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Wednesday, April 29, 2020

10 Protein-Rich Foods That Are Shelf-Stable For Your Pantry and Can Be Bought Online and Shipped

I discussed buying TVP the other day in the context of possible meat shortages and the alternatives for good protein sources. Today, I thought I'd share some of the other alternatives to fresh or frozen meat, specifically ones that can be bought online and shipped to your home, which by definition would need to be shelf-stable. 

For those of us who are staying in for the time being, this is a way to get meat and meat-alternatives delivered to your door. And for those of us who wish to have a couple of back-up items, these foods can stay in a pantry or on a closet shelf until needed. Most of these foods keep for at least 1 year, but attention should be paid to expiration dates on packages.

So, here's my list of 10 other foods (in addition to TVP) that are high in protein, shelf stable, and can be bought online.
  • canned meat/fish, such as tuna, salmon, chicken, sausages, ham, Spam
  • powdered Parmesan cheese, cheddar cheese powder
  • dry and canned milk
  • dairy and non-dairy liquid milk in aseptic packaging (the kind of package that is shelf-stable, like what kids' juice boxes are packaged in)
  • powdered non-dairy milk, such as soy milk powder
  • soy, whey, or veggie-based protein powder to mix with water or add to milk or smoothies
  • peanut butter and other nut butters
  • nuts and seeds
  • dried beans combined with grain products, as well as bean flours to use in baking 
  • shelf-stable tofu (not the water pack variety), such as Mori-Nu brand
Many of these foods can be found on common shopping sites such as and as well as in local stores. Some of the more specialty foods can be found on smaller, health food sites or through a manufacturer shopping portal.


  1. Get list of shelf stable foods, I need to start gathering some up each time I shop (weekly). I think we'll notice a huge difference in what the grocery stores will be offering by mid summer, or should I say, what will be available.

    How are things in Washington state? My area officially opens Friday/Monday (central PA). We have very few Covid 19 cases in my county - 11, but a neighboring county has somewhere in the seventies.

    Have a great week!

  2. Great list! I did a quick trip to Aldi yesterday and bought several packages of chicken and I snagged the last pack of pork ribs that they had. No beef was available. We have quite a bit of cooked turkey and ham in our freezer but I like being able to mix things up a bit. I've kept some beans and peanut butter and a few cans of tuna on hand but I think I'll stock up some more on those items when I get a chance.

    We got 3 inches of rain last night and our basement is now wet. Boo. We've had record amounts of rain over the past year. While a wet basement is discouraging and a nuisance, some people in our area have serious flooding issues to deal with.

    Shelby, keep us posted on how things progress in your area once you start opening up. That's the big question now--how to open and still keep covid under some level of control.

  3. Hi, Everyone--

    I agree, great list, Lili! Great post idea. I know a lot of my friends are worried about protein sources, with meat and eggs in low supply, and milk dumped, we heard, in some areas.

    The great things to me about these options are that some of them are still not in high demand, they give you nutritional variety, they give you taste variety, and they're your long-term hedge for any later shortages. For those with less space to store extra fresh/frozen food (like one of our DS), these are especially important for a back-up plan. :)

    Having been caught in a weird situation without our normal back-up stores, I'm trying to re-stock as gradually, and as as good a neighbor, as I can. So, we're picking up a wide variety of items in small quantities (only 2 or 3 of anything that doesn't have a stricter restriction), trying to continue to think outside the box to pick up and use available items other people don't seem to want as much.

    If folks hadn't hoarded TP and some other things, initially, I think we wouldn't have had the shortages. So, we are definitely picking up a little more per shopping trip, but not a lot; and we're trying to spread it out around the grocery stores and mail order food outlets we've always used. And we've shared and bartered some of the things we did still have a big stock of.

    I feel like we're in a much better spot than we were. I hope everyone else is feeling more secure, as well. Sara

  4. Good idea, Lili, to think of alternate protein sources that are shelf stable. Lately, I've been wondering how bad could our situation get, and to what degree should we be prepared. For certain, there are modest increases in prices on some items that I observed at Costco yesterday, yet the store was extremely well stocked with mountains of canned chicken and canned tuna in the clothing area of the store. Despite the long wait before opening, conditions in the store were orderly and pleasant. With everyone wearing a mask, it felt safer than I expected and everyone kept their social distance. Towards the end though, some seniors were perspiring under their masks, so pulled their mask below their noses to only cover their mouths.

    Yesterday, at Costco I stocked up on hemp seeds, which are extremely protein rich in a variety of amino acids, including all essential. My husband has been adding the seeds to our breads, so delicious. Also we bought more quinoa, which I'm learning is in the amaranth family. We've been growing Een Choi, which is an amaranth plant, like weeds in our garden. So far it seems bug resistant and doesn't require much care. It tastes like spinach but is 6x richer in calcium than spinach.

