We’re sharing the ultimate list of family-friendly food storage recipes to help you use and maintain your food storage (plus what to store)!
In today’s crazy world, having a well-stocked pantry is a lifesaver, because it allows you to make a nutritious and delicious meal at a moment’s notice.
Whether you’re facing a busy week, an unexpected family emergency, or simply seeking to reduce food waste, our guide to food storage recipes highlights the many ways you can use canned, frozen, freeze-dried foods, and shelf-stable foods.
We also share the most convenient and useful foods to store so you’ll always have delicious and balanced meals at your fingertips that even young kids will love.
Introduction to Food Storage
From old-fashion root cellars to modern-day pantries, the act of storing food has been a part of human civilization throughout history to provide nourishment and peace of mind.
It’s an essential cornerstone of preparedness. And it allows us to navigate life’s uncertainties with confidence.
But, it can also be a part of our daily lives.
A “Living” Food Storage vs. Long-term Food Storage
While it’s important to stock food for the event of a natural disaster, it’s also nice to have food on hand for daily meals or to help out when in between jobs, coming back from vacation, or during food shortages.
When building up your food storage, consider stocking items based on meals your family eats regularly.
Food storage meals center around canned foods, pastas, and shelf-stable items that can be paired with fresh ingredients and add-ons on a regular weeknight.
You can “shop” your own food storage each week to feed your family which is not only convenient but helps to save money in the long run.
Long-term food storage focuses on survival foods to sustain your family in an emergency situation like water, rice, dried beans, and freeze-dried foods.
It’s important to cycle through your regular food storage items so they don’t go past their expiration dates.
As you use these items, you can replace them with routine grocery shopping and case lot sales so you always have them in stock at home.
The Best Family-Friendly Food Storage Recipes
Below, you’ll find delicious food storage recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert.
We’ve also included recipes for side dishes, appetizers, and party foods.
Whatever you’re craving, you’re sure to find the perfect easy meals that focus on frozen, canned, or non-perishable foods.
And be sure to keep scrolling to see a list of the best foods to store and our tips and tricks to make the most of your food storage.
- Chile Relleno Casserole
- Banana Smoothie with Ice
- Blueberry Muffins
- German Oven Pancakes
- Raspberry Pastry
- Pumpkin Pancakes With Pancake Mix
- Crustless Broccoli and Spam Quiche
- Monte Cristo Sliders
- Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Skillet Pancake
- Overnight Sticky Buns
- Cherry Chocolate Chip Muffins
- Chicken Salad Sandwiches
- Coconut Cilantro Chicken Soup
- Healthy Turkey Lasagna Soup
- Creamy Taco Soup
- Melty Kalua Pork Sandwiches
- Easy Crock Pot Minestrone Soup
- Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup
- Spaghetti with Chili
- Spam Fried Rice Recipe
- Elevated Hamburger Helper Lasagna
- Crock Pot Hamburger Stew
- Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole with Rice
- Crock Pot Creamy Italian Chicken
- Chile and Lime Chicken Enchilada Pasta
- Chicken Zucchini Casserole
- Crock Pot BBQ Pineapple Chicken
- Cheesy Chicken Macaroni Casserole
- White Chicken Chili
- Chicken Pillows
- Chicken and Asparagus Pasta Bake
- Chicken Alfredo with Bacon and Broccoli
- Mushroom Swiss Chicken Bake
- Chicken and Broccoli Casserole with Mayo
- Creamy Avocado Picante Chicken
- Hawaiian Haystacks
- Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole with Rice
- Cheesy Tomato Chicken Linguine Recipe
- Instant Pot Sweet and Sour Meatballs
- Hawaiian Turkey Burgers
- Burger Bundles Recipe
- Italian Spaghetti and Meatballs
- Crock Pot Italian Pot Roast
- Cream of Mushroom Meatloaf
- Cheesy Kielbasa Pasta
- Cottage Cheese Lasagna
- Creamy Pasta Bake
- Pesto Tortellini with Vegetables
- Creamy Gnocchi with Spinach
- Spaghetti with Olive Oil and Garlic
Side Dishes and Appetizers
- Baked Beans With Brown Sugar
- Lemon Basil Pasta
- Rhodes Rolls Breadsticks
- Cowboy Caviar with Avocado
- Black Bean Coconut Rice
- Pesto Pizza Pasta Salad
- Honey Butter Skillet Corn
- Pumpkin Dinner Rolls
- Baked Beans with Ground Beef and Bacon
- Dill Pickle Ditalini Pasta Salad
- Hawaiian Mac Salad
- No-Knead Crescent Rolls
- Crock Pot Chili Cheese Dip
- Pink Fluff
- Chocolate Chip Blondies
- Raspberry Jello Salad
- Cherry Bars Recipe
- German Chocolate Cake Mix Cookies
- Mini Cherry Cheesecake Bites
- Raspberry Pretzel Jello Dessert
- Marshmallow Fudge
- Mint Brownies With Chocolate Ganache
- Sweet and Sticky Chex Mix
- Glazed Apple Streusel Bars
- No Bake Birds Nest Cookies
- Peach Crisp With Oats
- Jam Thumbprint Cookies
Food Storage Items to Stock
It’s important to stock oils in your food storage so you can sear and sauté your favorite foods to perfection.
