Long term food storage refers to food supplies that will stay good for years at a time.
This makes them especially useful for survival and emergency preparedness, when you will need food that stays good without refrigeration and is fresh and ready to prepare when you need it (which could be a decade from now or longer).
Survivalism has surged in popularity in recent years, and with it, there are a huge range of options for long term food storage.
We’ve researched and ranked the best options, plus taken a look at the key features and benefits you should look for in a long term food storage solution for survival or emergency preparedness.
1. Mountain House Just in Case Classic Bucket
Mountain House Just in Case Classic Bucket is a top seller thanks to its generous 29 servings, thick, robust plastic pail for storage, and the ease of preparation.
With a longevity guarantee of 30 years, it’s built to last. At the same time, to prepare a meal, all you have to do is add water and a meal is ready to go in ten minutes.
The longevity, durability, and ease of use make Mountain House Just in Case Classic Bucket our top pick.
2. Augason Farms 30-Day Emergency Food Storage Supply
Augason Farms 30-Day Emergency Food Storage Supply comes in a thick plastic pail and contains 29 pounds of food: almost a pound of dried supplies per day.
It’s got supplies for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, so even if you have to break out the emergency supplies, you won’t be stuck with the same rice and bean meal at every meal.
The shelf life for this long term food storage is rated for 20 years, so you won’t have to swap it out any time soon.
3. Mountain House 3-Day Emergency Food Supply
Mountain House 3-Day Emergency Food Supply is perfect for people who aren’t ready to commit to a full month’s worth of emergency food, but still want to be prepared for a loss of power or a natural disaster.
This three-day supply kit can hold you over with nine total meals, and a shelf life of 30 years. The primary downside, aside from the small size, is the cardboard packaging.
Store this in a thick plastic container for optimal durability and pest resistance.
4. Northwest Fork Gluten-Free Emergency Food Supply
Preparing for emergencies and disasters is not easy if you’re gluten-free: many long term food storage products use wheat-based ingredients as mainstays.
Fortunately, Northwest Fork makes a 90-serving long term food storage solution that’s gluten free and has a shelf life of ten years or more.
With this product, you won’t get a durable plastic container, so be sure to provide your own to prevent rats and mice from getting at your food supply.
5. Wise Company Emergency Food Supply
Wise Company Emergency Food Supply is a smaller and lightweight long term food storage solution that nevertheless provides 60 servings of easily prepared food.
This is enough for one adult to eat for a month, or a family of four to eat for a week. The food is all entrees, so the meals are hearty, though it might get repetitive after a week or so.
6. Augason Farms Freeze Dried Fruit
Long term food storage doesn’t mean you need to skimp on healthy eating. Augason Farms makes an excellent long term food storage solution with freeze dried fruit.
This four gallon pail contains 199 servings of fruit, making it a great supplement to another long term food storage solution for your main meals.
It’s not enough to live on alone, of course, but if you want more variety and nutritional value in your emergency food supply, it’s a good addition.
7. Chef’s Banquet Food Storage
Chef’s Banquet Food Storage comes with 30 days worth of 2100 calories. These are stored in a thick, durable 6 gallon bucket, and in optimal storage conditions (i.e. a cool, dry place), the shelf life can be up to 20 years.
Meals for breakfast and dinner are easily prepared by adding water, and there’s pretty good variety, making Chef’s Banquet a solid pick.
8. Grizzly Gear Emergency Food Rations
Grizzly Gear Emergency Food Rations is a rugged and durable emergency food ration that comes in individual 3600 calorie bars.
These can be eaten without any water and they aren’t so dry that they provoke thirst. As such, they’re very popular with sailors and outdoorsmen who want a food storage solution that can take extreme temperatures.
One thing to note: the foil package is not going to be sufficient to deter rodents, so for longer term storage, get a plastic tub to keep these rations out of the reach of vermin.
9. Legacy Premium Food Storage
Legacy Premium Food Storage contains 29 pounds of disaster-ready food in individually wrapped packages stored inside a thick plastic tub.
The meal variety is not as good as some of the other long term food storage options, though the 25 year shelf life is pretty solid.
While it’s a solid pick, several other options on this list come out ahead, leaving it further down in the rankings.
10. The Survival Tabs
The Survival Tabs are designed for a specific niche: long term survival/emergency situations with varied and unreliable food supply, which can lead to nutritional deficiencies.
These chewable tabs deliver a modest dose of carbs and fat, plus all of the vitamins and minerals your body needs.
Essentially, it’s a multivitamin plus some fat and sugar. While The Survival Tabs don’t provide nearly enough calories to fit your daily needs, they can help in situations where your food supply is less than perfect.
