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6 Best Grains for Long-Term Storage
As preppers, we need to find a consistent source of calories and nutrition. Fortunately for us, there are grains that can provide us with the bulk of our calories in a SHTF scenario. However, finding healthy and tasty options is where we struggle to pick the right candidates for long-term storage. As we continue our food storage series, we have picked some of the healthiest grains on the market and shared our thoughts on this list.
Given the current food shortages in the world, serious preppers have ramped up their prepping and are stocking up their pantries (source). Regardless of how the next 5 years will look, one thing is certain, and that is food prices will continue to go up. So it is important to begin prepping today.
One of the biggest pain points for preppers is how time-consuming properly storing food can be. So, we are providing our recommended picks for do-it-yourself (DIY) packaging as well as prepackaged grains for long-term storage. Keep in mind that food items prepackaged in food grade 5-gallon buckets are more expensive than food items in plastic or cloth packaging, and this is because you are paying for the convenience and time savings you can use for other purposes.
Best Grains for Long-Term Food Storage
- Editor’s Recommendation: Cornmeal
- Longest Shelf Life: White Rice
- Healthy Grain: Brown Rice
- Highest Protein Grain: Kamut
- Best Breakfast Grain: Oats
- Best Grain Substitute: Quinoa
1) Editor’s Recommendation: Cornmeal
|Pros of Cornmeal||Cons of Cornmeal|
|Max shelf life of over 25 years||Excess consumption can lead to sluggishness after a meal|
|Versatile grain that can be used for baking, breakfast, lunch, and dinner foods||Excess consumption can lead to weight gain|
|Gluten-free grain||Cornmeal is an sustainable crop, as it depletes nutrients in the soil|
Our Experience with Cornmeal
Cornmeal is a super versatile grain that can make anything from taco tortillas to corn pancakes, grits, and muffins. Corn is used all over the world by different cultures in different ways and is a staple in many cultures. If you are building a homestead and are looking to have a grain that can take many forms, cornmeal is ideal. You can constantly find new ways to cook with cornmeal all the time. When stored properly, the shelf life of cornmeal can be over 20 years.
Since cornmeal is made from a vegetable, corn is gluten-free, making it a good choice for people who are gluten sensitive. Cornmeal is also high in fiber and a good source of magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. Cornmeal is known to improve cardiovascular health and lower cholesterol levels (source).
The downside of consuming corn is that it is known to lead to fast weight gain. Additionally, consuming too much cornmeal is known to cause lethargy after a short boost of excessive hyperactivity. Although cornmeal is great for nutrients and cooking purposes, it is important to consume in moderation and be conscious of weight (source).
Lastly, you should know that farming corn is not a sustainable farming practice. Corn depletes nitrogen in the soil and requires large amounts of water to farm. However, if you purchase cornmeal, we suggest using organic cornmeal because it’s known to be more sustainable than cornmeal from GMO corn crops (source).
Related Article: Food Storage: How to Store Cornmeal Long-Term
2) Longest Shelf Life: White Rice
|Pros of White Rice||Cons of White Rice|
|Max shelf life of over 25 years||Less nutrient dense than other other grains due to high processing|
|Pairs well with other ingredients||Rice is high on the glycemic index|
|Rice is a good energy source as carbs are turned into energy||Rice naturally contains arsenic, a metal that can cause health problems|
Our Experience with White Rice
White rice is a staple in many cuisines, and it is probably the most versatile grain. It also claims one of the longest shelf lives on this list. The reason for the long shelf life is because white rice has to go through additional processing to achieve its white color, which extends its shelf life but removes nutrients and natural oils in the process. When properly packaged, white rice can be stored for over 25 years. Rice is also high in carbohydrates, pairs well with other foods, and can provide you with a large number of calories on a per ounce basis. There are a lot of varieties of rice, with different flavors and shapes. Although we like white long grain rice, we suggest you pick the one that is best for you.
However, there are some downsides to using rice for long-term storage. Rice is known to have lower nutrient contents because it undergoes more processing than brown rice and other grains. Additionally, it is high in starch and ranks high on the glycemic index (source). Foods high on the glycemic index may be linked to diabetes and other health complications (source). Rice can be a great prepper food, but overconsumption of rice may lead to health complications. For this reason, it is important to balance your food pantry with food variety to help maintain a healthy balanced diet.
You should consider white rice if you would like a consistent, recurring, stable food source that you know how to use. Rice is a good grain to use for people who like to meal prep.
Related Article: How to store White Rice Long Term
3) Healthiest Grain: Brown Rice
|Pros of Brown Rice||Cons of Brown Rice|
|High in essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals||Max shelf life of 10 years|
|Helps lower cholesterol and improve digestion||Brown rice naturally contains high levels of arsenic, a metal known to cause health complications|
|Good for weight loss and management||Not recommended for everyday use, important to balance with other grains|
Our Experience with Brown Rice
Brown rice is known to be one of the healthiest grains because it is a great source of nutrients like magnesium, phosphorus, niacin, and vitamin B6, and it is high in fiber. The vitamins and nutrients in brown rice help lower cholesterol, lower weight, and improve digestion. Plus, its low carbohydrate percentage makes brown rice better than white rice for diabetes control. You get numerous health and nutritional benefits from eating brown rice.
