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The Long Haul: Stocking Up on Long Shelf-Life Items for Disaster Preparedness

In a world where uncertainty is the only certain thing, it’s crucial to be prepared for any possible disaster scenario. From Armageddon-level asteroid impacts to the more likely event of a severe natural disaster, one of the best ways to equip ourselves is by stocking up on items with lengthy shelf lives.

Stocking Up on Long Shelf-Life Items for Disaster Preparedness

Today, we’re going to dive into the world of long-lasting goods, focusing on some key players: propane, honey, salt, white rice, hard liquor, vinegar, pure vanilla extract, powdered milk, and spices. We’ll explore how to store these valuable items and how to put them to use when the going gets tough. Let’s not forget our bonus round: ammunition and arrows.

Items explained on this page:

  • Propane
  • Honey
  • Salt
  • White Vinegar
  • Baking Soda
  • White Rice
  • Hard Liquor
  • Pure Vanilla Extract
  • Powdered Milk
  • Spices
  • Water Purification Tablets
  • (bonus) Ammunition
  • (bonus) Arrows

Also good ideas (not discussed in this post):

  • Canned Vegetables and Fruits
  • Canned Meats (tuna, chicken, beef)
  • Dried Beans and Lentils
  • Dried Fruits (raisins, apricots, cranberries)
  • Whole Grains (quinoa, barley, oats)
  • Pasta
  • Canned Soups and Stews
  • Instant Coffee and Tea Bags
  • Canned or Boxed Broth
  • Peanut Butter
  • Nuts and Seeds (almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds)
  • Olive Oil and Coconut Oil
  • Canned Tomato Products (sauce, paste, diced)
  • Dehydrated Vegetables
  • Freeze-Dried Meals
  • Jerky (beef, turkey)
  • Granola and Energy Bars
  • Multivitamins and Supplements
  • Canned or Powdered Eggs
  • Canned Dairy (condensed milk, evaporated milk)
  • Cereals (preferably whole grain)
  • Gelatin and Pudding Mixes
  • Sugar, Brown Sugar, and Syrups
  • Yeast and Baking Powder
  • Chocolate and Cocoa Powder
  • Instant Noodles or Ramen
  • Canned Juices
  • Shelf-Stable Milk Alternatives (almond, oat)
  • MREs (Meals Ready to Eat)

Useful tools for the items on the list:

  • Propane Cook Stove
  • Pot/Pan
  • Water Filters and Purifiers
  • Manual Can Opener
  • Matches and Lighters
  • Portable Grill or Campfire Grate
  • Cooking Utensils (spatula, tongs, ladle)
  • Cutting Board and Knife
  • Bowls, Plates, and Cutlery
  • Measuring Cups and Spoons
  • Thermal Cooker (retains heat to cook without constant heat source)
  • Dutch Oven (for campfire cooking)
  • Grill Grates or Skewers (for grilling)
  • Food Thermometer
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Ziplock Bags (for storage and marinating)
  • Reusable Silicone Food Storage Bags
  • Glass or Plastic Food Storage Containers
  • Vacuum Sealer (for longer shelf life)
  • Cooler or Insulated Box (to keep perishables)
  • Portable Water Container
  • Water Purification Tablets (in addition to filters)
  • Collapsible Water Bucket (for collecting and carrying water)
  • Solar Oven
  • Fire Starters (firestarter sticks or cubes)
  • Windproof Lighter
  • Tinder (for starting fires)
  • Charcoal (if using a charcoal grill)
  • Drying Racks (for sun-drying fruits and vegetables)
  • Cheesecloth (for straining and making cheese)
  • Mortar and Pestle (for grinding spices)
  • Hand Mill or Grinder (for grains)
  • Canning Supplies (jars, lids, pressure canner)
  • Food-Grade Buckets with Lids (for bulk storage)
  • Mylar Bags and Oxygen Absorbers (for long-term storage)

Let’s get started!


Propane is an incredibly valuable resource to have on hand in emergency situations for several reasons. Primarily, it’s a versatile and efficient source of energy that can be used for various essential tasks, such as cooking, heating, and powering appliances or generators.

