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foods that last a long time without refrigeration

The best non-perishable food choices that pack plenty of nutrition without relying on a fridge.
foods that last a long time without refrigeration

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Imagine being prepared for any situation, whether it’s a power outage or an impromptu camping trip, with an arsenal of delicious and nutritious foods that last a long time without refrigeration.

In today’s fast-paced world, having long-lasting food options on hand can not only save time but also reduce waste and keep you ready for anything life throws your way.

Key Takeaways

  • Non – perishable foods without refrigeration are important for emergency preparedness, camping trips, and reducing food waste.
  • Proper packaging and storage conditions are crucial to maintaining the shelf life of non – perishable foods.
  • Canned vegetables and beans, dried fruits and nuts, dehydrated meals/MREs, canned meats/fish, whole grains/pasta/rice/honey/jerky/powdered milk offer a varied non-perishable diet that doesn’t require refrigeration.
  • Non – perishable foods can provide various nutrients essential for maintaining good health.

Importance Of foods that last a long time without refrigeration

Long-lasting non-perishable foods without refrigeration are essential for emergency preparedness, camping and outdoor activities, as well as reducing food waste by extending the shelf life of pantry staples.

Emergency Preparedness

Emergency preparedness is a crucial aspect of modern living, as natural disasters and unforeseen events can strike at any moment. Having non-perishable foods that don’t require refrigeration on hand ensures you’ll have access to sustenance in the event of power outages or limited resources.

For instance, during Hurricane Sandy in 2012, many families faced prolonged periods without electricity or access to fresh food. Those who had wisely stocked their pantries with long-lasting foods were better equipped to maintain their health and well-being while awaiting the restoration of services.

Camping And Outdoor Activities

Camping and outdoor activities often require packing foods that last a long time without refrigeration – not only for convenience purposes, but also to reduce the weight of coolers or ice packs.

Foods with a long shelf life are perfect for these adventures, as they provide essential nutrients while being compact and lightweight.

For instance, trail mix is an excellent option since it combines protein-rich nuts with energy-boosting dried fruits to keep you fueled on a hike. Similarly, bagels topped with peanut butter or Nutella offer a satisfying mix of carbohydrates and fats that fit easily into your backpack.

Reducing Food Waste

Reducing food waste is a major concern in today’s world, as it not only helps to save money but also contributes to a more sustainable environment. Foods that last a long time without refrigeration can play an essential role in achieving this goal.

For example, instead of buying fresh tomatoes that may go bad within days, you could choose canned or jarred varieties that last much longer and still provide valuable nutrients like vitamins A and C.

Likewise, dried fruit and nuts make fantastic snack options without worrying about spoilage issues commonly associated with their fresh counterparts.

Factors That Affect Food Shelf Life

a rustic pantry filled with preserved foods, such as pickled vegetables, cured meats, and dried fruits

Food shelf life is affected by several factors, including the type of food, packaging materials used, and storage conditions.


The packaging of non-refrigerated foods is a crucial factor that determines their shelf life. It’s important to ensure that the packaging materials used are suitable for long-term storage and properly sealed to prevent spoilage.

Sturdy, moisture-proof, and airtight containers such as Mylar bags with at least 5 mils thickness can help preserve food quality and nutritional value.

Oxygen absorbers can also be added to packages to help remove excess air, which could cause oxidation of fats and oils leading to spoilage. Proper labeling with dates and contents will help with rotation ensuring fresher products are being used first.

Storage Conditions

Proper storage conditions are critical to maintaining the shelf life of foods that last a long time without refrigeration. Always store food in a cool, dry, and dark location. Avoid storing food near sources of heat or light as this can cause spoilage.

It’s important to keep your food supply away from moisture, insects, rodents, and other pests that may be attracted to it. You should also inspect your storage space regularly to ensure there are no signs of mold or spoilage and rotate your stock accordingly.

Regularly checking on your stored foods ensures they remain fresh for when you need them most. Keeping these items in good condition involves proper packaging practices such as sealing openings tightly to prevent spoilage.

