Wheat, rice, and beans are the building blocks of most survival food storage checklists, but on their own, even with canned food, they don’t create a healthy, highly nutritious diet. Building an effective emergency food storage requires more than just storing shallow calories. It’s crucial also to include optimal nutrition, so you stay healthy even under duress. Superfoods, combined with staples, allow us to build a food storage pantry with the nutrition to help us thrive, not just survive.
Table of contents
- What Is A Superfood?
- The Superfoods I Left Out and Why
- Superfoods for Long-Term Food Storage
- Dark Leafy Greens
- Berries: An Essential Superfood
- Nuts: A Superfood That Also Provides Calories
- Garlic: A Must Have Superfood for Food Storage
- Salmon: A Brain Superfood
- Eggs: A Perfect Protein
- Sweet Potatoes: A Sweet Superfood
- Pumpkin: Easy as Pie to Put Into Food Storage
- The Superfood Spices
- Lentils: A Tiny, But Mighty Superfood
- Mushrooms: The Dark Horse Superfood
- Choose the Right Superfoods for Your Food Storage
What Is A Superfood?
Superfoods are nutrient-dense, low-calorie foods that are exceptionally high in antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins. They fight the good fight against inflammation, cancer, and cholesterol and give our immune systems a big boost.
“Superfoods are those that offer exceptional health benefits beyond what you’d expect based on just their nutritional profile,” explains Beth Czerwony, Registered Dietician at the Cleveland Clinic.
Is Superfood a Marketing Gimmick?
To dispel any myths, “superfoods” are not magical, nor are they a guarantee that you won’t get cancer or illness. In fact, “superfoods” aren’t even a real category of foods. The food industry made up the term to market certain foods, and the term has stuck. It now refers to foods that research has shown to be particularly effective at fighting bad stuff.
The good news is that many superfoods are probably already a part of your healthy diet and food storage. If not, incorporating these foods now will make for a stronger, healthier you. A healthy body is one of our best strategies for thriving during difficult times.
The Superfoods I Left Out and Why
There are many “superfoods,” but this list only includes those that are widely available and easy to store or grow. For example, avocados are tasty and highly nutritious but cannot be stored long-term. Sadly, they are also challenging to grow outside of tropical climates unless you have a greenhouse. Hence, avocados did not make the cut for this list.
Superfoods for Long-Term Food Storage
Dark Leafy Greens
- Swiss Chard
- Collard Greens
- Turnip Greens
- Dandelion Greens
- Mustard Greens
- Beet Greens
- Bok Choy
- Romaine Lettuce
- Homegrown Microgreens
How to Always Have Dark Leafy Greens on Hand
Dark leafy greens are one of the easiest superfoods to have on hand. Here are some ways to ensure you are never without this vitamin powerhouse.
- Take the easy route and add some canned or freeze-dried spinach or kale to your long-term food storage. Then, throw a handful of the freeze-dried green into any soup recipe for a nice boost of Vitamins A and C.
- Include some Powdered Greens in your food storage. A plethora of Superfood Green Powders on the market is shelf-stable. These powders are mixtures of freeze-dried and powdered fruits and vegetables that you add to water, smoothies, or other foods. And there are lots of them out there! Alternatively, make your own green powder by dehydrating and grinding greens yourself. It’s an easy and cost-effective option, provided you already own a dehydrator. Be sure to store your containers of these powders and any protein powders that are part of your food storage in a cool location.
- Dark leafy greens are crazy easy to grow. They thrive in a garden, a cold frame, or inside your house. For quick indoor harvests, try microgreens or sprouts. (Not sure how to start growing things? Find a bonanza of gardening help here.)
- Learn to can your own greens. Those abundant harvests in the summer can keep you healthy all winter long.
- Forage dandelion and other greens in the spring and summer. There are right and wrong ways to forage, so educate yourself.
Berries: An Essential Superfood
Berries pack a lot of antioxidants, fiber, and vitamins into sweet little packages. Research indicates that eating berries can help prevent cancer, stabilize blood sugar, and improve heart health. Fortunately for us, they’re also easy to store, grow, and–in some areas–forage.
For purposes of this article, I have included only berries that are easily accessible in the U.S. and available as freeze-dried for the longest possible storage options. You can also learn to can your own berries using a water bath or pressure canner. Dehydrating and grinding them into fruit powders is also a great space-saving option.
