We’ve all heard of the amazingly long-term shelf life of most canned or dried goods when stored properly, but even these will eventually lose their nutritional value and spoil… though it may not be for 5+ years or longer. What a lot of people don’t realize is that a handful of foods/sauces actually boast a shelf life of forever. These 16 shelf stable staples are enough to get you through just about any food shortage or emergency situation you may find yourself in, including a Zombie outbreak or attack.
16 Foods That Last Forever: Just like anything, these foods will only last forever when properly stored and cared for. That means keeping them in well sealed containers stored in cool dry places whenever possible, as well as keeping up routine inspection and rotation. Always supplement meals with fresh and varied ingredients whenever possible, a well-rounded healthy diet is extremely important for truly long-term survival.
Cornstarch – This gluten free forever food is most commonly used as a thickening agents for sauces, stews, and syrups, but it can do a whole lot more than that. Cornstarch is great for treating blood stains, detangling and cleaning hair, soothing rashes and sunburns, and it can even be eaten straight out of the box for a kick of starch when needed.
Corn Syrup - One of the most common substitutes for sugar, corn syrup is used in everything from baked goods to canned foods, candy, soft drinks, and more. While it wont work for medical treatments like real sugar does (see: Sugar Antiseptics), this substitute sweetener is a definite treat in an undead world. Try to avoid high-fructose syrups when possible. It might be the end of the world, but that’s no reason to let yourself go.
Dried Beans – If left properly sealed and stored in a cool dry place, dried beans will never spoil. Available in the form of pinto, lentils, black, garbanzo, navy, peas, and more, these easy to find and store forever foods are packed full of proteins, fibers, and carbs, making them a great shelf-stable staple… even without an emergency on the horizon. As dried beans age, they harden slightly and need a little longer to soften while soaking or cooking.
Dried Pasta - Kept free of moisture and insects, dried pasta will last you more than a lifetime… unless you eat it all of course. This easy to prepare emergency staple is great for filling bellies and providing a boost to carb stores. Available in a wide variety of forms and base ingredients like buckwheat, rice, flour, egg, spinach and more, there is a type of pasta for just about every occasion.
Extracts - All liquor based extracts like vanilla, orange, almond, mint, etc. last a lifetime or longer… as long as you get the real stuff and not the cheap “flavored” kind. Useful in beverages, baking, and even as a mild deodorant, extracts are great to have on hand.
Hard Liquor - The uses for this valuable staple go beyond the occasional escape from reality or use for celebration during times of duress, it’s also a highly valuable commodity for barter and even medical treatment and sterilization in some cases. Shelf stable even after being opened, hard liquor will be there as long as you need it to, and as long as you can resist downing a whole bottle at a time.
Hardtack – A simple mixture of flour and water, forming a hard dense cracker that can literally last for decades, hardtack has been used the world over as a dietary staple and supplement during times of disaster and war. While it might not be the most flavorful food, hardtack can keep you going when times get rough.
Herbs and Spices - Everything from garlic powder to cumin, basil, oregano, black pepper, cinnamon, mustard seed and more, will last you well into twilight ages of the world… as long as you keep them stored in a cool dry place and have enough on hand to go around. In addition to the obvious use as an ingredient in many dishes and baked goods, herbs and spices play an important role in supplying much needed nutrients for survival, as well as their widely accepted use as a natural alternative to many medications.
Low-quality herbs and spices often come with microscopic mold/mildew contamination that can lead to spoilage (not to mentioned illness) over time, and some low-cost options are even diluted with things like bricks dust and other non-edibles. So while it might cost a bit more in the immediate, in the long-term the benefits of high-quality herbs and spices are worth the extra upfront cost.
Instant Coffee - Not everyone needs a boost to the system all the time, but a little coffee can go a long way to making a bad situation a little more bearable. Available in a wide variety of containers from individual packets to gallon size cans and more, this is one of the most readily available forever foods you can find. The everlasting abilities of coffee don’t stop with the instant kind though. Green non-roasted coffee beans can be stored just about forever, and you have the added benefit of roasting them as you see fit… as long as you have the tools and knowledge to do so.
Raw Honey - This eternally shelf-stable delicacy is one of the best survival foods to have around. Literally lasting forever, honey crystallizes as it ages but never spoils. In fact, archaeologists have even discovered shelf-stable raw honey in Egypt’s ancient pyramids. Used as a sweetener and treatment for a number of maladies, raw honey wont ever let you down. Check the labels at your local grocery store or farmers market carefully. Cooked honey will eventually spoil so stick to the raw stuff when you can. (see also: Honey Everlasting)
Salt – The only exception to this rule is with seasoned salts. These often contain ingredients that spoil within a year or so. The real stuff, from sea or from the table and iodized or not, should last a literal lifetime and beyond. (see also: Salt For Survival)
Soy Sauce - Stored in a well sealed container and left unopened, soy sauce will last forever. This is primarily due to an extremely high sodium content. Useful in a variety of sauces as well as a condiment on it’s own, soy sauce is a tasty treat to have on hand for the apocalypse. While hoarding those little see-through packets you can snag from most Asian restaurants might seem like a good idea, it’s probably better to just buy a few small glass bottles instead.
Just likes spices, and most prepackaged and prepared foods/sauces, low-quality soy sauce can come contaminated with mold. While it might not present an immediate problem, it can greatly reduce the shelf-life of the soy sauce, and it really isn’t very good for you anyhow.
Sugar - Over time both white and brown sugars will clump together and harden, no matter how you store them, but that doesn’t mean they’ve spoiled. In fact, just like honey, this cane-based sweetener and ingredient for many baked goods has a literal shelf life of forever, and can even be applied medically. (see also: Sugar Antiseptics)
Uncooked White Rice - Unlike naturally oily brown rice, uncooked white rice can last forever as long as you keep it away from moisture and invasive critters like moths and other small insects. Full of calories, carbs and proteins, white rich can be a meal on it’s own or added to things like vegetable or meat stocks to height the nutrients and flavor.
White Distilled Vinegar - Found in most stores and even some quick-stops, this highly versatile Forever Food isn’t just great for pickling, canning, sauces and preservation, it’s a powerful cleaning agent, washing liquid and deodorizer as well. Stored in a cool cry place, a gallon of this can go a long way.
Wine - When properly produced and stored wine only gets better with age, and that makes it a highly valuable resource for barter and survival. Unlike its hard liquor counterpart, wine must be stored in a cool, dark dry place and consumed quickly after opening (3-5 days). Proper storage of wine can most difficult, as it requires positioning of the bottle so that the cork doesn’t dry out, as well as the proper environment. For optimal storage, keep the bottles on their sides or tilted slightly cork-side down so that the liquid is in constant contact with the body of the cork. Keep stored in a cool, dry and more importantly dark area, with a stable temperature and level of humidity maintained as much as possible. Bottles should be checked a few times a year to make sure corks aren’t drying out and that the bottles haven’t cracked. Only wine bottled with real corks can be stored long-term, screw top or plasticized corks will not last for extended periods of time. Unfortunately, champagne and sparkling wines will not store for long term use.
In addition to their uses for nourishment and some survival uses, many of the items listed above will become high-value currency for barter in an apocalyptic or undead world, especially salt, sugar and alcohol. We recommend storing no less than 1-3 months worth of each of the 16 Forever Foods so you’ll always have them on hand for yourself and for trade.
Making an investment in a few everlasting ingredients and food supplies can save you from an empty belly and malnutrition during the apocalypse or other times of disaster… not to mention making your food stores a little easier to manage. This vital step to being properly prepared for a worst case scenario is one of the most important yet simple things that you can do.