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Whether you’re cleaning out the pantry and deciding what to toss, or you’re stocking up on essentials for if and when the time comes that you can’t make it to the store, this list is a good thing to have on hand!

One of the main reasons food goes bad is because of bacteria growth due to moisture. As long as these items are stored in a cool, dry place, they can last for years, if not indefinitely. Check out a few of these pantry staples to stock up on the next time you’re at the store!

Sugar & Salt

Perhaps two of the most used pantry items when cooking and/or baking, you’ll be happy to know that both salt and sugar can last for years! This goes for all kinds of sugar – white, brown, powdered, etc., as well as all types of salts. The key is to keep the containers sealed until you need to use it. That is to say, the already opened bag of sugar won’t last forever. It will last two years, which is still pretty good, but if you’re looking for more long-term storage and prep, make sure to seal up those containers!



All varieties of white rice – including jasmine, basmati, and arborio, will last indefinitely when stored properly in a sealed container. Brown rice, however, only lasts about a year. This is because brown rice naturally produces oil that will eventually lead to bacteria growth, thus creating a rancid odor.

Dried Beans

Need Pix

When considering items you may need in case of an emergency, beans are always a good call. They add extra protein to meals and are packed with lots of fiber. All types of dried beans will last forever as long as they are kept in a cool, dry, dark place. It’s worthy to note that while beans have an indefinite shelf-life, the longer they sit, the more time it will take for them to get tender.

Dried Pasta


It’s no secret we love our pasta dishes around here! The good news is, dried pasta can last several years past its printed expiration date – which is usually at least 20 years from the time of purchase. Go ahead and stock up on your favorite carb to ensure plenty of pasta nights in the future.



There are so many ways to use oats, which makes it a great addition to any pantry. Oatmeal, cereal, even ground into flour, this is truly one versatile item you won’t want to be without! Store in an air-tight container in a cool, dry place. Once the bag is opened, the oats will last around 2 years.

Powdered Milk


Sure, powdered milk isn’t as good as the fresh stuff, but it can be useful for baking and cooking. As you know, dairy products have a pretty short shelf-life, usually around 10-15 days, depending on the fat content. Skim milk will last longer than whole milk, but still, two weeks might not be long enough to get you through an emergency situation should one arise.

Dark Chocolate


Good news for chocolate lovers everywhere! Dark chocolate can last for years if left unopened, and is still good for around 12 months once you decide to dig into your stash. Go for 70% or higher for cocoa content. Avoid milk chocolate and white chocolate, seeing as they both have dairy products that will cause them to spoil faster.



Here’s another sweetener to get you through an emergency! Since honey has a low moisture content, it’s hard for bacteria to grow, thus making it an ideal pantry item. Believe it or not, honey can last forever. Of course, if you’ve ever stored a jar of honey for a while, you’ll know that it eventually starts to crystalize. That doesn’t mean it’s gone bad, however. You can still eat the honey as is, or head it up until it returns to its liquid form.



White, distilled vinegar will last indefinitely if stored in a cool, dry place. This makes sense, considering the high acidity level found in vinegar. It’s also why vinegar is used when canning foods. It’s a natural preservative that will surely come in handy when the time comes. Not only can you use vinegar to can foods, but it’s a great all-natural cleaner. That’s a win-win in my book!

Hard Liquor

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Lastly, you’ll be glad to know that hard liquor will last forever, so in case of the apocalypse, you can still have a shot or three at the end of the day. Or in the middle of the day. Hey, it’s the apocalypse. There’s no judgment here. Even once the bottles are opened, they will continue to last forever, though they will slowly – very slowly – lose flavor over time.