Oils are also the perfect base for homemade dressings and a great finisher for spreads like hummus.
Whether you prefer vegetable oil, olive oil, or another variety, make sure your food storage is stocked with enough oil to prepare common recipes.
And don’t forget cooking spray to easily grease baking dishes and pans!
RELATED: How Long Does Vegetable Oil Last?
Pasta, Rice, and Grains
Pasta, rice, and grains are essential components of many of our favorite recipes. From breakfast to dinner and dessert, you’ll want to make sure you stock a variety of these items.
Here are some of the most common pantry staples from this category to keep on hand:
- Regular, instant, and microwaveable white rice or brown rice
Canned Vegetables, Beans, and Fruit
Canned vegetables, beans, and fruit aren’t quite as vibrant and nutritious as their fresh counterparts, but they’re only a small step behind fresh ingredients.
These items are still incredibly healthy and nourishing. And you can use them in a variety of yummy recipes.
From soups and stews to cobblers and salad, canned produce is a must-have for tasty and wholesome food storage recipes.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Green beans
- Red beans
- Black beans
- Refried beans
- Diced tomatoes
- Vegetable medley
- Mandarin oranges
Canned Meat and Freeze-Dried Meats
You might be surprised how delicious canned meats can be. From chicken to fish, there are plenty of tasty offerings to include in your food storage.
You can use canned chicken for chicken salad sandwiches, canned salmon for salmon patties, and Spam for food storage recipes like fried rice.
Here are some of our favorite canned meats to store:
Canned Broths and Soups
Canned broths and soups are the key components of many of our favorite casseroles and stews.
No food storage would be complete without these essentials.
You’ll need them for comforting food storage recipes like chicken and broccoli casserole, poppy seed chicken, and cream of mushroom meatloaf.
You can get started by stocking items like these:
- Cream of chicken soup
- Cream of mushroom soup
- Chicken broth
- Beef broth
And make sure you have plenty of heat and eat soups like:
- Chicken noodle soup
- Tomato soup
- French onion soup
- Vegetable soup
Sauces, Condiments, and Seasonings
Make sure to stock your favorite condiments and seasonings. These items make creating food storage recipes easy and familiar.
Here are some staples to get you started:
- Pasta sauce
- BBQ sauce
- Enchilada sauce
- Soy sauce
- Teriyaki sauce
- Tomato sauce
- Tomato paste
- Peanut butter
- Maple syrup
- Taco seasoning
- Ranch seasoning
- Chili powder
Boxed and Freeze-Dried Foods and Meals
These easy meals-in-a-box and dinner helpers can be a lifesaver on a busy night. You can often enjoy them as is or add a few fresh ingredients to “doctor” them up or complete your meal.
- Instant mashed potatoes
- Pasta dinners
- Rice dinners
- Mac and cheese
- Hamburger Helper
Many people forget to include frozen foods in their food storage. However, they’re a great option to have on hand and can keep for several months in your freezer or deep freezer.
You can blanch and freeze fresh produce or buy premade packages from the grocery store.
In the event of a power outage, these items can last up to 48 hours in a full freezer or 24 hours in a half-full freezer.
- Vegetables and vegetable medleys
- Fruits and fruit medleys
- Meats (chicken breasts and thighs, ground beef, etc.)
You can also stock homemade and store-bought freezer meals so you can have an arsenal of quick meals ready to go for busy nights.
Flour and Baking Supplies
If your family enjoys baked goods or homemade bread, you’ll need to keep plenty of flour and other baking supplies on hand.
Make sure to stock the ingredients for your favorite food storage dessert recipes, too.
You’ll likely need:
- Baking soda
- Baking powder
- Chocolate chips
- White, powdered, and brown sugar
- Applesauce (as a substitute for eggs in a pinch)
- Bread Crumbs
Water and Milk
It’s so important to stock enough water for your family in your food storage, not only for meals but also for drinking.
