Creating a food storage system at home is incredibly easy, and you can find virtually all the supplies that you need right at your local grocery store.
The best prepper foods you can find in the grocery store are:
- Fruits (Canned or Dried)
- Vegetables (Canned)
- Meats (Canned or Dried)
- Beans (Canned or Dried)
- Fats and Oils
- Protein Products
- Dairy (Dried)
- Canned Meals
- Herbs and Spices
After extensively researching food storage preparation and survival techniques, I have gathered enough information to determine which prepper foods you can find in the grocery store. In this article, we’ll be taking a closer look at the best foods you can find in the grocery store for creating a sophisticated food storage system.
Best Prepper Foods You Can Find in the Grocery Store
Food storage has become an increasingly popular trend in recent years, and more people are stocking up on food than ever before.
Whether you are planning for the next pandemic, a zombie apocalypse, or simply want to be prepared for an emergency, there has never been a more important time to practice food storage at home.
While some survivalists may try to convince you that you need specialized emergency foods such as MREs, that is by no means the case. Most preppers do the bulk of all their shopping at the grocery store.
Your local supermarket or grocery store is stocked with essential food items that are perfect for long-term storage and emergencies. Keep the following prepper food items at the top of your grocery list when creating a stockpile of emergency goods.
Food storage is all about survival and preparation, which is why you want to focus on essential items and nutrients first and foremost.
Grains are an excellent source of carbohydrates and they will ensure you have the calories and energy you need during an emergency. This category alone should take up a huge portion of your entire system, as grains will be a part of most meals that you consume.
The reason for this is that carbs are the primary nutrient source in your daily diet. Your body relies on carbs first before choosing other nutrients like protein and fats, which is why they are a mandatory component of every stockpile.
With that said, there are a lot of different grains at the grocery store that you need to consider. I find selecting a variety of types of grains is a great way to cook dynamic meals and ensure that you do not get bored with your prepper foods over time. These are the grains you should consider for your system:
- White or Wild Rice
- Wheat Flour
White or Wild Rice
White rice is a foundational food item in every prepper's system. This is one of the most versatile foods at your grocery store, and you can cook so many different meals with this food item as a base ingredient.
While it may seem logical to opt for brown rice given its increased nutrients, you should stick with white and wild rice given their increased shelf-life. Brown rice contains more natural oils and fats, which will cause it to go bad much sooner.
White and wild rice, on the other hand, hardly has any fats or oils. If stored properly white and wild rice can last for upwards of 25+ years, and perhaps even have an indefinite shelf life.
Unlike rice and other simple grains, quinoa contains a plethora of nutrients and is much better for ensuring a healthy diet during an emergency.
Instead of simply offering carbs to your diet, quinoa contains essential amino acids making it an excellent source of plant-based protein. In addition, quinoa also has complex carbs, giving you more energy compared to rice.
Despite quinoa’s exceptional health benefits, I would not recommend substituting it for rice. This is a grain that you should incorporate into your stockpile in addition to other grains like rice, given that its shelf life is considerably shorter.
You can’t go wrong with pasta. After days, weeks, or months of eating rice, you will be thankful for the packs of pasta that you packed in your stockpile.
Pasta is a great source of carbohydrates and it’s a food item that can be used in many different ways. Traditional pasta, noodle soups, pasta salads - the list goes on. Much like rice, you should consider using simple pasta to maximize its shelf life.
Oats are a great survival food item given how nutrient dense they are. A single bowl of oatmeal packs a huge nutritional punch, which will be essential during an emergency.
Not only do oats offer nutrients such as carbs, but they also contain plant-based protein and even fiber. This is a food item that you do not want to leave out of your stockpile.
In general, you can count on oats lasting at least 2 years if they are not removed from the original packaging. However, taking additional measures to maximize the shelf life of oats can result in them lasting considerably longer than this.
Cornmeal & Flour
Cornmeal and flour are by no means the most exciting prepper foods, but they are incredibly useful given their form.
You can use both of these items to make so many different types of foods, which is why survivalists tend to keep a substantial amount of cornmeal and flour in their systems. If stored properly, you can make cornmeal and flour last as long as 5 years.
2. Fruits (Canned & Dried)
Fruit is important to keep in your diet, emergency or not. You need to approach your stockpile with nutritional intake in mind, with fruits adding a lot of the vitamins that your body relies on.
However, fresh fruit is not going to be an option for long-term storage. You need to choose fruit that has either been canned or dried. I would recommend choosing both canned and dried fruits given that each can be used differently.
Dried fruit is good for quick snacks, oatmeal, and re-hydrating. You can munch on dried fruit throughout the day or make it a key part of your meals by using it as an ingredient.