Blueberries are jampacked with cell-protecting antioxidants, Vitamins C and K. They also help stabilize blood sugar. This is a superfood that you’ll want to plan into your food storage as they’re difficult to grow outside of humid, northern climates. For the most extended storage option, freeze-dried blueberries should last 10-15 years unopened. However, they’re also available canned, dehydrated, frozen, or powdered for different storage needs.
These yummies are incredibly high in fiber. They grow in most climate zones and will grow rampant if not contained. I’ve found them growing wild in mountain meadows on hikes, so I know they can be foraged in some areas. As with all the berries on this list, you will find them freeze-dried, dehydrated, canned (puree), frozen or powdered as you need.
Did you know that only five strawberries contain as much Vitamin C as an orange? They also reduce inflammation and help control blood sugar. Definitely include some freeze-dried strawberries in your food storage, but consider growing some as well. Strawberries grow just about anywhere in the U.S. and even grow wild. The only trick is to give the plants plenty of space to spread out because that’s what they do best.
These bitter berries are generally consumed sweetened, but that doesn’t cancel out their health benefits. In addition to lots of antioxidants and vitamins, cranberries can also help prevent UTIs (Urinary Tract Infections). Unfortunately, cranberries grow in wetlands, so most people won’t be able to grow them, but you can put a few canned, dried, or freeze-dried away for the holidays.
Although many of us prefer our grapes in wine form, whole grapes are a superfood. They’re a good source of potassium as well as antioxidants. Although it grows in many different areas of the US, it takes several years to reap a bountiful harvest. You can store freeze-dried or canned grapes long-term. Include raisins (dried grapes) or frozen grapes in your food storage for short-term needs.
You can stock up on a variety of freeze-dried berries quickly with this Berry 6-Pack from Thrive Life.
Nuts: A Superfood That Also Provides Calories
I struggled with whether or not to include nuts on this list because they can become rancid if not correctly stored. However, nuts can be:
- Frozen for a year or more
- Stored in the refrigerator for six months
- Successfully sealed with an oxygen absorber for up to 2 years
Nuts contain fiber, protein, and healthy oils plus, unlike most superfoods, they are high in calories. We may not want too many calories in our everyday life, but they are critical in a survival situation. If you regularly incorporate nuts into your diet, it will be easier to rotate your store of nuts and keep things fresh.
You may or may not know that 90% of our commercially produced nuts come from California. Specifically, the Central Valley. If drought conditions or pollinator issues escalate, nut production in the US will plummet. If you live in a zone where nut trees can thrive, growing one or more on your property would be both a superfood source and a cash crop.
Learn how to repackage varieties of nuts for the longest shelf life here.
Garlic: A Must Have Superfood for Food Storage
Garlic is not only a must-have seasoning, it’s also an amazing superfood. The list of health benefits is long:
- Cancer prevention
- Lowers cholesterol
- Blood sugar stabilizer
- Immunity booster
Garlic is a medicine chest in odiferous form.
For long-term storage, use freeze-dried or dehydrated garlic. If you want to grow your own, it’s almost effortless to grow garlic from a bulb. You put it in the ground in the fall and then, voila, harvest it in early summer. Even cold winters don’t seem to deter garlic from growing in my garden. You can also forage for garlic if you live in the eastern half of the US.
Salmon: A Brain Superfood
Salmon is another superfood that adds calories to your diet and some intense nutrition. It’s a lean protein with copious amounts of super healthy omega-3 oils that are good for your heart and brain. Adding canned salmon to your food storage boosts the nutrition profile–and variety–of your stored meats.
Unless you live in Alaska or the Pacific Northwest, you’re unlikely to have fresh sources of salmon. For most of us, this is a superfood for which you will have to plan ahead or go without, but if you do have access to fresh salmon, it’s pretty easy to can.
One last thing about salmon. Although I can’t vouch for them as I’ve never tried them, I found some interesting freeze-dried salmon products during my research. So if you try these salmon filets or salmon burgers, please let me know what you think.
Eggs: A Perfect Protein
Calling the common egg a superfood may seem counterintuitive…until you know the health benefits. Eggs are a complete protein, packed with many vitamins, and are surprisingly heart-healthy. In addition, they’re so versatile that I can’t imagine NOT including them in my long-term food storage.