You can find important information on how much water to store per family member and how to store it from the Preparedness Project.
You’ll also need milk in your food supply for baking, drinking, cereal, and soups:
- Coconut milk
- Shelf-stable boxed milk (almond, oat, etc.)
- Evaporated milk
- Sweetened condensed milk
- Powdered milk
Don’t forget snacks! Snacks are essential to keep on hand for hungry kiddos and adults, alike. And they’re also helpful items to stock in 72-hour kits and bugout bags.
Here are some ideas to try:
- Tortilla chips
- Granola bars
- Nuts and seeds/trail mix
- Chicken and tuna fish pouches
- Kernels for homemade popcorn
Food Storage Supplies
Here are some helpful food storage supplies to keep your foods properly sealed, fresh, and organized for daily use and long-term storage.
- Mylar bags
- Oxygen absorbers
- Aluminum foil
- Plastic wrap
- Ziploc bags
- 5 Gallon buckets
- Water Barrels
- Gravity-fed canned food racks
Tips and Tricks
Food storage doesn’t have to be boring or bland!
When planning your food storage, make sure you plan for meals your family likes and will actually eat or your cans and bottles will sit on your shelves forever!
Keep in mind your favorite seasoning blends and sauces so you’ll have flavorful, familiar, and comforting meals!
If a recipe calls for fresh toppings that you don’t have, you can usually omit them and still have a great dish.
If you don’t have cream cheese or sour cream on hand, you can substitute them with shelf-stable items like the cream from a can of coconut milk, evaporated milk, and even powdered versions that you can buy online.
You can also omit them if they’re used as a topping or thickener for soups or another non-essential component for a recipe.
If you’re out of fresh or frozen chicken, you can easily substitute it with canned chicken. (One 12.5-ounce can of chicken is the equivalent of approximately 2 chicken breasts).
If you’re running low on chicken broth or beef broth, don’t be afraid to mix the two together! There are also several ways to substitute for chicken broth and beef broth using other pantry staples when you’re in a pinch.
You can easily substitute canned soups and sauces with other pantry staples, too:
- Substitute for Tomato Sauce
- Substitute for Tomato Puree
- Substitute for Cream of Chicken Soup
- Substitute for Tomato Paste
- Substitute For Ketchup
And here are some easy ways to substitute for your favorite seasonings:
- Substitute for Basil
- Substitute for Oregano
- Substitute For Onion Powder
- Substitute for Italian Seasoning
Want more ideas? We have an entire corner of our website dedicated to easy food swaps. Check here: substitute ingredients.
Use an App to Stay Organized
Food storage may seem like an overwhelming project, especially for busy moms.
But, thankfully, there are resources out there that can help streamline the process and make keeping track of your items and food storage recipes as easy as a click.
The Preparedness Project App can help you do just that and more.
This smart tool can empower you to:
- Maximize your kitchen efficiency with their accurate food storage measurement tool.
- Protect your loved ones and ensure their comfort during even the toughest of times with proper disaster preparation.
- Stop buying too much of one food and too little of another because you forgot what’s in your pantry and cold storage.
- Know you and your family are fully prepared for any emergency with 3 months, 6 months, or 1 year of food and water supplies.
- Have a reliable and easy way to track your food storage.
- Pack and store your grab and go kits so they’re easily accessible.
- Store water safely so you can keep your family hydrated in an emergency.
- Give up those giant food storage spreadsheets once and for all!
Who doesn’t want that?
If you’re interested in elevating your food storage strategy, you can click here to get started!
Certain types of foods are renowned for their extended shelf life and resilience in storage. Here are some examples of foods that tend to last the longest:
1. Grains: Whole grains like rice, wheat, oats, and quinoa have a long shelf life due to their low moisture content. Properly stored grains in sealed containers can last for years.
2. Legumes: Dried beans, lentils, and peas are rich in protein and can be stored for a long time. They are also low in moisture, which contributes to their longevity.
3. Pasta: Dry pasta, whether made from wheat or other grains, has a relatively long shelf life. It’s important to keep it in a cool, dry place to prevent moisture absorption.
4. Dehydrated Foods: Dehydrated fruits, vegetables, and even some meals can have a shelf life of several years. They are lightweight and easy to store.
5. Canned Foods: Canned goods, such as vegetables, fruits, soups, and meats, have a significantly extended shelf life due to the airtight sealing process. However, it’s essential to rotate them to maintain freshness.
6. Honey: Honey has natural preservative properties due to its low water content and high acidity. When stored properly, it can last indefinitely.
