How to Fill the Pantry of the Apocalypse

If you, for no reason at all, have recently wondered how long you can live after the total collapse of society, the answer has probably bothered you. If you’re like most of us, your pantry and fridge are filled with perishable foods that may be healthy and tasty, but will be inedible days or even hours after the lights go out.

One strategy is to set up a survival garden, but another way is to put together a kind of “preparatory” pantry of dry and canned food, or do both in parallel. Such a pantry can offer you and your family a supply of food that you cannot get in the garden, such as processed meats and grains, so if you have room for a supply, why not collect it? A survival pantry would also come in handy in emergencies that don’t quite fit the doomsday standard, such as the extended power outages that often follow hurricanes. All the food in your fridge might go bad and grocery stores might be closed, but at least you’ll have enough beans to feed yourself.

However, for the apocalypse pantry to be truly effective, you must ensure two things: that the food will almost never run out, and that the food you eat is wholesome. The idea that all canned and dried foods last indefinitely is a myth, so you need to think about how you prepare your foods for an emergency. Here’s how to replenish your pantry in case of an apocalypse.

dried beans

Beans are amazing – almost any dried bean can last more or less forever if you store it properly. They will also provide plenty of protein and carbs for your diet and are varied enough that you can at least vary the type of beans you eat while squatting. Keep in mind that you need to soak dried beans before cooking them, and the older the beans get, the more soaking they will need.

White rice

White rice is a terrific main ingredient that keeps about half of the world alive. Dried and properly stored white rice will almost never go bad. It offers fiber, protein, and beneficial nutrients such as manganese, thiamine (a form of the B vitamin), and iron. Rice, of course, needs to be boiled, so it’s not as convenient as just opening a can of Spaghetti-O and heading into town, but if you have enough rice in your pantry, you’ll be full.

Sublimated fruits and vegetables

A healthy diet requires some of the things we can only get from fruits and vegetables and sometimes from supplements like vitamins. But vitamins only have a shelf life of about 2 years, fresh fruits and vegetables go bad in a few weeks, and pickled or canned fruits and vegetables last for years, but they certainly won’t last forever.

The closest you can get to fruits and vegetables that don’t expire, you can pick up freeze-dried versions of them. From these fruits and vegetables, all the moisture evaporated at sub-zero temperatures. Without all that moisture, properly sealed and stored freeze-dried foods can last for decades – up to about 30 years, depending on where you buy your freeze-dried foods. It’s not “forever”, but 30 years is practically forever in apocalyptic conditions.

Cereals

Grains, even whole grains, are difficult to store for a long time. Bread and cake obviously spoil very quickly, and even old plain flour will turn its back on you within a year or so. And while hard grains can generally be stored for ten years or more, they all eventually go bad. The trick is to store the grains in a more primitive state: white or red wheat berries.

These hard little morsels of grainy goodness are practically timeless and provide a ton of nutritional value, including loads of vitamins and lots of fiber. You can cook them by boiling them (and seasoning them to taste with salt, sugar, honey, or whatever). You can also grind them into flour if you plan on baking a lot of Apocalypse Bread.

Powdered milk

Powdered milk is disgusting, but it will feed you. Powdered milk can be stored on the shelf for about ten years without spoiling. But if you somehow manage to keep it cold—frosty, for example—it will last until the Big Crunch. Running the freezer after society has collapsed can be a hassle, but if you live in an area with cold weather, you might have a natural way to keep your disgusting milk powder fresh.

Miscellaneous

We have a tendency to focus on things like meats, vegetables, and grains when we think about our diet, but there are many other important things to consider. Spices and flavorings may seem optional, but some are essential. For example, the human body needs salt to function properly. You can get enough salt from the food you eat, but it’s a good idea to have a supply of salt in a spare pantry – just make sure it’s not iodized salt. Sea salt will suffice until the sun turns red and swallows the planet; iodized salt will actually go bad after a few years.

Other things in stock that will last forever and be useful both in terms of nutrition and sanity:

  • Sugar. You don’t need sugar, but it never goes bad and can make a lot of things taste better.
  • Dried spices. They will become obsolete and lose their effectiveness, but will not actually go bad.
  • Raw honey. Honey may crystallize over time, but a little heat will fix it so it never goes bad. And it can be a good sugar substitute.
  • Vinegar. Vinegar (any kind—malicious, balsamic, distilled, red wine, rice, or white) lasts forever and is useful for cooking, pickling, and even cleaning.
  • Baking soda. Useful for cooking and cleaning, and will sit in your pantry long after you’ve gone to collect your reward. Baking soda loses its effectiveness over time, but it never goes bad on its own.

Liquor and instant coffee

Okay, you may not think that a bottle of Jack Daniels is a must , but I would argue that nothing is more important in the apocalypse. And an unopened bottle of whiskey or other hard liquor will last for decades. (However, once opened, you’re already on the clock.) And instant coffee, stored properly, will be there for your kids to inherit.

Obviously, any spare pantry should be stocked with canned, canned, and dried foods that will keep you and your loved ones well fed for years to come. But if the emergency continues for more than a few years, having a section of your bunker dedicated to food that will never expire and keep you going is a good way to ensure your survival.

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