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35 Food Items To Store For Prepping Or Any Situation That Are Low Cost And Last

Updated on August 30, 2014

This is a great list of 35 different items that are basically shelf stable, to different degrees, to have on hand for emergencies or many other circumstances. This is such a great list, that it has been stolen and re-published many times to my ire. So to all my sensible preppers that do not have the money to buy 5 dollar a pop dehydrated meals, here is the list for you. Al foods will be regular food that you will use everyday, so just grab a couple extra each time you go shopping.

1. HONEY-Great boost of sugar and it literally last forever, yes forever. If it crystalizes, just heat in some warm water and it will re-liquify. It can also be used to fight allergies, as well as can be used to protect an open wound from bacteria.

2. RICE-Good source of calories and very versatile, as well as shelf stable for upwards of a decade with little or no additional packaging.

3. BEANS-Great source of protein and carbohydrates, also can be held for a decade. Also many varieties can be sprouted for nutrition packed greens and a different flavor.

4. OATMEAL-Very versatile form of grain that is a slower carbohydrate.

5. DRIED PASTA-If you don’t know how to make your own, dried pasta is another versatile starch that has a million application and is considerably easy to cook.

6. CANNED SOUPS AND STEWS-This can be anything from beef stew to spaghettios. Very cost effective and something many already eat. It also puts starches, meats and vegetables together for more bank and nutrition for your buck.

7. CANNED FRUIT-Do not overlook your fruit, as you need the very important Vitamin C and not to mention all the sugary juice it is packed in. Your body needs sugar to function and it needs Vitamin C to fight off diseases like scurvy which can be fatal in extreme cases.

8. CANNED VEGETABLES-Yes they are not as nutritional sound as fresh, but if the stores close down for a while. So an easy way to keep your nutrition balanced for very low cost. Catch them on sale for 2 for a dollar and you are golden.

9. NUTS AND SEEDS-Packed with protein and good fats that can keep your mind working and last for years in reality. So pick your favorite nuts and buy up a couple extra jars.

10. DRIED AND DEHYDRATED FRUIT-This can be anything from bananas, apples or raisins. They will actually have more nutritional value than canned and can be picked up fairly cheap.

11. CANNED MEAT- Tuna, spam, canned ham can all provide a great shelf stable source of protein that can last for 5 years or more.

12. PUDDING-What pudding? Get the shelf stable variety and not only is a great thing for the kids that think the world must be ending with all the beans they are eating, each small cup will have an 8 oz. glass of milk in them. They last for a couple years, if they actually last in your house and it is a great source of calcium and sugars for your family. You can also get shelf stable jello packs for a dollar as well, although they will not have anything except maybe some water and Vitamin C in them.

13. RAMEN NOODLE SOUP CUPS-You knew it was going to happen. Anyone who paid their way through college has eaten ramen noodles and they know how cheap they are. The cups are about 300 calories, taste okay and you can get a 6 pack of the cups for less than two dollars most times. Add some hot water and dinner is served.

14. SHELF STABLE MILK-You could go with powdered milk, but many cannot deal with the taste. So shelf stable varieties may be the way for you, it taste a lot like regular milk. Ultra pasteurization makes it stay good for several years and is a good source of calcium and fats that your body and bones need.

15. TOMATOE PASTE-So cheap and so versatile. Add some water and some spices and you have a sauce for all the grains you have stocked up. Because it is lacking the water, you can get super small cans that can go a long way, not to mention those vitamins and antioxidants your body needs.

16. WATER ENHANCERS-Not only can they add flavor to tasteless water, things like Tang can add vitamin C, or Gatorade dry packs even have electrolytes your body needs.

17. PEDIASURE OR ENSURE-These are a little bit more expensive but they have full nutrition that can really come in handy. A bottle will have a meals worth of nutrients and does not take up that much space. For diabetics, some Ensure would be could to have around for nutrition that will not spike your sugar real high. Pediasure is great for kids that don’t like a lot of beans and rice.

18. VELVETTA OR CANNED CHEESE-You can actually buy canned cheese that is hard cheese and a bit better for you, but it is quite high, made by Red Feather. For most of us though, chunks of Velvetta and canned spray cheese can give you some taste, calcium and calories for our food stores for a pretty cheap price.

19. DRIED SPICES-Spices hold nutrients that your body needs, as well as adding flavor to all those starches you have. You can find many spices for 2/1.00 at places like Wal-Mart so there really is no reason to grab two instead of one to have a back-up around always.

