Having access to shelf-stable food that will store for years without refrigeration or freezing is a necessary part of my home pantry and emergency food supply. I can’t help but wonder what my family would do if we lost power for an extended period of time and were unable to keep the food in our refrigerator or freezer from spoiling. So what nonperishable foods last a long time without refrigeration?
Foods that store well and last a long time without refrigeration include:
- Grains (Wheat, Rice, Flour, Pasta, etc.)
- Canned and Dried Meats that don’t need refrigeration
- Beans and Legumes
- Dried Milk and Dairy that don’t need refrigeration
- Fruits and Vegetables (Dehydrated, Freeze Dried, and Canned)
- Nuts and Seeds
- Cooking Essentials (Salt, Yeast, Baking Powder/soda, etc.)
- Full Freeze Dried Meals (Breakfast, Dinner, etc.)
- Other Shelf Stable Foods and Snacks that don’t need to be refrigerated
The best nonperishable foods that last a long time without refrigeration include wheat, rice, flour, pasta, canned and dried meats (see how to store meat long-term without refrigeration), fats and oils, beans and legumes, dried milk and dairy, sugars, dehydrated, freeze-dried, or canned vegetables and fruit, and other freeze-dried or dehydrated meals.
The above and below lists will provide a well-balanced supply of shelf-stable nonperishable foods. It’s important to have a balance of proteins, fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, and carbs. See our food storage calculator to help plan your food storage and check out this generic but complete list of foods that last a long time.
There are several places that are good for buying shelf-stable foods including online (see the best places to buy bulk food online at a discount) or in-person grocery stores (find the cheapest grocery stores) especially bulk food stores. We really like some Amish bulk food stores (see this list of 400+ Amish stores to find one near you).
I have spent years researching and storing various types of shelf-stable food without refrigeration. Here is a list of all of the best nonperishable foods that you should store in your pantry, cupboards, closets, and/or cold storage. See detailed lists of each type of food below.
Grains (Wheat, Rice, Flour, Pasta, etc.)
Grains such as wheat berries, rice, flour, pasta, and oats are an important part of any long-term food storage that doesn’t require refrigeration or freezing. The below list of grains will provide you with a lot of ideas.
Wheat berries store for longer than flour and produce fresher, better-tasting flour after being ground. You’ll want to find the best grain mill/flour grinder for you so that you can make your own flour whenever you need fresh flour. To know if storing wheat is worth it for you see if grinding your own flour is actually cheaper.
- Hard Red Winter Wheat
- Hard Red Spring Wheat
- Soft Red Winter Wheat
- Durum Wheat
- Hard White Wheat
- Soft White Wheat
- All-Purpose Flour (hard and soft red wheat)
- Whole Wheat Flour (stone ground wheat berries)
- Bread Flour (hard red spring wheat)
- Cake Flour (soft white wheat endosperm)
- Pastry Flour (hard white wheat endosperm)
- White Rice
- Jasmine Rice
- Basmati Rice
- Wild Rice
- Red Cargo Rice
- Parboiled Rice
- Black Rice
- Rosematta Rice
- Brown Rice
- Arborio Rice
- Camargue Rice
- Sticky Rice
- Sushi Rice
- Valencia Rice
- Spaghetti Pasta
- Fettuccine Pasta
- Penne Pasta
- Macaroni Pasta
- Rolled Oats
- Quick Oats
- Steel Cut Oats
Here are some great options of shelf-stable wheat and other grains that don’t need to be refrigerated or frozen that you can find on Amazon.
- Wheat Berries (see on Amazon)
- All Purpose Flour (see on Amazon)
- Rice bulk (see on Amazon)
- Oats bulk (see on Amazon)
Canned and Dried Meats that Don’t Need Refrigeration
Protein is an essential part of anyone’s diet so it is essential to have a variety of meats that last a long time and don’t need to be refrigerated or frozen in your food storage. Preservation methods such as dehydrating, freeze drying, and canning are good options for shelf-stable meats that can be stored in your long-term food storage.
See a list of various types of meats below that can be stored for a long time without refrigeration. Also check out more detailed information specifically about meats and other foods that can be freeze dried, dehydrated, and pressure canned.
- Canned Beef Soups or Stews
- Canned Ground Beef
- Canned Roast Beef
- Canned Corned Beef Hash
- Canned Chicken Breast
- Canned Sausage
- Canned Ham (Smoked)
- Canned Vienna Sausages
- Canned Spam
- Canned Spaghetti with meatballs
- Canned Tuna
- Canned Salmon
- Freeze Dried Ground Beef
- Freeze Dried Beef Dices
- Freeze Dried Chicken
- Freeze Dried Sausage Crumbles
- Dehydrated Beef
- Dehydrated Chicken
- Dehydrated Deli Meats
- Dehydrated Fish
Here are some great options of shelf-stable meats that don’t need to be refrigerated or frozen that you can find on Amazon.
- Freeze Dried Meats (see on Amazon)
- Old Trapper Beef Jerky (see on Amazon)
- Canned Beef Soup (see on Amazon)
- Canned Tuna (see on Amazon)
Beans and Legumes
Canned or dry beans are good for storing long-term without refrigeration. Most dry beans can last for up to 25 years in Mylar bags or #10 cans with oxygen absorbers. Canned beans can last for a few years.
The below list can be stored for a long time either dry or canned.
