It’s always such a shame when you reach for some food in your fridge or pantry to find that it’s gone bad. Even if it wasn’t expensive, you feel guilty throwing it away because, at one point, it could have provided sustenance to you, or even to somebody else who needed it. But if you are a busy individual, you probably run into this issue: if it were up to you, you’d do all of your grocery shopping for the month in one trip, but doing so often results in buying more food than you can get around to eating before its expiration date. Though I’d love to say that I lead a life full of all Farmer’s Market fresh meals, that’s just not the case. I don’t have time to get fresh produce every few days. I need a little more utility from my foods than things that turn moldy or begin to wilt after a few days. And I am just too busy to grocery shop often enough to stick to purely fresh foods. Fortunately, there are some foods that are not only healthy, but can also be used to make many things, and almost never go bad – or at least probably won’t before you eat them, or even in your lifetime. Here are healthy foods that almost never go bad.
Whether you want pinto beans to make tostadas, kidney beans to make chili, or black beans for some hearty black bean soup, raw beans are a great non-perishable choice. When raw (aka in their rock-solid form) they can last almost forever. You just need to soak them to hydrate them and prepare them for your recipes. Until then, they won’t age.
Oats are high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and can be used for your traditional bowl of oatmeal with honey and milk, as well as in oatmeal cookies, or even in smoothies to add texture. You can even make savory oatmeal by putting a poached egg with some avocado and hot sauce over your oats. They fill you up for hours and, when left raw, take ages to go bad.
Though it’s not everyone’s favorite food – people either love it or hate it – this canned meat product can last a very long time. It has tons of protein, and can be added to scrambles, grilled and put on salads, or used as your sandwich meat.
Jerky is an excellent non-perishable to have on hand if you need on-the-go energy. And it can be any jerky you want, from turkey, to beef, to elk, to alligator (for the more adventurous snackers). Our ancestors have been making the stuff for centuries. It was one of the original non-perishables, and is high in protein and low in fat.
Dry rice is an excellent addition to your stock of non-perishables. Brown rice is high in fiber to keep you full, and even white rice has plenty of minerals. It can be the base to so many dishes, including to a simple rice and beans dish, to make use of another item on this list.
Though fresh fruit goes bad quickly, the dried stuff almost never goes bad – just be sure to keep it in an airtight bag so that insects don’t get into is, as they’re attracted to its sugar. And remember that dried fruit, though tiny once shriveled, contains even more sugar than the fresh stuff, so don’t have too much in one sitting.
Microwavable bags with their butter and kernel can and will go bad. But raw, plain popcorn kernels – the kind you make in an air popper – almost never go bad. They’re just the kernels stripped off of the dry decorative corn you may keep in storage for Thanksgiving decorations.
Olives are high in healthy fats and rich in antioxidants, as well as vitamin E. Whether you like pimento olives, green olives, bell pepper- or blue cheese stuffed-olives, you can’t go wrong. They go great in salads, or chopped up as a tapenade.
You may have noticed that the dry pasta shelves were quickly wiped out as soon as the grocery-hoarding at the beginning of the current pandemic began. And while that hoarding was not really necessary, the shoppers had one thing right: pasta nearly never goes bad. And there are so many types today boasting extra nutrition like some of the gluten-free ones, they can be a great add to your non-perishable pile.
Quinoa is another grain that can last a very long time, and because it’s loaded with protein, it can be a great thing to keep around if you need a vegetarian non-perishable. It can often be used in place of rice, or it can be chilled and added to salads.
Lentils, like beans, can last a very long time in their raw form. Simply soak them for several hours to hydrate them and get them ready for cooking. They can be used to make lentil soup, lentil patties, or lentil dip. They’re also good for adding to salads, cold, as a vegetarian protein source.
While canned chickpeas certainly have a long shelf life, if you want the stuff that truly won’t go bad, just get raw chickpeas. Like lentils and beans, they’ll need to be soaked before use. But these you can blend up to make hummus, add to salads, or even toss them in pesto pasta for vegetarian protein. They’re an excellent source of protein and fiber.
Hard cheese in wax
Hard cheese is a product of aging. Its other name is aged cheese. When properly sealed in wax, it can last in your refrigerator for a very long time. Admittedly, this shelf life is more like two to four months depending on the cheese, but we wanted to offer something to our cheese lovers who keep finding mold over their shredded cheddar.
When kept in an air-tight container, nuts can last for six months in the pantry, a year in the fridge, and even two years in the freezer. You may not have realized you could freeze nuts! But because they are such a naturally dry food, there is no risk of them getting dehydrated in the freezer.
Chia seeds can add that little something to yogurt bowls, acai bowls, and smoothies. They boast protein, antioxidants, omega-3s, and lots of fiber, all in a couple of tiny tablespoons. And the best part is that they last for months in a pantry, if stored properly.