How Long Should my Food Storage Last?

All of us have been there before. The hour is late, the PJs are on, the lights are out, and the unmistakable pangs of hunger lead you to the kitchen for one last pre-bedtime snack. Upon surveying the scarce remnants of the fridge, you momentarily consider making a ketchup and mustard sandwich before finally deciding to finish off that last slice of week-old pizza, still sitting in the cardboard delivery box.

Hesitating briefly, you open the box to find the slice of pizza covered with what you could probably justify to be toppings. Despite its questionable look and smell, you savor the pizza, recalling in passing that the taste and texture of its brother and sister slices seemed somewhat different a week ago. No matter. Mission accomplished. Hunger has been satisfied for the night. You go to bed with a smile, dreaming of pepperoni and Pepto-Bismol.

Fortunately, not all of us have had to make this type of a decision in an emergency setting like a natural disaster or job loss, when food is truly scarce. But it’s these experiences that lead us to question: how long should my food storage last?

In agreement with the American Red Cross and other agencies, we at Food Insurance® have some general guidelines for the expected shelf-life and replacement of the following commonly used emergency food items:

6 Month Shelf-Life

1-Year Shelf-Life

(or indicated date)

Indefinite Shelf-Life

(in proper containers and conditions)

  • Potatoes
  • Dried fruit (in metal  container)
  • Crispy, dry crackers (in metal container)
  • Powdered dry milk (boxed)


  • Jelly
  • Peanut butter
  • Canned nuts and hard candy
  • Canned fruits, fruit juices, and vegetables
  • Canned condensed meat and vegetable soups
  • Ready-to-eat cereals and uncooked instant cereals (in metal containers)


  • Salt
  • Wheat
  • Soybeans
  • Dried corn
  • Dry pasta
  • White rice
  • Vegetable oils
  • Baking powder
  • Bouillon products
  • Noncarbonated soft drinks
  • Instant coffee, tea, and cocoa
  • Powdered milk (in nitrogen-packed cans)


Yet, if you purchase survival foods, like the freeze dried food storage products that we offer, meals that come in mylar pouches have a 7-10 year shelf-life. Meals that come in tin #10 cans (cans commonly used for coffee) have a 25+ year shelf-life. Food Insurance® also recommends storing emergency food supplies and long term food in a cool, dry place to maintain quality and freshness, and to optimize its shelf-life.

You never know when your emergency supply of food will become necessary to sustaining life. Use and replenish food storage continually, store items properly, and don’t get caught in an emergency setting treating your survival food like your midnight snacks.




2 Replies to “How Long Should my Food Storage Last?”

  1. Since the #10 cans hold multiple servings, about how long will the food inside last after they’ve been opened? Do you need to consume all the contents within a week? A month? Is it still good for another year or more? Is there a recommended method to preserving the freshness on opened cans?

    1. Hawk,

      Great question! Heat, moisture and oxygen are the things that cause food to spoil. Once opened, the food is going to be exposed to oxygen and possibly moisture and heat. The more you can reduce exposure, the longer the food will last. For example, keeping the food in a cool to cold place like a refrigerator will preserve it much longer than keeping it on a shelf at room temperature. Keeping the can closed with oxygen absorbers inside of it will preserve it much longer than leaving the can open.

      Additionally, meals with meat or dairy will go bad much quicker than fruits or vegetables. We generally recommend that you use up meals containing meat or dairy withing a few weeks of opening the can, particularly if they’re kept at room temperature or warmer.

      If you have any other questions, please contact our support department at: 1-866-946-8366 or email

      -Food Insurance

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