10 Foods That Last (Basically) Forever

Don't fear the expiration date on these pantry staples.

Everyone knows that canned food keeps, that it’s never a bad thing to stock your pantry with some canned beans, vegetables, and soups for a rainy day. But canned foods are not the only ones that you can buy in bulk and stow away until you need them without worrying about them going bad. In fact, there are many other foods that are going to last you a good long, long while.

One thing to keep in mind: When you purchase these foods at the grocery store, they will all likely have "best by" or expiration dates that will be a little sooner than, say, 2123. These dates (with the exception of sell-by dates on meat, poultry, and dairy products) are merely suggestions from the manufacturer or retailer of when the product will be of the highest quality.

honey on a stick dripping

Getty Images

But assuming that the food has not been compromised in a way that leads to spoilage, many foods are still A-OK well beyond the best by date—and in the case of these 10 foods, are good for basically forever.


Raw honey , or unpasteurized honey without any additives, is going to stay sweet and delicious for as long as you need it to. It may solidify, since it’s the pasteurization process that keeps processed honey in a liquid form, but that just means you’ll need to scoop it out of the jar with a spoon or place it somewhere warm to loosen up before using it.

Another perk of choosing raw honey: It comes loaded with antioxidants, plus has antibacterial and antifungal properties that will support your immune system.

Uncooked Rice and Grains

There’s a reason grocers sell such massive bags of rice—uncooked rice of almost any kind will stay good for as long as you need. To really extend its shelf life, transfer the rice out of the bag or package it comes in, put it into an airtight container.

White, jasmine, and basmati rices will last the longest and you can count on quinoa , barley, and grits to last you nearly a decade. The only type of rice you need to use a little sooner is brown rice, since it has a higher oil content than white rice and therefore spoils much faster. Plan to use it within six months or so.


Don’t fret if you buy a jar of this instant flavor booster and then only use a cube once every few months. Bouillon cubes are basically just dehydrated stock filled with dried herbs and spices, so they will last at least a few years, assuming they don’t get wet and turn to soup in your spice cabinet.

steam rises from a cup of coffee
Photo: Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

Instant Coffee

While there are plenty of people who swear by freshly-ground espresso and others who won’t get out of bed for anything less than French press, there may be even more who would go into a panic if they ran out of coffee unexpectedly.

The simple solution: Keep a jar of instant coffee in your pantry for those days when you have no other options. As long as it stays dry, instant coffee will last for decades.


Whether you pop it in the microwave or on the stove, a fresh bowl of crunchy popcorn tossed with butter and salt is a perfect movie night snack . Don’t worry if you only have time for a home movie every few months or so, as popcorn kernels keep basically forever.


Packets of powdered gelatin, whether plain or flavored, tend to come in boxes of two or three, but holiday recipes, like Lemon-Lime Gelatin Mold and Three-Layer Mold , often need just one package.

After serving up your showstopping dessert, feel free to stash the other gelatin packets in the back of your pantry for the following year—they’ll keep just fine.


There’s absolutely no shame in going through sugar so fast you’ve never stopped to look at the expiration date. But if you do find yourself with a plethora of the sweet stuff, pop it into an airtight container, and store it in a dark, dry place for as long as you need.

That goes for brown sugar as well, though it may turn hard after a few months. So if you’re planning to cook or bake with brown sugar for the first time in a while, check it ahead of time to see if you need to soften it first .

Maple Syrup

That’s the pure stuff, not the pancake syrup. If you’re traveling north to Vermont or Canada, feel free to stock up!

Soup Beans

Greg DuPree; Food Stylist: Ali Ramee; Prop Stylist: Hannah Greenwood

Dried Beans

Another food that you can purchase in enormous bags, dried beans last just as long as their canned counterparts, AKA forever. The only difference: When you do get around to cooking dried beans that you have had for a while, be prepared to cook them a little longer and in a little more liquid than you would need for newer beans.


There are almost endless uses for vinegar, from cooking to canning to even cleaning . Even if you don’t use it very often, purchase a big ole’ bottle. It will keep forever in a cool dark place.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles