20 Foods That Keep For a Long Time

At present, there are numerous people around the world having to isolate themselves at home due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Since many fresh food options only keep for a few days, this may present a problem for individuals who are unable to do any shopping for several weeks.

Some older adults may also need to stay home, and giving them a helping hand is a kind gesture.

In this situation, what are some good food choices to buy in a sensible manner that won’t spoil?

This article looks at twenty foods that keep for a long time. For each food, there is a summary of the primary nutrients they provide and the estimated shelf-life.

A Shopper Looking At Frozen Foods.

1) Beans

There are all kinds of different beans from kidney beans and pinto beans to black turtle beans and soybeans.

Since beans are usually dried (or canned), they will keep for an extended period of more than one year.


Nutritionally, beans tend to be a rich source of minerals, particularly copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, and phosphorus.

Beans are also a good source of protein for those who don’t consume animal foods.

How long will they last?

Dried beans will last for a long time, and they can be stored for more than a year (1).

2) Canned sardines/tuna/seafood

Unlike fresh fish, canned seafood is convenient, and it has a very long shelf-life.


All canned seafood will provide an excellent range of protein, vitamins, and minerals, and most seafood is especially high in B vitamins and selenium.

Oily fish options, such as sardines and salmon, should also provide a good amount of omega-3 fatty acids and some vitamin D.

How long do they last?

According to the USDA, these canned products will keep for more than 12 months (2).

However, this will somewhat depend on when the product was packaged (check the “use by” date).

3) Canned vegetables

While fresh vegetables won’t keep for much more than a week, their canned equivalents can last a long time.


The nutrients will depend on the specific type of vegetable, but most options are a good source of vitamin C.

Green vegetables such as green beans, peas, and spinach are excellent sources of vitamin K1 and carotenoids.

How long do they last?

Canned vegetables can typically be stored for over one year (2).

4) Cured meat

Cured meat refers to salted and preserved meat options such as coppa, pepperoni, prosciutto, and salami.

Since they contain preservatives, they can last for much longer than fresh meat without spoiling.


Similar to all meat, cured meats provide significant amounts of protein, iron, zinc, selenium, and B vitamins.

How long does it last?

Most cured meats will have a use-by date of two to four months after the date of purchase.

Once again, it is worth checking the packaging to make sure of the date before purchasing.

5) Dark chocolate

Dark chocolate is delicious, it has a long shelf-life, and it is also surprisingly nutritious too.


Dark chocolate is full of fiber, copper, magnesium, and manganese.

It also contains a significant amount of polyphenols, which may have potential health benefits (3).

How long does it last?

The shelf-life of dark chocolate will vary, and it depends on when the chocolate bars on shelves were produced.

That said, chocolate bars typically have a shelf-life of at least six months from the date of purchase.

6) Dried fruit

Dried fruit is much the same as regular fruit, just with less water content, a stronger flavor, and a longer shelf-life.


The nutrients tend to vary depending on the specific fruit.

However, here are some of the primary nutrients in common dried fruits:

  • Dried banana: magnesium, manganese, potassium
  • Dried coconut: copper, manganese, selenium
  • Goji berries: carotenoids, copper, manganese
  • Raisins: copper, manganese, potassium

How long do they last?

Generally speaking, dried fruits have a storage time of around one year (4).

7) Eggs

Perhaps surprisingly, eggs can have a relatively good shelf-life, and this can be increased by refrigeration.


Eggs are an excellent source of protein, fats, vitamins, and minerals.

Some of the main nutrients in eggs include B vitamins, choline, and selenium.

How long do they last?

When kept refrigerated, eggs will keep for approximately four to five weeks (5).

8) Frozen fruits

Frozen fruit is another excellent choice that keeps for a long time. There is also a much wider variety of fruit choices available compared to dried fruit.


Once again, the major nutrients will depend on the specific fruit. Here are a few popular options:

  • Frozen blueberries: carotenoids, folate, vitamin K1
  • Frozen mango: carotenoids, folate, vitamin C
  • Frozen pineapple: copper, manganese, vitamin C
  • Frozen raspberries: manganese, vitamin C, vitamin K1

How long do they last?

Frozen fruits will keep for around eight to twelve months (6).

9) Frozen meat

Whether it’s fresh or pre-frozen meat, all meat can be stored for longer periods in the freezer.


Meat is one of the best dietary sources of protein, B vitamins, and selenium.

In the case of red meat, these foods are also very high in iron and zinc.

How long does it last?

Frozen meat will last for around three to four months (6).

10) Frozen vegetables

Frozen Vegetables In a Clear Plastic Food Bag.

It is possible to buy almost any vegetable in a pre-frozen state, and freezing fresh vegetables gives them a longer life too.