First, let’s talk about cooking. During a power outage or in a situation where traditional energy sources are unavailable, propane can be a lifesaver. It can be used to fuel portable stoves, grills, or camp stoves, allowing you to cook food and boil water, which is essential for maintaining nutrition and hygiene during an emergency.

Second, heating is a crucial concern, especially in colder climates. Propane heaters can provide a reliable source of heat in situations where electric heaters or central heating are not an option. It’s a clean-burning fuel that can be used indoors with proper ventilation, and a single propane tank can provide heat for a considerable amount of time.

Third, propane can be used to power essential appliances or even generators. In situations where the power grid is down, having a backup source of energy can be crucial for keeping important appliances running, such as refrigerators to keep food from spoiling, or medical equipment that is necessary for the well-being of a family member.

Lastly, propane has a long shelf life and does not degrade over time, making it an ideal fuel to store for emergencies. It is also relatively safe to store and transport, as it is stored in liquid form in pressurized gas tanks.


The ultimate survivor’s sweetener, honey is known to have an infinite shelf life. Keep honey in airtight containers, away from heat and light, and it’ll be good for centuries. Plus, it has medicinal properties and can be used as a topical treatment for wounds.

Sweet Survival: Harnessing the Power of Honey for Long-Term Food Storage

  • Natural Goodness: Raw, unprocessed honey.
  • Gentle Harvesting: Preserves nutrients.
  • Nutrient-Rich: Full of natural benefits.
  • Intact Pollen: No force filtering.
  • Suitable for All: Fat-free, gluten-free, Kosher.
  • Purchase on Amazon


Salt is a critical component to have in your food storage for several reasons, beyond just seasoning your food. First and foremost, it is a fundamental human necessity for survival. Sodium, a key component of salt, is essential for a variety of physiological functions, including fluid balance, nerve transmission, and muscle function.

Second, salt is a vital preservative. Before the advent of refrigeration, salting was one of the primary methods used to preserve food. Salt draws out the moisture from food, thereby inhibiting the growth of bacteria, yeast, and molds that cause food to spoil. Having salt on hand in your emergency food storage can extend the shelf life of many foods, helping to ensure your food supply remains safe to eat over an extended period.

Lastly, salt has several other important uses that make it a valuable addition to your emergency supplies. It can be used for cleaning, as it can serve as a mild abrasive for scrubbing surfaces, removing stains, and even cleaning your teeth in a pinch. It can also be used for first aid purposes, as a saline solution can be used to clean wounds and help remove debris. Additionally, a salt solution can be used to help relieve sore throats and mouth sores.

Sea salt
  • Gourmet Taste: Enhances flavors naturally.
  • Pure Form: Unrefined with no additives.
  • Health Benefits: Rich in trace minerals.
  • Culinary Flexibility: Suitable for various uses.
  • Sustainable Sourcing: Ethically mined in the USA.
  • Purchase on Amazon

White Vinegar

White vinegar is an essential item to have on hand not only for everyday use but especially for emergencies. Its importance lies in its versatility and shelf life. White vinegar is a natural preservative, cleaner, disinfectant, and can even be used for personal care and gardening.

As a preservative, its acidic nature inhibits the growth of harmful microorganisms in food, extending its shelf life. This is especially useful in emergency situations when refrigeration might not be available.

As a cleaner and disinfectant, it can be used to clean surfaces, remove odors, and even unclog drains. Its acidity helps dissolve mineral deposits, grease, and grime, making it effective for cleaning a variety of surfaces in your home, from countertops to bathroom tiles. Additionally, it has antibacterial properties that make it effective in killing many strains of bacteria and viruses on surfaces.

For personal care, it can be used as a natural remedy for several skin conditions, as a hair rinse to remove buildup, and as a natural deodorant. Its acidity helps balance the pH of the skin, which can help reduce acne and other skin problems.

In the garden, it can be used as a natural herbicide to kill weeds, as its acidity can break down the cell structure of plants. Additionally, it can be used to clean garden tools and to keep pests away from your plants.

