Survival Tips

Should a national or world-wide disaster strike, there are ways to be prepared! You will need to have an emergency rations to last anywhere from a few weeks to many months. After nine months to a year, you should be able to plant a garden to grow some supplies. Heirloom seeds are best; these will allow you to harvest the seeds for the next year's crops. 

Below are some videos on basic survival during emergency situations as well as information on the best foods to stock up on. 

6 Lifesaving Tips to Keep Warm During a Winter Power Outage

Emergency Heat & Light For 72 Days

(click to play)

Food Storage

 

Home preserved foods or jars of food purchased remain safe for eating far longer than their first year, but their quality does decline the longer the jars remain on the shelf (or in my case, under the couch). This means that the jam you made or purchased two or three years ago is probably still just fine to eat but it may not taste quite as good as did on that summer afternoon when it was first put into jars. 

TIPS

  • How long does an unopened can of food last?

    • The precise answer depends to a large extent on storage conditions - to maximize shelf life, store in a cool, dry area.

  • How long does an unopened can of food last at room temperature?

    • Properly stored, an unopened canned will generally stay at best quality for about 18 to 24 months, although it will usually remain safe to use after that.

  • Is unopened canned food safe to use after the "expiration" date on the can or package? 

    • Yes, provided it is properly stored and the can is undamaged - commercially packaged tomato sauce will typically carry a "Best By," "Best if Used By," "Best Before", or "Best When Used By" date but this is not a safety date, it is the manufacturer's estimate of how long the tomato sauce will remain at peak quality.

    • Storage time shown is for best quality only - after that, the food's texture, color or flavor may change, but in most cases, it will still be safe to consume if it has been stored properly, the can is undamaged, and there are no signs of spoilage (see below).

  • How can you tell if canned food is bad or spoiled?

    • The best way is to smell and look at the food: if it develops an off odor, flavor or appearance, or if mold appears, it should be discarded.

 

Discard all food from cans or packages that are leaking, rusting, bulging or severely dented.

Best Foods for Long Shelf Life

For food that lasts longer than 8+ years, there are a few reliable items you can have around:

  1. Commercially Canned Foods

    • Issues: lack of taste and high in sodium​

      • Vegetables​

      • Meats: Chicken, Beef, Fish

      • Soups and chili 

  2. Sugar, Honey, and Other Sweeteners

    • White sugar needs to be kept in air-tight containers and will absorb other smells

    • Corn syrup: Forever shelf life, though the color might change.

    • Molasses: Lasts 10 years in a sealed, unopened jar in the pantry. Once opened, it will last 1-5 years in the pantry.

    • Powdered sugar: Forever shelf life

    • Stevia: About 4 years

  3. Freeze Dried Foods

    • Includes meat, cheese, dairy, fruits, veggies, and even entire meals.

    • When packaged properly (meaning in an airtight package with oxygen absorbers), freeze dried foods can last for 25+ years.

      • Best Overall: Valley Food Storage

      • Best Tasting: Mountain House

      • Best Low-Budget Option: Augason Farms

      • Best Long-Term Kits: ReadyWise Food Storage

      • Best For Maximum Calories: Legacy Food Storage

  4. Dehydrated Fruits and Veggies

    • Packaging them in Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers, dried foods can last 5-15 years. 

  5. Dried Beans

    • Beans will start to lose vitamins at around 2-3 years.  But, so long as they stayed dry and didn’t begin to grow mold, they will still be fine to eat.

  6. Jarred Food (Commercially-Made)

    • Jams

    • Applesauce

    • Pickles

    • Peppers

    • Pasta sauce

    • Baby food

  7. Whole Grains

    • Whole grains still have their outer shell (hull) intact.  This acts as a natural preservative, keeping out air and light that would cause degradation. The grains with harder hulls (hard grains) will last longer than those with soft hulls (soft grains).

    • Shelf life when stored in Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers:

      • Soft grains (such as barley, quinoa, and rye): 8 years

      • Hard grains (such as wheat and buckwheat): 10 to 12 years

  8. Pasta​​​​

    • It will easily last 2 years past this date in your pantry without any special storage. When in Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers, pasta will last 20 to 30 years!

      • Egg Pasta: Egg pasta will last approximately 2 years without any special storage. It may become discolored and lose nutrients though. Egg pasta also has a tendency to absorb odors and contaminants from the air around it.

      • Vegetable Pasta: Pasta with vegetable flavors (such as spinach or beet pasta) also lasts 2 years without special storage. It might discolor or lose nutrients, but should still be safe to eat.

      • Whole-Grain Pasta: Just like with storing whole-grain flour, the natural oils in whole grain pasta will cause it to go rancid. The process is gradual.  After a year or two, the pasta may still be safe to eat but have an unpleasant taste.

      • Gluten-Free Pasta: Most gluten free pastas will last 2 years in the pantry. However, some gluten free pasta are made with ingredients that have a lot of natural oils (such as flax pasta).  The oils in the pasta will cause the pasta to go bad much faster – especially in warm temperatures.

  9. White Rice

    • If stored in a cool, dry place, white rice can last forever.  This is not the case with brown rice, though.

    • Unlike white rice, brown rice hasn’t had its bran removed. The bran is quite high in oils, which go rancid fairly quickly.  That’s why brown rice will only last up to 1 year in your pantry.

  10. Powdered Milk

    • If you keep the powdered milk in its packaging, it is a forever shelf life food.  

  11. Salt and Bouillon

    • Salt is used as a preservative for food, so it is no surprise that it lasts forever.

    • Instead of just stockpiling salt, you might want to stockpile bouillon in your emergency supplies too.  It also has a forever shelf life but has more flavor than salt alone – which can do wonders for spicing up bland emergency meals.

  12. Instant Mashed Potatoes​​

    • 10 - 15 year self life despite what the "best buy" date is. ​

  13. Cocoa and Cacao Powder

    • Unsweetened cocoa powder can last 6 years past its expiration date, though it will lose some of its taste over time. Just don’t eat it if it has a moldy, unpleasant odor.

  14. Flour​

    • You can expect a shelf life of approximately 1 to 2 years for white flour in a cool, dry pantry.  Whole wheat flour has more oils in it, so it will only last a few months.

    • In a Mylar bag with oxygen absorbers, white and whole wheat flour will last around 10 years.

  15. Jell-O Mix

    • In its unopened package, Jell-O mix can potentially last forever.  Once you open the package, though, you’ll need to use the powder within 3 months.

  16. Vinegar

    • The acidity in vinegar acts as a natural preservative, giving it a forever shelf life. You don’t even need to refrigerate vinegar to get this long shelf life. Just make sure you avoid vinegars with herbs in them, as those herbs might go bad eventually.

  17. Condiments

    • Only Soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce will last forever in your pantry. Others have a short shelf life

  18. Instant Coffee

    • Has a forever shelf life​