Is Expired Food Safe to Eat?

Is Expired Food Safe to Eat

Written by Julie

This post originally appeared in Home Ready Home

Last week, I went through my pantry, trying to get an idea of how much food storage I have. By the time the organizing session was complete, a dozen or so “expired” items sat on my kitchen counter.

In the past, I didn’t hesitate to throw a can in the trash if it was expired. And according to an article on Urban Survival Site, I’m not the only one tossing the goods. More than 75% (and some studies claim it’s as high as 90%) of us believe that food is unsafe to eat after the expiration date. This time, though, I’ve decided to change my ways and put the expired items back on the shelf.

Why?

Because it turns out that none of those dates stamped on canned goods have to do with safety.  A recent report by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic claims that expiration dates aren’t regulated like we would believe. There is no standardized system for expiration dates.

The study found manufacturers determine for themselves how to set dates, if they want to put a date on packaging, what kind of date they will use, and what that date means.

So what do those dates mean? 

Well, it gets confusing because there are several different types of dates used on packages—like “sell-by”, “best if used by”, “best before”, and “use-by”. Here’s how the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines of each of these dates:

Types of Dates

  • A “Sell-By” date tells the store how long to display the product for sale. You should buy the product before the date expires.
  • A “Best if Used By (or Before)” date is recommended for best flavor or quality. It is not a purchase or safety date.
  • A “Use-By” date is the last date recommended for the use of the product while at peak quality. The date has been determined by the manufacturer of the product.
  • “Closed or coded dates” are packing numbers for use by the manufacturer.

And here’s what the USDA has to say about expiration date safety:

Safety After Date Expires: Except for “use-by” dates, product dates don’t always pertain to home storage and use after purchase. “Use-by” dates usually refer to best quality and are not safety dates. Even if the date expires during home storage, a product should be safe, wholesome and of good quality if handled properly.

The only exception to this is the “use-by” date on infant formula, which is mandated by the Food and Drug Administration.

The bottom line is after the expiration date, the food may not be as fresh and it may have lost some of it’s nutritional value, but generally, it is safe to eat.

Yes, I know what you’re thinking—if you can’t rely on the date, how do you know when the food is unsafe to eat?

The simple answer is open it and inspect it. If it smells bad, looks off-color or has a funny taste, get rid of it. And don’t eat the food from rusty, bulging, dented or otherwise damaged cans.

There are also some online resources that can help you determine shelf life of your pantry items. Eat By Date  is my favorite resource and here’s one that my friend, Shelle of Preparedness Mama refers to: Still Tasty 

These sites can help you avoid throwing away still-good food as well as learn the best way to store food for optimal freshness and longest shelf-life.

P.S. If you need a little help keeping your pantry organized, I highly recommend The Preparedness Planner.

The Preparedness Planner

About the Author:

Julie

Hi! I’m Julie, a suburban mom during the week and mountain mama on the weekend blogging about my transition from country club to country living and from fast food to food storage. Follow along as I learn how to garden, cook-from-scratch, build a pantry, master back-to-basics skills and more.
Please visit Home Ready Home for the latest posts.

Can Food Shortages Happen Here?

Can Food Shortages Happen Here

This post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com

I’ve been seeing news articles about the food shortages happening in Venezuela:  people standing in line for hours just to get their basic necessities, their National Guard closely watching shoppers to prevent fights from breaking out, and rows of empty shelves inside the stores.

This got me thinking, what would happen if there were food shortages here?  Can you imagine having to get in line just to enter the grocery store?  Or worse, you get in line at dawn and by the time your turn comes, there is nothing left on the shelves.  What if you were not able to find your basic food items at the grocery store?  

Actually I did have one experience of having to wait in line for an hour just to enter the supermarket.  And when I did manage to get in, the shelves were bare and most of the items were completely gone.  This was back in 2008 right after Hurricane Ike swept across Houston.  The streets were flooded and truck deliveries were not coming.  That was when I learned about “just in time” inventory – grocery stores keep just enough stock until the next truck delivery.  I ever asked a store clerk if they had any food “back in the store room” and was told “stores don’t do that anymore.”  Luckily, the problem I experienced was short term, and stores started getting deliveries as soon as flood waters receded.

But this experience showed me that our system is vulnerable.  If the trucks stop coming, supplies aren’t delivered.  All it takes would be an interruption in that supply chain.

Back in World War II the US had widespread shortages of essential items and many things we take for granted today were rationed:  butter, meat, cheese, sugar, canned fruit and vegetables, oils, even coffee.  Shoppers could only purchase certain items on certain days.  It was then that people put up “Victory Gardens” to supplement their food and learned to conserve food and plan their meals.

If there were a food shortage today, I think people would be a lot angrier and more demanding and food riots would result.  I haven’t forgotten this experience: Up Close Reminder to Continue Prepping from a year ago.  And this was just for roast chicken running out!

What can you do?