And of course, it is a common ingredient in many recipes, from salad dressings to marinades and pickles. It adds flavor and acidity to dishes, enhancing their taste.

Lastly, white vinegar has an almost indefinite shelf life and does not lose its acidity over time as some other vinegars might. It is also non-staining, cost-effective, and widely available, making it practical for bulk storage.

Vinegar: The Must-Have Item in Your Home Storage Supplies

Baking Soda

Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, is incredibly important to have on hand due to its wide range of uses, both for everyday purposes and in emergencies.

Firstly, it’s a key cooking ingredient, serving as a leavening agent in baking, which helps dough rise.

In terms of cleaning, its mild abrasive quality makes it excellent for scrubbing surfaces without scratching them, while effectively breaking down grease. Additionally, it neutralizes odors, making it great for freshening up carpets, fridges, shoes, and more.

For personal care, baking soda can be used as a toothpaste, deodorant, and to relieve insect bites and itchy skin. Its alkaline nature helps neutralize acids and break down proteins, aiding in skin health.

In emergencies, it can be used as a fire extinguisher for small grease and electrical fires, as it releases carbon dioxide when heated, which helps smother the flames.

It’s also useful for unclogging drains and as a laundry detergent, as it helps soften water and enhances the effectiveness of detergent.

In the garden, it acts as a natural pesticide and a soil neutralizer.

Moreover, it can relieve heartburn, indigestion, and ulcer pain as it neutralizes stomach acid.

And best of all, it has an indefinite shelf life when stored correctly.

Baking Soda: The Ultimate Multi-Purpose Home Essential

White Rice

White rice is a staple food for more than half of the world’s population and a good option for food storage for several reasons:

  1. Long Shelf Life: When stored properly, white rice has a shelf life of 4-5 years or even more, and it doesn’t require refrigeration. This makes it ideal for long-term storage.
  2. Calorie-Dense: Rice is high in calories and carbohydrates, providing a lot of energy. This is crucial in emergency situations where you may need to ration food.
  3. Easy to Cook: Cooking rice is relatively simple, requiring only water and heat. This makes it practical in situations where cooking facilities are limited.
  4. Cost-Effective: White rice is relatively inexpensive, making it economical to store in large quantities.
  5. Versatile: Rice can be used in a variety of meals, from main dishes to desserts, making it a flexible ingredient in cooking.
  6. Non-Allergenic: Rice is gluten-free and one of the least allergenic foods, making it suitable for most people.

Hard Liquor

Hard liquor has several qualities that make it a useful item to have on hand for emergencies:

  1. Long Shelf Life: Most hard liquors have an indefinite shelf life and do not require refrigeration, which makes them ideal for long-term storage.
  2. Disinfectant: Alcohol can be used as a disinfectant for cleaning wounds or sterilizing surfaces and tools.
  3. Pain Reliever: While not a substitute for proper medical care, alcohol can help temporarily relieve pain in emergency situations.
  4. Fire Starter: Alcohol is flammable and can be used as a fire starter if other options are not available.
  5. Bartering Tool: In a prolonged emergency situation where normal economic systems may be disrupted, hard liquor can be a valuable bartering tool.
  6. Stress Reliever: While it should be consumed in moderation, alcohol can help relieve stress and anxiety in emergency situations.
  7. Cooking: Certain recipes may call for alcohol, and it can also be used as a flavor enhancer.

Pure Vanilla Extract

Pure vanilla extract is also a valuable item to include in your emergency storage for several reasons:

  1. Long Shelf Life: Pure vanilla extract has an indefinite shelf life, and its flavor even improves with age.
  2. Flavor Enhancer: Vanilla extract is used in a variety of recipes to enhance flavor, so having it in your storage will allow you to maintain some variety and flavor in your cooking during an emergency.
  3. Medicinal Properties: Vanilla has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. While it is not a substitute for medical treatment, it can be a useful addition to your natural remedies kit.
  4. Mental Wellbeing: The scent of vanilla is known to have a calming effect, which can be helpful in reducing stress and anxiety during emergency situations.
  5. Natural Preservative: Vanilla has antimicrobial properties, which can help to preserve food.
  6. Bartering Tool: Like hard liquor, vanilla extract can be a valuable item for bartering in a prolonged emergency situation.

Powdered Milk

Powdered milk, or dry milk, is definitely an essential item to have in your emergency food storage for several reasons:

  1. Long Shelf Life: When stored properly, powdered milk can last for several years, making it ideal for long-term storage.
  2. Nutritional Value: It is a good source of essential nutrients like calcium, protein, and vitamins A and D.
  3. Easy to Use: Just mix it with water, and you have milk ready for drinking, cooking, or baking. This is especially valuable in emergencies when fresh milk may not be available.
  4. No Refrigeration Needed: Since it’s in powdered form, it doesn’t require refrigeration until it’s mixed with water, saving precious resources.
  5. Versatility: It can be used as a substitute for fresh milk in recipes, for making yogurt, or as a creamer for coffee or tea.
  6. Lightweight and Space-Saving: Being in powdered form, it takes up less space and is lighter to carry compared to liquid milk, which can be crucial in an emergency situation.
  7. Cost-Effective: Buying milk in powdered form can often be more cost-effective than buying fresh milk, especially in bulk.


Spices are a crucial part of your food storage for several reasons:

  1. Flavor: In an emergency situation, you might be eating a lot of the same foods or foods that are more bland, like rice, beans, or canned goods. Spices can drastically improve the taste of these foods, making meals more enjoyable and varied. This can have a big impact on morale in a challenging situation.
  2. Nutritional Benefits: Many spices have health benefits, such as anti-inflammatory properties, antioxidants, and the ability to aid in digestion. For example, turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties, cinnamon can help regulate blood sugar, and ginger can help with nausea and digestion.
  3. Preservation: Some spices, like salt, have preserving qualities that can help extend the shelf life of foods. This can be particularly important in situations where refrigeration is not available.
  4. Small and Lightweight: Spices don’t take up much space and are lightweight, making them easy to store and transport if needed.
  5. Long Shelf Life: Most spices have a long shelf life, especially if they are stored in a cool, dark, and dry place. While they may lose some of their potency over time, they will still add flavor and benefits to your food.
  6. Economic and Bartering: In an extended emergency situation, spices could become a valuable commodity for bartering, as they will be in high demand for all of the reasons listed above.

Water Purification Tablets

These travel packets are a compact survival water treatment solution, capable of purifying 10 liters of water in just half an hour. They effectively remove 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria, 99.99% of viruses, 99.9% of protozoa, and also eliminate arsenic and other harmful chemicals, making them an essential tool for ensuring safe drinking water

Emergency Water Filter
  • High Efficacy: Removes bacteria and viruses.
  • Travel-Friendly: Easy to carry and use.
  • Lightweight: Ideal for survival kits.
  • Group Usage: Suitable for families.
  • Ease of Use: Quick purification process.
  • Purchase on Amazon

Now, on to our BONUS: Ammunition and arrows. While not exactly an edible item, these could be the keys to securing protein in the form of game. Both have indefinite shelf lives when kept in cool, dry, and secure storage. Do remember to handle and store them safely!

Remember, disaster preparedness isn’t about panic buying or preparing for an end-of-the-world scenario. It’s about being ready for any situation, big or small. With these long-lasting items in your stockpile, you’ll be well-equipped to handle whatever life throws at you.

Remember, proper preparation prevents poor performance. So stay ready, stay safe, and as always, stay savvy!

Esther Rabenstein

Wednesday 17th of April 2024

What is the actual shelf life for canned pineapple


Tuesday 16th of April 2024

Make your own vanilla extract, way less expensive. Cheap vodka and vanilla beans from etsy or wherever. Stores forever, and gets better the longer the beans stay in.

Rob Benson

Wednesday 17th of April 2024

Agreed! We've done some videos on this process. Thanks

April Cook

Monday 15th of January 2024

I would like a printed list of shelf life thank you

Rob Benson

Saturday 20th of January 2024

This might help: