A whopping 40% of all food in America spoils and gets thrown away. To put that into personal terms, you toss out $2,275 worth of food every year. Not only is that a waste of money, but it’s also a waste of your time grocery shopping.
Stock up on the essential foods we’ve listed below, and you’ll never have to worry about them going bad — these foods basically never expire! You’ll cut your food waste, and you’ll also be well-prepared for when the zombie apocalypse arrives.
When the world goes nuts and you’re hiding out in your bunker, reach for nuts. They last for up to a year without needing any refrigeration, and will last even longer if you toss them in your freezer.
You’ll be the only house on the post-apocalyptic block enjoying sushi.
Keep this Asian staple nice and dry by storing it in a sealed container, and it’ll basically last forever. For longer storage, some people add food-grade diatomaceous earth to keep bugs away. Just make sure you don’t store brown rice. Unlike other forms of rice, like wild rice or basmati rice, brown rice is higher in fatty oils which can make it go bad.
Researchers have actually found ancient honey while digging around ancient cities in Egypt. We wouldn’t recommend eating it, but you technically could. That’s thanks to the way bees make honey, it’s basically immune from bacteria growth. Store it in a cool, dark spot, and 5,000 years from now archaeologists might be putting your still-edible pantry into a museum.
4. White Vinegar
White vinegar is used in dozens of old wives’ remedies, from seasoning food to cleaning laundry. And vinegar has outlived every old wife who has ever used it. It’s so acidic that it doesn’t go bad. So, for a one-size-fits-all household ingredient, stock up!
You’ll never look at cornrows the same again once you’ve used cornstarch to detangle and wash your hair. This kitchen staple, while usually used in cooking, can also be eaten on its own or used like baking soda to keep bad smells at bay.
Satisfy your sweet tooth even at the world’s end with brown or white sugar, which lasts indefinitely. Unfortunately, while it never goes bad, it does start to stick together and form a massive, solid block of cavity-building potential. Embrace your inner Thor and smack it with a hammer to break it apart again.
7. Hard Liquor
If all your food has spoiled and you’re feeling depressed, soothe your sorrows with hard liquor. Most people drink their liquor too fast to ever discover this fact — we’re not judging — but vodka, gin, and other hard spirits don’t need refrigeration and don’t spoil.
If you buy your salt in bulk at Costco and wonder how you’ll ever get through it all, don’t worry — leave it in your will for your kids or grandkids. Salt never goes bad, and people even add it to other foods to keep those foods lasting longer, too.
9. Dried Beans
Thank goodness, the gas you get from eating beans does not last as long as the beans themselves. Dried beans like pinto beans or kidney beans can last five years or more when kept in somewhere dry, cool, and dark.
10. Pure Maple Syrup
“Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker’s man. Bake me a pancake as SLOW as you can.” Drizzle pure maple syrup on pancake for years and years, since it doesn’t ever expire. Just make sure it’s real maple syrup and not the fake sugar-laden stuff you find in IHOP.
11. Canned Meats
Whether it’s tuna or spam, canned meats last for up to five years. Plus, it’s pre-cooked so if there’s a power outage, you’ll still be able to have a fancy feast like a king (or a cat).
Thanks to the vinegar and other spices in mustard, it will last upwards of three years if the bottle isn’t opened. Unfortunately, its counterpart ketchup expires much faster, so there may be mustard-only hot dogs in your zombie apocalypse future.
13. Soy Sauce
Soy sauce is made from fermented soybeans, so in a sense it’s already spoiled. This, plus its high salt content, keeps the condiment from going from fermented-and-tasty to unusable-and-sour. Depending on the type of soy sauce you have, it can last for five or more years!
14. Hard Tack
This British-style cracker is also known as “ship’s biscuit” because it was used on long ocean trips thanks to its ability to last, and last, and last. Surprisingly, it’s still used in many European navy and military forces.
One thing to watch for: bugs. Always store it in a bug-proof container. There’s a reason hard tack’s other nickname is “worm castle.”
When you see this butter substitute, you’ll definitely NOT say: “I can’t believe it’s not butter!” It looks kind of like partially liquid, yellow mashed potatoes.
Ghee is made by boiling normal butter until most of the water has evaporated, and the resulting mash can last for years. There is even 100-year-old ghee! Find this long-lasting butter substitute in the ethnic or Asian section of the grocery store.
You can find pemmican in specialty health food stores and even served in some restaurants in Canada. It’s a Native American beef jerky-like snack made from game meat (bison or deer is common) and local fruits like cranberries or blueberries. Arctic explorers used to pack this lightweight yet calorie-dense food as a portable meal.
17. Powdered Milk
Dried, unopened powdered milk can last nearly a decade. An easy way to tell if it’s still good is checking its color. If it has turned yellow, moisture has probably gotten into it and it’s spoiled. Powdered milk will go great with your instant coffee, which is another ingredient that can last for years if unopened.
18. Dried Pasta
Keep dried pasta sealed and away from moisture and it’ll last longer than the lineup outside of Olive Garden in Times Square.
19. Dried Fruit
Bacteria needs moisture to grow, so truly dried fruit (the hard, dehydrated stuff and not the semi-moist snack stuff) will last for years if kept dry.
20. Hard Cheese in Wax
Wheel away a big wheel of hard cheese that’s encased in wax. When sealed in this traditional fashion, it can last for 25 to 30 years. When the world has gone to pieces, two things will stand as testaments to humanity’s two greatest obsessions: Madame Tussaud’s wax versions of the Kardashians, and wheels upon wheels of fancy cheese.