I can’t remember if it was at the start of COVID or a couple of years before, but at one point or another, Thomas and I got to the point where we’d settled into our new home here in Portugal, and were starting to want to really grow our long-term, rather than short-term preps.
We had already stocked our pantry chalk full of plenty of long shelf life food we regularly consume to avoid inflation of our favourite tins of sardines and tuna, for example. Had loads of nuts and peanut butter and a number of spares.
Still, Thomas got a bit antsy when it came to our food stockpile and wanted to go a little crazy at the local grocery store to amp up our long-term preps, telling me to add this that and the other to our cart.
Mostly things like cans of soup and other easy-to-make meals – ones I knew we’d never want to eat.
I started getting annoyed at the thought. I really don’t believe in stockpiling what you won’t eat, especially since there are so many better alternatives. I guess the only exception to me are:
- Dehydrated foods – like the ones we reviewed by Legacy Food Storage here or the ones from Valley Food Storage. These are great, no problem having more of these, even a couple years at hand. Love ’em.
- Many of the items on this best survival foods list of foods that can outlive you. I’ve gone back to this list so many times over the years so I’m glad I took the time to put it together.
In any case, soups and pasta sauces and things like that, which we historically stockpiled, to me were a massive waste to buy.
I couldn’t help thinking of all the food we didn’t eat that we gave away after we moved away from our home in Canada, then again after we moved out of our home in the UK. Most of it was things like this. As well as crackers and other just random jars and boxes of things we actually wouldn’t eat in the long run.
I was sick of waste that felt expensive. Yes, they were ultimately not that expensive, but it still felt like bang-for-buck they were quite low value in a food stockpile.
And to be honest, nearly as important to me, was the idea that all this space was taken up by one tin of canned soup that was mostly water for little to no reason. I hated it.
The 2-Ingredient, Best, & Cheapest Long Term Food Stockpile
I convinced Thomas it was better to keep our short term stockpile being more of the things we were 100% going to eat, as we had been doing, but if he wanted to buff up our long-term stockpile, we should go with the most cheap, space-efficient, nutrient dense, and long-term viable option.
One that would have us fine, even if we weren’t happy about the variety.
He was totally game, but confused at what could possibly do all that. Until the names of two foods came out of my mouth:
“Rice and dried lentils.”
I would probably do that in Canada. Actually I wouldn’t likely order online in Canada because shopping online is typically farm more expensive than it is in the US, or even here in Europe sometimes. Transportation costs and lack of online shoppers, I guess.
But here in Europe, bulk buying isn’t so common, even though online ordering is fairly cheap. So these foods were added to our cart in smaller packs of 6 over the next few weeks and months and we had a massive long-term food stockpile for practically nothing in no time.
Why Rice & Lentils Make the Absolute Best Long-Term Food Stockpile Bang-for-Buck
Why does this 2 ingredient food stockpile work?
Rice is a ridiculously good carb for long term survival. I’m personally convinced it is the best.
Just add water and boil and you’ve got your meal. Super quick and easy to make, just add fire and water and you’re golden. Not as complicated as bread. Not as short-term shelf life as pasta.
And it requires so little storage space.
You might scoff at me for caring about this, but having lived in two continents now, and a plethora of different sized homes, I understand the value of space something takes up.
And no, space is not an issue for me now, but it’s still massively important.
Why? Well if I could take a large bin full of rice or a large bin full of canned soup and throw it into the car to but out with, which am I going to prefer to do? Honestly, I’m taking the rice. It’s going to last me far longer.
And yes, I’m spoiled with the fact that I’ll always have access to water and desertification will never be a problem where I live (it’s part of the reasons we chose Portugal and not somewhere like Spain). But I’m going to take full advantage of that.
If I stay in, if I bug out, no matter where I am, I want as big a food stockpile as I can get, and that means conserving space. Maximizing capacity for how much I can carry or cram in. I like this kind of optimization.
Honestly, we eat a lot of rice so this was a pretty easy sell. Actually, we’ve eaten through a considerable amount of our stockpile and I’m gearing up for another round. I think I’ll probably start making a few boxes to have on the side that we won’t eat through. Ready and set for us to bug out with.
