Camping, Emergency & Long-Term Food & Storage

Having tasty, nutritious and readily-available food is something we expect in everyday life under normal circumstances. When we go hiking or camping, we want the same food quality that is easy to transport and prepare. In an emergency situation, we would like to have the same food attributes but may not be able to buy from our local grocery store because of the emergency circumstances. We don't need to face running out of food, or food quality and taste, when we prepare for the expected and unexpected.

Urban Life (living in the city) offers many advantages, but food storage space is, usually, not one of them. Click Here for tips to maximize available space. Here are some general rules, for everyone, on buying and storing ememgency foods.
#1: Take Your Time and Go Slow. Begin with a three day supply, gradually building up to a week. Add a little more with each grocery store visit.
#2: Spend Your Money Wisely. Look for bargains. Use coupons. Buy in bulk.
#3: Stick to the Basics. Beans, rice, oatmeal, and powdered milk are staples in the survival food pantry but follow Tip #4.
#4: Don't store food you don't like. Obvious but if you have to eat the same food for a few weeks, make sure you like the taste.
#5: Know the expiration date* or when (date) the product was manufactured to determine an approximate expiration date*.
#6: Store food in multiple locations (upstairs, downstairs, etc.) in case access is not possible to one or more storage location(s).
#7: Keep food reserves in a cool, dry place. Keeping food in the attic (or even at normal room temperature) severely shortens its storage life.
#8: Store liquids (water) to rehydrate dehydrated foods: Most emergency foods need water to prepare.
#9: Dried foods are better than canned and fresh when it comes to camping and long-term storage. They, generally, last longer, take less space to store, provide more servings per container and are not as heavy (which can be helpful if it's necessary to carry in a bug out situation).

Power outages, and emergencies that disrupt our routine lives, are unpredictable and can last an hour, a day, a week or more. Foods with a long shelf-life and don't require heat or cooking are ideal for stocking the pantry in case of a power outage. Here are some suggestions:

The essential element to survival and necessary in every emergency plan and emergency supplies kit.

Generally, commercially-sealed/bottled water does not go bad but depends on how it was processed. Water you have "bottled" yourself has a recommended maximum shelf life of 6 months for consumption. Unless water is known to be, or obviously, contaminated, don't throw water away in an emergency situation; it may still be possible to purify through distilling but it can be used for washing, watering edible/medicinal plants and other things.

Recommended water storage amounts are at least 1 gallon of [drinking and sanitation] water per day per person for a minimum of 3 days. More is better. Additional water should be considered for Pets and dehydrated foods to re-hydrate. Consider these things when calculating water storage needs.

For a less-bland drinking experience, add Essential Oils to the drinking water.

Powdered Milk, Drink Mixes and Beverages

Healthy Energy Drink Alternatives:
Energy drinks are a wonderful thing to have on hand in the pantry, bug out bag, or even a first aid kit. There's a reason everyone from elite athletes to 8-year-old soccer players relies upon energy drinks and electrolyte drinks for vitality, energy, or replenishing nutrients lost while sweating. But commercial energy drinks are not good on the body, especially for those with a low immune system. Stock up on these few ingredients for the same beneficial effects as energy drinks: Good Ol' Coffee, Coconut Water, Apple Cider Vinegar, Green Tea, Organic Maple Syrup and Raw Honey. Heare are a few recepies:
    Coconut Water + Maple Syrup + Lemon Juice
    Green Tea Coconut Water Cocktail + Apple Cider Vinegar + Apple Juice +Raw Honey
    Green Tea + Raw Honey + Lemon

Of all the pleasures of camping, sipping a freshly brewed cup of joe around the morning fire is, as the old TV commercial hummed along, the best part of waking up. Watch the Video, Ya'll
1 - Warm the water in the pot.
2 - Add coffee grounds.
3 - Bring to a rolling boil (removes acid) for 2-3 minutes.
4 - Let it sit for 2 minutes.
5 - Add small amount of cold water which drops the grounds to the bottom of the pot.
6 - Let it sit for another minute then drink.

Benefits of Coffee & Alternative Sweetners: Coffee, the bitter nectar of life, the breakfast of champions, the fuel that sustains parents everywhere. It really is one of the best parts of life. It does more than warm the soul; there are many health benefits. But the things we add to it may be working against us. Read more.

Home Brewing:
How to Make Dandelion Wine, Step by Step
How to Make Moonshine
Wine, Liqueur, and Beer Recipes
[Not so] Quick Alcoholic Beverages

Canned & Dried Meats
Cooking & Recipes Using Canned Hamburger

Canned & Dried Fruits & Vegetables
How to Make Potato Flakes With 5 Years Shelf Life (without refrigeration)
Dry Breakfast Cereals

Raw Honey, stored in a sealed container, can remain stable for decades, even centuries. Commercial Honey last about 2 years. If it crystalizes, just warm it to liquify again.

The Greeks had an uncanny ability when it came to healing the body, and the medicinal purposes of many of nature’s wonders and bees were at the top of the list when it came to natural wonders that also contained healing powers. Read more.

Read about Beekeeping: The Sweetest Hobby of all, in maintaining a renewable food source.

Peanut Butter (all-natural varieties have a shorter shelf life)

Packaged Mixed Nuts, Granola, Trail Mix

MREs (Meals Ready to Eat)
MREs on Amazon Civilian MRE Comparison
MREs on

Commercial Camping and Long Term Food (usually requires water to rehydrate)
There are a number of commercial Camping and Long Term Food companies. Research and sample to find the one(s) that will suit your needs and tastes. Often, these companies will provide free samples. The point is that a long-term food storage plan should be part of your overall emergency plan.

Top 10 Food Storage Companies Comparison
Mountain House Products Nutritional Information
Commercial Camping and Long Term Food on Amazon

There are many foods that store well for a very long time, under the right conditions, however there are foods that do NOT store well for long term (1 year or more) storage. Do your research before considering a long term food storage plan.

It is not enough to just collect food and stick it away somewhere until it's needed. Knowing where and what it is, and when it will expire, is essential. A little planning ahead of time will save a lot of space and organizational problems in the future.
1 - LABEL each item and/or container to clearly identify its contents and expiration date*.
2 - INVENTORY (notebook (preferred) or computer) food as it is being labeled. Record how many of that item are available, their expiration date(s)* and the location where it is stored. As items are used/removed from storage, mark that item off the inventory list so it is current with what is actually available.
3 - CATEGORIZE food items (such as wheat, rice, beans, vegetables, fruits, etc.) during the storage process so that they are easier to find.
4 - FIRST-ON-FIRST-OFF is a method to help use the food when it is needed. Foods with the nearest expiration date* should be the first used and placed at the front of the shelf while items with the furtherist expiration date* should go to the back of the shelf.
Click Here for More Tips

Canned Food Shelf Life: Read This Before You Throw It Out: In normal times, it's difficult to argue taking the risk of making yourself sick if the upside will only amount to a couple of dollars saved. But what about when times are not normal? Would you be so quick to toss your "expired" can of green beans if calories were as scarce as water in a desert?

Canned foods can last up to 30+ years if stored properly. Canned meat 4-30 years, followed by canned vegetables 3-8 years, canned beans 3-6 years, canned fish 3-6 years, canned rice 2-6 years, canned broth 3-5 years, canned soups 2-4 years, and lastly canned fruits which only last around 1-2 years. However, their shelf life can be stretched even further if you store them correctly.

Here is a great resource to help you figure out how long products can actually last without refrigeration.

Foods That Never Expire

In additional to a long term food storage program, a renewable food sources program should be part of your overall Emergency Plan. Look for current and future Posts in this Blog for ideas like growing, recognizing and gathering wild edible plants, raising livestock, gardening with open-pollinated or heirloom plants , hunting, canning, dehydration and more.

Wild Edible Plants Hunting, Fishing and Trapping
Aquaponics and Hydroponics
Pet Food as Survival Food

Salting (Sea Salt - about 4 gallons of sediment-free sea water boils down to about 1 pound of sea salt)
Smoking Meat for Long Term Storage
Aging & Curing Meat
Preserve Meat For Long Term The Old Fashioned Way
Keep Foods from Spoiling

Sugar vs Honey vs Coconut Sugar

According to Matthew Stein's book, When Disaster Strikes, the average adult needs between 2000-3000 calories a day. The book describes how that calculates to actual food amounts. Here are other Food Supply Guidelines for Emergency Preparedness

See Also:
Making 132 meals for $42 for a family of 6
No Fishing Gear? No Problem
When the Food Runs Out
Off-Grid Refrigeration Ideas
Must-Know Rules for Picking Edible & Medicinal Plants
Replenishable Water and Food Sources
Emergency Cooking and Heating
Cooking with Solar Ovens
Rocket Stoves