Shelf Life of the Most Common Survival Foods

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Have you ever wondered what the shelf life is for some of your favorite survival foods and beverages? I have gathered a list of the most common foods and beverages that preppers  have on their shelves for their emergency food supply, along with their shelf life information — some of which may surprise you!

Shelf Life of Basic Cooking Ingredients

wheat flourWhite Sugar: indefinite shelf life

Brown Sugar: indefinite shelf life, but best when used within 2 years

Dried Herbs and Spices: the shelf life for the most common herbs and spices are as follows…

  • Ground Cinnamon: 3-4 years
  • Ground Ginger: 3-4 years
  • Bay Leaves, dried: 1-3 years
  • Oregano Leaves, dried : 1-3 years
  • Chili powder: 3-4 years
  • Whole Nutmeg: 4 years
  • Crushed Red Pepper: 2-3 years
  • Black Peppercorns, whole: 4 years

Flour (all purpose, white, whole wheat): 5-8 years

Cornmeal: 5-8 years

Powdered Milk: 2-5 years

Vinegar (white, apple cider, balsamic, raspberry, red wine): indefinite shelf life if stored in a pantry or cabinet

Raw Honey: indefinite shelf life. (If you purchase raw honey from a supermarket and see an expiration date, don’t worry. It is a commercial requirement to put dates on food items sold in stores. If you buy raw honey at a farmer’s market, for example, you will not see an expiration date.)

Shelf Life of Miscellaneous Food Items


Dry corn: 15–20 years

Raw Beans: If sealed and kept away from oxygen, the following beans have a shelf life of 8–10 years.

  • Pinto Beans
  • Kidney Beans
  • Lentils
  • Lima Beans
  • Adzuki Beans
  • Garbanzo Beans
  • Mung Beans
  • Black Turtle Beans
  • Blackeye Peas

White Rice (sealed): 8-10 years

Brown Rice (sealed): 1-2 years

Dried Pasta (sealed): 1-2 years

Oats (unopened): 8 years

Mixed Nuts (Canned or Bottled):

  • In pantry: 1 month
  • In the refrigerator: 4-6 months
  • In the freezer: 9-12 months

Peanut Butter (Unopened):

  • Smooth: 1 year
  • Crunchy: 1 year
  • Natural: 2-3 months

Canned Vegetables: 1-2 years beyond the date stamped on the can

Canned Fruits: 1-2 years beyond the date stamped on the can

Dried Fruits: Most dried fruits will last for a year beyond a “best by” date and can be frozen indefinitely.

Shelf Life of Drinks


Water (bottled): 2+ years

Coffee (Unopened in the pantry):

  • Ground coffee: 3-5 months
  • Whole Bean Coffee: 6-9 months
  • Instant coffee: 2-20 years but if kept in the freezer it has an indefinite shelf life

Tea (Unprepared in the pantry):

  • Packaged Tea: 6-12 months
  • Loose Tea: 6-12 months
  • Powdered Ice Tea Mix: 6-12 months

Liquor: Vodka, tequila, rum, gin, whiskey, and brandy all have an indefinite shelf life.

Wine (Unopened):

  • Bottled white wine: 1-2 years
  • Bottled red wine: 2-3 years
  • Wine juice boxes: 1 year
  • Fine wine: Can last for decades in a wine cellar

DIY Recipes: Foods That You Can Pre-Make That Have Extended Shelf Life


Pemmican: Can last decades without refrigeration. Click here for more information and recipe.

Chocolate and Chia Seed Survival Bars: A very nutritious snack for the whole family. They have a long shelf life based on the ingredients used. Click here for more information and recipe.

Hardtack: This is a great long-term survival food that you can make ahead of time. It has a very interesting history! Click here to read the history behind hardtack and recipe.

Check out these other related articles from us here at Survival Life and our friends at DIY Ready:

Want more recipes for your survival food stash? Visit our friends at Homemade Recipes.


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Shelf Life of the Most Common Survival Foods

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