25 Must Have Survival Foods: Put Them In Your Pantry Now

One of my favorite phrases that I tell new preppers is that “your preps are your lifeline.” We must put measures in place before a disaster is upon us in order to have these lifelines available to us when we need it the most.

Building an emergency pantry is one of those lifelines that takes both time and planning to make it fully functional. Ideally, you want to store shelf stable foods that your family normally consumes, as well as find foods that serve multiple purposes.

A few other points to consider when starting an emergency food pantry are:

  • To store emergency foods that will not require refrigeration, and should require little electricity or fuel to prepare.
  •  The food should have a long shelf life.
  • It should provide ample nutrition and contain little salt.

In my book, The Prepper’s Cookbook: 300 Recipes to Turn Your Emergency Food into Nutritious, Delicious, Life-Saving Meals,  I use the following essential food staples as the basis for the recipes. The following foods are all popular food staples that should be considered as “must haves” for your emergency pantries. The advantages to storing these items, is they encompass all of the key consideration points listed above. Best of all, these items are very affordable and versatile, thus making them worthy of being on your storage shelves for extended emergencies.

Keep in mind, that water is your most important prep. You need water for consumption, food preparation, and for sanitary needs. Ensure that you have a large quantity of water stored away for emergency use.

Stock up on the following items today to get your prepper pantry ready for the next extended emergency:

1. Canned fruits, vegetables, meats, and soups
2. Dried legumes (beans, lentils, peas)
3. Crackers
4. Nuts
5. Pasta sauce
6. Peanut butter
7. Pasta
8. Flour (white, whole wheat)
9. Seasonings (vanilla, salt, pepper, paprika, cinnamon, pepper, taco seasoning, etc.)
10. Sugar
11. Bouillon cubes or granules (chicken, vegetable, beef)
12. Kitchen staples (baking soda, baking powder, yeast, vinegar)
13. Honey
14. Unsweetened cocoa powder
15. Jell-O or pudding mixes
16. Whole grains (barley, bulgur, cornmeal, couscous, oats, quinoa, rice, wheat berries)
17. Nonfat dried milk
18. Plant-based oil (corn oil, vegetable oil, coconut oil, olive oil)
19. Cereals
20. Seeds for eating and sprouting
21. Popcorn (not the microwavable kind)
22. Instant potato flakes
23. Packaged meals (macaroni and cheese, hamburger helper, Ramen noodles, etc.)
24. Purified drinking water
25. Fruit juices, teas, coffee, drink mixes

Use this list as a starting point on beginning or extending your preparedness pantry- and don’t feel handcuffed to only stocking up on these items. Always keep your family’s food preferences and dietary needs in mind when investing in your food supply. It would be extremely advantageous to have a two week supply (at a minimum) of these shelf stable food items on hand to care for your family. To see how much your family would need, click here.

We never know when disasters or emergencies may strike, so why not be prudent and be ready for them before they effect our livelihood and well being.

The Prepper's Blueprint

Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint, a comprehensive guide that uses real-life scenarios to help you prepare for any disaster. Because a crisis rarely stops with a triggering event the aftermath can spiral, having the capacity to cripple our normal ways of life. The well-rounded, multi-layered approach outlined in the Blueprint helps you make sense of a wide array of preparedness concepts through easily digestible action items and supply lists.

Tess is also the author of the highly rated Prepper’s Cookbook, which helps you to create a plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply and includes over 300 recipes for nutritious, delicious, life-saving meals. 

Visit her web site at ReadyNutrition.com for an extensive compilation of free information on preparedness, homesteading, and healthy living.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published April 3rd, 2013
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  • Margaret Booth

    I don’t agree with your suggestion of corn and soybean oils. Most corn and soybeans are Genetically Modified. Not safe to eat. Coconut and Olive and possibly Peanut oil are good.

    • KK

      ”Most corn and soybeans are Genetically Modified.”
      Oh, right. Like everything we eat isn’t????