This isn’t what everybody is looking for when it comes to long term food storage, but they serve their purpose well.
Long term food storage benefits and risks
Keeping some food and supplies set aside for emergencies and survival situations is a practice that’s endorsed by everyone from survivalists to government emergency management agencies.
The basic premise behind long term food storage is that a natural or man-made disaster could easily disrupt the food supply chain, at least temporarily, which could make it difficult or dangerous to get
Economic instability and natural disasters have both prevented easy access to shelf-stable food in the past. Getting easy access to the basics you need to survive, like food, water, and fuel, is surprisingly dependent on a complex network of infrastructure.
It doesn’t take much to knock that infrastructure out—in 1979, for example, a political revolution in Iran caused a massive downturn in oil production worldwide (1).
The result was huge lines at gas stations and a panic to have gasoline ready. It’s not hard to imagine a similar disruption in food supplies, or electricity (which, of course, you need to keep normal food fresh).
Having a supply of food that does not require refrigeration, and can stay good for years at a time, is an easy insurance policy for emergency preparedness and being disaster-ready.
When stored properly, long term food storage can last for decades. All of top-rated long term food storage products have shelf lives of 20-30 years.
This means that an investment now will last a very long time—you don’t have to swap out your emergency food storage supplies every few months or years like you would if you had to manage your own emergency food supply.
As long as you are keeping your long term food storage in a cool and dark place, you can buy food supplies and forget about them until you need them (which could be years from now).
This compares quite favorably to constantly having to swap out food, check expiration dates, or rely on electricity to keep emergency food supplies in a freezer fresh.
Long term food storage products are formulated to deliver essential vitamins and minerals. While you could certainly make your own meals that are stable long-term using ingredients like dry white rice and lentils or other legumes, you’ll quickly realize that it’s difficult to make sure your home-prepped meals have the right balance of amino acids, vitamins, and minerals.
Long term food storage products typically involve some careful nutritional considerations when they are formulated, precisely to avoid the kind of nutritional deficiencies that occur when all you eat is rice and beans for a month.
While reliance on refined carbohydrates typically makes processed long term food storage products suboptimal compared to home-cooked meals from fresh ingredients, they do deliver all the essential nutrients you need to stay healthy.
The biggest threats to long term food storage are spoilage and pests. When it comes to spoilage, a high quality long term food storage solution should not spill, if it’s stored in proper conditions.
Long term food storage should be kept in a cool, dark, and dry place, and ideally, the storage location should have a stable temperature without large fluctuations from hot to cold.
The food itself can spoil, but the containment system (i.e. the vacuum sealed bags and plastic container) should help protect food from wild swings in temperature or moisture, but these fluctuations do likely take time off the ideal lifespan of your long term food storage.
In your basement, cellar, pantry, or other dark and stable temperature-controlled location for optimal longevity.
The other primary enemy to long term food storage are pests like insects, mice, rats, and other rodents. For protection against these threats, you’ll want to keep your long term food storage in a thick plastic container that can’t be easily chewed through.
That’s why you’ll find that many of the top long term food storage products come in thick plastic pails, even though the actual food is already vacuum-sealed in thick plastic or Mylar packaging.
Rats and mice can easily chew through thin plastic packaging and even metal foil without any problems. If your long term food storage does not already come in a strong plastic container, you’ll want to pick up a five gallon pail with a lid, or another thick plastic tub.
Even if your food is already vacuum-sealed, it’s still best to get a plastic container that’s waterproof or water-resistant, to prevent the growth of mold and bacteria on the packaging.
Long term food storage is a great way to stay prepared for emergencies, power outages, and economic disruption.
A high quality long term food storage solution will stay good for decades, as long as it is stored properly. Even if you aren’t anticipating a major natural or man-made disaster, having long term food storage can be handy in a pinch if you lose power for a few days or need to host someone else who’s been displaced because of a disaster or emergency.
To make sure that your long term food storage solution lasts as long as possible, you should store it in a cool, dark, dry, and temperature controlled space.
The shelf life of long term food storage will deteriorate significantly if it’s stored somewhere hot and humid, or if it is subject to wild temperature fluctuations.
Keeping long term food storage in a thick plastic container is important to ward off rats, mice, and insects.
These pests will make short work of any long term food storage if they get access to it—don’t count on vacuum sealed or foil-lined packaging to be a sufficient deterrent.
Hopefully, you won’t be in a situation where you need to use your long term food storage supplies, but it’s far better to have it but not need it versus the alternative.