Recent egg shortages have created higher demand (and prices) for freeze-dried eggs, but you can still get them, and they’re easy to use either for scrambled eggs or in recipes. Other storage methods include freezing eggs, water glassing them (this is not FDA approved), or pickling them.
Even better than storing eggs, raising your own chickens will give you fresh eggs and a potential source of income.
Sweet Potatoes: A Sweet Superfood
Just one sweet potato contains 400% of RDA for Vitamin A! They also contain all kinds of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Sweet potatoes help keep your eyes, immune system, and organs healthy.
To store sweet potatoes, keep them in a cool, dark place for several months. You can also pressure can them into jars which will keep them for at least a year (although many canners say they can last several years). Cans of chopped and pureed sweet potatoes are available in the store or online. And finally, freeze-dried and dehydrated sweet potatoes are widely available, as is sweet potato powder.
Sweet potatoes prefer warm, humid climates to grow, but short-season varieties are available for planting in most zones.
Pumpkin: Easy as Pie to Put Into Food Storage
Pumpkins are not just for jack-o-lanterns or pie. They’re filled with zinc, iron, fiber, Vitamin C, and beta-carotene for superfood status. I love how many creative ways there are to use this tasty superfood with recipes from soup to muffins to ravioli.
Incorporating pumpkin into your food storage is as easy as adding a few cans from the grocery store. However, if you have fresh pumpkins from your garden, they can be pressure canned, and the seeds can be toasted. For long-term storage, freeze-dried pumpkin powder or commercially canned pumpkin are your best bets.
Pumpkins can grow almost anywhere in the US, so you may want to add this superfood to your garden plans. Just plan in plenty of space for them to spread out.
The Superfood Spices
Growing these spices is unlikely in most parts of the US. They thrive in a tropical climate not found outside of Florida or a greenhouse, so it’s much easier to simply store them.
I prefer to buy them in large quantities for a lower price per ounce and then divide the spices into smaller containers like these. Or, you can save spice containers, wash them, and re-use them for your food storage spices.
All three of these deserve a spot in your food storage as both superfood and super spice.
- You can’t store pumpkin without its perfect complementary spice…cinnamon. Like other superfoods, cinnamon contains powerful antioxidants, is heart-healthy, and reduces blood sugar.
- A potent anti-inflammatory, turmeric also has compounds that improve brain health and reduce heart disease.
- Ginger has strong antibacterial and antiviral properties. It’s also useful for stomach disturbances.
These spices can go into long-term storage but must be regularly rotated for freshness. You can seal them in mason jars for longer shelf life. Ginger comes in a freeze-dried version that lasts even longer.
Lentils: A Tiny, But Mighty Superfood
Lentils are so cheap and easy to store that they’re a no-brainer for emergency food storage. Referred to as a “nutritional powerhouse ” by one source, lentils are high in protein, folate, and other minerals. Best of all, dried lentils can be stored for many years if stored properly.
Lentils prefer cooler but not cold climates and can be a little finicky to grow. I recommend conducting some research to find out if your zone is appropriate.
Mushrooms: The Dark Horse Superfood
When a superfood is also a tasty flavor enhancer–as in the case of mushrooms–it must be included in food storage. These basement dwellers have B vitamins, oxidants, Vitamin D, and potassium. They are good for bone health and boosting immune systems.
Mushrooms are also available in so many storable forms that you probably have them in your food storage whether you meant to or not. They’re readily available freeze-dried. You can get them commercially packaged in cans and jars, buy mushrooms as powders, or dehydrate them yourself. Easy peasy.
Interestingly, mushrooms do not need sunlight to grow, which makes them different from every other superfood on this list. They need “substrate” instead of regular soil to grow, so they require some specialty gardening techniques. However, an unexpected change in atmospheric conditions might make growing mushrooms an essential skill. If you’re interested in growing them, try a mushroom grow kit for a wide variety of mushrooms.
Choose the Right Superfoods for Your Food Storage
As always, the conventional wisdom “store what you eat and eat what you store” should be kept in mind when choosing which superfoods to include in your food storage. If something tastes icky to you, it won’t taste any better under stress. Choose foods you like and can incorporate into tasty meals, or they will just be very nutritious space wasters.
How many of these superfoods are in your emergency food storage?