The best and cheapest prepper groceries for emergencies

You don't have to spend a fortune to stock up on emergency edible supplies. With a little patience and effort it is possible to find cheap groceries in the local supermarket or on the internet. Look out for special offers or use couponing. However, the last option is not widespread in Germany or is associated with numerous conditions. Still, it's worth keeping an eye out for to maximize your savings. 

Inexpensive emergency food items for short-term crises include canned beans, fruits, vegetables and meat. Canned food is great for times of need. They don't spoil and can be eaten immediately. However, dry ingredients such as rice, beans and wheat are much cheaper. You should also have these products in the pantry.

Canned and dried staple foods are less attractive than freeze-dried camping or survival food from specialty stores. However, rice and Co. are much cheaper. And remember: Our ancestors survived on homemade, smoked and cured ingredients. 

Commercially canned emergency food

Canned foods like meat, vegetables, and fruit are perfect for short-term needs. For example, you can stock up on cans to easily last 3 or 4 days survive. So you can easily sit out a flood, a power failure or paths that are impassable due to snow. In the long term, however, you should supplement your equipment with dried basic ingredients. 

Shelf life of canned goods

Canned food with high acid content has a shelf life of 1 to 2 years. This includes tomatoes, citrus fruits, and any soup or stew made with these ingredients. Low-acid foods have a shelf life of 3 to 5 years. Such as canned meat and vegetables, soups and stews that do not contain acidic ingredients.

The shelf life of canned food should be treated with caution. According to one recommendation, canned goods that are stored correctly and are not damaged can be kept indefinitely.

The only problem with properly packed and stored cans is time. Over the years, canned goods lose their taste, texture and appearance, even if they are still edible.

Storage tip: Use a rotation principle. "First in, first out". This means that the older items will be used up first. This way you avoid that your stash gets old forever and you might end up eating a broken can. The principle applies not only to commercially packaged products, but to the entire contents of your inventory.

storage and handling

If you plan to store canned food long-term, you should be aware of the signs of a spoiled can (see below). This is the only way you can determine whether the content is safe to eat.

Tip: The “best before date” on a tin can does not offer 100% certainty. Manufacturers indicate this date on canned food to inform the customer of the best quality.

Store all canned foods in a cool, dry place. Unsuitable locations include over the stove, under the sink, in a damp garage, in the basement, or anywhere else exposed to high or freezing temperatures. 

If the cans are in good condition (no dents, swelling, or rust) and stored in a cool, clean, dry place, they will keep indefinitely.

11 signs a tin can is bad

Properly stored, canned food lasts almost forever. Still, it's important to know the signs of a spoiled can. That way you don't run the risk of getting food poisoning. 

  • Leaky
  • baggy
  • Badly dented (seal may be broken)
  • cracked cans
  • Cans with loose or domed lids
  • Foul smell when opening the can
  • Container that squirts liquid when opened
  • Leaking liquid under the lid
  • Gas bubbles in the can
  • Food is moldy or discolored

The rule is: If you are unsure, throw the content away. Your health will thank you.

Pros and cons for canned food

This speaks for it: 

  • Easily stackable on the shelf
  • Non perishable
  • Ready to eat
  • Hardly any energy required for preparation
  • There is no need to waste drinking water

These are the disadvantages:

  • Requires rotation in the pantry
  • Disputed shelf life (1 to 5 years to indefinitely)
  • Sometimes difficult to digest
  • Less palatable than fresh and perishable foods (subjective)
  • Must be consumed or refrigerated immediately after opening

dry foods

If you want to stockpile groceries for long-term emergencies and survival, e.g. For example, for a year's supply, dry foods such as grains, rice, and beans are the cheapest and arguably the best ingredients.

Dried foods (staple foods) can have a shelf life of 30 years or more. Proper storage provided, of course.

Here is a list of inexpensive foods that last a long time: 

  • white rice
  • White durum wheat
  • Red durum wheat
  • Dried Beans
  • Lenses
  • Millet
  • Spelt
  • Dried Noodles
  • dent corn
  • oatmeal
  • Dried Potatoes
  • Dried Vegetables
  • Dried Fruit
  • White granulated sugar
  • salt
  • Buckwheat
  • Barley
  • peeled oats
  • Rye
  • Fat-free milk powder
  • powdered beverages
  • Powdered eggs
  • Powdered peanut butter
  • Powdered butter

How long does dry food keep?

Properly packaged, staple foods like white rice, wheat, and dried beans have a shelf life of more than thirty years. Provided they are in an oxygen-free container, glass jar or sealable plastic bag. Only use materials that are food safe. 

Where to get dry groceries

You can get dry basic groceries in any well-stocked grocery store or in the metro. However, if you want to store large quantities, the easiest way is to order online. However, expect high delivery costs due to the weight. Another option is to buy smaller bags of white rice, grains, and dry beans and repack them for long-term storage. The containers should be airtight and pest-proof. 

Benefits of dry staple foods

  • Decades of durability
  • Proven survival food
  • Relatively cheap
  • White rice and beans provide valuable proteins
  • No refrigeration required after opening


  • Must be processed before consumption.
  • Water and fuel are required for preparation
  • Not ideal for hiking
  • Must be repackaged for maximum shelf life
  • Not immediately edible, such as canned food

pre-packaged foods

Packaged foods such as ramen noodles, granola snacks and honey can be stored unrefrigerated for long periods of time and are valuable sources of calories and nutrients. In combination with canned goods and staple foods, they upgrade your menu in times of crisis. Many products can be consumed immediately, others are prepared quickly. Durability varies. As always, the storage location should be cool, dry and preferably dark. For example, you can store chocolate for up to 24 months, potato chips and granola bars for up to 6 months. The information is not set in stone. Here, too, it is useful if you check the products again for their edibility before consumption. You don't need a checklist for this. Rely on your five senses. 

Ideally, you should also use the rotation principle for pre-packaged food and regularly exchange old for new. Only use products that you and your family use in everyday life. 

Advantages and disadvantages


  • Variety in the menu
  • Ready to eat quickly
  • Only a little water and energy are required for preparation


  • Not as nutritious as staple foods
  • Limited shelf life
  • Partly expensive to buy

More frequently asked questions on the topic

With boiling down, pickling or dehydrating, you can preserve fresh ingredients over a longer period of time.

With mineral water in plastic bottles, the carbonic acid escapes over time. The liquid tastes bland and stale. Preserve drinking water in other ways or keep compact water filters ready in case of a crisis.

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