To make it through a survival scenario, it's essential to stockpile as much shelf-stable food as possible ahead of time. This shouldn't be news to anyone. However, what happens to the every-day food in your pantry once all the grocery stores close? What about the items in your fridge and freezer?


We all know it's wise to store MREs, canned food, and other long-term resources for potential disasters.

It would be foolhardy to throw out any unspoiled food, and equally dangerous to eat contaminated food that may make you sick. So, you'll need to know how long various food items can last, whether they're on your kitchen counter, in a cool dark cellar, in your refrigerator, or frozen solid.

The following infographic from shows dozens of different food items, and how long they can last in various conditions. This is especially important at the beginning of a disaster situation, since it can help you manage which items to eat first and which items to save for later.

Food Shelf Life infographic 1
Food Shelf Life infographic 2
Food Shelf Life infographic 3

We also appreciate the information provided on expiration dates, since it can help you understand which dates are friendly recommendations (such as the “Best By” date on a bottle of vinegar) and which dates should be considered more carefully (such as the expiration date on a carton of milk).

Please note that the “Sell By” is more of a guide for the retailer, and that the infographic's statement “do not consume past this date” is not always accurate—many foods can be consumed past this date, but you probably don't want to take chances with baby food or other sensitive items.

All of these dates can also be stretched, but only with careful attention to temperature, moisture, and other storage conditions. If you're not 100% sure if it's still edible, don't take the chance—it's not worth getting seriously ill and making your situation worse.

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