10 Protein Sources for Food Storage: building a prepared pantry


When you’re building up your prepared pantry, you need to make sure you have covered all your family’s nutritional needs. You can’t live off of just fruits and veggies! There are many protein sources for your food storage that are easy to store and last a long time on the shelf. These 10 protein sources are some that we personally keep in our prepared pantry.

10 protein sources for food storage

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Want to watch a walk through of the protein sources in our prepared pantry? Watch this video:

I’m joining in with some friends on Instagram to do a pantry challenge together: #stockedonpurpose. We are sharing about how we stock our pantries, and we’re talking about one different topic each week. This week we are talking about protein!

On our small homestead, we are working toward more self-sufficiency. But we are definitely not there yet! At this point, we don’t raise any of our own meat, so we outsource almost all of our protein sources from off our property.

10 Protein sources for food storage:


Eggs are our most reliable protein source and the one that we source here on our homestead. Since we have laying hens, we have a steady supply of eggs. But in the winter, hens slow down their egg production and don’t lay many eggs. Even with 20 laying hens, in the coldest part of winter, we’re lucky if we get one or two eggs a day.

So I started preserving our eggs. I freeze some, have dehydrated them in the past, and my favorite way to preserve them is water glassed. I just heard about this a couple years ago, but it’s becoming a pretty popular on Instagram and YouTube. I followed a tutorial from Three Rivers Homestead. I’ve done this for the last two years, and it was so simple and definitely kept us in eggs all winter long.


We like to buy most of our meat from local farms, since at this point we don’t raise any meat animals. We tend to buy whole chicken, and then cook it in the Instant Pot or the crock pot. We could can the whole chicken that we buy, but for now I prefer to buy canned chicken. I usually buy it from Costco, but sometimes I buy it from Boxed.


We buy pork in bulk from a local friend, and also keep it in the freezer. For shelf-stable versions of pork we buy canned pulled pork (which is surprisingly good!) and bacon bits from Costco.


Beef is another meat that we buy in bulk from a local friend. Again, we could can up the beef (and it’s on my list of things to learn next), but right now I haven’t done it. I don’t buy any canned beef, but I do keep beef jerky and sliced pepperoni in stock.

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If you don’t eat meat, quinoa is a good shelf-stable protein source. My kiddos like to eat quinoa with soup, and it’s super easy to make in the Instant Pot. It also lasts a really long time! We buy it from Costco or from Azure Standard in bulk, then store it in five gallon buckets with gamma seal lids.


Beans are an easy and inexpensive protein to keep and combined with rice, they make a complete protein. This is why so many cultures around the world eat rice and beans as a staple part of their diets!

We keep both dry and canned beans in the house, because canned beans are very convenient. My kids can make a quick and easy lunch with them, or I can throw together a fast chili.

We like to keep a variety of beans: kidney, chickpea, black, and white northern are the ones I keep in both dry and canned. Dry beans generally last 2-5 years when stored in five gallon buckets, but will begin to lose nutritional value after the first year or two. Theoretically beans could last indefinitely, especially if they are stored in mylar bags with oxygen absorbers.

Chickpea pasta is also a fun way to store protein – one food that serves a dual purpose!


Lentils are a great food to have in your prepared pantry, because not only do they have 18g protein in one cup, they are pretty versatile! You can use lentils for:

  • sprouting
  • grinding into flour
  • adding into soup
  • using as a filler with beef to stretch your budget
  • cooking with rice

Like dry beans, you can buy them in bulk and store them in five gallon buckets.

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Hemp heart seeds

Hemp heart seeds last a couple years on the pantry shelf, have more protein than an egg, and are a really “light” way to add protein to a meal. I enjoy hemp seeds on my salad, on top of pasta or potatoes, or in a smoothie. They don’t have a strong flavor, so it’s also easy way to slip some extra protein in for kiddos who might not be eating much.

Protein powders

Our favorite protein powders to buy and keep on hand:

  • Garden of Life (we get on Amazon Subscribe and Save) – my kids drink this one in the evening as a late night snack
  • Orgain (we buy at Costco) – my husband likes this as a post-workout drink
  • Pure Protein (from Young Living) – my husband likes this one too
  • Balance Complete (from Young Living) – we put this in our smoothies and often get it free with rewards points
  • Vital Proteins Collagen (we buy at Costco and usually stock up when it’s on sale) – I like this in my mochas

These make good emergency meal fillers that don’t require electricity or cooking – if you have shelf stable milk or fresh milk, you don’t even need water.

Nut and Seed Butters

Nut and seed butters have an incredibly long shelf-life when unopened. Peanut butter is the go-to for most people, but we can’t do peanuts in our house due to allergies. So we keep:

I love that nut and seed butters can be used in baking, in no-bake protein bars, to make a simple sandwich, or with apples for an easy snack.

What protein sources do you have in your food storage?

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