Food Type

When it comes to foods that last a long time without refrigeration, there are several options to choose from in terms of food type. Canned vegetables and beans can last for years if stored properly and are a great source of fiber and protein.

Dried fruits and nuts are also a good choice for non-perishable snacking, with many varieties available that provide essential vitamins and minerals. Dehydrated meals or MREs (Meals Ready-to-Eat) are commonly used by the military but can also be a convenient option for camping trips or emergency preparedness kits.

Whole grains like rice and pasta can last up to 30 years when stored in airtight containers, making them an ideal staple item to have on hand. Canned meats like tuna or salmon can provide protein while jerky offers a tasty high-protein snack option that doesn’t require refrigeration.

Nut butter is another great non-perishable source of protein that can be enjoyed as is or spread on whole grain crackers or bread.

Nutritional Value Of Non-Perishable Foods

The nutritional value of non-perishable foods for a camping trip

Non-perishable foods can provide a wide range of nutrients that are essential for maintaining good health. While fresh produce is often considered the gold standard in nutrition, non-perishable options such as canned vegetables and beans, dried fruits and nuts, dehydrated meals and MREs (Meals Ready to Eat), powdered milk, honey, jerky, and whole grains also offer various nutritional benefits.

For example, canned beans are an excellent source of plant-based protein that is easy to store and use in multiple recipes.

Powdered milk contains essential vitamins and minerals like calcium which supports bone health while being convenient to keep on hand.

It’s worth noting that not all non-perishable foods are created equal in terms of nutritional value – some contain more unhealthy fats or sugar than others – so it’s crucial to read product labels carefully before purchasing them for storage.

Long-Lasting Foods Without Refrigeration

Stock up on canned vegetables and beans, dried fruits and nuts, dehydrated meals and MREs, canned meats and fish, whole grains, pasta and rice, honey and other natural sweeteners, jerky and other dried meats, powdered milk and milk alternatives like soy milk to enjoy a varied non-perishable diet that doesn’t require refrigeration.

Canned Vegetables And Beans

Canned vegetables and beans are some of the best non-perishable foods to have on hand for emergencies, camping trips, or just as part of your pantry staples.

They offer a great source of nutrients, fiber, and protein without needing refrigeration. When stored in a cool and dry place away from direct sunlight, canned goods can last up to several years beyond their expiration date.

These versatile foods can be used in various dishes like salads, soups, stews or even as side dishes with grilled meats.

Dried Fruits And Nuts

Dried fruits and nuts are a staple of non-perishable foods that last a long time without refrigeration. They’re packed with nutrition, which makes them perfect for camping trips or emergency preparedness kits.

Dried fruits like raisins, apricots, figs, dates, cranberries, and mangoes provide energy and essential minerals such as potassium and magnesium. They’re great for snacking on during long hikes or when you need a pick-me-up while working from home.

Nuts like almonds, walnuts, pecans, cashews are an excellent source of healthy fats and protein that keep your body fueled up during active days. You can also mix dried fruits and nuts to make trail mixes or use them to add flavor to cooked dishes like rice pilaf or oatmeal cookies.

Dehydrated Meals And MREs

Dehydrated meals and Meals Ready to Eat (MREs) are popular choices for outdoor enthusiasts, soldiers, and emergency preparedness. They are pre-packaged meals that have been dehydrated or freeze-dried to preserve their shelf life without refrigeration.

These types of long-lasting foods provide easy-to-prepare meals with a high calorie count, making them great options for backpacking trips or emergency situations.

Dehydrated options such as beef stroganoff or chicken teriyaki can be reconstituted by adding boiling water and stir until the meal is ready to eat. MREs come in vacuum-sealed packages with heating elements where you just add some water into it, then place them on a surface at a 45-degree angle and watch them heat up without any stove needed – perfect for survival scenarios when time is critical.

Canned Meats And Fish

Canned meats and fish are an excellent option for those looking to stock up on long-lasting, non-perishable foods. These items provide a source of protein and Omega-3s, making them a great addition to any emergency kit or survival situation.

Canned meats such as chicken, beef, and pork can be used in a variety of ways, including sandwich fillings or toppings for baked potatoes. Meanwhile, canned fish such as tuna and salmon pair well with crackers or tortillas for a quick and easy meal.

Plus, these options remain fresh for an extended period without refrigeration even after opening.

Whole Grains, Pasta, And Rice

Whole grains, pasta, and rice are staple foods that last a long time without refrigeration. Brown rice and whole-grain pasta are healthier options as they contain more fiber and nutrients than their refined counterparts.

These foods can be cooked in advance and stored in airtight containers or bags to prolong their shelf life.

For quick meals on the go, try cooking pasta or rice ahead of time and storing them in sealed containers. Whole grains such as quinoa and barley also make great non-perishable options with similar storage requirements.

Honey And Other Natural Sweeteners

When it comes to foods that last a long time without refrigeration, natural sweeteners such as honey and maple syrup can be a great addition to your pantry. Not only do they provide an alternative to processed sugars, but they also have a much longer shelf life.

Honey in particular is known for its antibacterial properties and can even help with seasonal allergies. It’s rich in antioxidants and enzymes that aid digestion, making it a healthier option than traditional refined sugar.

Maple syrup is another natural sweetener that has been gaining popularity recently due to its lower glycemic index compared to other sweeteners.

Another option worth considering is molasses which lasts even longer than honey with an indefinite shelf life if stored properly. Molasses offers many health benefits including being high in antioxidants and iron which helps support energy levels during times of crisis when fresh food may not always be available.

Jerky And Other Dried Meats

Jerky and other dried meats are great foods that last a long time without refrigeration. They are high in protein, making them an ideal source of energy for outdoor activities such as camping and hiking.

Jerky and dried meats can be made from different types of meat such as beef, pork, turkey, chicken or fish.

These delicious snacks have a shelf life of several months if stored correctly in airtight containers or vacuum-sealed bags to prevent moisture accumulation and bacteria growth.

Rehydration is necessary before consumption by soaking the jerky or dried meat in water or broth.

Powdered Milk And Milk Alternatives

Powdered milk and milk alternatives are highly recommended as foods that last a long time without refrigeration. They’re especially useful for emergency preparedness situations or camping trips where refrigerated storage is unavailable.

Powdered milk, in particular, is rich in essential minerals and vitamins, making it a healthy alternative to fresh dairy products. It can be easily mixed with water or used as a substitute for regular milk in recipes such as pancakes and bread.

Soy milk is another great option for those who are lactose intolerant since it’s plant-based and doesn’t contain animal proteins. Moreover, both powdered milk and soy milk are versatile ingredients that offer endless possibilities when it comes to cooking and baking while on the go.

Canned Soups And Stews

Canned soups and stews are an excellent option for non-refrigerated food storage. They are practical, affordable, easy to store, and have a long shelf-life.

You can customize your canned soup or stew with vegetables, pasta, meat or beans according to your taste preferences. These soups and stews come in various flavors like chicken noodle, beef stew, clam chowder, tomato soup among others.

You can also heat up canned soups over a campfire for a hot meal after a long day of outdoor activities like hiking or camping. They offer versatility for camping meals without worrying about spoilage as they do not require refrigeration.

Overall canned soups and stews should definitely be part of an emergency preparedness plan for any household due to their convenience and affordability when it comes to non-refrigerated foods options.

Nut Butter And Spreads

Nut butter and spreads are excellent non-perishable options that can be stored without refrigeration for a long period. Peanut butter, almond butter, and other nut butters have become go-to staples for emergency preparedness or camping trips where electricity is not available.

Nut butters provide high-quality protein, healthy fats, and essential nutrients like vitamin E, magnesium, zinc, and potassium. They also help reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels in the blood.

Nut butters are versatile; you can enjoy them with crackers or bread as a quick snack or use them as an ingredient to make various delicious recipes such as smoothies and pies.

With proper storage in airtight containers at room temperature away from direct sunlight, nut butters can last up to 6 months or more.

