A dedicated prepper understands the importance of keeping their bunker stocked with supplies, but which food items are best for long-term storage?
The best bunker foods are:
- Canned Goods
- Dried Beans
- Dried Meat
- Dried Dairy
- Survival Bars
After extensively researching survivalist forums, I have gathered enough information to determine which foods are best for bunker storage. My research has indicated that preppers need to choose food items for their bunkers based on the shelf life they want to achieve with their stockpiles.
When organizing a bunker food stockpile, I always prefer to start with the most essential items first. I always prioritize nutrition and longevity when selecting goods, which is why grains are a foundational part of my bunker storage.
Sure, they may not be the most exciting or delicious thing you can eat, but if you find yourself in a situation where food items in the stores are scarce or non-existent, you will be happy you stocked up on grains.
Grains tend to be a survivalist’s first choice when it comes to bunker food. They are filled with vital nutrients and if you store them properly, grains can last for decades in your bunker.
Rice is a crowd-favorite among preppers, and rightly so. This is one of the easiest and most reliable food items that you can keep in your bunker, which is why most survivalists are stocked to the brim with rice.
Provided that your bunker has been designed to maximize the shelf-life of your food items, rice should last for at least 10 years in stable conditions. With that said, if you take extra steps to secure the storage environment, many preppers extend the shelf-life of this common grain to upwards of 25 years (or more).
If you want to get as many years out of your rice as possible, I recommend buying milled rice for your bunker, as it can have an indefinite shelf-life in the right storage conditions.
When disaster strikes, you can expect the grocery stores to get hit immediately. This means that most people will buy up all the wheat and flour that they can get their hands on. A wise prepper will predict this and stock up before it's too late.
Wheat is an essential grain that most people can’t imagine living without. Much like rice, storing wheat is very straightforward, and the shelf-life is at least 8 to 12 years. With that said, taking additional steps to keep your wheat dry and air-tight will extend its shelf life even further.
No bunker storage is complete without a stockpile of wheat, as this is one of the most dynamic and necessary food items that you can buy. Wheat opens up a lot of possibilities for different types of meals, and you can make flour to expand your baking and cooking options. Once you have a stockpile of wheat in your bunker, you can make the following:
While it may feel instinctive to simply buy flour instead, wheat has a substantially longer shelf life and it’s easier to store long-term.
There is a lot of hype around quinoa these days. While quinoa has certainly become a trendy food item in the last decade, it is also an invaluable grain to keep in your bunker storage.
What makes quinoa so useful is its nutritional content. Unlike rice and wheat which primarily contain carbohydrates, quinoa is a grain with essential amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein.
This implies that you can get quality protein, carbs, fiber, fats, and so much more from just a single grain in your bunker. If you have to dip into your bunker storage for survival, you need to ensure that you are receiving enough nutrients in your body on a daily basis.
Quinoa is a Swiss Army Knife food item that you can count for a variety of different types of meals, as well as essential nutrients - making it a superfood that you should keep at the top of your list when shopping for bunker storage. The only thing to keep in mind is that quinoa does not last quite as long as rice and wheat. So, plan accordingly and keep the storage conditions optimal.
Whether you are planning for an apocalypse, a zombie outbreak, or the next pandemic, make sure to keep plenty of canned food items in your bunker storage. Canned goods are fantastic for bunker stockpiles, and they are very easy to use during emergencies.
One of my favorite things about canned goods is that there is usually very little prep involved, allowing for quick and efficient meals without any cooking or hassles. With that said, there are so many different canned food items that you can incorporate into your stockpile. What you need to consider when shopping is whether you are securing a food stockpile for long-term or short-term survival.
It can be very tempting to opt for delicious canned food items such as instant meals and soups, as these essentially remove cooking from the equation entirely. However, in a real emergency, it may be advantageous to have nutritionally dense canned foods that have quality protein, carbohydrates, and vitamins, which is why I recommend considering the following items:
- Canned Tuna
- Canned Beans
- Canned Fruit
- Canned Vegetables
On the other hand, if you organizing bunker storage for a short duration, feel free to add just about any canned food items that you find. Undamaged canned goods that are kept in stable conditions can have a prolonged shelf life, which is why they are a very popular choice for bunkers.