The primary nutrients in different vegetables significantly varies. Here is a list of nutrients in popular choices:

  • Frozen broccoli: folate, vitamin C, vitamin K1
  • Frozen carrots: carotenoids, potassium, vitamin C
  • Frozen green beans: copper, manganese, vitamin C
  • Frozen peas: carotenoids, vitamin C, vitamin K1

How long do they last?

Frozen vegetables will keep for around eight to twelve months (6).

11) Hard Cheese

Hard cheese is energy-dense, full of protein, and it can last for a surprisingly long time too.


Cheese is a rich source of protein, B vitamins, calcium, phosphorus, and selenium.

Certain types of cheese, such as Jarlsberg, also offer significant amounts of vitamin K2.

How long does it last?

For medium to hard cheeses such as Cheddar, Jarlsberg, and Parmesan, they will generally keep for around six months in the refrigerator (7).

12) Jerky

Jerky is a type of dehydrated food. Typically, dried beef and dried seafood, such as squid, are popular options.


Jerky offers the same nutrients as regular meat or seafood but in a more concentrated form.

How long does it last?

Most jerky will have a storage life of around 12 months (2).

However, it is always worth checking the date on the packaging to make sure.

13) Lentils

Lentils are one of the most protein-rich plant foods, and they have a very long storage life.


Lentils are a good source of protein and fiber, and they’re also a rich source of copper, folate, iron, and manganese.

How long do they last?

Lentils will last for longer than a year in a cupboard at home (8).

14) Nuts

Nuts are a quick and convenient snack, and they’re highly nutritious and energy-dense too.


The nutrients in nuts depend on the specific type, but here are a few examples of the most concentrated nutrients in popular varieties:

  • Almonds: manganese, riboflavin (B2), vitamin E
  • Brazil nuts: copper, magnesium, selenium
  • Peanuts: folate, manganese, niacin (B3)
  • Pecans: copper, manganese, thiamin (B1)

How long do they last?

Nuts generally last for a long time, but the oils they contain can become rancid.

When kept at room temperature, nuts should keep for 2-3 months. However, refrigerating them may increase this storage time to one year (9).

15) Olive oil

Extra virgin olive oil is one of the best cooking oils both for its taste and potential health benefits.


All isolated fats are quite low in nutrients, but olive oil contains a good amount of vitamin E.

It is also a rich source of monounsaturated fatty acids.

How long does it last?

Olive oil should stay fresh for around one year, providing it is kept at or below room temperature (10).

Oils bottled in dark glass packaging are better equipped to preserve their freshness.

16) Peanut butter

Peanut butter is a versatile ingredient that can be used in many different ways, it’s delicious, and it’s a great source of nutrients too.


Peanut butter provides significant amounts of a wide range of nutrients, particularly niacin (B3), magnesium, manganese, and vitamin E.

How long does it last?

An unopened jar of peanut butter should last for at least six months from the point of purchase.

17) Protein powder

Protein powders come in a wide variety of choices such as whey, casein, pea, and soy. These products are a convenient and long-lasting source of protein.


In addition to protein, whey protein is a good source of B vitamins, calcium, and phosphorus.

Soy protein is also high in minerals such as copper, iron, and phosphorus.

How long do they last?

Protein powders can be stored for around 9-12 months at room temperature (11).

18) Salt

Salt is an essential electrolyte mineral, and it adds delicious flavor to our food too.


Table salt is a concentrated source of sodium.

How long do they last?

Natural sea salt will last for an infinite amount of time. Refined salt will last for several years too.

19) Seeds

There are lots of different varieties of seeds, and they all offer a wide range of nutrients.


Here are the primary nutrients in some of the more common seeds:

  • Flax seeds: magnesium, manganese, thiamin (B1)
  • Hemp seeds: magnesium, manganese, phosphorus
  • Pumpkin seeds: magnesium, manganese, phosphorus
  • Sesame seeds: magnesium, manganese, phosphorus

How long do they last?

Seeds will keep for several months at room temperature.

Similar to nuts, seeds have a high oil content, and it is crucial to keep them in a cool place.

20) UHT milk

While fresh milk will only last for a few days, ultra-heat treated (UHT) milk can last for a more extended period.


UHT milk contains the same nutrients as regular milk; it is an excellent source of protein, B vitamins, calcium, and phosphorus.

How long does it last?

Depending upon the label date, UHT milk can usually be stored for around six months (12).

Final Thoughts

Overall, many different foods have a good storage life.

It is also worth remembering that almost all fresh foods can last for a few months in their frozen state too.

Photo of author

Michael Joseph, MSc

Michael works as a nutrition educator in a community setting and holds a Master's Degree in Clinical Nutrition. He believes in providing reliable and objective nutritional information to allow informed decisions.

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