Long Shelf Life Foods For any Emergency

Foods for your Pantry that have a Long Shelf Life

Long Shelf Life Foods are great for Emergencies and Convenience


As a busy parent trying to keep my pantry stocked and my family fed, I’ve come to rely on foods that have impressively long shelf lives. Long shelf life foods that remain fresh for months or years without refrigeration are lifesavers for my meal planning. I never have to worry about these pantry staples suddenly going bad or expiring unexpectedly.

Having a supply of foods with lengthy expiry dates simply makes life easier. I can stock up when canned goods, dried pasta, and other non-perishables go on sale without fretting over a looming best-by date. It also gives me peace of mind knowing that we have nutritious backup food on hand if ever a blizzard or other disaster temporarily disrupts the grocery supply.

In this article, I’ll share my experiences with building up a reserve of foods that can be safely relied on for months or even years without spoiling. Let’s start with why having these long term storage pantries items on hand is so worthwhile for me and my family.

long shelf life foods

The Benefits of Stocking Long Shelf Life Foods


A pantry full of foods with generous expiration dates offers my family several advantages:

  • Food security in emergencies when access to fresh groceries is limited – I never worry about my kids going hungry if a major storm shuts down our town for days. Our stockpile of nutritious canned goods and non-perishables will keep us fed until the crisis passes.

  • Convenience of only having to grocery shop infrequently – I save so much time by not having to constantly replace ingredients that go bad within days or weeks. Long life items like dried beans allow me to meal plan without expiry anxiety.

  • Cost savings from buying shelf-stable ingredients in bulk when on sale – I take advantage of deals on canned tuna, powdered milk and other non-perishables, knowing they’ll stay fresh in my pantry for ages. My grocery budget goes further.

  • Ideal for camping, travel, and outdoor activities when refrigeration is not available – Our emergency food kits with freeze-dried meals and jerky make adventuring easy. I don’t have to cut trips short to race home before food spoils.

Having these long-lasting pantries items on hand makes grocery shopping, cooking, and our lives so much simpler. Next I’ll go over the different categories of foods that will keep for extraordinary lengths of time without going bad. 

Categories of Foods with an Extremely Long life


Over the years, I’ve discovered so many types of shelf-stable foods that keep practically forever without refrigeration. Here are some of my go-to long shelf life ingredients:

  • Canned goods – Canned fruits, vegetables, beans, tuna, and soups can easily last 2-5 years unopened. I like to stock up on low-sodium veggies, beans packed in water, and tuna canned in oil for the health benefits.

  • Dried foods – Rice, pasta, oats, crackers, dried fruits and veggies have shelf lives of months up to 2 years when stored properly. They provide nutrients and fibre. I keep a variety of Whole Foods dried fruit for snacks.

  • Powdered foods – Powdered milk, eggs, and butter powder reconstitute when water is added and can last for many months. My kids love when I whip up pancakes with powdered eggs.

  • Condiments – Unopened condiments like soy sauce, vinegar, syrup and vegetable oil are good 1-3 years past their best-by date. I have a stash of soy sauce packets from takeout that will last practically forever.

  • Snacks – Factory sealed nuts, crackers, cookies, granola bars stay fresh 1-2 months past their expiration date. I rely on nuts and peanut butter to provide protein.

  • Beverages – Shelf-stable milk and juice boxes last up to 9 months sealed. They make great on-the-go drink options.

I’m constantly amazed by how long many common foods can stay unspoiled in the pantry. Next I’ll go over the best ways to maximize shelf life.

Storing Foods for Maximum Shelf Life


Through trial and error, I’ve picked up some useful tips for getting the longest shelf life out of pantry foods:

  • Store in a cool, dry place between 50-70°F – Temperature extremes shorten shelf life so I keep foods in interior pantries away from exterior walls, appliances, and direct sunlight.

  • Use airtight containers – For any dried goods I transfer to plastic bins or jars, I make sure they seal tightly to lock out moisture and bugs. Oxygen absorbers help too.

  • Keep foods in their original packaging when possible – Factory packaging is optimized for preservation so I only repackage when needed.

  • Track expiration dates – I write the purchase date on canned goods and boxes. Then I make sure to rotate stock using older products first.

  • Look for signs of spoilage – About every 3 months, I inspect our stockpile for any bulging cans, mold, bugs or rancid smells that signal foods have gone bad.

With the right storage conditions and vigilance, even everyday pantry staples like beans, pasta and canned tuna can stay unspoiled for ages. Next I’ll suggest creative ways to enjoy long shelf life ingredients.

 Getting Creative with Long Life Foods


With a little creativity, you can make delicious meals from long shelf life pantry ingredients:

  • Canned tuna/chicken – I mix tuna or chicken into pasta bakes, salads, sandwiches, and casseroles for an easy protein source.
  • Beans and legumes – Varieties like chickpeas, lentils and black beans add nutrition when used in soups, stews, tacos, rice bowls and veggie burgers. I make a lentil chili my family loves.
  • Powdered milk – Reconstituted powdered milk works great in smoothies, oatmeal, pancakes, cream soups, puddings or anywhere you need milk. I use it often for baking cookies.
  • Dried fruit and vegetables – Simmering dried veggies like potatoes, peppers, mushrooms and tomatoes in soups or stews rehydrates them. I also snack on dried fruits with nuts or add them to homemade trail mixes.
  • Canned fruits and vegetables – I purée canned pumpkin into soups or bake with it. Canned peaches, pears, pineapple and apples make easy pie fillings too.