There are plenty of different types of dried fruit that you can buy at your local grocery store, but some are going to be more suitable for long-term storage than others. Consider the following dried fruit for your stockpile:
- Dried Apples
- Dried Bananas
- Dried Cranberries
- Dried Blackberries
- Dried Figs
- Dried Cherries
- Dried Blueberries
Canned fruit is an easy food item to incorporate into your stockpile. For the best taste and quality, canned fruit should be eaten within 18 months. However, in the right storage conditions, the shelf life can actually be pushed back quite a bit longer.
As far as canned fruit, you can really decide for yourself what you want to buy from the grocery store based on your tastes and preferences.
The one thing that I would advise is prioritizing canned fruits that have low acidity, as high-acid canned fruits will not last nearly as long in your prepper pantry. Consider adding the following canned foods to your stockpile:
- Canned Apples
- Canned Cranberries
- Canned Cherries
- Canned Mango
- Canned Pears
- Canned Grapefruit
- Canned Peaches
3. Canned Vegetables
No prepper grocery store list is complete without a healthy supply of vegetables. Much like with fruit, fresh vegetables are not going to be an option.
You need to opt for canned vegetables as they have an exceptionally long shelf life that can last for upwards of 5+ years. Vegetables provide essential nutrients to your diet and they can be used in a variety of different ways in your cooking.
As always, keeping a variety of items in your system is going to be much more beneficial to your diet and your palette over time. Eating the same vegetables every day can become tedious, to say the least, which is why I recommend buying the following items at the grocery store:
- Canned Tomatoes
- Canned Corn
- Canned Mushrooms
- Canned Carrots
- Canned Beets
- Canned Green Beans
4. Meats (Canned & Dried)
Some people can’t imagine an emergency without meat, and understandably so. This is a delicious and nutritious food item that will balance out the grains, fruits, and vegetables in your system.
Aside from the flavor, meat also provides your body with protein, which is perhaps the most important nutrient that you need in your daily diet.
Fresh meat has a very short shelf life, and you cannot count on it for more than a few days to upwards of a week. That is why you should stock up on dried and canned meats at your local grocery.
Dried meats are a classic prepper food that goes back thousands of years. This is a food storage method that humans started practicing as early as 3,000 B.C., and it’s as effective now as ever.
Jerky is the go-to dried meat that most preppers rely on for this. There are plenty of types of jerky to consider, but you can ultimately choose something based on your tastes. If you want to maximize the shelf life of jerky, I recommend choosing Old Fashioned Jerky, as this lasts the longest.
Properly stored jerky has a shelf life of at least 5 years, with many preppers claiming that it can last indefinitely.
Canned meats are incredibly dynamic and can be used for so many different meals. Your grocery store is likely stocked with a variety of canned meat products that will be perfect for your stockpile.
Canned meats are loaded with essential nutrients and packed with protein. To ensure that you do not get bored eating the same thing, I suggest choosing a variety of canned meats, such as:
- Canned Tuna
- Canned Salmon
- Canned Beef
- Canned Chicken
- Corned Beef
5. Beans (Canned & Dried)
One of the most important food items not to overlook on your grocery run is beans. Aside from offering dynamic cooking options for your meals, beans have a lot of essential nutrients that you need in your daily diet.
Beans are loaded with plant-based protein, antioxidants, fiber, and so much more, making them a must for every food storage system. You can choose to either add canned or dried beans to your stockpile.
Given that both canned and dried beans will last for years, you can decide which suits you better based on the shelf life you want to achieve. In general, you can count on canned beans lasting for around 4 to 5+ years before they become noticeably bad or lose taste.
However, dry beans can last considerably longer than this. If kept in the right storage conditions, dry beans can last for upwards of 25 to 30+ years, making them the best option for long-term stockpiles. Consider buying the following beans at your grocery store:
- Pinot Beans
- Black Beans
- Black Eye Peas
- Split Peas
- Kidney Beans
- Garbanzo Beans
6. Fats & Oils
It can be very easy to overlook fats and oils when shopping for prepper foods. These are important ingredients for cooking but they are also essential for your health as well.
Healthy fats are foundational for a balanced diet, and you should add a variety of different types of oils into your stockpile to ensure that your body is getting all the nutrients that it needs. This is particularly true for healthy fats such as mono-unsaturated, poly-unsaturated, and omegas.
With that said, some fats and oils are going to be much more useful for preparing food such as cooking oil, which is why having both types is important. Consider buying the following fats and oils for your food storage system:
- Coconut Oil
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Canola Oil
Protein is such a vital nutrient, it really deserves its own section. After you’ve bought protein-based foods such as meats and beans, it would be wise to add some additional items that will secure your regular protein intake.
This is really a subjective prepper item, so you can decide what works better for you based on your tastes and needs. Consider adding the following protein items to your prepper shopping list:
- Protein Bars
- Trail Mix
- Peanut Butter
8. Dairy (Dried)
Dairy can be a hard thing to give up, and if you are the type of person who craves their daily glass of milk, you may want to consider adding this to your prepper pantry. Fresh milk is certainly not reliable for long-term storage, even if the box is labeled “Long Life”.
