Why Non Perishable Foods are Essential for Emergency

A look at why non-perishable foods are essential

Having a reliable stockpile of non perishable foods that don’t require refrigeration is a key part of any emergency preparedness plan. Whether it’s a natural disaster, power outage, or personal financial hardship, shelf-stable foods provide the crucial nutrients and calories needed to survive in room temperature when fresh perishable options are inaccessible. This article will delve into the common types of non-perishables, proper storage techniques, building an emergency supply, safely consuming stored foods, and reasons these staples bring peace of mind.

non perishable food


Certain categories of non-perishable foods are ideal for stockpiling because they remain edible for months or years if stored properly without refrigeration:

  • Canned Goods – canned vegetables, fruits, beans, soups, tuna, meats, and seafood can last 2-5 years when commercially canned in airtight cans. Look for low or no salt options packed in water.
  • Dried Grains – Rice, quinoa, oats, wheat, pasta, and crackers are nutritious complex carbs that store well in airtight containers. Pair with canned beans or lentils for protein.
  • Shelf-Stable Proteins – Jerky, peanut butter, nuts, canned chicken and fish offer protein.
  • Dried Fruits and Vegetables – Raisins, apples, potatoes, carrots, onions, and dehydrated veggie mixes reconstitute when water is added.
  • Granola, Cereal, Crackers – Look for whole grain and low sugar options for fiber.
  • Powdered Milk – Can be mixed with water for a dairy source when fresh milk perishes.
  • Fats and Oils – Vegetable, olive, coconut, and seed oils provide essential fats. Rotate every 6 months to avoid rancidity.

Proper Storage for Maximum Shelf Life Without Spoilage


To safely store non-perishable canned and dried foods:

  • Store in a cool, dry pantry around 50-70°F. Avoid temperature extremes that can shorten shelf life.
  • Keep food in original airtight packaging or containers with tight lids. Use oxygen absorbers to prolong freshness.
  • Place delicate dry items like crackers and chips in plastic bins or bags to prevent crushing.
  • Organize by purchase date and rotate stock using the first-in, first-out (FIFO) system. Use older products first.
  • Inspect inventory every 2-3 months checking for expired best-by dates, rodent evidence, or signs of spoilage.


Building a Minimum 14-Day Emergency Food Supply


Experts recommend having at least a 14-day supply of non-perishable foods and water for your household. This provides a cushion until utilities and supply chains can recover after a disaster. Prioritize nutrient-dense canned and dried foods:

  • Proteins – At least 14 servings per person of canned tuna, chicken, dried beans, nuts
  • Fruits and Vegetables – At least 14 servings per person of canned or dried produce
  • Grains – At least 14 servings per person of pastas, rice, oats, crackers
  • Dairy – Powdered milk, shelf-stable milk boxes, plant-based milk
  • Other Essentials – Cooking oil, seasonings, condiments, vitamin supplements

Also have on hand 1 gallon of water per person per day for at least 14 days, as well as any needed medications, pet food, and special dietary items.


Safe Consumption and Preparation of Stockpiled Foods


Take care when accessing your emergency reserves:

  • Inspect cans for bulges, rust, dents. Throw out anything past printed expiration or compromised.
  • Discard any dried or canned foods with off smells, textures, appearance. When in doubt, throw it out.
  • Wash hands before and after handling stored foods. Use clean utensils.
  • Cook canned foods thoroughly to 165°F. Rehydrate dried goods according to package directions.

With care and proper handling, stored non-perishable foods can be eaten safely for nutrition.


Reasons to Rely on Your Non Perishable Food Stockpile


Shelf-stable reserves provide sustenance in:

  • Natural disasters – Hurricanes, earthquakes, winter storms
  • Power grid failures leading to blackouts and spoiled refrigerated food.
  • Personal financial hardship due to job loss, expenses
  • Supply chain disruptions that leave grocery shelves empty
  • The need to quarantine at home during a health pandemic
  • Remote locations with restricted food access

The Comfort of an Emergency Pantry


Knowing you have non-perishable food reserves brings peace of mind by:

  • Reducing worries about keeping family fed in a crisis
  • Providing skills in cooking creatively with basic canned and dried ingredients
  • Allowing sharing with community members facing food shortages
  • Enabling fast replenishment after accessing emergency supply

With the proper emergency food and water supply on hand, you can safely navigate any disruption.



During emergencies when fresh food is inaccessible, non-perishable staples provide lifesaving nourishment and peace of mind. Build your preparedness by stocking nutrient-dense canned goods, dried fruits and veggies, whole grains, proteins and more. Follow guidelines for proper storage and consumption. Combining emergency reserves with fresh foods when possible creates optimal resilience.

1. What are some examples of non perishable foods I should stock up on?

Some of the most handy non-perishable foods to have on hand are canned tuna, salmon, chicken, vegetables, beans, and soups which can last for 2-5 years unopened. Dried pasta, rice, oats, lentils, and dried fruit are also great options that will keep for months when stored properly. Don’t forget peanut butter, nuts, crackers, and cereal too.

2. How should I store non-perishable foods to maximize their shelf life?

Keep your canned goods, dried foods, and other non-perishables in a cool, dry place like your pantry. Make sure all containers are sealed tightly. Organize older food items in front and put new purchases in the back. Write the purchase dates on cans and boxes to make rotating your stock easier.

3. Why is a supply of non perishable food important for emergency preparedness?

Having a stockpile of nutrient-dense canned, dried and other non-perishable foods provides reliable nutrition if fresh food is unavailable during disasters, blackouts, supply chain issues or financial hardship. Shelf-stable foods ensure you can feed your family in a crisis without relying on unstable utilities and systems.

4. How much non-perishable food should I have on hand for emergencies?

Experts recommend keeping at least a 2 week supply of non-perishable foods and water for your household. Focus on canned proteins, dried fruits and vegetables, whole grains, shelf-stable dairy and essentials like cooking oil. Make sure to account for any dietary restrictions too.

5. When should I throw out old non perishable foods?

Inspect expiration or best-by dates on packages every couple of months as you rotate your stock. Discard anything past its date, especially canned goods. Also toss items with any signs of spoilage like bulging cans, mould, foul odours or textures. Don’t take chances with old food.

6. Is it safe to eat non-perishable foods that have been stored for years?

As long as canned and dried foods are kept in cool, dry storage and there are no signs of spoilage, they can be safely consumed years past their printed date, especially high acid foods like canned tomatoes. But if you see any damage to packaging or the contents look off, play it safe and throw it out.

7. What are some ways to make meals with non perishable foods?

Get creative with spices, oils, vinegars, sauces and cooking methods like stirring cans of tuna into pasta or rice. Try using dried veggies in soups and casseroles. Bake with powdered milk, eggs and dried fruit. The possibilities are endless for making shelf-stable foods into tasty meals!

8. How can I make my emergency food supply more nutritious?

Rotate and replenish your stockpile periodically to refresh nutrients. Supplement with multivitamins and minerals. When possible, add fresh items like potatoes, carrots and frozen produce which provide more variety. Grow sprouts for bursts of nutrients too!

9. Should I rely on my non perishable food during short-term hardships?

Yes! Your stockpile helps stretch your budget during periods of financial struggle. Turn to your reserves during illnesses when you can’t get to the store or to avoid unnecessary trips. Shelf-stable foods provide flexibility any time access to fresh groceries is limited.

10. Do non-perishable foods really help provide peace of mind?

Absolutely. Just knowing you have a supply of essential foods and nutrients for your family, without relying on stores and systems, reduces stress and worry tremendously. Stockpiling non-perishables provides security and comfort during life’s uncertainties.