    • http://www.whyisthesubsinking.com Tim Brown

      Aztec indian’s corn in Zacatlamanca, Mexico, state of Veracruz ain’t gots not GMO’s

  • Eugene

    Why are Jell-O or pudding mixes must have survival foods? Why would I need popcorn or instant potato flakes? Stuff like hamburger helper and Ramen noodles are not fit for a dog.
    While I avoid sugar products, it is good to have for trading purposes and never goes bad.

    • KK

      I have more than 6 years of stored food.
      However, I also have pudding, jello, popcorn, instant potato flakes, hamburger helper, tuna helper, ramen noodles, etc. and I don’t have a dog!!!
      When water and energy to prepare meals is in short supply, and it will be, boiling ramen noodles may be essential in providing a meal.

  • conscious Brother

    I DON’T  AGREE WITH THE CANNED FOOD
    WHITE  FLOUR  ONLY WHEAT FLOUR
    WHY  BOUILLON CUBE IT’S NOT DINNER  IT’S
    POPCORN  NO GOOD   YOU HAVING FRIENDS OVER
    JELLO  COME ON 
    AND WHERE ARE YOU GOING TO STORE FRUIT JUICES
    IT’S  SURVIVAL  NOT A PARTY  , YOU  NEED FOODS TO  BUILD UP YOUR immune  system

    • Allison

      What is wrong with you people?

      Popcorn is an excellent choice!  It can be ground into cornmeal, which as you know has multiple uses, and popped over a fire or camp stove for a snack.  Also, fruit juices store for a YEAR or more, so again, a good choice, and good for the immune system.  Just drink it before it expires.

    • JayJay

      Bouillon cubes on rice…a life saver maybe??

      Or even on ramen noodles…or pasta.  

    • Anne

      Are you unaware that whole wheat flour goes rancid very quickly as compared to the refined ‘white flour?’ The whole point of refined flour was the shelf life. Most people these days do not have a sharp enough sense of smell to know they’re in trouble with rancid flour till they get a whopping case of IBS. By the time you find that ‘whole wheat flour’ in the stores, most of it is already rancid and riddled with mold – you just can’t see it. Want to be more sure, the economical way? Buy your grains at your favorite feed store, in seed form and grind them yourself as needed. It’s no big deal. I did it easily enough for three decades living out in the sticks with no ‘mod-cons’ on the old-fashioned metate – just google that. I had bought a non-electric grain mill but for me, the metate was faster. Archaeologists found wheat even in the pyramids that was still viable so your chances are good too if you keep the stuff in the dark and dry.

      Why not bouillon cubes? The MSG is the least of your problems when you’re not getting enough salt in your diet and those cubes are a ready source of that. If you think you’re getting enough sodium in your food, what with modern agriculture, think again. Dehydration is nothing to mess with; there’s a reason people living and working in the desert have to carry salt tablets – and if you’re doing unaccustomed hard labor, you may as well be in the desert. As to the juices, if you have the space, why not? Wouldn’t you try to can some of your homemade juice for use in winter when there was no fruit to be had?.

      Always have all the variety you can manage; otherwise you’re going to fail to get the nutrients you need to run on just because you’re bored of the same old thing. If you think humans can be trained to stoic boredom because of an emergency, you’re wrong. Even wars have been started for no more reason than a craving for something ‘strange.’

  • Stan Brown

    This is the most stupid advice that I can imagine in this current situation.

  • http://readynutrition.com-infowars Ivy Dean

    Even though I agree with the oils comment totally and may or may not totally
    agree with the list, this is such a good start for those who are wondering how and with what to get started at 0 cost, for conscious brother saying this is the
    “most stupid advice” he can imagine, I just wonder how much time and money you have spent compiling information for those who are overwhelmed? I may
    imagine you run around telling all how smart you are and how much you know? Maybe you need to be reminded that “the more you know, the more you don’t know?
    Thank you Ready Nutrition for all of your hard work and dedication.

    Ivy Dean

  • Holly

    The thing of it is, if you have kids, you’ve GOT to have some goodies for them. They are NOT interested in eating foods that build your immune system. Popcorn will seem like a treat to them. Ramen noodles you can do a bunch of things with, and let’s face it, you add water. My grand kids LOVE ramen noodles. I allow them sometimes for lunch. Jello pudding would be a treat for the kids too. So while you are correct about eating foods that build the immune system, the kids have got to have something to satisfy their Junk food Jones. It satisfies the mental health of the children. Kids will starve themselves before they will eat things they DO NOT like. So, keep that in mind when storing foods and you have kids, or grand kids.