If you are living off of your bunker food stockpile, you will naturally get a craving for something sweet here and there. While I do not recommend keeping too many sugar items in your bunker storage, having some honey around will help you keep your sanity during an emergency.
Unlike simple sugar, honey is a much more useful food item for bunker storage. One of the key reasons for this is honey’s natural resistance to microbial growth. If you have a controlled environment in your bunker, honey can last indefinitely, making it one of the best survivalist food items around.
In addition, honey has a lot of health benefits that make it a great bunker food item. You can use honey as a natural anti-inflammatory medicine, replacing cough syrup in case you have a cold. Furthermore, honey is also loaded with antioxidants, which can be hard to track down during a disaster scenario.
Lastly, honey is delicious and you can use it with so many different meals to add some sweetness to your bunker storage. Just because bunker food items should be useful for survival, doesn’t mean that they can’t be tasty.
There are some things that you can live without, but protein is not one of them. If you find yourself in an emergency scenario, you need to ensure that your body is getting all the essential nutrients it needs, with protein being a key part of every bunker stockpile.
Developing a protein deficiency during an emergency can be catastrophic for your long-term survival, which is why I recommend keeping a substantial amount of beans in your bunker. Beans are an easy and natural source of protein, and they are generally quite easy to store.
With that said, while you can certainly incorporate canned beans into your bunker stockpile, storing dry beans will be much more reliable and advantageous in the long run. Dry beans are not only a great source of plant-based protein, but also other essential nutrients such as fiber, magnesium, zinc, and iron. These are some of the dry beans that you should consider buying for your bunker storage:
- Kidney Beans
- Black Beans
- Pinto Beans
If you keep dry beans in your bunker with minimal storage preparation, you can still expect a shelf-life of at least 1-2 years. However, keeping dry beans in food-grade containers, in a stable environment can push their expiration date exponentially. Preppers who store their beans correctly are able to achieve an impressive shelf-life of 25 to 30 years, making dry beans one of the most reliable food items you can keep in your bunker.
Whether you want a quality source of protein or simply love the taste, meat is an excellent food item to keep in your bunker storage. As you may have guessed, traditional fresh or frozen meat products are not very reliable for long-term storage, which is why I recommend buying dried meat instead.
There are plenty of dry meat products that you can add to your bunker. However, you need to consider whether you are aiming for a short-term or long-term system, as this can make or break how reliable dried meat actually is.
Traditional dried meat products such as jerky undergo a process of dehydration. While dehydrated meat is perfectly fine if you are planning a short 6 to 12 months stockpile, I suggest freeze-dried meat instead as it can last upwards of 25 years if you store it right.
Unlike dehydrated meat, freeze-drying removes 99% of the moisture in the product. This greatly impacts the shelf-life, which is why serious preppers avoid dehydrated goods in general.
Another factor to consider is the fat content of the meat that you want to store in your bunker. Although fatty meats tend to have better flavor, keeping lean, freeze-dried meats is more advantageous. The bottom line is that foods that are high in fat will spoil a lot faster, which is why lean, freeze-dried meats are the way to go if you want your bunker stockpile to last as long as possible.
Let’s be honest, most of us can’t survive without coffee. While coffee may not be an essential food item, it will be necessary for psychological relief during an emergency for a lot of preppers.
Coffee is a classic bunker food item that keeps you caffeinated and happy - plain and simple. You can survive without it physically and it will likely take up space in your stockpile, but it is well worth it for that morning cup of joe.
If you are a coffee snob, having a manual espresso maker that does not require power will be a great way to enjoy premium coffee while you wait out the disaster. Naturally, this requires you to store a significant amount of coffee beans, which can be a problem during an emergency.
Keeping beans fresh and tasty requires a cool and dry storage location. You need to use food-grade containers that are air-tight, and the room temperature should be consistently cool. I would also recommend avoiding oily beans, as this will likely result in a much shorter shelf-life.
Alternatively, if you want to keep things simple, instant coffee is the way to go. Most instant coffee packages are relatively airtight, and you can get your caffeine fix using this approach without a bunch of additional accessories such as an espresso machine or coffee maker.
Dairy products are a big no-no amongst survivalists, as their shelf-life is very short. However, dairy products are rich in nutrients, and a lot of people enjoy their daily glass of milk too much to give it up for good, even during an emergency.
