Eating fresh fruits and vegetables is important, but having only the freshest of meats, vegetables, fruit and grain products can leave you short if you can’t get to the store, have unexpected company or find the grocery shelves empty. During the pandemic, many people were afraid to leave their homes, particularly elderly people. For those reasons, it’s important to have healthy staples available. These are staples with a long shelf life that you can have on hand for these emergencies.
You won’t use a lot of shelf space with dried beans and lentils.
Dried beans are one of the staples that helped pioneers in lean times. They’re a favorite of preppers, too. Best of all, not only can you stack quite a few bags in a very small space, they keep for several years. You can add canned beans into this group as well. While they aren’t as efficient for storage, you can prepare them quickly. Canned beans don’t last as long as the dried forms. Their shelf life is a mere 2-5 years compared to the dried ones that can be stored as long as ten years. Beans are a good source of plant protein, plus they’re high in fiber, B vitamins, magnesium and iron.
Whole grains, nuts and seeds are nutritious and also easy to store.
Whole grains can include everything from brown rice to quinoa. They keep at room temperature for years, with their shelf life varying. You can store whole grains to use later to make flour or sprout, for up to six months or a year if stored in the freezer. These provide B vitamins, manganese, magnesium and fiber. Nuts and seeds don’t store as long at room temperature, but you can extend the 1 to 4 months to up to two years if you freeze them. Frozen pine nuts last only 6 months, with macadamia lasting 9 and pecans frozen time extending to two years. The rest of the tree nuts will last as long as a year and provide protein, minerals, vitamins and fiber for snacks and meals.
Frozen and canned fruits and vegetables have a much longer shelf life than fresh.
Frozen veggies and fruit may actually be fresher to start with than those found on the grocery shelf. They’re picked at peak ripeness and immediately taken to a processing plant that’s normally local. You’ll get the flavor of fresh veggies when you need them. Canned fruit and vegetables without additives are also nutritious and can last a year or longer on the shelf.
- Cooking fats like coconut oil, olive oil and ghee can be kept on the shelf for a year, ready to use when you need it. Fermented foods, like sauerkraut and pickles are also a must have. They can fight inflammation and stabilize blood sugar levels.
- What’s more important than spices when it comes to flavor? Nothing. But dried herbs and spices can add healthy benefits, too. Some, like turmeric and cinnamon, can help reduce inflammation. Onions and garlic also improve flavor while boosting overall health.
- Having frozen meat, fish and poultry on hand can make the difference between a well-balanced, delicious meal and just surviving. Meat can keep up to a year and frozen fish up to five months.
- Eggs are another good source of protein. They even can be stored outside the refrigerator using salt and a Mason jar. Normally three weeks is their refrigerator shelf life, but if you freeze them, it’s extended to ten weeks.
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