Survival Food: Fat Sources For a SHTF Diet

Did you know that we need a daily intake of fat in our diet to survive? Despite what health organizations say about eliminating fats from our diet, in a SHTF reality, this food source will actually serve a purpose in our survival.

Fats are one of the four main food sources that should be in your food pantry. The others are: carbohydrates, proteins and vitamins and minerals. Bear in mind, a 2,000 calorie per day diet equals 67 grams fat and 75 grams protein per day. 30-35 percent of those calories should come from a fat source. No matter how afraid we are of fats, having substantial fat sources in our storage is vital. Here’s why:

  1. Fats are an essential component in any diet for proper vitamin absorption. Specifically, Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble, meaning they can only be digested, absorbed, and transported in conjunction with fats.
  2. Fats also plays a vital role in maintaining healthy skin and hair, insulating body organs against shock, maintaining body temperature, and promoting healthy cell function.
  3. They also serve as energy stores for the body.
  4. Fats are also sources of essential fatty acids, which are an important dietary requirement and also serves as a useful buffer towards a host of diseases. (Source)
  5. Fats are one of the 4 Things You Must Eat To Avoid Malnutrition.

The following are some fat source considerations for you to add to your short and long-term food storage:

  • Infant formula – Baby formula doesn’t have to be used the way it was intended. The main source of fat in formulas is vegetable oil such as soy oil, palm oil or sunflower oil. Coconut oil is also used in some baby formulas. This would be a great item to store in case you need to fall back on it as a fat source. The only drawback of storing formula, is its short shelf life.  An unopened can of powdered infant formula has a shelf life of 12 months. Once a can of formula has been opened, it should be used within a month and then discarded.
  • Ensure – This supplement drink has 6 grams of fat, which provides your body with 9 percent of the recommended daily intake. It is also packed with 24 essential vitamins which would be beneficial to you in a long-term emergency. If you decide to purchase this product, get the powdered canned version, the shelf life will last longer. Further, having this type of supplemental drink can also help an elderly family members or members of the family who are becoming vitamin deficient. Plan on a can of powdered Ensure to last the same as a can of infant formula, which is roughly about 12 months.
  • Oil (preferably plant based oils) – A general rule of thumb is the darker the oil the faster it will turn. Also, certain oils like sesame and flax, which are not processed heavily, will also go rancid rather quickly. A light colored oil, such as vegetable or olive oil can last up to a year, if stored properly. Once it’s opened, the oil could turn within a matter of weeks or months depending on how it was processed and the storage environment.
  • Peanut butter – Peanut butter has a shelf life of 1 year. Of course, if your family is anything like mine, peanut butter flies off the storage shelf.
  • Nuts and seeds –  Because of the high oil content in nuts and seeds their shelf life is usually affected. Nuts and seeds typically last about 12 months. Therefore, planting your own or learning to forage in a natural environment can help you get some additional fats in your survival diet. Further, nuts can also be utilized as a flour alternative as well as a  milk alternative, thus making it a tasty substitute for the real thing.
  • Crisco – A can of Crisco, is fairly cheap, and has a shelf life of 2-8 years depending on storage conditions. Though it is on the “naughty” list as far as unhealthy foods go, it can be useful sparingly in a shtf diet. Aside from including it in your diet, you can also use the Crisco as an alternative oil source for lanterns, to make soaps and has also been known to help wet wood burn.
  • Mayonnaise – Many of our favorite dishes have a douse or two of mayonnaise. Mayonnaise has a relatively short shelf life of 6 months. Therefore, if you plan to stock up on this, ensure that it is frequently rotated in your food supply. Of course, if you have all the ingredients at home, you can make your own with this basic recipe.
  • Salad dressing – Having some salad dressings stored can help add some zest and flavor to your emergency recipes. Salad dressing lasts anywhere from 9-12 months.
  • Canned goods – Some canned meats, such as spam, fish and canned ham can also provide an adequate source of fat for your survival diet. Due to the high salt content of some of these canned meats, they have a relatively long shelf life of anywhere between 2-5 years.
  • Chocolate– I had to save the best for last! Although chocolate is considered a high-calorie, high-fat food, it does provide some health benefits as well. Most of the studies done used no more than 100 grams, or about 3.5 ounces, of dark chocolate a day to get the benefits. Studies have shown that dark chocolate lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels as well as provides more antioxidants than blueberries. A chocolate has a shelf life of 12 months, however, if the chocolate is repackaged in Mylar or stored in a plastic container, it could last much longer.

Storing fats are good for short-term emergencies, however if you are planning for extended or long-term emergencies, it is advised to get your fat sources by natural means. The following list are fat sources that one can get living in a homesteading environment and most importantly, your health will be far better off:

  • Whole milk – Milk from animals can provide essential fats to our diets, and can also be used for cooking, making cheeses and other dishes.
  •  Eggs –  Eggs have 5 grams of fat per egg. I am including this in the list as I believe that fresh eggs would provide an adequate amount of calories, protein and fat if consumed on a regular basis.
  • Fatty fish –  If you have a water source on your property, consider stocking it with a fish source. Many homesteaders have found great success in stocking their ponds with : Tilapia, Channel and Blue Catfish, Hybrid Stripers, Largemouth Bass, Trout, Bluegill, and Freshwater Shrimp. Other sources of fatty fish are: salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, trout, and sardines. Ensure that you have fishing gear to get those fish with.
  • Fresh animal fats from animals. Livestock, wild animals can be used as a source of fat. These natural fats can be rendered for other uses or preserved through canning to have a natural source of fat on hand.
  • Nut trees – Look for the dwarf variety of nut trees (and fruit trees). Dwarf trees bear their fruit earlier than the standard varieties, and can produce higher yields in a shorter period of time. They have also been known to be more adaptable. Mother Earth News has a great article if you are interesting in learning more.
  • Fruit trees – Specifically avocado and olive trees provide a substantial amount of healthy fats for the body. Obviously, the following examples are region specific and prefer a Mediterranean-like climate, however check with the USDA zoning map to see if you can can plant them in your area. Living in the coastal South, I have seen many gardeners who have grown avocado trees.

It’s time we got smart about our food storage. We must go beyond storing beans and rice and begin researching the best types of foods to store and why they are so important. Keep the USDA food pyramid in mind and start prepping!

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 for an extensive compilation of free information on preparedness, homesteading, and healthy living.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published February 3rd, 2012
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22 Responses to Survival Food: Fat Sources For a SHTF Diet

  1. Grannytraveler says:

    I thought that unopened mayonnaise was one of the forever foods.  

  2. gray fox 114 says:

    Just a comment on fats and oils: Some years back I bought a bunch of Crisco butter flavored shortening, it was on sale.I stored it for several years without any problems, then I learned that it made a good case lube for reloading bullets.I opened a 1/2 pound brick and put it on my reloading bench. 3-4 years later, it  was still there, unmelted, not rancid and even the mice had left it alone! They didn’t even chew the wrapper! I took it off the bench, noticing that it was still semi solid, and threw it and all the remaining Butter flavored Crisco away.Don’t know what the stuff is made of, it ain’t human, animal or natural! It would probably work for axle grease. Again, just a comment……..

  3. Sheri says:

    I just found your website and I am finding it very helpful.  However, in this article you mention the correct information about fat being very important in our diet.  But then at the end you mention to keep the USDA food pyramid in mind?  Why would I want to do that? The food pyramid has improved with their new recommendations but they still emphasize grains (which is not healthy for everyone) and promote a low-fat diet and the avoiding of saturated fats which are good for us.  In addition, I wanted to ask why in the food calculations you have things like corn syrup and brown sugar which really isn’t any good for us?  Why not sucanat, rapadura, cane juice crystals, agave nectar, brown rice syrup?  Is it because they are expensive and if SHTF we should not be concerned with eating the processed stuff?  Thank you for taking the time to consider my questions.

    • Hi Sheri,

      Thanks for your comment. In regards to the USDA suggestion at the end of the article, I provided that information because the USDA’s food pyramid tells you what types of food you need for a overall healthy diet: Carbohydrates, proteins, fresh fruit/vegetables, fats, etc. It would be a starting point for those wanting to learn more about why they need these foods and how much they would need to survive.