    There must be a silver lining to this crises. And I hope it means better sanitation and healthier diets. I'm certainly paying more attention to our food choices.

    Have a good day,

  5. Hi Shelby,
    Thanks for asking. We still have a fair number of active cases in my town and county. To date, we've had about 2600 cases in my county with 107 deaths. In my small town, we've had 285 cases, with half of those still active and 22 deaths. In the town adjacent to ours, and where I do all of my grocery shopping, there have been just over 500 cases with 11 deaths. Again, about half of the cases are still active (not recovered). Our governor announced yesterday that he would not be lifting the stay-at-home orders on May 4, when the current ones expire. The models look like early June would be best for social distancing to be relaxed for Washington state. I've had 2 family members and a couple of friends contract this. The severity has ranged from rather mild to bad and on-going but not hospitalized.

    As far as stocking up on supplies, my thinking is so long as these items are useful for me during normal circumstances, then it's a good move. It's highly likely there will be a second wave, but no one knows how severe that one could be. "Be prepared" is my motto.

    I'm glad that your area of PA has not been too hard hit.

  6. Hi Kris,
    that's such a shame that your basement has been flooded. I hope that has been remedied for now. At least it's just a house with a problem.

    I've not been able to shop in person, so I've not seen what meat supplies look like in our stores. I need milk and eggs, so I may place a pick-up order at Walmart. We still have a lot of active cases and grocery stores are about the second worst places to be, just after medical facilities, so I'm playing it safe. You know -- when you're mixty-something, you gotta stop taking so many chances.

  7. Hi Sara,
    Yes, I also like that many of these items are still plentiful. I think if more folks moved toward stocking up on foods like canned tuna (which I hear is still well-stocked), there would be more of the chicken, pork, and beef to go around. In the same vein, if people with greater means bought the more expensive cuts of meat or stocked up on more expensive non-meat options, then the less expensive cuts and packages would be left for folks whose means are less. I think we all need to work together on this and find a way to informally ration scarce products, like what was done with rationing during WWII, to ensure that prices stay affordable for all and that there is equal access to desirable foods for everyone. That means that most people will not get to have the amount of meat that they normally prefer. But these are extraordinary times. Normal times will return again.

    Off my soapbox. I'm just very disappointed by some of the self-absorbed behavior I've seen in America.

    In any case, the point of publishing this list is to help those who aren't finding much affordable meat in their stores, so they can still get the protein they need.

  8. Hi YHF,
    you bring up another good point-- just because face coverings may be required doesn't mean people will wear them properly. In addition, we're not the type of society to tolerate being policed about pulling a mask up when we lower it because we're uncomfortable.

    I'm glad your shopping rip was successful.

  9. Hi Lili,
    I love your blog and look forward to your posts. I live on Long Island, NY Suffolk County in Manorville. As of today we have 34,577 active cases in my county, 7298 in my town, Suffolk County had 1,177 deaths and my husband heard on the radio that Manorville lost over a hundred souls.
    When you started posting about Covid-19 and the preparations you were making I started to prepare. I knew it would get to NY because there is two international airports, so somebody was going to bring it out of the airports. I have am immensely proud of our Governor Cuomo and look forward to getting what every information is available and he does not sugar coat the truth.
    If memory serves me you started posting gave me a few weeks to prepare. My husband has respiratory issues and at that time he had a surgery that was canceled. Once the hospitals canceled elective surgeries which are money makers I became frightened.
    I wish I would purchased more items and I totally forgot about buying yeast.
    My husband listen to me as I told him what you were doing and he looked at me like I was crazy but he new I was going to follow your advice. The stores are out or rice, most pasta. Each isle seems to have less than 50% of the regular items. Every store is limiting what can be bought at a time. I am using the last of eight dozen eggs I bought after reading your blog. We have some Desi stores and they have most dry goods but out of much dairy case and freezer items. I love red lentils and rice and have a about a twenty grains, beans, pulses. three types of rice.
    I would add to your list powdered, eggs, powdered buttermilk and ghee (not a protein but everything is better with a bit of butter.
    Lili thank you for igniting a fire in me and follow your advice, my parents my children and grand children are all well and know they can shop my stock pile since none of them took my warnings and ideas seriously at the time.

    1. Hi Robin,
      I've watched several press briefings with your governor and I agree, he is the right person for the job at just the right time. If anyone can get this job done, I do believe it is Cuomo.

      I'm glad that my information helped you to prepare. My family thought I was overreacting, too. They are thankful, now.
      I wish I'd bought yeast, too. My guess is it will come back into stock at many stores very soon. I know of a couple of online sites that currently have it, but they want too much in shipping charges, I think. If you're desperate for yeast, email me and I'll send you links to 2 sites with yeast.


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