out downturns in the global economy.
Long term food storage gives you options others won’t have available to them – In times of unrest or disaster many people have very limited food options available to them. Many people would begin to go hungry after just a day or so without access to grocery stores and restaurants.
Natural disasters have already shown us what that will look like. When Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in 2017 it left millions of U.S. citizens without reliable access to food and other necessities (10).
They were forced to turn to the government for aid, aid that was slow in coming and chaotic in its delivery. The last thing you want to be doing right after a disaster is waiting in a long line for the government to dole out food supplies (11).
Having a long term food storage plan in place allows you and your family to stay safe in your home, without having to go out and brave the chaos to get food supplies.
Long term food storage is a great and lasting investment in your future – There’s a long-standing joke in investing circles that the best time to invest was ten years ago, and the second-best time is today. With food storage that is very literally true.
Any foods purchased as part of your long term food storage will be with you for decades if properly stored. That means you can buy grain, rice, beans, and other essentials at prices today that will seem absurdly low in a few decades.
Think about what food cost 30 years ago versus today. Every contribution to your long term food storage is food your family will eat in the future that you bought for the equivalent of pennies on the dollar (12).
Q: How much long term food storage do I need?
A: Most sources recommend you start with a three month supply of everyday food then expand out to about a year’s supply with long term food storage products. The amount of food storage you need depends on how large your family is, what level of activity you think is likely, and whether or not you think resupply likely (13).
Q: How do I store long term food storage?
A: Storage conditions are just about the most important part of planning your long term food storage. Improperly stored food items will have drastically reduced storage lives and can leave your family unprotected. Experts recommend that you keep dry goods in a low humidity environment between 50° and 70° F (14).
You should also take special care to how your food storage is packaged. If you’re packing it yourself you need to seal it into mylar bags with oxygen absorbers. These prevent spoilage over time. Then you should place them in food storage buckets to protect from rodents, pests, and physical damage.
Q: What are long term food storage buckets?
A: One thing you’ll see a lot in both prepurchased and home-packed food storage is the prevalence of plastic buckets. These provide a physical barrier to protect your food storage from damage. Foil pouched food products should always be stored in a bucket or other sturdy container that keeps them safe from harm. Just remember though, plastic isn’t an oxygen barrier. You need to place your food storage in approved food storage bags with oxygen absorbers.
Q: What are long term food storage bags?
A: Long term food storage bags, also known as mylar bags, protect your food storage from three of the five biggest threats. They’re an oxygen barrier, moisture barrier, and total light barrier. When combined with oxygen absorbers and proper food storage buckets they protect your food storage from the vast majority of things that can cause it to spoil (15).
Q: How do I build a long term food storage in hot climates?
A: We’ve already covered the importance of storage conditions to food storage, so you may be wondering what your options are if you live in a hot climate. Don’t despair, there are several ways you can protect your food storage. First and foremost, you can keep them inside your home if you have air conditioning. If that’s not an option you can go old school with a traditional root cellar. These rely on the natural insulating properties of the soil to keep your stored foodstuffs at a much-reduced temperature throughout the year (16).
Q: How do I prepare long term food storage?
A: One of the most often overlooked aspects of long term food storage is how to actually cook with it. Unless you bought strictly ready to heat and eat food products you’re going to need to figure out how to process and cook with the bulk foods you stored. There are plenty of recipes online, but you can also find some really nice cookbooks that offer some of the most popular modern recipes made using strictly long term food storage goods (17).
One of our favorites is “I Can’t Believe It’s Food Storage!”.
Q: What are the best long term food storage options for a diabetic?
A: Trying to manage diabetes symptoms can be challenging at the best of times. During a major disaster, it can become downright frightening. The good news is that many of the foods we most recommend to store have a low glycemic index. These include beans, whole grains, and dried vegetables. All of these offer efficient nutrition without too many processed sugars (18).
Q: How do I start a long term food storage?
A: You should always do a bit of planning when starting your long term food storage. Figure out how many people you need to feed, how many calories they need per day, and how long you want your food storage to last. Once you know your basic calorie needs you’re ready to put together a list of what and how much food you require. There’s no need to buy it all at once either. To build a year’s supply try buying it a week or month at a time and spread the extra expense throughout your budget.
Q: how do I organize long term food storage?
A: Organizing long term food storage starts with an understanding of FIFO. FIFO, or first in, first out, is a food rotation method that means you always consume the first/oldest product on your shelf before eating newer products. Depending on how your food storage is packaged you can do this with a shelf system that automatically rotates #10 cans or by reliably labeling and storing larger buckets or containers.
Q: What should be in my long term food storage?
A: Long term food storage should include everything you need to keep your family fed and healthy for a set amount of time. This will include things like grains, vegetables, meat, fruit, meat, and other essentials. The College of Life Sciences Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Science department at Brigham Young University, a world leader in food storage research, has published an official guide on things to store as well (19).
Q: What are the best types of long term food storage?
A: The big three of long term food storage options are dehydrated, freeze-dried, and bulk grains. The grains are naturally dry once harvested while the other two are just different methods of drying out the food. Dehydration has been used since ancient times and relies on natural heat and aridity to pull out water. Freeze-drying allows the widest variety of foods to be safely stored and can effectively remove 95%+ of the water within different food products. All three provide excellent shelf-lives when properly stored.
You can learn more about freeze-drying and find some of the best freeze-dried foods by checking out our full article here.
Q: What foods have the longest shelf life for long term storage?
A: This one’s a bit tricky, as advances in technology have vastly extended the shelf life of a huge number of food products. The old staples are still the best overall. Rice, beans, hard and soft grain, honey, and sugar all have effectively indefinite storage lives under the proper conditions. Studies list them as having 30+ year storage lives, but that’s only because that’s the length of time the studies have been ongoing. Modern ready to heat entrees also offer 25+ year storage lives with only a marginal drop in nutritional quality (20)(21).
Putting together a long term food storage is inexpensive, easy to do, and could be the difference between life and death for your family. Access to food is one of the first things likely to be cut off during a major disaster or longer duration grid-down scenario.
Even better, modern long term food storage options are cheaper, longer-lasting, and better tasting than ever before.
For Survival At Home’s #1 long term food storage recommendation, click here.
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