White beans, such as navy beans and butter beans, are the best for long-term storage. They only take 45 minutes of simmering to cook (compared to 60+ minutes for most other beans), which is essential in emergencies where fuel conservation matters.
The soft, creamy texture also means they are versatile and can be easily added to dishes like stews, sauces, and spreads.
However, all beans are good for long-term storage. When stored properly, most beans can last for 25+ years. Ideally, you will store multiple different types of beans, so you have a variety of foods to eat during emergencies.
Are Beans A Good Survival Food?
Beans are usually considered a good survival food because they have a very long shelf life. However, dry beans take a very long time to cook. Because of this, beans are only a good survival food if you also stockpile lots of water and have an emergency stove with lots of fuel.
Bean Cooking Time
When choosing which beans to stockpile, you must consider cooking time. Even pre-soaked beans take a very long time to cook. This might not be an issue if you use a wood stove. However, you will use a LOT of fuel if you have to cook beans during a power outage with your emergency stove.
Do you want to waste an hour of fuel to cook beans? Remember that you probably won’t be able to refrigerate the beans afterward, either. So, whatever beans you cook will have to be eaten almost immediately – that’s a lot of wasted fuel for one serving of food!
When it comes to cooking time, white beans are the best. Red and yellow lentils also are good choices because they cook very quickly.
|Bean/Legume Type||Simmer Time (minutes)|
|Great Northern Beans||45-60|
|Green Split Peas||45|
|Yellow Split Peas||60-90|
|Green Peas, whole||60-120|
|Lentils, red or yellow||20-30|
|Lima Beans/Butter Beans||45-60|
Bean Fat Content
Another thing to consider when storing beans long-term is their fat content. Even when stored in sealed containers with oxygen absorbers, fat will still go rancid over time (especially in hot temperatures). While eating rancid food won’t give you food poisoning, it definitely doesn’t taste good.
Luckily, most beans have very low fat. However, some beans – such as soybeans and chickpeas – have higher amounts of fat. If you live in a hot climate, you might want to avoid storing these beans for emergencies.
All dry beans are generally very cheap, so they are suitable for building up an emergency food stockpile on a budget. If you need to save money, then you will want to choose the cheapest beans.
At the time of writing, these were the cheapest beans and lentils:
- Pinto beans
- Black beans
- Brown lentils
- Navy beans
- Red beans
Also read: How Much Does Emergency Food Cost?
The final thing to consider when choosing which beans to stockpile for emergencies is how you will use them.
There are a surprising amount of things you can do with beans. White beans are generally considered the most versatile. They have a creamy texture, so they can easily be turned into spreads, dips, and sauces, used in salads, and put in more traditional bean recipes like casseroles.
Soybeans are also incredibly versatile, mainly because they can be used to make soymilk and tofu.
Note: As a general rule, you shouldn’t stockpile emergency foods you don’t eat in your everyday life. If you want to stockpile beans but don’t eat them regularly, then now would be a good time to learn some recipes.