Skip to Content

Best Prepper Food: Your Guide To Building The Ultimate Survival Pantry 

Many people decide to prep food and supplies in order to survive any disaster or emergency situation. However, it can be difficult to keep an emergency pantry that’s nourishing, filling, and diverse.

After all, the first things that usually pop into people’s heads when you say survival or doomsday food are canned goods – hardly something to look forward to.

While that’s all good and helpful, it’s important to keep in mind that they’re not your only options. Today, we’ll dive deep into some of the best prepper food options at your disposal.

Pantry Prepper Shelves in a Basement
Pantry prepper shelves in a basement

What Foods Should I Stockpile For Survival?

The two most important things to keep in mind when thinking about the best prepper food are shelf life and calorie density.

Shelf Life

The biggest thing to remember about survival food is that they aren’t only for times when there are no grocery stores available. 

They’re also important when you want to preserve your garden, make sure your meat stays viable longer, or even in preparation for when you don’t have any extra money to buy fresh food.

However, when it comes to long-term food storage, you need to be extra careful. Not all emergency food is shelf-stable. In fact, if you plan on improperly storing food for more than a few months, it’s likely that it will spoil.

That said, there are some foods that can be stored longer than others. One of the best survival foods for survival situations is brown rice and white rice. When stored in a clean and dry airtight food storage container, white rice can be kept for up to 2 years. On the other hand, brown rice will last for at least 6 months.

Calorie Density

Foods like canned beans, pasta, and dried fruits are great for survival. That’s because they’re higher in calories than most other types of foods. 

Think about it; if you’ve got a calorie deficit, these foods are good for you because they can put extra calories right back into your body in a pinch.

However, if you’re looking for more variety, you should think about stocking up on dried fruit (and lemon juice to preserve it). Dried fruit is high in both calories and nutritional benefits.

Furthermore, freeze-dried fruit will stay viable for up to 25 years when properly stored. If you want a little more variety, you may also want to look into freeze-dried meals or MREs. Often, they’re loaded with delicious food that’s not only rich in calories but also offers you a variety of options at the same time.

How Can I Safely Store Food For A Long Period Of Time?

The biggest mistake you can make with survival food is to store food improperly. 

Think about it this way, if someone handed you a piece of fruit from their garden that had been stored “fresh” in their cupboard for several months, would you want to eat it? Probably not. So the first thing you need to do is look at expiration dates and storage instructions.

In most cases, survival food is meant to be stored in airtight containers with oxygen absorbers. If you don’t want to purchase a bunch of storage bags and a vacuum sealer, you can also use mylar bags or even a plastic bucket.

For long-term storage, the key is to keep your food away from moisture and sunlight. Most experts recommend that you store your survival food in a dark area that’s about 40 degrees Fahrenheit or colder. If your area doesn’t get that cold, consider investing in a refrigerator room or industrial freezer.

There are many ways you can extend the shelf life of food items. Let’s talk about those methods below:


Green beans in a traditional process of canning
Canning your own food makes some of the best prepper food

One of the best ways to preserve food is canning. It’s important to know that specific foods are not meant to be canned, so if you’re looking for a long-term food supply, you’ll want to do most of your canning in the spring and fall. However, during the summer, you may can most fruits and vegetables just fine.

One typical mistake that home cooks make is overfilling their jars. While most canning recipes instruct that you leave some headspace (usually around 1/4 of an inch). 

Leaving the right amount of space between the top of the jar and your liquid ensures that your jars get a tight seal all around. This could lead to your food spoiling more quickly or developing discoloration over time.

Some of the most popular food for canning include:

  • Corn
  • Crushed tomatoes
  • Fruit
  • Salsa
  • Pickles 
  • Relishes
  • Pie Fillings
  • Poultry


Dehydrated food is also a good choice for anyone who wants to improve the longevity of their food items. The process removes around 90 to 95% of moisture in your food. While this isn’t as effective as something that’s freeze-dried, it can extend your food’s shelf life for up to five years.

It’s a good option for anyone who just wants to have food ready for a rainy day – or something more short-term. Most preppers will also just use this method when they’re in a pinch and can’t wait to use certain types of food.