Compared to other grains, brown rice has a shorter shelf life because it is naturally more oily compared to other grains, making it easier for it to spoil in storage. Even when packaged for long-term storage, the shelf life of brown rice will only reach 10 years. Additionally, you should know that brown rice is high in arsenic which can lead to serious diseases. Small amounts of arsenic can lead to a higher risk of heart disease and Type 2 Diabetes (source). If you decide to store brown rice in your pantry, it is important to consider storing other grains to provide a greater variety in your diet as well as provide a more balanced diet.
Related Article: How to Store Brown Rice for Long-Term Storage?
4) Highest Protein Grain: Kamut
|Pros of Kamut||Cons of Kamut|
|Max shelf life of 25+ years||More expensive than other grains|
|Contains 20-40% more protein than other other grains||Kamut is not as widely available as other grains|
|Contains nutrients that support brain health, bone health, and balancing hormones||Reliable and safe suppliers of kamut are difficult to find|
Our Experience with Kamut
Kamut is an ancient grain that contains 20-40% more protein than common wheat. For every cup, Kamut contains 9.8g of Protein (source). Additionally, Kamut has numerous health benefits, such as supporting bone health, brain health, and balancing hormones (source). Kamut can also be stored for over 25 years if stored properly in a mylar bag or 5-gallon bucket.
This should be included in your pantry if your goal is to ensure you get a good source of protein. Protein is an important nutrient because it helps build and repair muscles. In a prolonged crisis, we need to ensure we are getting sufficient protein for our bodies. So if you are looking for a good protein source in a grain, kamut would be your ideal grain.
As for some of the downsides of Kamut, Kamut is not as widely available as other grains. Because of this, kamut is more expensive than other grains. Additionally, we found it difficult to identify reliable suppliers that package kamut for long-term storage. For this reason, you are better off packaging Kamut yourself for long-term storage to ensure food quality. Lastly, one important note about kamut is that it contains gluten, so it should be avoided by people with gluten intolerance.
The Kamut source we found, Great Place Foods, is known to source organic grains and is ethically sourced from high-quality places. The vast majority of their suppliers are located in the Midwest, and you are supporting family-owned farms by purchasing from Great Place Foods.
5) Best Breakfast Grain: Oats
|Pros of Oats||Cons of Oats|
|High in protein, fats, fiber, and other nutrients||Excessive consumption can lead to stomach discomfort due to high fiber|
|Multipurpose grain that can be used to make unique foods||Naturally bland flavor, so suggest mixing with sugar and fruits|
|Shelf life of 25+ Years||Typically eaten for breakfast only|
Our Experience with Oats
Oats are one of our favorite grains because it’s a great overall grain. There are so many benefits to it: it has a long shelf life, it is high in fats, proteins, and other nutrients, and it’s easy to repurpose for other uses. We think having oats in your long-term food storage will provide your family with a consistent source of nutrient-dense food source and a variety of unique meals. Oats can be used to make oat milk, oatmeal, oatcakes, and more. When stored properly, oats have a shelf life of over 25 years.
Although you can get creative with oats and make unique foods, it is not as versatile as other grains such as rice or cornmeal. So if you are someone who doesn’t like to eat the same food for a prolonged time, oats may not be the grain for you. Additionally, eating excess oats can cause stomach swelling, abdominal cramps, and gas (source). So it’s important to consume oats in moderation and vary it with other grains for a healthy diet.
Related Article: How to Store Oats Long-Term for Maximum Storage
6) Best Grain Substitue: Quinoa
|Pros of Quinoa||Cons of Quinoa|
|Max shelf life of 20+ years||Overconsumption of quinoa can lead to a quinoa allergy|
|Nutrient dense, and contains all the essential amino acids to build protein||Overconsumption of quinoa can cause stomach discomfort due to high fiber concentration|
|Pairs well with different types of foods and ingredients||Naturally high amount of saponins can cause stomach discomfort if quinoa is not washed well|
Our Experience with Quinoa
Technically, quinoa is not a grain; it’s a close substitute and can be used like a grain. Quinoa is actually the seeds of the quinoa flower. And because it is not a grain, it is gluten-free. It is filled with nutrients and essential amino acids needed to build protein. We personally use quinoa regularly because it’s a versatile, healthy prepper food that is easy to store for long-term storage. When stored properly, quinoa can have a shelf life of over 20 years.
Although quinoa is a superfood, there are some disadvantages you should know about frequently eating quinoa. For starters, there have been cases of people developing quinoa allegories from regular consumption. This can be limited by washing thoroughly and removing the natural saponin coating. Quinoa is also known to cause bloating and gas from frequent consumption. Also, people with Crohn’s Disease should not eat quinoa as it may worsen their symptoms. Still, eating quinoa can lead to many other benefits, and as long as you balance quinoa with other foods in your diet, you can limit some of the side effects of frequent consumption (source).
Related Article: How to Store Quinoa for Maximum Shelf Life
Grains should be included in your long term food storage pantry as they can provide you and your family with a consistent source of calories and essential nutrients in an emergency. The shelf life of grains vary by the type, and you should keep this in mind before making a bulk purchase. For example, brown rice has a shelf life of 10 years but white rice can last past 25 years in storage. If you are undecided on the type of grains to store, we think cornmeal is a great overall grain as it has a long shelf life of over 25 years, and can be used for making baked, breakfast, lunch, and dinner foods. In an a SHTF scenario, you will be able to make lots of use of your cornmeal and provide your family with essential nutrients calories throughout a crisis.
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