The Best Survival Foods: Non-Perishables That Can Outlive You

Whether you’re sick of throwing out food that’s long past its expiry date, or whether you’re working on preparing a food stockpile in case of an emergency, consumables that practically never spoil can be a huge asset to your household. This article lists non-perishable food items that not only have long shelf lives, but if taken care of properly, these foods stand a chance of never going bad within your lifetime.

These ideal survival foods will of course need to be stored the right way in order to retain their practically never-ending shelf life. The absolute best place to keep a food stockpile is in a dark, cool, and dry spot, free of humidity, moisture, direct sunlight, and extreme temperatures. Keeping consumables in an air-tight container, or better yet, vacuum packed, is also very important to increasing shelf life.

Although many non-perishable survival foods may change flavour and/or texture over the years, they remain edible and perfectly safe for consumption over indefinite periods of time. Use your senses to judge whether or not food with long shelf life has expired. If it smells off, has become too soft, or has developed mold, it’s better not to eat the item.

non-perishable food items

1. Staple survival foods that are non-perishable

You’ll need to be really careful about keeping these completely dry and free from moisture, but if you can manage to store these in air-tight containers, they will keep for an incredibly long period of time.

  • Rice: white, wild, jasmine, Arborio and basmati (brown rice does not keep forever)
  • Hardtack crackers/biscuits
  • Dried cranberries

2. Other survival foods that are non-perishable

Although some of these food items will change texture, thickening or hardening over time, they will only change in terms of taste. These survival foods never spoil, and will still remain edible long after their flavour has changed.

3. Survival foods that if frozen are non-perishable

Though these non-perishable foods last a long time if they’re left out in the open, if they’re frozen, their shelf life extends to indefinite amounts of time.

  • Dried pasta
  • Noodles
  • Dried fruits (such as raisins, dried cranberries, dried cranberries, dried cherries, dried apricots, dried mangoes, dates, dried blueberries, dried plums, banana chips, figs)
  • Instant/freeze-dried coffee

survival foods

4. Base ingredients that are non-perishable

Apparently, these base ingredients can be the perfect survival food. According to some sources, if you simply keep them unused, in an air-tight container and completely free of humidity and moisture, and you’re likely to never have to buy them again.

  • Corn starch
  • Baking soda
  • Corn syrup

5. Seasonings that are non-perishable

Seasonings are also excellent survival foods, as they’re food that lasts forever, and only get weaker in strength of taste over long periods of time. Like with the base ingredients, keep these in an air-tight container, free of moisture and humidity, and they’re likely to never expire.

  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Pepper
  • Spices
  • Dried herbs
  • Pure flavour extracts (pure vanilla extract, etc.)

6. Condiments that are non-perishable

While these foods will likely change in taste after some time, they remain safe to eat indefinitely. The best way to keep these non-perishable foods is in an airtight container, free of moisture, and in a dark, cool spot, away from sunlight. This type of storage will keep your non-perishable food condiments tasting better for longer.

  • Vinegar (white, apple, balsamic, raspberry, rice wine, and red wine vinegar)
  • Worcestershire sauce (unopened)

7. Survival drinks that are non-perishable

Non-perishable drinks are another asset you can add to your survival food stockpile. Any alcohol over 10% that does not contain eggs, milk, and other dairy derivatives (ex. not Baileys, Tia Maria, etc.) should typically last forever in a stockpile. Alcohol also has disinfectant and medicinal properties, so keeping it stocked, especially when it never goes bad, is definitely a good idea for any prepper.

  • Wine
  • Spirits
  • Liquors

best non-perishable survival food

&&: If you found this article useful, you may also be interested in taking a look at our other survival gear and survival food item lists. Starting with the article, The Ultimate Survival Gear List, we also have this article about The Best Survival Foods, as well as more to come.

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About Elise Xavier

Spyderco diehard and shutterbug. Into prepping and self-sufficiency.
Coauthor and photographer of survival blog More Than Just Surviving.

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Comments

  1. From my research, powdered milk does not have a very long shelf life. Check it out.

    • Elise Xavier says:

      Thanks! I’ll for sure check up on that tomorrow.

    • Elise Xavier says:

      Hey thanks again. I did check up on it today and of course you’re absolutely right. It will last a good 10+ years at times, so it has a reasonably long shelf life, but definitely not as long as I thought it would last, so it’s off the list!

  2. Illini Warrior says:

    Ditto on the dried milk issue …. long term storage – upwards of 20 years when stored under ideal conditions …..

    • Elise Xavier says:

      Yup! Of course you guys are right. Just checked up and most sources say it will last around 10+ years after the expiry date. So 10-20 years is the limit I’m sure. Still a long time, but took it off the list as it doesn’t belong.

  3. This is the first I’ve heard of Flour, Corn starch, and Baking soda being nonperishable. This has to be the most controversial subject in prepping next to water storage.

    • Elise Xavier says:

      Based on the sources I’ve looked at, cornstarch and baking soda, so long as they remain unopened and completely bone dry, won’t expire. That being said, I’ve taken flour off the list after checking a few more sources.

      Definitely a controversial subject, but I thought I’d put the article out there anyway, at least as a gateway to a discussion.

      As much as we (myself included) love to talk about gear, self-defence, knives, ammo stockpiles, etc., basic sustenance is by far the most important factor in long-term survival (as is that water storage problem), and I think it should be discussed more, even though of course it is more controversial.

    • I have flour sealed in mason jars. Good to know about shelf life.
      I’m not living forever and since I’m 63, I’m good for 10 years with the flour.

    • Cynthia Totten says:

      We used a lot of food storage items when I was growing up and we learned that while Corn Starch may not go “bad”, it does lose its efficacy as a thickening agent over time. We still have a family joke about lemon meringue “soup” when we were going for pie.

  4. Ok you got me. LOL what the heck are gobstoppers? BTW love your blog.

  5. My First time at this Site. Love it already :) I want to thank Kris for Asking “What are gobstoppers? ”
    I Read it and only made a >:-/ Face, LOL

  6. Tatuszek says:

    What about irradiated foods? Have you looked into them.

    • Elise Xavier says:

      In my neck of the woods, irradiated foods aren’t very common. Only herbs, spices, etc. are really irradiated here (due to industry bylaws and federal regulation). That being said, I don’t know enough about the safety of irradiated foods to have an informed opinion on them. Do you have any experience with them?

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