What is the best long term storage food? Storing protein in case of emergency is an important part of your preparedness plan. We’ll cover meat storage, how to store meet in the freezer, and best beans for long-term storage. Plus, we’ll touch on storing oils and fats.
Many of the preparedness food storage solutions for meat are a far cry from a hamburger or a whole chicken simmering gently on the stovetop. They’re more likely to have no meat involved or be packed with additives and preservatives.
MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) and Powdered TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein) made from soy just aren’t going to cut it on the real food diet.
Storing Protein Long-term
What’s a real foodie to consume for protein if:
(a) you couldn’t leave the house for a while or ran out of money
(b) the grocery stores didn’t get restocked
(c) the power was out (we’d still have our gas stove)
(d) you were totally cut off from everything and had no power, water, or heat for cooking
Think about what you naturally have in the house that would be edible. In order to have a healthy long-term storage plan for protein, try to stock up on foods you’re eating anyway.
Here are the best ways to store meats, proteins, and fats.
How to Store Shelf Stable Meat for Emergencies
You can rely on many types of food preservation and storage, including canned goods, home canning, dehydrating, and freezing.
The essential canned meats to have on hand are canned tuna, salmon, and chicken.
Yes, BPA linings in cans are a concern, so don’t eat canned meat often.
However, in case of an emergency, you can eat it right out of the can with no heat or electricity required.
Starvation would be the only circumstance in which my husband would eat canned salmon. Even then, he might rather die.
The protein boost and omega-3s in fish would help keep our family healthy if the rest of our diet is fairly compromised.
How to Store Meat in the Freezer
Keep plenty of chicken and beef in the freezer. Metal shelf organizers can fit nicely so you don’t have an avalanche when your freezer is full.
How to use freezer meat when the power goes out
Obviously freezing all your meat would be a problem in the event of loss of electricity for more than a few days.
When the power does go out, keep your freezer closed as much as possible. If you need to get something grab it fast instead of digging around to see what you have. Food will stay safe for about 2 days if your freezer is full.
If you have a freezer full of meat and no generator to keep it running you don’t have many options to keep most of it from spoiling:
- Eat as much as you can
- Thaw, cook, and eat. Yum!
- As long as you have a gas/propane oven and cooking fuel, you can make beef jerky in the oven at 200F (recipe can be found HERE), and then that can last many days at room temperature (months if done properly and all the moisture is out).
- Make stock
- Keep a pot of bones boiling as long as you can and continue to use the stock to make soups. If you have a pressure canner, you can immediately can some stock, too.
How to Preserve Meat for Long-term Storage
Dehydrated meats (jerky)
You can easily dehydrate meat with an Excalibur. Mine only goes up to 155F, which in reality is about 145 on the food. I’ve had troubles with the jerky molding, though, so I’d have to be ultra-sure I got all the moisture out and would probably cook the meat in the oven for a bit first before dehydrating for long-term storage.
Here is my recipe for dehydrating jerky in Healthy Snacks To Go.
Jerky can also be purchased for storage. (We use it for a quick protein when we don’t have enough leftovers for school lunches!)
Paleovalley Meat Sticks
It can be hard to find healthy snacks that you can take with you on the go. When I want the convenience of a jerky stick, but want a healthy, protein packed snack option, I grab Paleovalley meat sticks. Paleovalley ingredients have these high standards that you can feel good about:
- 100% Grass Fed Beef & 100% Pasture Raised Turkey
- Never given antibiotics or hormones
- Gluten free, soy free, dairy free
- 0 grams of sugar*
- Contains no artificial nitrates or nitrites
- Naturally fermented and contain gut-friendly probiotics!
*With the exception of Teriyaki, which contains 2 grams of sugar from Organic Honey.
These beef sticks and turkey sticks taste delicious! My favorite is the Jalapeño but my kids love Summer Sausage.
Pressure Canner and Home-can Meats
Typically all you have to do is add water. However, it’s not very budget-friendly.
I mean, it worked for generations before refrigeration came along. Here’s how to salt cure.
Where to Find High Quality Meat
Having trouble finding good quality meat locally? Would you like to fill your freezer with local and pastured options?
If you’re in Canada, check out TruLocal.ca.
If you’re in the US Midwest, Chicago to Milwaukee to Detroit to New York, and select cities across the country, check out TruLocalUsa.
If you’re west of the Mississippi, check out Wild Pastures.
If you live in any of the 48 contiguous states, click here to find out what Butcher Box’s new member deal is!
I’m grateful that there’s an online source of incredibly high quality meat that I can always count on. A subscription from Butcher Box includes grassfed, organic, pastured, and free range = all the labels important to your family’s health!
(free shipping too!)