7. Nuts and Seeds: Raw, unsalted nuts and seeds are high in healthy fats and can last for a long time when stored in airtight containers in a cool, dark place.
8. Powdered Milk: Powdered milk, whether dairy or plant-based, has a long shelf life and can be reconstituted when needed.
9. Dried Herbs and Spices: Dried herbs and spices can retain their flavor for several years if stored in airtight containers away from heat and light.
Packing food for long-term storage requires careful consideration to ensure its safety, quality, and longevity. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to pack food for long-term storage:
1. Choose Appropriate Containers: Select containers that are airtight, moisture-resistant, and made of food-safe materials. Options include food-grade plastic buckets, Mylar bags, glass jars, and vacuum-sealed bags.
2. Prepare the Food: Make sure the food you’re storing is clean, dry, and free from contaminants. If applicable, remove moisture from fruits, vegetables, or meats through drying or dehydrating processes.
3. Use Oxygen Absorbers: Oxygen absorbers are small packets that remove oxygen from the container, preventing spoilage and the growth of mold and bacteria. They are especially useful for items like grains, legumes, and dried fruits. Place the oxygen absorber at the top of the container before sealing.
4. Consider Desiccants: Desiccants help absorb excess moisture, reducing the risk of mold and spoilage. However, they should not be used in place of proper moisture control practices.
5. Use Mylar Bags: For items like grains, beans, and powdered foods, Mylar bags provide an extra layer of protection against moisture, light, and pests. Seal the bags using a heat sealer.
6. Label and Date: Clearly label each container or bag with the contents and the date of packing. This helps you keep track of your inventory and practice proper rotation.
7. Store in a Cool, Dry Place: Temperature and humidity play a crucial role in food storage. Choose a cool, dark, and dry location away from direct sunlight, extreme temperatures, and moisture. Ideal temperatures are generally between 50-70°F (10-21°C).
8. Rotate and Inspect: Regularly inspect your stored food for signs of damage, pests, or spoilage. Implement the “first in, first out” (FIFO) principle to use the oldest items first and ensure freshness.
9. Consider Pest Control: Store food in a location where pests like rodents and insects cannot easily access it. You might also consider using traps, repellents, or food-grade diatomaceous earth to deter pests.
10. Monitor Temperature and Humidity: If possible, use temperature and humidity monitors in your storage area to ensure conditions remain optimal for long-term food preservation.
11. Consult Guidelines: Different types of food have varying shelf lives and storage requirements. Consult reputable sources or guidelines for specific foods to ensure proper packing and storage methods.
12. Rotate and Consume: To prevent waste, incorporate your stored foods into your regular meal plans and replace them periodically to maintain a fresh stock.
By following these steps, you can ensure that your long-term stored food remains safe, flavorful, and ready for consumption when you need it.
While there are certain foods that have exceptionally long shelf lives, it’s important to clarify that no food truly lasts forever.
All foods will eventually degrade in quality and safety due to factors such as exposure to air, light, moisture, and temperature fluctuations.
However, there are some foods that can last for many years or even decades if stored properly. Here are a few examples:
1. Honey: Due to its low water content and natural acidity, honey is known for its long shelf life. When stored in a sealed container in a cool and dry place, honey can remain edible for an indefinite period. Over time, honey may crystallize, but it’s still safe to eat.
2. Rice: White rice, brown rice, and other types of whole grains have a relatively long shelf life when stored in a cool, dry place in airtight containers. Properly stored rice can last for years.
3. Salt: Salt is a natural preservative and can essentially last forever. While it may clump together due to moisture absorption, this doesn’t affect its safety or edibility. Keeping salt in a dry and sealed container helps maintain its quality.
4. Sugar: Like salt, sugar has an indefinite shelf life. As long as it’s kept in an airtight container to prevent moisture absorption, sugar can be stored for a long time.
5. Hard Liquor: Distilled spirits with high alcohol content, such as vodka, whiskey, and rum, can remain safe to consume indefinitely. Over time, some flavors may change or mellow, but they won’t spoil.
6. Vinegar: Due to its acidic nature, vinegar has a long shelf life. Properly stored vinegar can remain safe for an extended period. While its flavor may change over time, it’s still safe to use.
It’s crucial to note that while these foods have long shelf lives, their quality, flavor, texture, and nutritional value may degrade over time.
Moreover, external factors such as exposure to light, air, and fluctuating temperatures can impact their longevity.
Always follow proper storage guidelines, rotate your stock, and regularly inspect your stored foods to ensure they remain safe and enjoyable.
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