But what about lentils – which honestly Thomas enjoys but I am not a fan of. That being said – I promise you this – I can and will eat pretty well near anything and I get bored of food repetition way slower than anyone else I’ve met.
But seriously back to lentils cause these things are awesome.
They are a protein that’s not meat-based, meaning super easy to store for the long-term and have very little requirements other than keeping cool and dry. and away from the sun. They’re mad healthy, mad nutritional…
In fact they are nearly nutritionally complete.
What’s this mean?
When you hear the term “nutritionally complete” think “everything a human needs in their diet.” Period. So not to survive reasonably well, but literally everything they need.
Are dried lentils that you then soak and cook up 100% nutritionally complete? No, but their close. And hardly anything gets close, let alone is 100% nutritionally complete.
I’m talking about vegetables here, or dairy sources (eggs are close, too), because meat is all nutritionally complete to my knowledge. But not good for long-term food stockpiles.
But back to the lentils. Because as I said they were almost all you needed, so let’s take a look at what else you need. This article called “Myth of Lentils as an Incomplete Protein” does a good job outlining what else you should add to your diet:
“But lentils are missing one of the essential amino acids that make up a complete protein. They’re low in methionine and cysteine, according to a July 2017 review of the protein quality of cooked beans, which was published in ?Food Science & Nutritio?n. Whole green lentils and split red lentils are particularly low in methionine, as the researchers note.
To make lentils a complete protein, according to the Cleveland Clinic, you should eat a variety of legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains each day. That will allow you to get all the essential amino acids, and therefore, complete proteins. One good combination you could try would be lentils and rice for protein, but you don’t need to eat them at the same meal to get complete proteins.”
Wait so – what’s not found in lentils in high enough quantities to make them nutritionally complete – the amino acids methionine and cysteine – is found in rice?
Again I say sold.
And if you just wanted some lentils, rather than adding rice to the meal, to make what you’re eating nutritionally complete, you could easily have some other nuts and seeds and grains – other very common foods to have in your long term food stockpile?
Wait you just wanna take a huge box of lentils dried lentils along with you in your bug out vehicle and are wondering if maybe they can actually be good enough all on their own? Allowing you to subsist forever?
Actually, yes. There’s a little trick that can make lentils nutritionally complete… 100% on their own..
Sprout them: “Lentils contain the essential amino acids isoleucine and lysine, but are normally low in methionine and cystine, meaning that on their own they are not a “complete protein.” However, if lentils are first sprouted before they are cooked, then all essential amino acids are available, including methionine and cystine. Sprout lentils by soaking them in water for 8-14 hours, depending on size.” Thank you San Fransisco Edible! Pretty sweet tip.
Although of course, as they go on to mention in that very same article, which we already knew from the previous one, “Alternatively, a full complement of amino acids can be achieved by pairing lentils with whole grains such as rice or wheat. Lentils are also a great source of fiber, vitamin B1 and folic acid, and are naturally gluten-free.”
So yeah. You’re good with rice and lentils alone, and you’re definitely going to be able to manage if you only have access to lentils for the rest of your life. Not the happiest of meals to be repeating every single day, but you will be fine.
Can you go ham and add a slew of other dehydrated legumes, beans, varieties of rice, varieties of lentils, and all sorts of nuts, seeds, and everything else on this list of the best long-term survival foods to keep yourself from getting bored and to buff out what you’ve already got?
Heck yes. But if you just want more of the basics. Just want to be sure you can survive. Don’t want to break the bank. Get more rice. Get more dried lentils. You can have a 10 or even 20 year supply in no time.
Your Thoughts on the Best Foods for Long-Term Food Stockpiles?
What do you think are the top 2 best foods for long-term food stockpiles? Top 5?
Had you thought about stockpiling pretty much with just a small handful of ingredients for long-term preparedness before? If so, what was on your short list?
Did you know that lentils were almost nutritionally complete? That they could become nutritionally complete? Do you like having them as part of your food stockpile?
Love to hear any and all thoughts you have on this topic in the comments section down below!