    • Briana

      This is for the food snobs that are concerned with the oils, as well as those overly concerned with having candy for your kids.  Remember this, when you are HUNGRY, you’ll eat what is offered! A SHTF situation is NOT the time to be picky!

  • Jackie C

    I have never seen such hateful ppl in my life! You can disagree without being asses! Stan, if you are so smart give us some of your suggestions… Uh huh that’s what I thought! Actually this is a great list to start with. It’s OIL ppl, choose What kind YOU want to use! Geez. It appears you ppl are clueless. Oh and one more thing… NO NEED TO SCREAM CONCIOUS BROTHER, your stupidity is obvious regardless. 

    • LaMont

      Idiot

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003422304024 Keyly

    Repent of your sins and turn to the Lord Jesus (Yeshua). Avoid FEMA camps. Do NOT carry cell phone and debit/credit cards because they can track you. Keep garintheg food, water, and supplies because this is not going to be a short term, this is where America falls and will rise no more. Google: FEMA camps, NWO, Illumanati.

    • Briana

      They can track your internet activity too.

    • Fred Hughes

      What a PILE of Horse Excrement @Keyly – You apparently have problems tying your shoes. Credit cards having a tracking? not if you don’t use them fool.

      I feel sorry for your family, with your help they will not survive.

      • Marie

        Depends on what country you’re in, genius. In Europe, e.g., credit cards have chips in them which can be tracked. Ditto ATM cards from European banks (I know because I have one). If you’ve got them sitting in a drawer in your house, they can be tracked to your house. Do you know how to tie YOUR shoes?

  • Rita Renee

    These are normal foods for normal people. Popcorn and Jello make us happy. When the workd is ending, a little comfort food goes a long way, especially for kids. If you want to hide in your bunker with your water and MREs, nothing’s stopping you. Have a happy life. (Juice comes in cans too)

  • Linda

    there is a saying, “Take what you need and leave the rest”. Feel free to generate you own list, but don’t put down somebody who already has done the work. shame on you

  • Tina

    I’m about to download this list and see what I have that is on it, and what I need to get.  Thank you!

  • Lucy

    Fear really can get people going.  We really need to stay like minded and instead of tearing each other down, figure a real plan with friends and family for the long haul.  We need protection, I say put a gun and plenty of ammo on the list too so the bad guys are less likely to try to  steal our supplies.  It could be a “mad max”  scenario.  Beer and cigs. too for trading.  You can cook with beer too.  Meds too, water purifying tablets to make sure that water is pure…thank you for this great list to start and we can tweak it the way we want!  :-)

    • Jamie

      Beer is great, but it doesn’t stay fresh forever. That is why I’ve stocked up on some of the harder liquor. And you are completely right about sticking together. Think of it this way: The more people that are prepared, then the less desperate people will be.

  • Kathy

    Exactly….Take from IT what YOU need ..and move along.
     

  • LeAnn

    This is a great list, I know GMOs are horrific, but non gmo foods are harder to find and more expensive. If the shtf your belly and your kids bellies would just want any kind of food, they wouldnt care if it was from Dollar General or Whole Foods. Get this stuff in your pantry now, and replace it with higher quality as you can afford to. I use homemade toothpaste without fluoride, but if I were to run out, yeah Id use Crest in a pinch until I could get my hands on the good stuff. You do what you will to survive. Get prepared as fast and as cheaply as you can do it. Its gonna get real bad, real soon.

  • http://www.averagepersongardening.com/seedsclub Mike the Gardener

    The list is a great place to start.  Everyone will modify it to their own needs of course.  Instead of just writing “this list is terrible”, how about you share what you would replace something with.<br><br>
    For example I would not store spam (canned meat).  I absolutely hate the stuff.  I would replace it with another canned meat that I like.<br><br>
    Just my take.

