When preparing for a disaster, you need to be sure that you have enough food to survive. Whether you’re by yourself or camped out with your family, the right amount of food can make a substantial difference. When prepping, it’s necessary to know the shelf life of different foods. Some items can last a few weeks, while others can last for years. Since you don’t know how long you’ll need to live on this food, you should have ingredients with varying shelf lives.
So, with that in mind, let’s take a closer look at how long stored survival food lasts.
Why Shelf-Life Matters for Survival Food
There are two ways to look at a food’s shelf life. First, pay attention to the “best by” date. This date tells you when the food should still taste fresh and delicious. The second option is the expiration date, which tells you when a food has spoiled and is no longer edible. Keep in mind that these two dates can vary significantly.
For example, powdered milk usually has a best-by date of a few months. However, it won’t spoil for up to 20 years, provided that you keep it stored properly. Knowing the difference allows you to plan better so that you use fresher foods first and don’t waste anything.
Average Shelf Life of Different Types of Food
Most products will have a best by or expiration date on them. However, dried foods like beans, rice, or grains won’t. Here is a rundown of the typical shelf life for various types of food. Again, you have to store everything correctly to avoid premature spoilage (more on that later):
- Canned Food – Acidity matters when picking canned foods. According to the USDA, highly acidic options like tomatoes or orange slices will only last about 12 to 15 months. Keep in mind foods with tomato sauces as well, such as canned pasta. Foods with low acidity (i.e., meats, veggies, etc.) can last up to five years. After that, the proteins and carbohydrates in the food will start to break down and cause spoilage.
- Freeze-Dried Food – The primary benefit of freeze-dried food is that it doesn’t have any moisture. Because there’s little to no water inside, this food can last a long time before spoiling. Most freeze-dried food is also packaged in foil to seal it better from the elements.
- Pre-Packaged Food – If you buy non-canned goods, you will need to look at the expiration date on the package. As a rule, processed foods will last longer because they have more preservatives. Dehydrated foods can last up to 10 years if they’re sealed and stored correctly.
- Dry Food – According to the USDA, rice and pasta can last about eight to 10 years if they’re hermetically sealed. If they’re sitting in an open container, they’ll last about two years.
How to Store Survival Food Properly
There are a few elements that can ruin your food and cause it to spoil. They are:
- Temperature – Colder temps help prevent the spread of bacteria and other harmful substances. Freezing foods can also inhibit protein breakdown.
- Moisture – Water is necessary for pathogens to flourish. Dried foods last longer because they have little to no water inside.
- Pests – Rats and mice are a huge problem as they can eat through most packaging. You’ll need to vermin-proof your food stores to ensure that they don’t ruin your reserves.
- Light – Sunlight can heat food to unsafe temperatures, and it can break down various components like protein and carbohydrates.
- Oxygen – Once foods are exposed to the air, they start to break down.
Overall, you want to store your food in cool, dry places with thick, light-blocking packaging. Foil is ideal because it won’t allow oxygen or sunlight inside. However, pests can chew through foil pretty quickly, so plan accordingly.
Another point to consider is whether you’ll have access to power. Refrigeration and freezing can help extend a food’s shelf life, but it also requires electricity (unless you’re in a frigid climate). Ideally, most of your food should be shelf-stable at room temperature so that you don’t have to rely on generators or the power grid.
Get Your Survival Food from EMP Provisions
Even if you’re trying to survive a natural disaster, your food should still be enjoyable. At EMP Provisions, we make meals with long shelf lives that you’ll actually want to eat. Not only are our meals affordable and tasty, but they’ll provide sufficient nutrients for you and your family.
Browse our selection online and try some today!