      I am not sure where you saw corn syrup and brown sugar in the list I provided, but the suggestions I provided were meant to be a comprehensive list. There are many fat sources to choose from in the grocery store, some that are healthier than others. However, some readers may not have access to those choices, so I tried to provide examples that anyone can find in their grocery store. Those of you who want to stock up on other items, feel free to do so – your food storage closet is yours to add whatever you think is best for your family’s survival.

      I hope this helps.


  4. Sue says:

    For my long term storage I bought 5 gallons of organic coconut oil and divided it into quart jars that I store in a cooler.  It is supposed to have a storage life of 5 years under these conditions.  It’s not cheap but can also be used for a lubricant and soap, and has a high smoke point for frying.  I am not particularly fond of the flavor when cooking with it, but would be happy to use it if I need to.  
    I also have gallons of oil, peanut butter, shortening, nuts, mayonnaise, etc, but try to keep these rotated. 

  5. Survival food items are a big topic as they should be. I’m surprised how little local people I talk to are not more interested in clean water as well.

  6. Willo says:

    I was thinking about making a bug & rodent proof ventilated container and getting a dry cured ham, which will keep practically forever if stored properly. Now I’m thinking I’d be better off getting a side of dry cured bacon.
    It will go good with the rice & beans too.

  7. Cathy says:

    Well, you started with the right idea and went completely astray almost right away. Crisco is poison and so is commercial peanut butter because it has the same kind of fats, along with commercial mayo, salad dressing and chocolate. And ensure??? You must be joking, right?
    Raw, virgin, organic coconut oil, low mercury tuna and sardines, cold stored nuts in the shell, ghee, cold stored free range, organic eggs. You may find canned bone broth or stews from local farmers or do this yourself. These are food and will store well. But don’t bet on storing enough food for more than one year (or maybe even 6 mos) and have it be REAL, healthy food. REAL food is perishable, I’m sorry to tell you. The big exception is grains and legumes, but basing your diet on these is not healthy. For more on a start at a truly healthy storage program go to Lew Rockewll’s website and look for an article entitled “Food Storage Program for Paleo Dieters.” Deep six the standard advice. It’s not worth the time and money…

  8. Ted Vaughn says:

    I linked to this from Lew Rockwell. Good info. The “lowdown” on Crisco is that it was used as a lubricant back in WW2…The name is derived from it’s ingredient : Crystalized Cotton Seed Oil …., I’ll eat WD 40 before I’ll ingest Crisco !

  9. Tom Luongo says:

    You missed two of the most important sources of fat with real shelf lives:  coconut milk and Canned Fish, preferably salmon. 
    Coconut oil, properly stored lasts a long time as does rendered fat that has been jarred/canned.
    Be smart about how you go about storing food.  Many of the above are good ideas, but for long term, pantry storage, canning is your only real option. 
    If you have the time/wherewithal go to you local animal processor or farmer and ask them for their trimmings right when they cut down the animal.  Here’s a ready source of beef fat or lard that just needs to be rendered and stored in an air-tight container.  Voila, quarts of fat!  Good fat.  If you can get it from grass-fed animals all the better.

  10. Coco says:

    just as an fyi, if you don’t like coconut taste, you can find refined coconut oil, which has virtually no taste (the unrefined tastes coconutty).  i’m not sure how this affects shelf life, however.

  11. IndianaJohn says:

    The really obvious long term storage of animal fat is easily done by storing fat on your waistline and also as general bodyfat.
    It is embarrasing that this needs to pointed out.

  12. yoyo says:

    Just the other day I used some corn oil that had been sitting for over 5 years.  It was fine.

  13. Sean says:

    Cathy is being silly. Crisco isn’t poison and neither is peanut butter. Six months after grass is growing in the streets both would be worth several times their weight in looted gold wedding bands.

  14. Jon Carlson says:

    It should be pointed out that fat is the fuel for the muscles and your heart is a muscle. A sugar glucose is the fuel for the brain but the brain is mostly fat and the hormones and neurotransmitters are made from protein and fat or cholesterol.

  15. Lee says:

    The best source for natural fat content is not on your list. Lard is one of the most beneficial, inexpensive, and useful foods that you will ever buy. Lard is a natural ingredient for your diet, unlike many of the other sources of fat and oil. A person can not properly prepare large amounts of cooked food without oil and grease, and if you were just going to have one available source, then it should be lard.