20. CONDIMENTS-This is another thing to have on hand, a back up of everything you use. They add flavor to your meals and maybe a few nutrients in the mix.

21. YEAST-Yeast is a versatile product that does not just make bread, although it is one great use. Another use is if a long enough time elapses, you can actually make ethanol with some simple water, sugar and yeast.

22. BAKING SODA-Another thing that has a million uses, but for food, it is a great baking product for many recipes. You can also use it for cleaning, deodorizing, deodorant or even for a toothpaste.

23. OIL-Makes cooking on grill and fires easier, while adding needed fats to your diet. You can also use it for baking and other issues and it last quite a while. Hydrogenated can add a decade to shelf life if you want to go that way, as long as you will actually use it. Don’t ever buy foods that you will not use.

24. BAKING POWDER- Needed in many basic recipes, cheap and why not add an extra one to your stores when you go to the store.

25. SALT-Is does last forever, period. It is super cheap and your body needs it. Make sure to get the type that has the needed iodine in it.

26. FLOUR-Whether it be bleached or whole wheat, it is a great way to make many simple recipes to keep your family happy.

27. SUGAR-Needed to keep your body going and once again a great basic ingredient to keep a little extra on hand to make anything from cakes and sweets, to sweetening drinks like..

28. TEA-Full of antioxidants and a cheap alternative to pops and other flavored drinks. Go back to your Grandma’s style and you can make an easy great sun tea with no needed heating required, but a little time in the sun.

29. PEANUT BUTTER- Great source of fats and protein that last for several years and most people eat it daily already. So cheap and effective is the name of the game today.

30. CORNMEAL-Another great grain that is very versatile and cheap. It can last for several years and can be made in to many different things.

31. CRACKER PACKS-You can get 6 little packs of 4 crackers for about a dollar (Austins) Kids love them and they are a great snack to have around for any circumstance.

32. GRANOLA BARS-Great tasting and full of nutrients (usually). It holds up for a year or more and once again a great cheap alternative to high price energy bars. Rotate it out and buy an extra one or two.

33. CHOCOLATE-For all the women out there, yes even if there is a disaster, we will want chocolate. Now this can be powdered, hot chocolate mixes or even regular chocolate. It will go stale in about 6 months or so as is packaged, however I doubt it will last that long. Powdered cocoa powdered will last a few years and can add antioxidants and flavor to your baking.

34. DRIED PASTA AND RICE MIXES-Short of 5 year shelf life and meat, you basically can buy an expensive dehydrated meal for a fifth of the price. They are usually less than a dollar and are packed with fats, calories and you only need to add water.

35. VITAMIN CHEWS-Now this may not be a food persay, but always good to have some type of vitamin around that everyone in the family can use to cover any deficiency from eating your stores. No matter how hard you try, you may not get all the vitamins and minerals you need. So if you don’t already take Vitamins, just grab a bottle or two for if needed, they are usually good for several years, so they will pack well.

DISCLAIMER-Many foods are made shelf stable, HOWEVER some foods will go bad, even if the can is still in good condition. Items such as canned fruits, tomatoes and some vegetables like green beans can be prone to Botulism. This is a bacteria that cannot be cooked out and you will not smell it or taste it and it can kill you. Items like that should be used within 6 months or so from sell by date or honor the Use by date. Don’t use anything that is swelled or looks weird, but at the same time be aware of foods that can be home to Botulism. Do your research and always buy food that you will eat so you can keep it rotated and never have to take the chance.

As always, comments are always welcome and I would like to know, what are you storing and prepping. I am always looking for new ideas.


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    • profile image


      3 years ago

      very nice article, thanks for posting, most everything I already knew from life with my parents who were always prepared. I like seeing that others are prepared too.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Where can I get one of the canned food shelves

    • kaiyan717 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from West Virginia

      Upon further inspection, the creation of your website was 8-27-2013. So dare I ask how I can take something off your site when my article was published 7 months prior on this very site? Maybe you should vet your authors a bit better.

      My takedown notice stands. Link to your creation date.

    • profile image 

      6 years ago

      This list was taken almost unchanged from

      I talked to the author of the list and he says you can reproduce it here as long as you put in an acknowledgement along the lines of "Excerpted from"... before you start the list.

    • claudedog1234 profile image

      Jason Smith 

      6 years ago from Bastrop, Texas

      Great article. I have written one similar. please give it a read and let me know what you think.


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