Long Shelf Life Foods

Many of the below foods will suffice no matter your diet. Carnivore, herbivore, pescatarian, vegetarian, vegan, etc.

1. Potatoes

• Shelf life: 2 to 5 weeks

If stored in a cool, dry, dark place. Yukon Gold, red, and fingerling potatoes will last from 2 to 3 weeks. Larger white or russet potatoes can last for 3 to 5 weeks. Sweet potatoes have about the same shelf life. Do not store them next to onions, however as the two might go together well in cooking, but raw, each gives off gases and moisture that might cause the other to spoil faster.

2. Onions

• Shelf life: 1 to 2 months

As with potatoes, store these in a cool, dry, dark place for maximum longevity. And don’t store them with potatoes; both will spoil faster.

3. Peanuts

• Shelf life: 1 to 2 months

Peanuts in their shell, especially when kept cool and dry, are happy in the pantry for as long as 2 months.

4. Winter Squash

• Shelf life: 1 to 3 months

The various kinds of thick-skinned winter squash – including butternut, spaghetti, acorn, kabocha, and hubbard, among others – are among the most durable of fresh vegetables.

5. Apples

• Shelf life: 5 days to 6 months

Apples kept in a fruit bowl at room temperature will generally last 5 to 7 days. When stored in a humid place at a temperature of 30º to 40º F. However, they can stay crisp and fresh for as long as 6 months.

6. Tea

• Shelf life: 6 to 12 months past “best by” date

Dried tea leaves, whether loose (in a sealed container) or in teabags (in an unopened box) can easily last a year or more if they’re not subjected to moisture or humidity. The tea does tend to lose flavor over time, though.

7. Powdered Milk

• Shelf life: 1 to 1½ years

The color, texture, or flavor of powdered milk might change as it ages, but it will still be perfectly usable and safe for at least 18 months.

8. Jerky

• Shelf life: 1 to 2 years

Jerky was invented to last a long time!

9. Canned Fruits and Vegetables

• Shelf life: 1 to 2 years past “best by” date

Canning is an extremely efficient means of preserving food. Generally speaking, if canned foods aren’t subjected to intense heat, their contents should stay good for 2 years or more. Note though that dented cans, or those with swollen tops, may indicate the presence of bacteria inside.

10. Dried Pasta

• Shelf life: 1 to 2 years past “best by” date

Made with just semolina flour and water, then thoroughly dried, this pasta is fairly indestructible. Its richer counterpart, fresh pasta, usually made with eggs, is much more perishable and should always be kept refrigerated.

11. Bouillon Cubes

• Shelf life: 2 years

12. Peanut Butter

• Shelf life: 2 years

An unopened jar of peanut butter should last longer than a couple of years at room temperature, but with time, the oil will separate, the peanut butter might dry out, and the flavor may fade. 2 years is likely the maximum for the best quality.

13. Dark Chocolate

• Shelf life: 2 to 5 years

Because milk chocolate contains dairy, it will go bad more quickly than chocolate with high cacao content and little or no milk. Warm temperatures are the enemy of dark chocolate, and while it should last for a couple of years at temperatures up to around 75º F, it will keep for as long as five years if the thermometer rests between 60º and 65º F. Chocolate exposed to high temperatures can develop white spots, but these are harmless and don’t affect the flavor.

14. Canned Tuna

• Shelf life: 3 to 5 years after “best by” date

Tuna is a hardy fish and one that takes well to canning (and in more recent times, to vacuum-packing in pouches). For optimum flavor and texture, don’t keep it longer than five years after the producer’s “best by” date. Also, other canned meats like chicken, pork, etc.

15. Dried Beans

• Shelf life: Indefinite

Dried beans are virtually indestructible if they’re kept dry, though they begin to lose their moisture after a year or two. As they age, they will require longer pre-soaking and/or cooking times to become tender.

16. Honey

• Shelf life: Indefinite

Though honey is often sold with a “best by” date (usually somewhere between 2 and 5 years from the time it’s packaged), that’s because over time it may darken and form sugar crystals – perfectly harmless, but off-putting to some consumers. Pure 100% undiluted honey in an unopened jar (stored away from heat) will still be edible years, decades, probably generations down the road.

18. White Rice

• Shelf life: Indefinite

Brown rice may be healthier, but it has a high oil content and so can go bad in a few months’ time, while white rice, if kept dry, will last forever. The only possible problem, other than moisture, is the sudden appearance of tiny black bugs among the rice grains. These are rice weevils or flour bugs, and they’ve either found their way into the package through microscopic openings or their eggs were harvested along with the rice itself. Storing rice in thoroughly dried airtight containers will stop them from getting in. If they’re already there then the rice should be discarded.

19. Granola

• Shelf life: 3-6 months

Granola, if kept in an airtight container, should last for months.

20. Trail Mix

• Shelf life: 3-6 months

Trail Mix, if kept in an airtight container, should last for months. The options are also quite broad.


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