If you’re trying to decide which extra foods to have on hand in the event of an emergency or prolonged illness, it can feel overwhelming to decide in the moment. These 15 best shelf-stable foods for kids are pantry staples that can form the base of many healthy and simple meals.
Shelf Stable Foods for Kids
I know firsthand how hard it can be to figure out what emergency supplies to have on hand for kids, especially since most of us aren’t really in the habit of stocking up for anything other than storms like hurricanes. But if you do find yourself needing a few extra foods to keep on hand for the kids (and yourself), these 15 basics are a good place to start.
Emergency Foods for Kids
If you were to lose power or have no access to a grocery store, that would clearly be an emergency. So perhaps consider these your backup shelf stable foods should that ever happen—and keep them in a box where you can regularly check expiration dates, but not use all of them up throughout the course of a normal week of cooking. (Or if you do, simply add them back to your grocery list!
- Beans (dried or canned)
- Canned fruit (I recommend juice canned in 100% juice instead of the artificially sweetened “no added sugar” kind)
- Dried fruit
- Granola bars
- Flour (to make simple bread like this No-Knead one; sub in a baking mix or more crackers or cereal if you prefer)
- Mac and cheese
- Nut or seed butter
- Pasta sauce
- Shelf-stable milk (such as plant milk, Pharmalat, or single serve milks)
Food to Keep in the Freezer
You may also want to add a few things to your freezer. This may not help if you experience a power loss, but it can help if you find yourself at home and unable to get to the store due to sickness. My best freezer foods are here.
Best Store-Bought Snacks for Kids
If you want to keep some extra snacks on hand for the kids, you can find my go-to healthy store-bought food list here. It includes a section on shelf-stable foods too!
A Note to Caution Hoarding Food
There are so many families who live paycheck to paycheck and simply don’t have the means to buy extra food. There are food banks who need supplies to feed their clientele. There are older neighbors who can’t get out of the house when it’s not the day their home health aide brings them groceries. For all of these reasons, and also to help limit collective panic in the case of an emergency, I’d caution against being too overzealous with your stocking up. We’re all going to have different levels of comfort with backup food, but you most likely (I HOPE!) don’t need to have supplies to outfit a bunker.