You want to stick to dry dairy at all costs, as it has a nearly indefinite shelf life and also takes up a lot less room in your stockpile. There are only a handful of dry dairy products worth mentioning, with most peppers prioritizing dry/powdered milk and cheese.
9. Canned Meals
If you want to incorporate convenient food items that will be very practical for easy cooking, canned meals are the way to go. Your grocery store will offer a variety of pre-made meals in cans which are perfectly fine for short-term stockpiles intended for 3 to 5 years.
Canned meals are easy, delicious, and offer great nutritional value to your diet. The great thing about buying canned meals is that there are so many different options to consider.
There isn’t necessarily a wrong way to approach this. Just choose the canned meals that you like the most and add them to your prepper grocery list. Here are some examples of common canned meals suitable for food storage stockpiles:
- Canned Soups
- Canned Chili
- Canned Stews
- Baked Beans
10. Herbs & Spices
The most common food items that people tend to forget when shopping are herbs and spices. One of the main reasons for this is that these are not essential ingredients for your survival, but they certainly will be if you want to keep your sanity during an emergency.
Food without flavor is a no-go, even for preppers. You need to ensure the food your eating is filled with nutrients but also tastes delicious, which is where herbs and spices come in.
There are a lot of herbs and spices worth throwing into your prepper stockpile. If you have room for an entire spice rack, by all means. Before I dive into examples, it’s worth mentioning that salt should be priority number one, as this is not something you want to overlook.
With that said, dried herbs and spices are going to be your only option for storing these items reliably. Consider adding the following herbs and spices to your prepper grocery list:
Sugar is another item that your body may not need but will likely crave over time. You can add a bit of sugar here and there to certain meals or even make your own desserts.
You want to choose specific types of sugars for your stockpile, as some are better suited for long-term storage. In general, these are the most popular sugar products among preppers:
- Sugar from Beets
- Sugar from Corn
Last but certainly not least, water. This is the most important thing to add to your food storage system.
While you can count on having running water during most emergencies, that will by no means be the case in every situation. A smart pepper plans for the worst, and that includes having a substantial amount of drinking water on your property at all times.
You should consider how long you want to live off of your stockpile and supplies. As a general rule of thumb, you should have 1 gallon of water per person per day. Buying packs of bottled water is highly recommended for quick and easy hydration.
However, I also suggest investing in a water tank or large canister to keep somewhere on your property such as your basement or backyard.
13. Comfort Foods (Optional)
Once all the essential food items are out of the way, it never hurts to add a few of your favorite comfort foods to the list. Prepping is about survival and being ready for emergencies, but that doesn’t mean that you have to completely sacrifice eating the foods you love.
After you’ve ticked all the above-mentioned items off the list, feel free to add some of your favorites if you still have room in your stockpile. These are classic comfort food items to consider:
- Macaroni & Cheese
Tips for Buying Prepper Foods
Grocery stores are always the first place to start when prepping. It can be easy to disregard basic items in the store, but many of them are actually shelf-stable foods that are perfect for long-term food storage.
Before you go out and buy grocery store foods for your stockpile, reflect on the following tips to ensure that your system is balanced and emergency-ready.
1. Buy Calorie & Nutrient-Dense Foods
When you are relying on your emergency stockpile for survival, you want to be eating foods that will be giving your body the nutrients and calories that it needs.
While it can be tempting to prioritize foods that taste good, it’s important to remember that prepping is about being ready for emergencies. This means that you need to read labels and select items that will contain important nutrients, vitamins, and calories.
2. Buy Storage-Friendly Foods
The bottom line is if the foods that you buy for your food storage system are not easy to store long-term, then they will not be of much use to you.
Buying food items that will last is mandatory if you want your emergency goods to be reliable. All products should have an extensive shelf life of at least 2 to 5+ years for basic prepping.
With that said, long-term survivalists tend to think in decades rather than in years and prioritize food items that last 10 to 20+ years.
3. Prioritize Foods That Are Easy to Prepare
If you are buying food items that are very complex and difficult to make, you may be in a predicament if you do not have full access to your kitchen during an emergency.
Most (not all) of your foods should be relatively easy to make. This means that you should be able to cook using just boing water and a frying pan at most.
4. Check Expiration Dates
Just because it's sold at your local grocery store, doesn’t mean that it's fresh. Before you buy any product at the store, double-check that it was packaged recently.
If you buy food items that are already a year or two old, this is counter-intuitive to preparing for a long-term stockpile. In addition, I would recommend keeping a log of all your expiration dates so that you know when items start to go bad.
5. Rotate Food Items
Once your food items are bought and your prepper stockpile is looking full, it’s important to remember to rotate your goods periodically. If you’ve created a log of your expiration dates, as I mentioned in the previous tip, you will know exactly when items are about to go off.
It’s essential that you rotate these items and make use of them before they expire. This ensures that you are not wasting food and that your stockpile is always fresh and emergency-ready.
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