  • Leonard

    I read these to learn things… things I dont know..

    Popcorn into corn meal.. awesome. I didnt think of that one!

    Ramen Noodles may not be fit for a dog.. But look how many things we eat today that say’s Do Not feed to your pets!
    ***** # 1 Chips, #2 Beef Jerky, #3 canned tomatoes sauces***

    I on the other hand..
    can make 2 meals out of Ramen noodles…
    Meal 1.. noodles with dehydrated veggies,
    Meal 2.. seasoning pack and hot water with more veggies.
    *** No it may not be healthy.. but it can keep the moral up**

    I for one..
    Like Cattail starch as flour… I dont have to buy it!
    I like to harvest my own foods.. and dehydrate them..
    I love wild mushrooms… but you better know what you’re doing..

    I would only agree with the crackers for short term storage.
    Making your own  it a lot easier.. (yes there is a recipe for it)

    I can not store peanut oil, my daughter is allergic to peanuts.. so anything containing them has been traded out.. and upgraded..
    Bouillon cubes can turn any water into a soup.. just add to it..
    I absolutely agree with this one!!

    Last thing I would add to this storage list is books on foraging…. so many wild edibles out there that when you are hunting game… you can also be hunting fruits and veggies

  • Andy

    Thanks for the information.  I appreciate someone doing the research to help. 

    As to the nay sayers, I’m smart enough to adjust it to my situation, they should be helpful too or STFU, IMHO.

  • Gregory Baker

    I’m sorry, but this list is not good at all. What you need in a crisis, as well as in daily stressed out life, is the most nutrition dense food possible. Refined foods and foods that are corrupted with toxins or GMO will sooner or later take their toll on your mind and body. Foods to be avoided- corn, soybean and canola oil. I make my own peanut butter with a food processor to avoid the soy or canola oil in commercial butters. It’s dirt cheap, too. A little peek into nutrition secrets- canola oil was never developed for human consumption, but as a light industrial lubricant. Look it up. Also, do a search for ‘Concerns regarding soybeans’. Avoid refined sugar, high fructose corn syrup, refined salt (use sea salt or pink Himalayan salt; do a search on sea salt hypertension and you will find that refined salt causes hypertension, sea salt doesn’t). Don’t store white flour, don’t eat white flour, as soon as the protective hull is removed, it starts to spoil and oxidize. White flour is seriously lacking in vital nutrients. Avoid honey from China, in fact anything from China, the Chinese business ethos is basically criminal; it’s a way of life for them, and their honey is not pure. Jello- let’s see, are they still boiling down the hooves, skin and bones of cows and pigs to make that? Yes, indeedy! Look it up! Popcorn is good, last I heard it’s not GMO, but you’ve got to use fuel to pop it; will you have enough fuel or electricity to do that? Will you have a grain mill to turn it into corn meal?

    Okay, I want to now make some recommendations. The number one food I want to recommend is chia seed; the Tarahumara Indians of northern Mexico are capable of running 100 miles or more at a time and chia is one of their main trail foods. Chia is a near perfect food, a superfood. Speaking of which, go to Amazon and search ‘superfoods’ in books. My favorite is The Power of Superfoods, by Graci and Diamond. To begin to get a handle on all of this, I think the place to start is a website, naturalnews.com. Mike Adams is a pit bull when it comes to government and corporate corruption, and is knowledgeable on virtually all health issues. Also, theorganicprepper.ca, organicsurvivalistsite.com, and two books- When Technology Fails, by Matthew Stein, and Hawke’s Green Beret Survival Manual, by Mykel Hawke. I could go on, but that’s enough for now. Pax.

    • Dano

      Handmade peanut butter is only good for up to a few months. In a serious disaster, you could be left with rancid food.

      Your post contains some great info but seriously? In a SHTF situation, vegans and organic snobs will crumble like hungry dogs and will be sucking down canned corn which is full of GMO and will also be chowing down on Ramen noodles like there’s no tomorrow. Think about it…. 

