With fresh food available on grocery store shelves, weekly or even daily grocery store runs have become a part of our routine. However, now that we’re staying close to home, it’s a great time to stock up on non-perishable foods.. Not only are these shelf stable foods delicious, they can form the cornerstone to a lot of nutritious recipes. In fact, we'd bet that you have a good stock of non-perishable food in your pantry right now!
Especially in these times, knowing which foods are non-perishable is valuable knowledge. Aside from emergencies, camping, backpacking and donations are all instances when non-perishable food can come in handy. To help boost your shelf-stable food knowledge, we've created this simple non-perishable food item list. Keep scrolling to learn what non-perishable foods are essential to keep in your pantry!
What Is Non-Perishable Food?
You may have heard the word "non-perishable" thrown around before and wondered what a non-perishable food item is? Non-perishable food or "shelf-stable" food is food that you can store safely at room temperature for extended periods. This kind of food often has expiration dates that can stretch years! Having a supply of non-perishable foods at your home is always a good idea. Whether you choose to save them for an emergency or use them as a part of your weekly meals, they are an essential pantry item.
Not only is this food practical, but if chosen wisely, it can be delicious too! Because non-perishable ingredients have an extended time frame, keeping these foods on hand will ensure that you always have a meal to cook. This makes them perfect for when you're low on fresh foods and don't want to run to the grocery store. Knowing which non-perishable items to purchase will help save you time when you're searching the grocery store aisles.
Here's a list of our favorite shelf-stable food items.
Dried or Canned Beans
Beans are simple to prepare, inexpensive and great for you. All of which makes them a perfect shelf-stable food to stock up on. While canned beans can be kept at room temperature for two to five years, dried beans can last nearly ten years! When purchasing self-stable beans, it's important to read the packaging and check for expiration dates to ensure that they are non-perishable. A smart food choice, beans are an excellent source of protein, which makes them a crucial part of any non-perishable stockpile. Beans can be used to create a variety of breakfasts, lunches and dinners and taste great when paired with rice—another shelf approved food.
Use beans to make delicious stews like this Italian White Bean Stew.
Nut butter is one of our personal favorite items on this non-perishable food list. Great on toast, when added to oatmeal or as a mid-day treat, nut butter is packed with essential vitamins and nutrients. Depending on which type you purchase, nut butter can be a relatively cheap and easy food to stock up on. Creamy, nutrient-dense and full of flavor, it can be bought in large portions or small squeezable packets. Purchasing an on-the-go form of nut butter is great if you plan to take it camping or backpacking as a treat.
While storage temperature can affect shelf life, most commercial nut butters can be stored up to nine months. Natural nut butter that does not contain preservatives has a shorter shelf life of about three months. Always check the expiration date of the item before buying it.
Looking for a great way to use your favorite nut butter? Try adding it to a smoothie like this Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie.
Dried Vegetables and Fruits
Considered shelf-stable when dried, fruits and vegetables can have a shelf life of six months to one year. While dried fruit and veggies do not taste the same as they do when they're fresh, they can be used in fun and flavorful ways. Use dried fruit to top oatmeal and cereal or mix it into a homemade granola recipe. Veggies, on the other hand, are best when added to savory foods like soups and stews. Both will make a great addition to your stockpile and ensure that your meals are never boring!
Grains might just be our favorite shelf-stable food item on the list. Quinoa, brown rice and rolled oats are only a few of the many grains that you can stock your pantry with. Packed with essential vitamins and nutrients, wholegrains are a vital part of any diet. Because grains are incredibly versatile, they can be used to make nearly any meal! Whether you're craving a fresh quinoa salad or a hearty breakfast bowl of oats, keeping grains on hand will guarantee that you'll always have a healthy meal when you need it most. They're the perfect food to enjoy daily, so stock up in case of emergency, or pack some for your next camping trip. Due to their long-lasting nature, grains like oats can often last over a year at room temperature if properly stored.
Use grains in savory dishes like this Breakfast Bulgur and Millet Grain Bowl.
When it comes to canned veggies, there are endless possibilities! A convenient way to make a quick and easy meal, veggies are a crucial part of a well-rounded diet. Looking to spice up your weekly dinner menu? Try adding canned vegetables like green beans to a hearty soup or pasta. Or toss canned mushrooms into a tasty chili recipe. With a shelf life that often lasts over a year, canned vegetables are a staple in any well-stocked pantry and a cost-efficient food item to add to the grocery list.
Dried and canned soups are a great choice when prepping your pantry for an emergency. Many canned soups can last up to five years at room temperature, which makes them a preferred item by food donation organizations. The best part about canned soups and chilis is that most can be eaten straight out of the can. This ready-to-go aspect makes soup one of the most accessible pantry items to grab when you need a quick meal. Depending on which variety of soup you purchase, several soups provide an array of nutrients. When shopping for your shelf-stable soup, we recommend purchasing those that are low in sodium and use natural, wholesome ingredients. While these varieties might spoil a bit sooner, they're often better for you and still have a long-lasting shelf life.
Want to make homemade soup to save for later? Try doubling up on this Creamy Lentil Soup Recipe and storing the leftovers in the freezer!
Shelf Stable Milk
Shelf-stable or no-spoil milk is milk that doesn't go into the refrigerator until after it's opened. This milk undergoes a process known as Ultra High Temperature (UHT), which is used to destroy any dangerous organisms in the milk before it is boxed and shelved. Upon doing so, the shelf like over the milk is extended by months, turning it into an essential pantry staple, especially in times of crisis.
Shelf-stable milk can be purchased in individually sized boxes, which makes a convenient alternative to standard-sized milk cartons. It also comes in several varieties, including organic and pasture-raised. Add this milk to your children's lunchboxes or your list of emergency food items. Either way, it's sure to come in handy!
Now that you're well-versed in this list of non-perishable food items, we encourage you to add them to your grocery list. From healthy grains like quinoa and bulgur to shelf-stable milk, each item on this list can be used daily to create delicious meals. Already have a full pantry? Not all of these foods need to be purchased at once! Instead, we urge you to keep this list on hand and try out some of these non-perishable items before adding them to your stockpile. Who knows, you may end up discovering your new favorite ingredient.
Have a favorite non-perishable food item of your own? We'd love to hear about it in the comments below. At Bob's Red Mill, we understand that in times of uncertainty, things can get stressful. This is why our team works hard to make sure you always feel well-prepared and well-fed with wholesome natural ingredients. By producing top-quality food items, we're able to fulfill our commitment of helping look after more and more people through better nutrition. Bob simply wouldn't have it any other way.