Looking for Long Term Food Storage Ideas

I love this site — thank you to everyone who makes this such a great place. I am wondering if anyone has any specific suggestions for long term food storage that supplements rice and pasta. My pantry is as deep as it can be if I follow the maxim of storing what we eat and eating what we store. BUT . . .  my ratios are off for any slightly longer term emergency. I keep more rice and pasta in storage than food I could put on it. I can’t store a bunch of canned chili or tomatoes without waste. Perhaps powdered tomatoes? Powdered cheese? Has anyone used these? What else? I’d love to hear about anything you all keep that is both shelf stable and long term to go with rice and pasta for flavor/nutrition. (Yes, I have lots of herbs and spices already — I am looking for more substantive additions.) I’d appreciate any new ideas!


  • Comments (8)

    • 3

      A few thoughts:

      1.  In case you aren’t aware, the “best by” dates on canned goods are not experation dates and have nothing to do with spoilage.  Carefully stored canned goods remain safe and healthy long past their bb date.  It basically just means the “quality” in other ways, like color and texture, are not guaranteed to be up to the company’s usual standards past that date.  We routinely, in order to keep enough in rotation, use canned goods that are two years past their “best by” and the only thing that shows any noticeable decline at that age is canned peas, which turn a slightly duller shade of green.  All this to say that, if you’re currently only storing as much pasta sauce or canned veggies as you can use before their “best by” dates, you could add more to the rotation since they keep much longer. 

      2. From a nutritional standpoint pulses like beans and lentils pair best with rice, and of them, I find dry lentils store better for longer than dry beans, though unfortunately neither has the encredible shelf life of white rice. I actually find that canned beans outlast dry beans from a quality perspective – though the latter have advantages when it comes to pantry space and cost, so we store some of both.  

      3. Depending on where you live and your skillset, there may be opportunities to grow, forage, or barter toppings for your stored rice or pasta. Wild mushrooms and rice is one of my favorite meals, and the rice can stretch even a small find into a filling meal for several people.  Venison in gravy over rice, preferably with a side of carrots or greens, is another favorite.  Sauteed dandelion or mustard greens over rice, while not amazing, is certainly more satisfying than eating either alone.  If you garden, or could barter with a neighbor who does, chopped raw tomatoes and fresh basil are absolutely delicious with pasta in the summer.  

      • 2

        Thank you for your reply!

        Yes, we happily eat most items past their best by dates, but I have found that tomato products tend to eat through the liner of the can quite quickly after that date and I don’t love thinking about what that has dissolved into my food. I have started to buy more tomato stuff in glass jars to keep for longer storage as that seems safer to me. I don’t know if this is accurate. I don’t know if the plastic liner on the Tetra Pak tomatoes also dissolves. I wouldn’t worry about this is a disaster situation, but in my regular food rotation I don’t like to ingest too much stuff that isn’t food. Hence my query if anyone has used tomato powder? Seems that maybe I could “store and forget it” for for spanish rice, stews, soups, etc. 

        I love the idea of adding more lentil dishes to my planning. I am going to start looking for and testing some new recipes with lentils and rice (or pasta) so I can stock up on some of the other ingredients in those recipes. If anyone has any favorite recipes in the this regard, I’d love to see them! 

      • 2

        I wouldn’t want to eat can lining on a regular basis either.  Ick.  For some reason we don’t seem to have that problem storing canned tomatoes 2 years past their “best by” date, but the fear of finding a whole case of something ruined by corroding lining is why we don’t try to push it much beyond that.

        I have no experience storing dried tomato powder, but I think if you buy it from a survival food company that sells things vaccuum packed in #10 cans, it will last basically forever.  Being dry, it shouldn’t eat away at the can.

        I tried some once that a friend had (they opened one can right away to try it) and maybe I’m just a tomato snob, but I found the flavor a bit “meh.” It was okay, but sort of tasted like a less tangy version of tomato paste.  It would still be better than nothing in a survival situation, though.

    • 2

      Lately, I’ve been focusing on canned meats.  Protein is really important and, as Forager stated, cans can usually be used well beyond their ‘best by’ dates.  Plus they have the advantage of minimal preparation and additional water content.  I have all kinds of brands but am partial to the Keystone meats, as I find they taste better.

      • 2

        This is a great point. A lot of my deep pantry is a bit short on both proteins and fats, since those two macronutrients are generally supplied by my fresh foods. Have you ever tried the freeze dried meats? I noticed the Mountain House brand sausage has lots of fat and a 30 year shelf life. (Pricey, but on half off sale now, and it would be nice to have some “store it and forget it ” stuff.) (Also it’s a bit confusing to me, as I thought fats couldn’t last 30 years, but perhaps it’s the nature of freeze drying?) I will give the Keystone meats a try and see if we enjoy them so I could rotate them.

    • 3

      Hi Amy,

      I’ve used a number of different dehydrated or freeze-dried products as part of my long-term storage. I’ve used tomato powder, for example, as part of a recipe for shepherd’s pie, chili, or spaghetti sauce as examples. I think it tastes great when used in recipes. Different vendors offer different packaging. Freeze Dry Wholesalers puts their products in retort bags while their sister site MRE Depot uses cans. North Bay Trading Company uses mylar bags. Right now I have tomato powder in cans and retort bags. Both are good, but I’ve not had them a long time.

      I guess I should mention that I’m not looking to store food for 30 years. I’m looking at 3-5 years, and so I am rotating food storage items more frequently. I store more of items that really can be stored 30 years (rice) but not other items.

      In terms of taste, the freeze-dried items are quite good. I’ve stored and used freeze-dried meats, veggies, cheese, and fruit. Freeze-dry technology has really improved. Freeze-Dry Wholesalers has military contracts with excess product offered to the public. I have seen F/D McDonald’s and White Castle items, pizza, desserts (chocolate pound cake!), seafood, Impossible Beef patties, and more on that site. All this comes with a pretty hefty price, though vendors have sales. 

      I buy basic ingredients: freeze-dried veggies (broccoli, asparagus, tomato dices, carrots, fajitas veggie mix, bell peppers, mushrooms, onions, corn, green beans), freeze-dried meat (not a lot, but some). I also buy freeze-dried cheese, which melts properly after rehydration.

      Freeze-dried items can take some time to rehydrate properly. I’ve used recipes from Thrive Life and Stephanie Peterson’s blog (Chef Tess) to learn how to use these products in meals I normally eat. Peterson meal plans with storage food in a system she calls the 52 Jar Method. Just looking at the recipes have been helpful to me.





      • 2

        Chris, I really appreciate your reply and can’t thank you enough for all the  information. I just checked out the sources you mention as they are new to me. I was wow’d by some of the offerings at Freeze-Dry Wholesalers. As you note the prices are high, and I would’t store the fancy stuff, but might be fun for a backpacking trip. And I love some of the recipes on the thrive life site. Thanks for helping me out with some fresh ideas. I will use these tips to supplement my longer term pantry.

    • 1

      I use small pickle barrels and store dried goods like rice, quinoa and grains. Before I close them I add a desiccant pouch and an oxygen absorbent pouch. They’ve  remained free of mould and insects for as long as I’ve been doing this.