Though you can dehydrate food by hanging them in the sun or in an oven, it’s best to invest in a dehydrator. This helps speed up the process and ensure that your food is properly dehydrated.

Here are some of the most popular foods for dehydrating:

  • Bananas
  • Zucchini
  • Apples
  • Mangoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Strawberries


Freeze-dried fruits are some of the most shelf-stable you’ll find. Most can last up to 25 years with proper storage. Now, you might be thinking “how is it different from dehydrated food?”

The main difference is that freeze-dried food retains less moisture. When fruits, veggies, and other food items are freeze-dried, up to 99% of their liquid content is removed in the process, preventing microorganisms from growing in your food.

The benefit of freeze-dried food is that it’s able to keep most of its nutrients. This means that if you’re in great need of vitamins or minerals, freeze-dried food will help you get them in a more efficient manner than some home-cooked foods.

Here are some of the foods most used in freeze-drying:

  • Berries
  • Coffee
  • Fruit
  • Juice
  • Eggs
  • Dairy
  • Food flavorings
  • Herbs

What Are The Best Survival Foods To Stockpile?

Now that you have a rough idea of what to look for in your survival food stash of the best prepper foods,it’s time to consider your options. Below, we’ve listed some of the best prepper foods for your doomsday pantry and why you need them.

Bottled Water

You can’t get any more basic than this. If you’re one of the lucky few with an underground shelter or bunker, then you may not need to worry about storing large amounts of bottled water. 

In unfavorable conditions, water supplies are usually the first to become tainted or disappear. It’s important to make sure you have plenty to keep you and your food hydrated.

Typically, you should reserve at least one gallon of water per person each day. This way, you’ll have plenty of drinking and hot water on hand for when you need it.

Canned Milk

If you’re not a fan of powdered milk, canned milk is definitely the way to go. It’s good for cooking and you can also consume it right out of the can. For those who prefer their milk cold, you’ll need to refrigerate it.

It’s important to keep in mind that the shelf life of canned milk isn’t as long as some other food items – especially if you buy “light” or “low-fat” products. This is due to the fact that these kinds of milk products have higher water content.

Canned Or Freeze-Dried Meats

Meat can be a vital source of protein for many preppers. It’s a good idea to keep a variety of meats on hand, but if you’re on limited supplies, you might want to concentrate on the ones that best meet your needs. For example, chicken is one of the easiest meats to procure and you can get it canned or dried.

Beef jerky is another good option that can be stored beyond its recommended shelf life. You can buy this in bulk and it will last for years. Plus, if you’re using your meat for survival food, you’re going to want to preserve fat and protein as much as possible.

Canned And Dehydrated Fruits And Vegetables

Assorted Dried Fruit
Assorted Dried Fruit

Most preppers know about fruit and vegetable products like applesauce, dried fruit, and pears. But there are even more things you can do with them. If you have extra produce lying around your home, you can make jams, jellies, and preserves. You also have the option of dehydrating fruits and vegetables to make dehydrated fruits and vegetables in bulk for long-term storage.

Non-Perishable Foods

If your pantry is already filled with canned foods, loading up on foods that need no processing is a good way to go. You can store things like pasta, rice, and beans to use later on if you run out of other options. Some of the most popular non-perishable food options include canned pinto beans and grains.

Soups And Stews

While you might not think of some soups and stews as the main staples of your survival pantry, these are important, nourishing foods that can be prepared quickly. For instance, some soups can help provide vital vitamins you need to stay healthy during an emergency. Best of all? You can make some soups in advance then can them so they’re ready to eat when required.


If you’re trying to avoid high-calorie snacks, dehydrated nuts are one of the best things you can buy. You can store them for years on end without any problems. Plus, when an emergency strikes, dehydrated nuts are easy to rehydrate with water.

Canned Fruit In Juice Or Water

When fresh fruits aren’t available, then canned fruit in juice or water might be the way to go for you. There are many choices when it comes to canned fruits from lychees to plums. That said, shelf life may vary depending on your fruit of choice so make sure you keep an eye on expiration dates.

Protein Bars

Protein bars are one of the most convenient foods you can stock up on for emergencies. They don’t require any preparation – they’re ready to go right out of the box. Plus, they’re relatively easy to store and pack if you want to take them along with you on your journey.