Fruits And Vegetables That Don’t Require Refrigeration

fruit and vegetables on display

Some examples of non-perishable fruits and vegetables that don’t require refrigeration include apples, potatoes, onions, garlic, winter squash, tomatoes, and citrus fruits.


Apples are a perfect grab-and-go snack that doesn’t require refrigeration. They’re high in fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants, making them an excellent choice for staying healthy on the go.

Another great thing about apples is their versatility; they can be eaten by themselves or used as an ingredient in many recipes.

Did you know that there are over 7,500 different types of apples grown around the world? Different varieties have unique flavors and textures which make it easy to find one that suits your taste buds perfectly.

Some popular non-refrigerated options include Granny Smiths (tart and crisp), Red Delicious (sweet and juicy), Gala (mildly sweet with a thin skin), and Fuji (crisp and sweet).


One of the best foods that last a long time without refrigeration is potatoes. They can stay fresh for several weeks if kept in a cool, dry place, and are rich in carbohydrates, fiber, potassium, and vitamins C and B6.

In fact, they have been considered as one of the most reliable sources of nutrition since ancient times. Potatoes can be cooked in many different ways such as boiling, baking or frying to make delicious dishes like French fries or mashed potatoes.


Onions are a pantry staple that can add flavor to many meals. While they don’t fall into the category of fruits or vegetables that don’t require refrigeration, onions can be stored with certain produce such as potatoes and winter squash to extend their shelf life.

It’s important to keep onions in a cool, dry place and avoid storing them next to foods with strong smells as they may absorb unwanted odors.


Garlic is an incredibly versatile ingredient that can add flavor and extend the shelf life of non-refrigerated foods. It can be used to infuse oil for a fresh dip, added to rice and beans for a savory meal, or combined with canned tuna or salmon for a delicious sandwich filling.

Garlic’s antibacterial properties act as a natural preservative, making it perfect for preserving non-perishable fruits and vegetables like potatoes, onions, and winter squash.

Additionally, garlic contains several health benefits such as reducing inflammation and boosting the immune system.

Winter Squash

Winter squash is a non-refrigerated food that can last for months without spoiling. Not only does it have an impressive shelf life, but it’s also packed with vitamins and fiber.

Winter squash comes in different varieties such as acorn, butternut, pumpkin, and spaghetti squash – each with its own unique flavor and texture. They can be baked, roasted or boiled to make soups, stews or casseroles.

With winter squash being so versatile and long-lasting, you can stock up on them to ensure you always have a healthy ingredient option available.


Tomatoes are a versatile and nutritious fruit that can be enjoyed without refrigeration when eaten promptly after slicing. They can also be stored in paper bags to slow the ripening process and extend their shelf life.

Canned tomatoes are another great option for those who prefer them to fresh ones, as they have a longer shelf life and can easily be incorporated into soups, stews, sauces, and other dishes.

Additionally, dehydrated tomatoes make for convenient snacking or as an ingredient in camping meals. Tomatoes are rich in vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, potassium, folate, and lycopene which has antioxidant properties that may reduce inflammation.

Citrus Fruits

Citrus fruits are a great addition to any non-perishable food stash. Oranges, lemons, and limes all have high vitamin C content, which is essential for maintaining immune health during emergency situations or travel.

Plus, they make for a refreshing snack on the go.

Aside from their nutritional value, citrus fruits also don’t require refrigeration and can last up to two weeks at room temperature. Grapefruits and oranges in particular have a thicker skin that protects them from spoilage even longer than other types of fruits.

Snacks And Convenience Foods

a variety of non-perishable food items and snacks laid out

Snacks and convenience foods are an easy way to keep hunger at bay without having to cook.

Granola Bars

Granola bars are a popular snack item that can be easily stored and carried for on-the-go snacking. These bars often contain a mixture of grains, nuts, dried fruits, and sweeteners, making them a good source of energy and fiber.

They come in various flavors and sizes to cater to different preferences and needs.

In addition to being convenient for everyday snacking, granola bars are also a great option for outdoor activities like camping or hiking where refrigeration may not be an option.