Best Beans for Long-term Storage
Beyond storing meats, we can get protein from beans, nuts, quinoa, and dairy, as well as small amounts in whole grains.
Storing dry beans
We eat a lot of beans around here, so buying in bulk and when they’re on sale is a good frugal strategy anyway.
It makes me doubly happy to know that if we were stuck at home, I could feed my family for a long time on the bags of beans in our basement.
Just be careful not to keep dry beans for more than 6 months to a year, so only stock up on what you might use in that time.
It’s also important, of course, to KNOW how to use beans! If you’re in an emergency situation, that’s no time to be learning a new skill. Your family also needs to be used to beans, both for their emotional comfort in a time of stress and the physical challenge for some of digesting beans. Need help? Check out The Everything Beans Book for cooking info and tons of recipes to use.
It also offers 30 bean recipes, for the bean lovers of the world and the bean haters.
Keeping seeds to sprout
You can have your own “living food” if you keep sprouting seeds on hand.
You can even sprout lentils and eat them raw.
Again, we meet up with BPA and other unhealthy substitutes in the lining of cans. You can can your own beans in glass to avoid that entirely.
It’s important to have some canned beans on hand, however, because if you don’t have enough water to rinse, soak, AND cook dry beans – that’s a LOT of water – you can just eat the already cooked beans out of the can.
Full of healthy fats, protein, iron, and energy, nuts are the perfect preparedness food.
They can be eaten without any preparation, don’t need a ton of fancy storage techniques if in their original, unopened packaging, and are easy to grab and go if you need to evacuate. A small handful can really ease a hungry tummy.
Long-term storage of nuts is probably best in the freezer, especiallyon account of their unstable omega-3s.
Once nuts are opened and soaked/dehydrated to become “crispy nuts” it is recommended that they be frozen. However, if you lose electricity or have to run, they can also be out of the freezer for quite some time before becoming problematic (days for walnuts, in my opinion, and up to a month or more for almonds).
I generally have a lot of nuts on hand because they’re my family’s favorite “grab it” snack ever since we got rid of most processed foods.
Quinoa is a high protein grain that is gluten-free. Some say it’s just a seed, not even a grain! Even if you can’t cook quinoa, you can sprout it and eat raw in case of an emergency.
You can make eggs plenty of ways if electricity is out, but you have a fire.
If you have a working oven, use up whatever eggs you have in the house by making soaked baked oatmeal, grain-free pancakes, or other baked good-type dishes that could be stored at room temperature for a while.
Read more on how to preserve eggs.
Storing Oils and Fats
Only store 1 extra gallon of olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil is more susceptible to going rancid, and 6 months is the recommended shelf life.
As a saturated fat, coconut oil, on the other hand, has a shelf life of at least two years. You can use it in baking for any solid OR liquid fat, to saute, to fry, or even in your oatmeal. If you need a healthy fat for your real food stockpile, grab a few extra jugs of coconut oil. It’ll hold you through!
There are plenty of fats you should avoid completely. If you’re unsure where to draw the line between healthy and unhealthy fats, please see the Fat Full Fall series or the printable How to Use Fats chart.
Butter and ghee
Butter is another saturated fat that it’s great to stock up on, but it does need to be refrigerated or frozen for long-term storage.
Clarified butter, also called ghee, is a great option as well.
(How to Make Your Own Ghee – although I admit mine didn’t last very well, so I wouldn’t count on it for long-term storage!)
Lard and tallow
Lard and tallow are also saturated, therefore more stable, but it’s still recommended that they be stored in the refrigerator or freezer, so they’re not a great option for disaster preparedness.
If you lose electricity for a long time, tallow could come out of the freezer while you use the foods that are going to be lost unless immediately thawed. Then, make french fries for about a week to use it all up. 🙂
Peanut Butter Long-term Storage
Peanut butter may be the best suited for real long-term storage.
Next time good peanut butter goes on a great sale, buy as much as you think your family could eat before the expiration date. Alternately, buy twice as much and make a note in your calendar of halfway to the expiry date. At that point, donate what you’ll never get through and watch for the sale again!
Be sure to look for “natural” peanut butter, and learn to read labels to avoid trans fat. You don’t want any “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” anything. The best peanut butter, in my opinion, looks like this:
It’s also possible to just buy peanuts and make one’s own peanut butter, but other than the chance of avoiding phytic acid, I can’t justify the time it would take for the pennies – maybe – that it might save.
Look for glass containers so that the fat in peanuts don’t leach in endocrine-disrupting chemicals.
Some raise concerns about reports of carcinogenic mold in peanuts. Organic might help…might not. Perhaps sunbutter or almond butter would be better options. Almond butter only needs refrigeration after opening, and if you’re starving, I can’t imagine it would sit around long anyway.