    I stopped using vegetable oil,  and shortening several years ago and I replaced them with light Olive oil and lard. You can readily purchase a 1-5 gal. bucket of lard at any major retail grocery store for less than what the same amount of shortening would cost, and I have been using out of the same 2 gal. bucket for over a year without it going rancid, in fact I have never had any lard to go rancid. On the other hand I have seen shortening go rancid, and when it did it smelled like paint thinner.

    For a survival scenario, I would want to have at least one good sized bucket of lard, it would last a family for well over a year, and perhaps even two years. When the lard was all gone, then you would still have a nice bucket to make use of. I always have one bucket of lard that I am using out of, and another in storage for those “Just in case” scenarios.

  16. deky says:

    Canned foods?  what about all that BPA  leaching into the food, as it sets there & waits for you to eat it.

    • Tess Pennington says:

      @ Deky-

      Canned goods should definately not be your priority in storing goods for an emergency. But, I do encourage the preparedness community to have back ups for their backs ups. Learning to be self reliant and practicing ways to preserve one’s own food sources through dehydrating, canning, and/or smoking their foods is by far a healthier option than only stocking up on canned and overly processed foods.

      However, we never know what the future will hold and there may be times when you need to fall upon another emergency food source. As much as I agree with your statement, in a short-term or sudden emergency the benefits offsets the risks. Here is why:

      1. You have a food source at your fingers tips that needs minimal fuel for cooking.
      2. Is easily accessible and minimum work as far as cooking goes.
      3. Will provide your body with it’s daily nutrients and vitamins.

      Acquiring a 3-12 day supply of canned goods is a small investment, and having it when you need it most will be a blessing. If your canned good supplies have not been used at the end of their expiration date, you can donate them.

      I appreciate your comment and hope that this helps you in your preparedness endeavors.



  17. Steve Barnes says:

    You might need some fats, but too much fat like eating bacone, sausage, and cheese is not necessary. I know a kid about 9 he ate three pieces of baked chicken and he ate the fat on them. ABout four hours later he was shitting all over the place getting rid of so much fat in his body. I think fat is needed a lot more when you are in cold climates.
    You can easily can a lot of veggies and fruits. You could also can lots of herring, because it’s so cheap. I would stock up on things like pecans. You could if you wanted purchase large quantities of sardines. If you decide to can meat and you don’t have a pressure cooker you can build take a large pan that will cover the jars and use oil. Heat the oil to 250 to 260 degrees and let the meat cook for 1.5 hours to kill all bacteria. This method works good. You have to wipe the jars down to get the oil off. The problem is you can’t get meat or non-acidic things hot enough in water. A pressure cooker will go to 240 degrees, but isn’t very practical if you are doing large amounts of jars.

  18. joanne ryan says:

    I grew up in a homesteading type home,one of the things we had was a fat strainer. when you fried meats especially ground beef you poured the fat into the strainer which caught brownings the fat on the bottom was quite pure and could be used in your pan the next time you needed fat for frying or even recipes! we never bought any oil and did render lard but only used it for baking and it makes the best pie crust in the world. we also had butter for bread etc and some baking but any chocolate or molasses recipe always used lard. tropical traditions has virgin cocunut oil and expeller cold pressed that does not taste like cocunut. Lasts 5 years even not cold. I am happy to get the crisco and the lard sounds like they last longer than i thought if shtf i won;t be worrying about eating cottonseed oil be glad to have it eat healthy now and donate crisco if not needed! If you know where i can find one of those old kitchen counter strainers please let me know!

  19. Melissa says:

    Joanne Ryan, I bought a couple of fat strainers from walmart several years ago, not sure if they still have them, or if u have one in your area. Hope this helps.  I try to store foods we use regularly and rotate. I also store foods with 20 year shelf life for a shtf senario. I think Tess is just trying to help with long term storage. You cant store white flour for long term but you can store hard wheat for 20 years. Think of what suits your family best and try to store according. Alot of organics from stores donot have a long shelf, so storing organic food is not always feasable. Storing organic seeds is. Thanks for the article:)

  20. Chef Jem says:

    The linked “Source” re: fatty acids needs to be updated as Dr. Syed Shahid’s perspective on cholesterol is now admittedly incorrect.

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