That is why preppers recommend keeping dried dairy products handy in a bunker stockpile. Dry dairy products can last for years or even decades if kept in the right conditions, which is why they are such reliable items for food storage.
There are so many dry dairy products worth considering, and a major part of your decision-making should really be influenced by taste preferences. These are some examples of dry dairy products to include in your bunker storage:
- Powdered Milk
- Powdered Cheese
- Powdered Buttermilk
- Powdered Ice Cream
- Whey Powder
With that said, buying a stockpile of powdered cheese may be a bit one-sided, and your nutritional intake will suffer from it. That is why I recommend buying a variety of different dry dairy products so that you are getting enough flavor in your meals, as well as nutrients.
Some dry dairy products such as powdered milk and whey powder are loaded with essential nutrients such as protein, which is why I prioritize these items first.
Survival food is an umbrella term used to describe food items that have specifically been designed for long-term storage and survival. As the world continues to be unpredictable and unstable, prepping has been an increasingly popular trend, which is why there is a wider selection of survival food items than ever before.
While I always suggest creating a bunker stockpile with a diverse range of raw ingredients and food items, keeping some survival food around is a great way to have reliable, dynamic, easy-made meals within arms reach.
MRE meals were originally designed by the United States military, but they were quickly adopted by survivalists because of how practical they are. Unlike virtually all of the food items that I covered so far, MREs require very little preparation or none at all.
Most MREs are designed so that you can open them and eat without needing to do any cooking. Depending on the brand that you choose, MREs can be opened and eaten just like that - no heating or boiling water required.
With that said, some MRE brands do require you to add hot water. If this is an issue for your bunker storage, make sure to read the instructions carefully before you buy. One of the best things about MREs is not only their ease of use but also their flavor options. Modern-day brands make quality MREs that are delicious, nutritious, and can last for years. These are some common MRE foods that you can find:
- Chili with Beans
- Meatballs in Marinara
- Chicken with Vegetables
- Chili Mac
- Beef Ravioli
The list goes on. At the end of the day, you may find yourself in a situation where the best bunker food item is the one that is easiest to cook and eat, which is why MREs are particularly useful for food storage stockpiles.
Real emergencies may leave you without power or any means to cook your food. In this situation, raw ingredients are not going to be very reliable, as you may be left with a bunch of food and no way to cook it.
This is where survival bars come in. A survival bar is a lot like a standard protein or energy bar, but with increased nutrition for emergency situations. Some products contain as many as 2,400 calories in a single bar, and they are designed to last for years. These are some survival bars that I would recommend buying for your bunker stockpile:
- Ultimate Survival Technologies Food Ration Bar
- Nature’s Juice Bar Emergency Food Bars
- Millennium Energy Bars
Most of these products come in delicious flavor options, and they are a great snack to have around during an emergency. However, I would recommend that you consider the ingredients and shelf life of each product carefully to ensure that it’s a viable option for your survival needs.
Surprisingly, water is often the item that people overlook the most. Although this is not technically a food item, it is hands down the most essential thing you can keep in your bunker storage.
You can last for days or even weeks without food, but you will be lucky to make it more than 2 or 3 days without water. Keeping a substantial amount of water in your bunker will be essential for your survival, and you may find that a lot of your food items are as good as useless without it.
I recommend storing a reasonable amount of bottled water in your bunker, as this gives you easy access to hydration during an emergency. However, you need to have a secure water source that you can use in the long run. That is why keeping a large barrel of drinking water (or more) on your property is highly recommended for any survival plan.
Best Tips for Bunker Food Storage
Being prepared comes with a lot of responsibility, and it can be easy to overlook certain parts of your bunker food stockpile.
You need to consider nutrition, expiration dates, and storage environment if you want to make your bunker food last as long as possible. Keep these tips in mind when planning your bunker food.
- Keep food in a cool and dry place
- Choose foods items with a 5 to 25+ year shelf-life
- Avoid food items with additives
- Avoid food items with moisture
- Avoid oily foods
- Keep a record of all food items
- Create a meal plan
About THE AUTHOR
I have over a decade of experience in food and beverage management, including a ServSafe food safety qualification. As part of this qualification, I have been professionally trained in safe food storage.Read More About Mark Walker