Figuring Out How Much Food You Need To Stockpile

While it can be fun picking stuff up from the shelf and store them for another day, it’s important to make sure your doomsday pantry has enough to feed your family for a decent amount of time.

Here’s how you can figure out how to store the right amount of food for emergency situations:

1. Figure Out Your Storage Options

It’s important to make sure you have enough space to store your prepper foods in. After all, a hundred cans worth of food won’t do you any good if your cupboards can only stack 10 at a time.

We recommend setting aside a dedicated space for your emergency food supply. This way, it won’t get mixed in with your regular food and it won’t take up space in your daily routine.

2. Gather Data From Your Family Member’s Usual Meals

It might be hard to determine how much your family usually eats, but hopefully, you can work out an approximate value over time.

You’ll also want to look at the typical portions they consume. A lot of food companies are now making smaller portions that are easier for preppers to store and keep on hand. 

You want to make sure that you have enough food to go around when an emergency happens. And this doesn’t just mean being able to put something in their stomachs – it also means making sure they’re full and satisfied at the end of each meal.

We recommend paying attention to the typical kind of food your family members like to eat. Make sure you note which proteins they prefer, how many carbohydrates they consume in a day, and how often they like to eat or snack on something.

3. Figure Out The Math

The Red Cross and FEMA recommend storing enough food to last for two weeks. To make sure you meet this suggestion, it’s important to plan ahead and calculate exactly how much food your family typically consumes.

Of course, the amount of food you’ll want to or can set aside for your family relies on your discretion. But it typically follows the same formula.

Basically, you just need to take your average number of servings per household member per day and multiply that by the number of days you want your stockpile to last.

So let’s say you eat 5 meals a day. To make sure you have enough to last 2 weeks, you’ll need to prepare 70 servings.

Tips For Building Up Your Stockpile

Keeping a prepper pantry is not cheap. In fact, it may be one of the most expensive – albeit important, investments you’ll ever make in your life. The important thing to remember is that you probably won’t have to use it soon – so you can always start slow.

Other than that, here are some helpful tips to help you build a stockpile from scratch:

1. Start By Buying A Few Essentials

If you’re just starting off, you don’t have to make a big investment. In fact, all you really need to do is buy a few essential foods and build from there. You can slowly add more items as you go along.

2. Consider The Following Food Options

You want to choose foods that are easy to store and prepare in any weather conditions. This way, they’re always at the ready when you need them most.

3. Factor In Your Family’s Tastes

Think about the kinds of foods you like to eat. You might want to invest in some ethnic food items if there are certain items that your family likes to eat regularly. Just make sure you take into account how long these may last beyond their expiration date.

4. Take Advantage Of Sales & Bulk Deals

There are always sales on prepper foods, so make sure you buy them when they’re available. You can also take advantage of bulk deals that are often available on sites like Amazon. However, store these foods in cool, dry places to extend their shelf life.

5. Be Mindful Of Expiration Dates

When choosing the best prepper food items, be mindful of expiration dates
When choosing the best prepper food items, be mindful of expiration dates

With a wide variety of survival and comfort foods, you need to be mindful of the expiration date when you buy them. For instance, some canned goods have been manufactured months before, which may mean they’ll live out a shorter life on your shelf.

6. Complete Your List Of Essentials And Build From There

Once you have everything you need to last you the initial two weeks, it’s time to start all over. Doing so helps build your stockpile so that it can sustain you and your family for more than just a couple of weeks.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that when you do this, you should keep a running inventory with expiration date information so that any food about to go to waste can be consumed and replaced.

The Takeaway

Contrary to popular belief, FEMA can not confiscate your emergency stash, which is why there’s no reason to be unprepared when tragedy strikes. With a doomsday pantry and emergency supplies, you can be prepared for nearly anything. However, the right foods in the right amount must be selected, stored, and prepared in advance in order to survive during any disaster.

With just a little effort, you can build up your stockpile of food. Doing so will help you prepare for anything that might happen to you or your family. As long as you exercise caution when putting things away and stay well-stocked with essential supplies, there’s no need to panic when any type of disaster strikes.

If you have any best prepper food tips or suggestions that are not listed above, please share with your fellow preppers by leaving your thoughts in the comments section.