  • Gregory Baker

    One other thing, the legumes and grains are good if they’re non-hybrid, non-GMO, especially peas and lentils; if you get some hemp sprouting bags or containers from thesproutpeople.org you can sprout peas and lentils in as little as 3 days when the temperature is 70 to 80 degrees, and the nutrition content of that seed rises by 12-15%, and you are eating a raw superfood that’s bursting with vitality. Plus, having non-hybrid seeds on hand means that you can grow food. I recommend the book Sprouts- The Miracle Food, by Meyerowitz.

    One of the best-kept secrets of weight control is to not eat refined foods. There is a region of the hypothalamus called the appestat, which is where we get the word appetite. The appestat regulates the sense of hunger and satiety, and when the body needs fueling, the appetite kicks in. If you’re eating refined foods, the appestat says, ‘keep eating, you need more zinc (or chromium, or vitamin b)’. Well, you have to eat a LOT more refined foods to get adequate nutrition to get the appestate to stop poking you with a stick. What do you think happens to all those empty calories? That’s right, it goes into storage! Hips, belly, legs, maybe even a double or triple chin! I hope you’re picking up on all of this, please begin to educate yourself on just what constitutes health-giving nutrition.

      

     

    • Dano

      Gregory Baker, we are talking about SURVIVAL FOODS – NOT fitness foods. You’ve wasted a whole lotta key strokes here my friend. 

      I hope you’re canning something at home. Good luck! 

  • David

    My brother and I have this conversation a lot, and while your list is good, it touches on one of the topics we are concerned with, nearly 80-90% of your list requires, water to prepare. We are surviving in a desert where water is limited now and when the SHTF there will likely be none. So a lot of what you suggest will be quite useless unless you have stored massive amounts of clean water. So we have had to rethink  a lot of our options as you may find you need to do.
     

    • http://www.readynutrition.com Tess Pennington

      David,

      You make excellent points. That said, any prepper who is planning for a short or long term emergency should have water stored. I believe, that water is the essence of a good food pantry. You must have water stored for drinking, food preparation and even for sanitation.

      I realize that dessert survival is a difficult topic, but I’m sure that since you live there, you know if you don’t have water, then your probability of survival will diminish. Personally speaking, I would have a two week supply of water stored up for an emergency regardless of what area of the country you live in. If you live out in the dessert, then you should plan accordingly. Further, many of the canned goods can be home canned and that could supply some hydration during an emergency scenario.

  • http://all Cecil R. Browning

    Don’t forget unfiltered honey, it’s a energy food and a fair antibotic.
    It was used during WW1 as a wound dressing.

  • deltaV

    I agree with some of this, almost everything on my personal list is represented. An idea would be to graduate the list in order of importance. Jello, popcorn, and bullion are less valuable in a survival situation than rice and peanut butter. Another idea is to graduate the values of the various spices. They can be bought in bulk, last quite a long time, and if properly mixed, provide a meal almost by themselves. I personally have a hefty store of various spices, although I have never put them in a valued order. It would also help reduce the flame content of these comments, although I suppose it would have been hard to anticipate such a reaction. This is all a process in develpoment. We must make allowances for that fact.

  • Megan

    I guess I am an organic snob. There I said it. *grin*  When I look at the list above, I am glad to see that I am on track.  I think the list is a great starting point and I am storing all of these foods in mostly organic. I do have to make most of my own from scratch but it has been a great experience that I have enjoyed.
    After reading some of the rude and hateful comments, I had to post.  For the record, just because someone is knowledgeable about GMOs and works to avoid them doesn’t make them a snob.  I am a Marketing and Communications Director for an organic food co-op, which means I have to do a ton of research. And I would never look down on anyone for storing what they can afford.  Would I attempt to educate them and steer them toward better choices?  Yes, I would, because I care. Are all organics good? Nope.  Because big agricultural companies have friends (former and future employees) in the FDA and USDA.  And they can push through anything corrupted very easily. Are there wonderful non-organic choices?  Yes.  Why? Because not all organic farmers can afford the USDA Organic stamp. The USDA standard for organics is the lowest possible standard and many farmers/companies have surpassed this in quality. I have done the research.  I am very aware of the fake organic companies and the good non-organic companies. I too am not rich, but I stock my pantry with the best that I can afford. 
    Will organic snobs be eating foods that they wouldn’t normally eat in a SHTF scenario? Yes, i would and more so will the ones that aren’t prepared. And, I am guessing that people who eat GMOs wouldn’t turn down an organic meal either.
    Buy what you can afford.  Can and dehydrate your own foods (some of the extra liquids from canned foods can be used to rehydrate other parts of your meal). Learn to forage, cook from scratch, grow your own.  There are so many ways to prepare and we are all in this together and doing our best.  No need for the condescension. 
         

