How-To & Advice

How to DIY a 25-Year Emergency Food Supply

There’s a lot that can go wrong during and after a disaster, starvation being a prime predictor in whether you survive or perish the ordeal.

However, if you start preparing today, going hungry will be the least of your problems should the worst happen. Let’s take a look at how to prepare yourself for survival with a 25-year emergency food supply.

25 year shelf life

While stockpiling an emergency food supply that has a viable 25-year shelf life may sound rather daunting, it doesn’t hurt to try and imagine the worst possible scenario to better prepare for them.

Whether it’s a political, environmental, or man-made disaster, having a stable and well-planned emergency food supply is the single most important thing you can do for you and your family.

What is a 25-Year Emergency Food Supply?

Not all food supplies are created equal. This is primarily due to the intent of that food supply, rather than what that food supply actually contains. In this case, a 25-year shelf life emergency food supply is meant to be shelf-stable for two and a half decades.

By shelf-stable, we are, of course, referring to food that will not spoil or go bad during their stated shelf life, while requiring very little upkeep. Other than adhering to the recommended storage conditions, this food will remain a viable food source without ever having to be touched.

variety of shelf stable foods

Variety of shelf stable foods

That said, chances are that the first place your mind goes to when you think of stockpiling long-lasting food is canned items. You picture shelf after shelf of canned goods in your pantry and hope this supply will be sufficient to offset the duration of the immediate disaster.

While canned goods are an excellent source for stockpiling an emergency food supply, they aren’t exactly meant to last 25-years.

typical grocery store canned food aisle

Typical grocery store canned food aisle

High-acid canned foods such as fruits and tomatoes can last you up to a year and a half, and low-acid canned foods such as meats and vegetables can go for up to five years.

Even if you store canned goods in a cool and dark place, you can only extend their shelf life by a few months or perhaps a year at most. Past that, you will need to be creative and find other food sources as your canned goods will have gone bad.

Buy or Make a 25-year Emergency Food Supply

If your goal is to create an emergency food supply with a 25-year shelf life, you have two options:

  • Buy prepared food guaranteed to have a shelf life of 25-years
  • Make the food supply yourself

Buying the Food Supply

The easiest option is to simply buy an already prepared 25-year emergency food supply. However, you will not find these foods at your local grocery store. You’ll need to buy them at a specialty store that offers various sized kits of powdered, dehydrated, or freeze-dried food in Mylar bags.

Mylar is a kind of polyester used in making things like emergency space blankets, solar filters, and helium balloons. It’s extremely durable and can create an extremely airtight barrier, which makes it the best choice for long term emergency food storage.

Food Supply Candidates

The following is a list of popular companies that specialize in producing emergency food with a 25-year shelf life:

Granted, while this option is certainly not cheap, you can rest assured that these foods are guaranteed to have a shelf life of at least 25-years and are also guaranteed to deliver the same great taste and texture as when the foods were first made.

Making the Food Supply

While buying your 25-year emergency food supply is an excellent and largely painless option, it’s also quite expensive. If cost is a factor to you, the alternative is to build your own emergency food supply from scratch. This option has several advantages:

  • You will save money
  • You will learn how to make and preserve food that will last decades
  • You can customize the food supply to fit your dietary needs (vegan, gluten-free, raw food diet, etc.)

Below are the steps to make your own 25-year emergency food supply.

Equipment and Supplies

Preparation is key when gearing up for a potential emergency situation. Planning a food supply is no exception. That said, expect a reasonable start-up cost to get your own emergency food supply off the ground. Here’s a cheat sheet of what you’ll need out of the gate to get started:

  • A large supply of Mylar bags in different sizes and capacities. You can buy these by the carton and use them in conjunction with an impulse heat sealer to easily seal and extend the shelf life of your foods.
drypacks mylar bags 1 quart

DryPacks Mylar Bags 1 Quart – Pack of 50

  • Oxygen absorbers for food storage. These are added to each Mylar pouch before sealing to ensure all the oxygen is removed from the bag. This also greatly extends the shelf life of your foods in the mylar pouch.
packfresh 300cc oxygen absorbers

PackFresh 300cc Oxygen Absorbers for Mylar Bag Food Storage

  • A heat source to seal Mylar bags shut. In this case, using an impulse sealer will allow the Mylar bag and its contents to remain safe and viable in your emergency food supply.
Flexzion 16-inch Impulse Sealer - Mylar Poly Bag Heat Sealing Machine

Flexzion 16-inch Impulse Sealer – Mylar Poly Bag Heat Sealing Machine

  • Plastic 5-gallon buckets. These will act as your primary food storage containers. Although slightly more expensive, it is worth investing in buckets that use a Gamma Seal lid as they are the gold standard for food storage.

It is crucial that any bucket meant for food storage is made of a food-grade plastic, otherwise chemicals and dye from the plastic bucket could lead to food contamination.

gammaseal brand 5-gallon bucket

  • A freeze-dryer. This will be necessary for removing all moisture from meats, fruits and vegetables. A freeze-dryer is expensive, and you might be tempted to use a dehydrator instead.

While a dehydrator will remove moisture from food as well, it is not nearly as efficient as dehydrators can leave behind up to 10% water content in the food.

The technology used in a freeze-dryer chills your food down to about negative 30 degrees Fahrenheit and activates a high-powered vacuum pump that gets rid of the water vapor found inside the food.

This process removes all moisture, and as such, your food can last more than 20 years when properly sealed and stored in this manner.

harvestright freeze dryer

HarvestRight Freeze Dryer

  • Label maker. You’ll need this inexpensive device to create self-adhesive labels identifying the contents within your sealed Mylar bags.

Mylar bags are not transparent, so having a label clearly identifying what’s inside is very important, especially if you have prepared meals that were made to satisfy specific dietary requirements (vegan, gluten-free, raw food, etc.).

brother ptd600 touch label maker

Brother P-Touch Label Maker – Model PTD600

How to Prepare Your Emergency Food Supply

Once you have everything you need, the following steps are rather simple and straightforward:

  1. Cut up larger food items into smaller pieces
  2. Combine the foods you want, such as pasta with cheese, meat, and vegetables, etc. and put them in a tray (foods that you would typically combine in a meal)
  3. Put the prepared meals into the freeze dryer
  4. Once the process is done, put the meals into a Mylar bag with the oxygen absorbers, using different bags for different meals
  5. Seal the Mylar bags with the impulse sealer and label each bag with its contents
  6. Store the bagged meals in food-grade plastic buckets and label each bucket accordingly

Final Thoughts

Regardless if you bought your 25-year emergency food supply or made your own, you will need to find the right place to store your food since this can greatly affect its shelf life.

The most important criteria for storage is to keep your emergency food supply away from heat and sunlight. Even though your food will be sealed in Mylar bags and plastic buckets, it’s critical to keep your food away from light exposure and high temperatures.

Traditionally, this means storing your food in cool, dark places such as a root cellar or your basement. If you live in a place where these are not available, storing the food away from windows and sources of heat (such as a furnace or water heater) is your next best bet.

root cellars

Root cellars – The old school way of storing your food supply

Ideally, if you don’t have a root cellar or basement, store your food supply in an interior room, such as a closet at the lowest level of your home. Be sure to check on your food supply from time to time to assess its condition and update its inventory if you are cycling food in and out of your supply.


Still have questions about how to put together the ideal 25-year emergency food supply? Read our FAQ below for answers to some of the more commonly asked questions. Also, remember to always hope for the best but prepare for the worst with your 25-year emergency food supply.

Where is the best place to start when you start to DIY a 25-year emergency food supply?

Many people, like those you see in movies, often start their stockpile by gathering an assortment of canned food items. However, think about the expiration date of these canned items. Many high-acid items like tomatoes and fruit will only last for about a year and a half. Lower acid options like vegetables and meat, on the other hand, can last up to five years as long as they are stored in a cool and dry place. So, instead, start with pre-sealed mylar packages and build up your supply from there.

What are some of the best emergency food supplies?

When determining what food and emergency supplies you need to have in your pantry, consider the individual needs of your family or group. You also need to have an estimate of how long you are planning for. Augason Farms has some good 1-year emergency food supply kits that can provide each person with up to 1377 calories per day, and the products have a shelf life of up to 30 years, which helps fulfill any longer-term emergency food supply need you may have.

What items should be in your emergency food supply?

When building up your emergency food supply, a basic kit should have enough water for each person. This means one gallon per person per day for both drinking and sanitation. You should then try to stick to the emergency essentials when starting.

You can purchase pre-packaged meals and emergency meal options from many companies each month at a reasonable price. This allows you the opportunity to stock up with everything you need over time. You should have a good selection of dehydrated, powdered, and freeze dried foods available that are packed and sealed into mylar bags.

What is the best survival food with a long shelf life?

In addition to your pre-packaged, freeze dried and dehydrated meals, you can also store hard grains like buckwheat, soft white wheat, and millet. These grains can last for up to 12 years when they are stored properly. You can also include canned meat, dried fruit, and other dehydrated food options, but be sure to check the expiration dates before storing them as a part of your emergency kit.

You can store them with oxygen absorbers to help extend their life as well. Other items you can stock up on include honey, dried beans, dried lentils, maple syrup, and pasta.

What should I look for when finding a company to invest in for emergency food?

This is definitely a big consideration when it comes to investing your money into an emergency food supply. Check websites and reviews. You want a company that has products and emergency meal options that have a 25 year shelf life. You also want to inquire about how their products are stored.

For example, do they come packaged in mylar bags? Finally, what kind of food do they offer? You want to have options available to you, and you also want to consider the nutritional value of your selections as well.

Is there a benefit to storing dehydrated food?

Dehydrated food and freeze dried foods are lightweight and take up very little space. However, when you choose these options, you can’t forget that water is a requirement to rehydrate them before consuming them.

So, you will want to make sure to account for the water that is needed for this as well as hydration and sanitation. There are also some dehydrated food options you can eat as is such as certain fruits.

What kind of nutritional needs should I consider when building an emergency supply?

You want to find foods with protein, carbohydrates, and good fats. These can help keep your energy levels up. Foods like nuts, dried meat, whole grains, and canned beans are all good choices to consider adding to your food kit. You also want to stay on top of food safety and sanitation for everything you store as well.

What do you think of our write-up? Did we get it right? Feel that we got it super wrong? Tell us! Feel free to reach out and let us know what you think of the article; we always appreciate thoughtful, constructive criticism, good or bad!