Foods that last forever

If you knew the next WW was around the corner, what food products would you stock? Which foods last forever, what are the best non-perishable foods?

If you were to think this is a hypothetical question, then reconsider. Not so long ago, at the eve of our government’s announcement ( I live in Argentina ) of the lock down because of covid, upcoming fear and realistic considerations drove me to the nearby Chinese grocery store. ‘El chino’, – that’s how in Buenos Aires we refer to the thousands of independent supermarkets run by Chinese, – was going to close for at least one month.

I bought canned tomatoes, tuna, peas, pasta, beer, milk, marmalade … by the dozen. Most of it not for my own consumption because I tend to stick to fresh produce. I stocked up with the intent to be able to serve the 40+ guests I soon was going to have under my roof. The situation being so unique & uncertain, no one knew for how long we were going to be in lock down, and if any food at all was going to be available.

The question is relevant for a certain amount of situations: quarantine, war, outdoor camping, trekking. In March 2002 I spent 3 weeks in the Saharan desert trekking with the Tuareg. And I remember the day we had to put up camp near a polluted well. A donkey had fallen into the well and died. With the help of the camels we managed to pull him out. Then we realized the water was useless. The only solution was to dig another well in search for drinkable water. The effort took so much time we had to ‘sleep over’. As we were carrying potatoes, canned green beans and mayonnaise, the cook prepared us french fries with mayo and beans! The best fries I can remember !

Nuts & Dried Fruits

On the top of my list are nuts and dried fruits. That’s the kind of food that caters to my pallet. When available, I recommend you buy organic.

Nuts & dried fruits come with plenty advantages which makes them ideal to replace fresh produce when not available.

  • The long shelf life
  • they can ( and better ) be saved from the fridge
  • they are highly nutritious
  • they can be packed easily ( which makes them ideal for trekking )
  • you can prepare your own mix

Canned beans

Remember the beans I had in the desert? I still fondly recall them even tough that was 18 years ago. Beans are amazingly versatile in the sense they can be dried, canned or eaten fresh.

BPA in canned food

Beans make up for an excellent source of fiber, plant-based protein, magnesium, B vitamins, manganese, iron, phosphorus, zinc, and copper. Their nutritional value makes them the ideal food to stock in times of emergency.

I beg you not to leave behind the metal cans when trekking. Nature is not your convenient garbage bin.

Beans pair well with most foods and make hearty additions to soups, grain dishes, and salads. So when under ‘siege’ there is no need to give in on variety.

There is one caveat. Stay away from too much of canned food. Canned foods may contain BPA, a chemical that has been associated with health problems like heart disease and type 2 diabetes. BPA are epoxy resins which can leach into your food from the lining of metal food cans. BPA is also frequently found in plastic wrap, although many companies have started to remove BPA from their products.

Survival Foods that never Spoil

  • Honey. Gobstopper
  • Molasses.
  • Maple syrup.
  • Dried lentils.
  • Dried beans.
  • Dried split peas.
  • Dry mix Jello.
  • Gobstoppers.

These survival foods never spoil and will still remain edible long after their flavor has changed. Except for the last two items on this list, all of them represent highly nutritious food. Their survival ( as opposed to the meaning of survival in the title ) of course depends on the quality of storage. Too hot, too humid and too much light can destroy them.

Pandemic Supplies

  • Store additional supplies of food and water.
  • Periodically check your regular prescription drugs to ensure a continuous supply in your home.
  • Have any nonprescription drugs and other health supplies on hand, including pain relievers, stomach remedies, cough and cold medicines, fluids with electrolytes,
  • Vitamins, food supplements

Wine & Beer

I forgot to mention in the list of items I stocked up ahead of the lock down the 150 bottles of beer the ‘El Chino’ brought over and the crates of wine for individual consumption and socializing.

When you buy wine with the intention to store it, you should select quality wines. Wine should be kept under consistent temperature and humidity. The ideal temperature is 55 degrees Fahrenheit or between 12 and 14 degrees Celsius.

The humidity level for storing your wine should hover around 70 percent to avoid dried out corks, which can allow air into the wine. A good hygrometer will come in handily.

Humidity meter

If you’re interested, you can read my two other articles on wine:

Is Wine Vegan?

How to recycle your empty wine bottles

Fermented foods

“Fermentation in food processing is the process of converting carbohydrates to alcohol or organic acids using microorganisms—yeasts or bacteria—under anaerobic conditions. Fermentation usually implies that the action of microorganisms is desired.”

Fermentation is one of the oldest ways of preserving and storing food. It’s a beautiful process in the sense that fermentation will prevent unwanted bacteria, yeasts and molds developing in a natural way. The obvious result of fermentation is to stop food from spoiling. An additional benefit of preservation through fermentation is it maintains the flavor and texture of food.

There are plenty excellent books on fermentation, one I recommend is ‘The Art of Fermentation‘ by Sandor Ellis Katz. It’s The Art of Fermentationone of the most complete reads on fermentation you can find.

A critical mind is open to great ideas. That very same author also wrote a book on fermentation as a metaphor. In these insecure, challenging, opportunity-full times I have opened up myself to ferment upon the idea of life-after-hotel-marcel-at-55.

Fermentation as a metaphor








The reasons why we humans store food can be many. The reason why we store ideas even more. We might fear imminent scarcity, try to avoid waste in times of opulence, set aside for future sales. How to best store food has been the major concern of humankind of all times.

There will be more to come on food preservation and I even might deviate into the philosophical side of life.

Another great article thanks to WA.



7 thoughts on “Foods that last forever”

  1. Hello there Karin, I honestly believe that your article is one of the most beautiful, eye opening and informative piece of writing I have come across in my entire. I’m sorry if I seem a bit exaggerative but I was completely enraptured by your story and learnt a lot about the various basic survival food types that you mentioned as this is something I did not know about beforehand. 

  2. Hello there, thanks for sharing this awesome article I know it would be of great help to the public as it has been of help to me. I really like you selection of survival food as they are very important and they have really come a long way…I really love survival foods because they are always there in time of need and they save u the cooking stress.

  3. I really appreciate this article. We always think about grocery shopping for enough food for 2 weeks or a month until the next pay but rarely considered shopping for survival. I love that you not only brought this point across but presented a list of things we can purchase. Non-perishable or canned food items should definately be a must on the shopping list.

    Thanks for sharing an eye-opening article.

  4. Thank you for the inspiring and informative post on food that last forever. I love the way that you remind the reader that our environment is not a convenient garbage bin. It reminded me of many years ago when I walked the beautiful Otter Trail, a hiking trail in South Africa, where you have to carry all your food for the 5 day hike. And there is no garbage service in the nature reserve, so you have to take it all way with you. 

    We did take canned food, but also dehydrated foods and lots of nuts and dried fruit. You have some great tips and ideas here and several that I would have forgotten about, and medication would have been one of them. 

    • Thanks Line. All these things, awareness for my environment is what I grew up with. City life makes us forget how important nature is. Thanks and glad you liked my post.


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