With some creativity, our long shelf life stockpile leads to endless quick and healthy meal ideas. Next I’ll highlight which foods can last a full decade or longer.

Foods That Can Last a Decade or Longer


It’s incredible how long some shelf-stable foods can stay fresh when stored properly. Here are some of my go-to pantry staples that can nearly last forever but i still only recommend to keep for 10+ years:

  • White rice – When kept dry in airtight containers, white rice can last pretty much indefinitely. It’s a versatile base for stir fries, pilafs, rice bowls and more. We buy big bags since we go through it fast.
  • Instant coffee – Vacuum sealed coffee has an extraordinarily long shelf life of up to 20 years. I always keep spare containers on hand to avoid ever running out of my morning caffeine fix.
  • Honey – Unopened, raw honey never spoils and can last a lifetime. It’s nature’s perfect food with antibacterial properties. We use honey in tea, baked goods, marinades, dressings, and more.
  • Soy sauce – Unopened soy sauce can easily last 5+ years. It’s one of my favourite ingredients for adding salty umami flavour to Asian dishes and stir fries. A little goes a long way.
  • Vegetable oil – Factory sealed oil lasts 2-3 years from the bottling date. I stock up when it’s on sale for all our sautéing and baking needs. Refrigerating after opening extends life.

Many of my routine cooking ingredients end up having impressively enduring shelf lives. It makes keeping a well-provisioned pantry simple.



Maintaining a well-stocked pantry of foods with generous shelf lives has made cooking and feeding my family so much easier. I never worry about ingredients suddenly going bad or having to shop multiple times a week.

Knowing I have a reserve of canned goods, dried staples and other long-lasting foods also gives me peace of mind. If any emergencies or disasters hit, we have plenty of shelf stable nutrition on hand to rely on. I can focus on keeping my family safe instead of worrying about grocery stores being closed.

If you’re new to stocking up on long shelf life foods, start small and build up. Just rotating in a few canned, dried and freeze-dried options to supplement what you normally cook with can make a difference. You’ll gain skills and confidence for creating tasty meals from humble pantry ingredients.

And don’t wait until an emergency to benefit from foods with generous expiration dates. Incorporate them into your regular cooking for savings and convenience. A well-provisioned pantry makes everyday life easier too!



