There are certain foods you would expect to have a long shelf life, like dried beans and grains, but there are also those things that really shouldn’t be able to last as long as they do. Looking at you, Twinkies.
Well, whether you’re in fear of the zombie apocalypse or just too lazy to grocery shop on a regular basis, here are some foods with ridiculously long shelf lives that will be your new best friends.
1. Salt // Forever
Those souls who braved the Mayflower and salt-cured all their food knew what was up. Not only does salt have the ability to preserve or cure foods, but it is also heavily used in cooking, cleaning, and first aid.
Since it’s a mineral, salt essentially has an infinite shelf life, and because our body needs it, that makes it a critical commodity. So if you keep your salt in an air-tight container, you could probably pass it down to your grandchildren. Honestly.
2. Honey // Thousands of Years (Possibly Longer)
Archeologists digging through tombs in Egypt were surprised when they discovered preserved honey that was still technically edible. How does it keep for so long? Chalk it up to a mix of low moisture combined with the presence of hydrogen peroxide that helps keeps bacteria away.
It’ll probably crystallize over time, leaving a strange-looking ball of gunk at the bottom of the container, but it can easily be scooped out and reheated back to its normal consistency.
3. Worcestershire Sauce // Indefinitely
Worcestershire Sauce dates back to the 1800s when two chemists, Lea and Perrins, created the sauce accidentally. And while nobody can agree exactly on how it should be pronounced we should all be thankful.
Left unopened, Worcestershire Sauce can last forever. It’s terrifying to think something you would use to cook or marinate meat can still be okay in ten years, but the sauce is known to gain more flavor as it ages. Just make sure your bottle is authentic and kept somewhere cool and dark.
4. Hard Liquor // Nearly Forever - Unopened*
If you’re stuck inside your home with limited options for sustenance, you should know that it’s perfectly safe to grab that bottle of vodka you bought back in 2008 and started chugging to cope with your current situation. Since hard liquor will last nearly forever if unopened, there’s just one more reason to stock your bar.
*If you do plan on keeping alcohol for an extended period, just remember to keep it away from light, heat and definitely oxygen, because once air gets in, you may as well get boozing.
5. Canned Beans // 30+ years
Dried beans stored properly will last indefinitely, but canning is another food preservation method that dates back to the 1800s. While some canned goods last longer than others, beans should stay good for up to 30 years.
The best part is it doesn’t matter whether it’s kidney beans, pinto beans, black beans, or Lima beans, they’ll still keep the same. Just throw some rice — which can last up to 25 years — in there and you have yourself a balanced meal.
6. Ramen Noodles // 10+ years
It’s no mystery why Ramen noodles are so popular. They’re super cheap, taste great, and last forever. Well, more like ten years, so not forever, but long enough. The only thing from college that will last longer is your student loans.
The dried out noodles help the situation, but even the flavor packs, made from dehydrated vegetables, can withstand the same amount of time.
7. Flour // 5-8 years
Flour is such an economical buy. It’s inexpensive and its relatively long shelf life, regardless of whether it’s all-purpose, white, or whole wheat, will make you want to learn how to make bread immediately.
You’ll also probably want to vom when you realize how much money you could be saving by spending a little more time in the kitchen.
8. Dried Pasta // 5-8 years
Pasta is a pretty important staple in our diets. While a box in our house rarely lasts past one meal, it’s still good to know the shelf life of the stuff is between five to eight years.
Your jar of pasta sauce will most likely have a shelf life of only one year, but you can always bring it back to your younger days when you followed the monochromatic food diet and chow on some noodles with butter.
9. Canned Tuna // 5 years
If you’re like us, you have a love/hate relationship with canned tuna. We have distinct memories of complaining to mom there was no food in the house, only for her to respond there was that one can of tuna left in the pantry for making tuna melts.
That was not a fun time. But, canned tuna is good if you’re on a budget. And if you forgot about grocery shopping and desperate times call for desperate measures, we guess it’s good to know that can of tuna from 2012 is still okay.
10. Peanut Butter // 2-5 years
If you keep your peanut butter out of the sun and in a cabinet as instructed, it could last anywhere from two to five years. That’s pretty significant.
However, this does not apply to all-natural peanut butter, since the all-natural stuff is without preservatives. If you’re looking for a jar of peanut butter to withstand the test of time, choose Jif like choosy moms do.
11. Coconut Oil // 2 years
Coconut oil is a magical substance. You can use it for pretty much anything, from the expected, like cooking oil, to the unexpected, like beauty products. In addition to coconut oil being able to withstand higher cooking temperatures, it also has the longest shelf life in comparison to other cooking oils like olive or canola.
Twinkies // 25 Days-err-ish
While Hostess swears the pastries are only good for 25 days, a science teacher from Maine decided to run a little experiment and kept a Twinkie in his classroom for literally 30 years.
Besides gathering dust before getting put into a sealed container, the only visible difference to the thing was that it was a little bit stale. Hostess, you’re the reason we have trust issues.
McDonald’s Hamburgers // ???
So this one is heavily disputed, but several people swear McDonald’s hamburgers can last over ten years. A wellness educator and nutrition consultant named Karen Hanrahan decided to run a little experiment on her own, similar to the Hostess guy.
She bought the first burger in 1996, and the comparison burger in 2008. Hanrahan said the only thing time did to the burger was dry it out and make it smell weird, but swears it did not decay as natural meat should.