  • Megan

    Delta V,  I have a ton of spices too. In addition to cooking with them, I use them for other things as well.  For example, I just made some turmeric pills yesterday.  I just can’t seem to find enough foods to add turmeric to in the quantity that I need and it is an excellent anti-inflammatory.  I bought a pill maker, gel caps and the best quality bulk Turmeric that I could afford. I feel better already.  In the past, I have made ginger pills with ginger powder.  Ginger is also an excellent anti-inflammatory. I have a lot of intolerances that make me inflamed and they help a lot.  Also, it has been found that GMO foods are the cause of chronic inflammation and these spices are inexpensive ways that can help off-set some of the effects of eating what you can afford.   

    • Anne

      I agree with you about the spices – with a warning: traditional use of these spices, for centuries, in ayurvedic medicine followed guidelines geared toward their use in food. The spices are first heated a little, which releases the volatile oils and makes them more accessible to your digestion. Then, they are ground and used in your meal, with the food. There is NO mention of anybody ever thinking it a good idea to take concentrated raw spices in capsules and swallowing the whole dose with water! It’s too hard on the liver! More is not always better and if for all those centuries no practitioner ever decided it applied in the case of spices, I wouldn’t want to be the first to bet on it.

  • KK

    This list is really common sense.
    For those that can’t figure this out, how are you going to provide in the other areas–defense, medical, heating, etc.???

    • Anne

      Good question! Some of the foods that should be getting put back against want already *are* medicine which is adequate motivation for even the laziest of us to educate ourselves about their use. This week I’m availing myself of youtube and other video sites, whilst we still have them, for instruction on how to make quickie space heaters, using some of those candles and low-grade oils we found on sale with cans, flower pots and other items found in most households. As for defense, if I find myself wanting more than I have, I’d be willing to move in somebody who’s very good at that and feed him and cure him if he gets sick. I’d imagine, KK, that most preppers will be thinking along these lines. No one can be expected to be good (or especially sensible) at *everything.* The trick is to recognize when a thing is not our strong point and follow through with seeking help from someone more knowledgeable before a real emergency arises.

  • Liadan

    I stored water in the plastic jugs in my car and they’ve all broken and caused mildew messes. What’s a safe way to store water in the car and home?

  • http://www.whyisthesubsinking.com Tim Brown

    Chocolate Bars from Dollar Tree in my bug out / in / whatever bags

  • Liadan

    Thank you.

  • Thomas

    Rice?

  • jhenjoh

    1) I think the oils go rancid after a few months.
    Not sure they are good for long term.

    2) “Pasta Sauce” My experience that for long term storage, anything with tomato will dangerously spoil in the can. I emptied my mother’s larder when she sold her home. EVERY can that had a tomato product was swollen. Granted, they were several years old, but I would not recommend keeping canned tomato products for very long.

  • why bother

    I’d be better off with 5 acres of land in a mild climate with plenty of water than to stock up on processed foods. Sodium! Sugar! Ugh!

  • common sense

    Jello is one of the foods that you want to keep around 4 when you’re sick and you can’t hold any other food down jello actually help settle the stomach

  • blueyes48

    Lard. Yes, lard. We purchase in 30 lb. buckets (stands), and render out our own. We use it for everything from frying (I use mostly my own rendered lard for this), to biscuits, pie crusts. The buckets keep practically forever, and if it does go bad, you can use it to oil tools, make soap, etc. You need to keep one opened bucket in the pantry. Then store one bucket in your deep pantry for each person you are planning for. Always store more than you think you will need, because you may need everything you store.

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