FoodShelf LifeAdditional Details
White Rice30 yearsProperly stored white rice can last 30 years or more
Honey1-2 years unopened, indefinite openedHoney never spoils due to antibacterial properties
SugarIndefiniteWhite sugar lasts indefinitely if kept dry in airtight container
SaltIndefiniteSalt maintains quality indefinitely if kept dry
Soy Sauce2-3 years unopened, 6-12 months refrigerated after openingProper refrigeration after opening extends shelf life
Pure Maple Syrup12 months unopened, 24 months refrigerated after openingRefrigeration extends maple syrup’s shelf life after opening
Instant Coffee15-20 yearsVacuum packing provides extraordinarily long shelf life
Vegetable Oil2-3 years from bottling dateSealed oil lasts 2-3 years from bottling date
Apple Cider VinegarIndefiniteUnopened apple cider vinegar never expires
Distilled White VinegarIndefiniteUnopened vinegar lasts indefinitely
CornstarchIndefiniteDry cornstarch is very stable and does not spoil
Hard LiquorIndefiniteLiquor like vodka, rum, whiskey lasts indefinitely
Canned Goods2-5 yearsUnopened canned food can last 2-5 years
Dried Beans12 monthsStored in airtight containers, beans last up to 12 months
Popcorn Kernels2 yearsKernels last 2 years in airtight container
Nuts in Shells6-12 monthsUnshelled nuts last up to a year in pantry
Protein Bars10-12 monthsUnopened bars last about 1 year
Powdered Milk10 yearsDry milk powder lasts 10 years if cool and dry
Cereal/Grains6-12 monthsStored properly, cereal grains last 6-12 months
Granola Bars12 monthsUnopened bars maintain quality for 12 months
Crackers3-6 monthsKept in airtight container, crackers last 3-6 months
Dried Fruit12 monthsProperly stored, dried fruit lasts up to 1 year
Tea Bags18 monthsDry tea bags last 18 months in sealed container
Wheat Flour8-12 monthsStored properly, white flour lasts 8-12 months
White Rice Flour1 yearKept dry, rice flour lasts about 1 year
Dry Pasta1-2 yearsDry pasta lasts 1-2 years in a cool pantry
Bouillon Cubes1-2 yearsProperly stored cubes last 1-2 years
Chocolate Bars18 monthsWrapped chocolate bars last up to 18 months
Cooking Oil Spray2 yearsUnopened spray oil lasts about 2 years
Condensed Milk12 monthsUnopened condensed milk maintains quality for 12 months
Evaporated Milk6-12 monthsSealed evaporated milk lasts 6-12 months
Powdered Eggs2 yearsDry whole eggs can last up to 2 years if cool and dry
Instant Oatmeal Packets12-18 monthsPackets maintain quality 12-18 months if sealed
Breakfast Cereal6-12 monthsMost boxed cereals last 6-12 months unopened
Granola3-4 monthsStored properly, granola lasts 3-4 months
Hot Chocolate Mix18-24 monthsKept dry, packaged mix lasts 18-24 months
Molasses2 yearsPure molasses lasts 2 years sealed in pantry
Honey (pasteurized)1 year unopenedPasteurized honey lasts 1 year unopened
Peanut Butter (unopened)9-12 monthsUnopened peanut butter maintains quality 9-12 months
Almond Butter (unopened)12 monthsSealed almond butter lasts about 12 months
Jam/Jelly12-18 monthsUnopened jam/jelly lasts 1-2 years in pantry
Ketchup12-18 monthsUnopened ketchup lasts around 18 months
BBQ Sauce12-18 monthsSealed BBQ sauce maintains quality 12-18 months
Mustard2 yearsUnopened prepared mustard lasts about 2 years
Pickles12-18 monthsUnopened commercially packed pickles last 1-2 years
Olives2-3 yearsSealed canned olives last 2-3 years from packing date
Breadcrumbs6 monthsStored properly, breadcrumbs last 6 months
Food colorings18-24 monthsUnopened food colors last 18-24 months
Liquid food coloring3 yearsSealed liquid colors last about 3 years
Non-dairy creamer9 monthsUnopened shelf-stable creamer lasts 9 months
Coconut Oil2 yearsUnopened refined coconut oil lasts 2 years
Canola Oil1 yearUnopened canola oil lasts about 1 year
Vegetable Oil6-12 monthsUnopened vegetable oil keeps 6-12 months
Sesame Oil6-12 monthsSealed sesame oil lasts 6-12 months
Olive Oil2 yearsUnopened olive oil lasts about 2 years
Shortening8-10 monthsUnopened shortening keeps 8-10 months
Rice Vinegar2 yearsSealed rice vinegar lasts about 2 years
Apple Cider VinegarIndefiniteUnopened apple cider vinegar never spoils
Balsamic Vinegar2 yearsProperly stored balsamic vinegar lasts 2 years
Red Wine Vinegar2 yearsUnopened red wine vinegar lasts about 2 years
White Wine Vinegar2 yearsSealed white wine vinegar lasts around 2 years
Worcestershire Sauce2 years unopenedRefrigerate after opening, use within 1 year
Soy Sauce2-3 years unopenedRefrigerate after opening, use within 6-12 months
Beef Jerky1 yearCommercially packaged beef jerky lasts up to 1 year unopened
Canned Fish2-5 yearsUnopened canned fish keeps 2-5 years, refrigerate after opening
Quinoa3-4 yearsStored in an airtight container, quinoa can last 3-4 years
Cooking WineIndefiniteUnopened cooking wine does not expire and lasts indefinitely
Lentils12 monthsDried lentils will last up to 12 months in an airtight container
Canned Meat2-5 yearsUnopened canned meats stay safe 2-5 years, refrigerate after opening
Dry Beans12 monthsMost dried beans can last up to 12 months when kept in air-tight containers
Protein Powder9-12 monthsUnopened protein powder lasts 9-12 months in a cool, dry pantry
Oats/Oatmeal1 yearStoring oats and oatmeal in an airtight container gives a 1 year shelf life
Condensed Milk12 monthsUnopened condensed milk lasts 12 months from the production date
Flour8-12 monthsStore flour in an airtight container in a cool environment to achieve 8-12 months
Sugar Syrups24 monthsUnopened high fructose corn syrups last about 2 years
Canned Vegetables2-5 yearsProperly stored, unopened canned veggies stay good for 2-5 years
Dried Mushrooms1 yearDried mushrooms kept in an airtight container have a 1 year shelf life
Crispbreads6-9 monthsCrispbreads can last 6-9 months stored in a cool, dry pantry
Tortillas6 monthsUnopened tortillas stored properly will stay fresh for about 6 months
Hot Sauce5 yearsCommercially bottled hot sauce has a shelf life of up to 5 years
Vanilla Extract4 yearsPure vanilla extract will last up to 4 years when stored in a cool, dark place
Olive Oil2 yearsStore olive oil tightly sealed in a cool, dark place to maximize 2 year shelf life
Cocoa Powder2 yearsNatural cocoa powder lasts up to 2 years when stored away from moisture
Jam/Jelly12-18 monthsUnopened jam and jelly can last 1-2 years in the pantry refrigerated after opening
Tea Bags18 monthsKeep tea bags dry in an airtight container and they’ll last up to 18 months
Cornmeal1 yearProperly stored cornmeal will stay fresh for up to 1 year
Molasses2 yearsMolasses can last up to 2 years when stored in an airtight container