- Pinto Beans
- Black Beans
- Kidney Beans
- Adzuki Beans
- Split Peas
- Black Beans
- Lima Beans
- Cranberry or Roman Beans
Dried Milk and Dairy that Don’t Need Refrigeration
Milk and other dairy products are a big part of most people’s daily diet and are used in so many meals and recipes. Dairy products are perishable and require refrigeration to keep from going bad, however, there are some great alternative dairy products that can be stored for a long time without refrigeration.
Here is a list of dairy products that will last for a long time without refrigeration.
- Powder Milk
- Dried Whole Egg Powder
- Dried Scrambled Egg Mix
- Butter Powder
- Buttermilk Powder
- Sour Cream Powder
- Dehydrated or Freeze Dried Yogurt
- Freeze Dried Cheese
Here are some good dairy products on Amazon that don’t require refrigeration or freezing.
- Powder Milk (see on Amazon)
- Whole and scrambled Eggs (see on Amazon)
- Butter Powder (see on Amazon)
- Freeze Dried Cheese (see on Amazon)
Fruits and Vegetables (Dehydrated, Freeze Dried, and Canned)
Fruits and Vegetables that have been dehydrated, freeze dried, or canned can be stored without a refrigerator for a long time (years). They can then be used to eat as is or rehydrated and added to cooking. See a more comprehensive list of what fruits and vegetables can be freeze dried and what can be dehydrated. Also, Vegetables should be pressure canned and Fruits can be water bath canned.
Fruit that has been dehydrated, freeze dried, or water bath canned
- Apple Slices
- Mixed Fruit
- Pomegranates (see how to store them long term)
- Star Fruit (Carambola)
For more details see our articles about what fruits can be freeze dried or what fruits can be dehydrated.
Vegetables that have been freeze dried, dehydrated, or pressure canned
- Green Beans
- Swiss Chard
For more details see our articles about what vegetables can be freeze dried, what vegetables can be dehydrated, or what vegetables can be pressure canned.
Nuts and Seeds
Your food storage should have a good balance of protein, carbs, and fat because they are essential macronutrients. Nuts and seeds are a good source of protein and fat as well as vitamins and minerals.
Like all foods, there are a few things to keep in mind when storing nuts and seeds. Store dry roasted and salted nuts because they will store longer than raw nuts. See a list of nuts to include in your long-term storage.
- Brazil nuts
- Cashew nuts
- Pine nuts
- Pumpkin seeds
- Flax seeds
- Sesame seeds
- Poppy seeds
- Sunflower seeds
- Psyllium seeds
- Chia seeds
Sugars store for a long time without refrigeration or freezing. It is most often stored long-term in 5-gallon buckets with gamma lids for an airtight seal, or in mylar bags for an even longer-lasting even indefinite storage life. See why you should not use oxygen absorbers in sugar.
Sugars that are good to include in your long-term storage include:
- White Sugar
- Brown Sugar
- Powdered Sugar
- Corn Syrup
- Powdered Juice Mix
- Jello Mix
To do much with your food storage you’ll also need to include cooking/baking essentials. Your cooking and meals will be far less enjoyable without the following cooking essentials.
- Baking Powder
- Baking Soda
- Favorite Seasonings
- Cooking Oil and Shortening
Full Freeze Dried Meals
Freeze dried meals are the most convenient food to store for a long period of time without needing any refrigeration or freezing. You can take these meals camping, backpacking, in a grab-and-go bag, on trips, or just keep them on hand for emergencies. See more ideas of the best kinds of freeze dried food.
A couple of the best things about freeze dried meals are they only require water for rehydration, they maintain their nutrition, and they taste very similar to when the meal was fresh (similar to how leftovers taste).
Here is a list of freeze dried meals that last a long time without refrigeration.
- Beef Stroganoff
- Cheese Steak
- Chicken Parmesan
- Chow Mein
- Ham Fried Rice
- Hash Browns
- Macaroni & Cheese
- Mashed Potatoes
- Meat Loaf
- Roast Turkey Dinner
- Roast Beef Dinner
- Scrambled Eggs
For more ideas look at this list of best sellers of freeze-dried meals on Amazon.
We own and regularly use a home freeze dryer and really enjoy the freedom it gives us to preserve whatever meal or individual food we want (see a full list of foods that can be freeze dried). If you are at all interested in getting a home freeze dryer then check out our article Buying a Home Freeze Dryer, What You Need to Know First.
Also, see Harvest Right’s freeze dryers to see if there are currently any deals on their home freeze dryers.
Other Shelf Stable Food and Snacks that don’t need to be refrigerated
There are plenty of shelf-stable foods and snacks that will last a long time without refrigeration or freezing. Look for foods that have a best if used by date of at least a couple of months out and are still edible beyond a few months. See the below list for ideas.
- Peanut Butter
- Dried Soup or Bullion
- Canned Soups (see on Amazon)
- Pancake Mix
- Cocoa Powder
- Granola Bars
- Protein Bars (see on Amazon)
- Trail Mix
- Pudding Mix
- Bread Crumbs and croutons
- MREs or other instant meals (see MREs on Amazon)
- Boxed Meals
- Multi-vitamins (for Men) or (for Women)
- Protein Powder (see on Amazon)
Storing a supply of shelf-stable foods that last a long time without refrigeration or a freezer is essential in being prepared to weather emergencies or unexpected disasters. Those who take the time to build a supply of the above foods will find confidence and peace of mind knowing that they will be able to feed their family in any circumstance.
For more information about food preservation see the National Center for Home Food Preservation or for emergencies see Ready.gov.