They can serve as a quick breakfast or supplement for other meals while on the go. Compared to other convenience foods like chips or candy bars, granola bars offer a healthier option with more nutritional value.

Trail Mix

Trail mix is a great snack option that can be easily packed for on-the-go activities or stored at home without refrigeration. It typically consists of a mixture of nuts, seeds, dried fruit, and sometimes chocolate or other sweets.

Trail mix is highly customizable to personal preferences and dietary needs.

In addition to being tasty and convenient, trail mix also provides several health benefits. Nuts and seeds are high in protein and healthy fats while dried fruits provide fiber and antioxidants.

Chocolate chips or M&Ms add a touch of sweetness while providing energy-boosting caffeine. However, it’s important to keep portion sizes in mind as trail mix can be calorie-dense if consumed excessively.

Crackers And Chips

Crackers and chips are a popular option for non-perishable foods that last a long time without refrigeration. These convenient options are great for on-the-go snacking or as part of emergency preparedness kits.

However, it’s important to store them properly in air-tight containers to maintain their freshness over time. The variety of crackers and chips available on the market is impressive, with many brands offering gluten-free and vegan options made with whole grains and natural ingredients.

Pairing these savories with dips, spreads, or toppings can add flavor and nutrition to your snacking experience.


Popcorn is a popular snack choice that can also last a long time without refrigeration. It’s lightweight and easy to pack, making it an ideal option for camping trips or outdoor activities.

Popcorn can be stored in a tightly sealed jar and popped over a campfire or stove for a convenient snack on the go. Plus, it’s cost-effective compared to other less healthy snack options.

Popcorn is also packed with health benefits when air-popped or lightly seasoned. It’s an excellent source of fiber and antioxidants, which can help reduce inflammation and improve digestion.

Energy Bars

Energy bars are a go-to snack option for anyone in need of a quick and convenient source of energy. They usually last a long time without refrigeration, making them an ideal choice for camping and outdoor activities.

With their high protein and fiber content, they can help keep you feeling full and energized on the go. Energy bars come in various flavors to suit different tastes and dietary needs, including gluten-free, vegan, and low-sugar options.

They are also portable and easy to pack, fitting easily into backpacks or pockets.

Tips For Storing Non-Perishable Foods

shelves stocked with rows of canned goods and jars

  • Store non-perishable food items in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and heat sources to extend their shelf life.
  • Rotate your stock regularly to ensure that the oldest items are used up first, and new ones are added to maintain freshness.
  • Seal any openings tightly with tape or clips to prevent spoilage from moisture or air exposure.
  • Consider investing in sturdy storage containers or bins that keep out pests like rodents or insects if you’re storing food long-term.
  • Label all containers with the date of purchase and expiration date so you can track when they need to be used by.
  • Avoid stocking up on foods that your family won’t eat just because they have a long shelf life as it could lead to waste.
  • Keep an inventory of what you have stored so you know exactly what’s available during an emergency situation.
  • Make sure you have a manual can opener, cookware, utensils, and other necessary equipment ready for use during power outages or temporary

Keep In A Cool, Dry Place

When storing non-perishable foods, it’s crucial to keep them in a cool, dry place. Heat and humidity can accelerate spoilage, so avoid storing items near windows or in direct sunlight.

A pantry or closet is an ideal location as long as it is well-ventilated and not too warm.

Rotating your stock of non-perishable items will help maintain their freshness and nutritional value over time. As you use up older items, replace them with new ones to ensure that you always have a supply on hand for emergencies or camping trips.

Additionally, make sure to seal openings tightly after each use to prevent air and moisture from getting inside the container and spoiling the contents prematurely.

Rotate Stock To Maintain Freshness

Rotating stock is one of the most important practices for ensuring that non-perishable foods stay fresh and safe to consume. Essentially, this means using up older items before opening new ones.

By doing so, you can avoid letting food sit on your shelves or in your pantry for too long without being used. This can help reduce waste while also ensuring that the food you do have on hand is still good to eat.

For example, if you have several cans of soup in your pantry, use the oldest one first and then move on to the next-can down the line. Similarly, when stocking up on dried goods like pasta or beans, try not to buy more than you think you’ll be able to use within a reasonable amount of time – ideally 6 months to a year.

Seal Openings Tightly To Prevent Spoilage

One of the most critical factors in extending the shelf life of non-perishable foods is to seal any openings tightly, preventing air and moisture from entering.

Without proper sealing, bacteria can grow, causing food to spoil quickly. Using airtight containers or resealable bags can help prevent spoilage and keep your food fresh for longer periods.

For example, storing dried fruit in an airtight container will keep it fresher than leaving it in an open bag where humidity and oxygen can penetrate. Properly sealed containers also reduce the risk of pests like ants or rodents infesting your stored food.

Conclusion AND FAQ’s

When it comes to food, storing non-perishable foods that last a long time without refrigeration is a great way to prepare for emergencies, outdoor activities, and reduce food waste.

By keeping factors like packaging and storage conditions in mind, there are plenty of options available that can last for months or even years. From canned vegetables and beans to dried fruits and nuts, the possibilities are endless.

And don’t forget about fresh produce that doesn’t require refrigeration such as potatoes, onions, garlic, and citrus fruits.

What foods can last a long time without refrigeration?

There are several foods that can last a long time without refrigeration. Some of these include dehydrated foods, such as jerky, dried fruit, and dried herbs and spices. Canned fruits, camping food ideas like powdered tuna and oat, and shelf-stable foods like dry beans are also great options.

Can oatmeal last without a fridge?

Yes, oatmeal is a great shelf-stable food that can last a long time without refrigeration. It can be stored in a cool and dry place and doesn’t require cooking, making it a convenient option for camping trips or emergencies.

Are canned and jarred foods a good choice for long-term food storage?

Yes, canned and jarred foods can be a good choice for long-term food storage. These foods are typically preserved and can last for years or even decades without refrigeration. Just make sure to check the expiration dates and store them in a cool and dark place.

What are some condiments that can last a long time without refrigeration?

Some condiments that can last a long time without refrigeration include maple syrup, bouillon, and dried herbs and spices. These ingredients can add a little extra flavor to your meals and can be stored in your pantry for an extended period.

Can canned fruits last for years or even indefinitely?

Canned fruits can last for several years, and in some cases, they can even last indefinitely. As long as the cans are not damaged or swelled, and they have been stored in a cool and dry place, they should be safe to consume. However, it’s always recommended to check the expiration dates before consuming.

Can vegetables last a long time without refrigeration?

Fresh vegetables typically require refrigeration to stay fresh, but there are alternatives that can last longer without a fridge. Canned or jarred vegetables can have a long shelf life and can be a great option for long-term food storage. Additionally, dehydrated vegetables can also be stored for a long time and rehydrated when needed.

How long can foods last without refrigeration?

The exact duration varies depending on the type of food and storage conditions. However, many foods, like powdered milk, dehydrated fruits, and canned beans, can last for several years without refrigeration. Some foods, such as dry beans and rice, can even last indefinitely if stored properly in airtight containers in a cool and dry place.

What are some healthy foods that can last a long time without refrigeration?

There are several healthy foods that can last a long time without refrigeration. These include dehydrated fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains like oatmeal and quinoa. These foods can provide essential nutrients and energy, making them a great choice for emergencies or outdoor activities like camping.

Can I bring fresh fruit on a camping trip?

Fresh fruit can be a good source of nutrition, but it may not last long without refrigeration, especially in warm weather. However, there are alternatives like dehydrated fruits or canned fruits that can be a great option for camping trips. These alternatives have a longer shelf life and can still provide the same nutritional benefits.

What are some emergency food options that don’t require refrigeration?

There are several emergency food options that don’t require refrigeration. Some examples include canned beans, jerky, granola bars, dried fruit, and canned vegetables. These foods are great to have on hand as part of your emergency food supply and can provide sustenance in times of need.

Picture of Matt New

Matt New

Living off-grid since 2012 with my wife Amy and dog MJ in the jungles of Costa Rica. Co-creater of the award winning Fusion Home.

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