The Most Highly Nutritious Shelf-Stable Foods

shelf-stable

Most of the food I buy is not shelf-stable, but highly perishable fresh fruits and vegetables.  But I like to be ready for anything and if my food supply is impacted by an environmental disaster or pandemic and a trip to the market isn’t convenient, I want to be prepared. I put a high premium on healthy food and I don’t want to sacrifice great flavor.

The most nutritious foods might not always be the cheapest in the short term, but they are more economical over time, considering lower medical bills. I believe that whole-food plant-based (WFPB) diets are better for your health and the environment.

The shelf lives listed below are based on proper storage in original, unopened packaging and un-refrigerated. Many foods are fine after the “best by” or expiry date and refrigeration or freezing will extend the shelf life.

The idea here is to have a good feel for food stability before stocking up.

Dry, Canned or Frozen

Ideally, you will have dry, canned, and frozen on hand. Dry is often closest to the whole, raw form. So that’s the focus below. Canned foods may have a longer shelf life than dried, but often contain preservatives. Processing – adding other ingredients – can reduce nutritional value and impact taste and texture.

Stock Up With A Wide Variety

The wider the variety of foods you can store, the more interesting and nutritious your meals will be. 

Rolled Oats

High in fiber, quick and easy. Look for 100% whole grain. Check the ingredients. There should be only one ingredient: whole grain oats.

Shelf life: 6 months

Protein: 7 grams per serving (1/2 cup dry)

Serving ideas: add cinnamon, nut milk, fruits and nuts. Overnight oatmeal.

Green Lentils 

High in protein and fiber. Fast and easy preparation.

Shelf life: 12 months

Protein: 7-11 grams per serving (1/2 cup dry or 45g)

Serving ideas: Soup with spices. Side dish.

Black Beans

High in protein and fiber. A great choice for weight loss because they are filling and low calorie.

Shelf life: 2 to 3 years (dried)

Protein: 7.5 g (one-half cup serving or 86 grams)

Serving ideas: Soup and salads. Burritos. Tacos. Bean dip.

Kidney Beans

As with all legumes on this list, kidney beans are high in protein and fiber.

Shelf life: 2 to 3 years (dried)

Protein: 6.4 g (3.5 ounces / 100 grams)

Pinto Beans

Shelf life: 2 to 3 years (dried)

Soybeans

Shelf life: 6 months

Protein: 10 grams (per serving of 28 grams / ~1 oz.)

Serving ideas: roasted salted whole soybeans are a delicious snack.

Chickpeas 

Also known as garbonzo beans, chickpeas are high in fiber and folate.

Shelf life: 2 to 3 years (dried)

Serving ideas: Add to soup and salads. Humus. Three bean salad.

Green Split Peas 

Shelf life: 1 year

Serving ideas: Add to soups, salads and as a side dish or snack.

Dehydrated Green Beans

Shelf life: 8 to 10 years

Serving ideas: Trail mix, snack, add to soup or stew or other dish as crunchy topping

Brown Rice

Shelf life: 6 to 12 months

Quinoa

Shelf life: 6 to 12 months

Flour 

Buy 100% whole wheat.

Shelf life: 1 to 6 months

Yeast

Shelf life: 2 years

Serving ideas: Bread.

Grits

Shelf life: 1 year

Serving ideas: Baby food. Side dish.

Pasta 

Look for whole wheat

Shelf life: 1 year

Tomato Paste

Shelf life: 18 to 24 months

Serving ideas: Pasta sauce, pizza, soup base

Almonds

Shelf life: 12 months

Protein: 7 grams per serving (1.1 oz / 30g)

Serving ideas: Snack, on cereal, in desserts

Walnuts

Shelf life: 12 months

Excellent source of: ALA omega-3

Serving ideas: Snack, on cereal, in desserts

Peanuts

High in protein and calories.

Shelf life: 4 weeks 

Serving ideas: Snack, in sauces and spreads

Olive Oil

Look for “Extra Virgin Olive Oil”. Healthy source of fat.

Shelf life: 18 to 20 months

Serving ideas: salad dressing, cooking oil

Nut Butter

Shelf life: 2 to 3 months

Pumpkin Seeds

Shelf life: 12 months

Serving ideas: On soups, salads, trail mix

Chia seeds

Shelf life: 2 to 4 years

Serving ideas: In smoothies, pudding

Flax seeds

Whole flaxseeds have a longer shelf life than ground flaxseed. You will need to grind whole flaxseed to get the omega-3 benefits. A coffee grinder works well for this.

Shelf life: 2 years (whole flaxseeds)

Serving ideas: add to bread and cereal 

Raisins

Shelf life: 6 to 12 months

Serving ideas: snacks, on cereal

Freeze-dried apples

Shelf life: 10 to 15 years

Serving ideas: snack, dessert

Non-dairy milk 

Look for shelf-stable non-dairy milk that do not require refriguration prior to opening.

Shelf life: 7 to 30 days

Bran

Shelf life: 1 year

Serving ideas: on breakfast cereal

Tea

Black and green tea are high in antioxidants.

Shelf life: 18 to 24 months

Spices 

Popular choices include onion power, garlic power, salt, black pepper and turmeric.

Shelf life: 2 to 4+ years

Serving ideas: Add to soups, dressing, sauces.