Build your food storage pantry.    While things are available, and nothing is interrupting the supply chain, now is the time to add to your food storage.  Build up a few weeks worth of your most used foods:  rice, sugar, salt, coffee, olive oil, peanut butter, oatmeal, cereal etc.  While you’re at it, stock up on toilet paper, toothpaste, soap and other personal care items.

Avoid wasting food.  Learn a few skills to avoid wasting food.  I tell my kids, “Don’t waste food, because one day, you may miss a meal for whatever reason – getting picked up late, forgetting your lunch, and you will think about the food you threw away.”  This actually works because they do remember.

Start a garden.  It may be the middle of winter now, but spring is not far off – it wouldn’t hurt to start planning your garden, even if you only have a balcony or a sunny window.

Back to the original question:  Can food shortages happen here?  Some may say, no way, that only happens in countries like Venezuela.  But the true answer is, Sure they could, and they have happened before.  We hope it never happens but just like insurance, it’s better to have it, and not need it, than need it and not have it.

© Apartment Prepper 2015

Emergency Essentials/BePrepared

Puritan's Pride

 

 

 

 

Review of Valley Food Storage Mango Habanero Chili

ValleyFoodStorageChili1

This post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com

I was contacted by Valley Food Storage regarding trying out one of their entrees.  I am always looking for long term storage foods that are tasty.  As you know, long term storage foods can be a hit or miss, but I am always willing to try new ones and offer an balanced review.  (Note we do not have any connection with Valley Food Storage and are not compensated for doing reviews.)

When I received the packet for testing, I saw it was called “Mango Habanero Chili.”   To be honest, I was quite sure what to expect.  I am a big fan of chili, but I was not sure if mango really belongs in chili.  But I figured I would give it a try.

ValleyFoodStorageChili1

The instructions are simple:  Bring to a boil five cups of water, then add the chili mix.  Simmer for 15-20 minutes or until beans are tender.  Let cool for about five to seven minutes before serving.

I actually let it simmer for 25 minutes.  The mixture seemed a bit watery at first, but it thickened slightly as it cooled.

Now comes the taste test.  I took a spoonful and another one just to make sure.  In spite of my uncertainty, the Mango Habanero Chili was actually pretty tasty.  The chili is vegetarian – there is no meat listed in the ingredients at all.  I admit I like having meat in chili, and the instructions did say you can add meat if you like.  The dish is fine on its own, I actually ate a bowl (as pictured above) for lunch.

ValleyFoodStorageChili3

I examined the chili pieces and you actually find diced mango (pictured above) in the chili.  I can tell you I actually did not mind having mango pieces, it added an interesting twist.  The chili had the right amount of spiciness, and had enough flavor and not overly salty like other long term food storage entrees.

According to their website, Valley Food Storage uses natural food ingredients and a nitrogen flushing process will ensure the food’s shelf life up to 25 years without any added preservatives, MSG, or GMO.

Quality ingredients and a long shelf life are definite advantages for a food storage entree.   Mango Habanero Chili also has a good flavor, which makes it a viable choice to add to your food pantry.

Mango-Hab-Chili-gf-240x159

© Apartment Prepper 2014

 

Is it Safe to Refreeze Thawed Meat?

Is it safe to refreeze thawed meat

This post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com

Whenever there is a power outage, we always avoid opening the refrigerator and especially the freezer to avoid letting the cold out.  A big worry is that freezer items will thaw out and go bad.  Some food items are salvageable, but some are not so clear-cut.

This also happens in everyday life:  you take out steaks or chicken and leave them in the refrigerator overnight to thaw, only to run out of time and get takeout after staying late at work.  Does it have to go to waste?

Is it Safe to Refreeze Thawed Meat?

An informal poll of cooks in our family yielded various results:  my husband’s aunt said, “Sure you can refreeze meat that has thawed, but it will be dry when you do cook it.”  My Mom says she would never refreeze food, just cook it and eat it the next day.  Other friends say you can refreeze if it was in the fridge but not if it was taken out on the counter.

I did a bit more research and tested it for myself.  Here is what I found out:

  • If the meat still has ice crystals in it, and the temperature never went over 40 degrees Fahrenheit, then it is safe to refreeze.
  • If the food was thawed in the refrigerator, it is likely to be safe to refreeze if you refreeze it the same day.  However, if it has been there more than two days, it is not a good idea.  I have checked on thawed meat after two days, and it is already does not smell fresh.
  • The meat will dry out a bit if it has been refrozen.  I have tried this and found it to be true:  the meat does appear drier than it would have been originally.
  • Do not use the meat if it smells “off.”
  • Do not thaw meat by leaving it out on the counter.  The best way to thaw meat is in the refrigerator.

Again, if you have any doubts at all, just toss it.  Don’t risk eating spoiled meat-you can get really sick.  It’s better to be safe than sorry.

© Apartment Prepper 2014

Emergency Essentials/BePrepared

 

Puritan's Pride

Cheap Food Storage Items this Thankgiving Week

Cheap Food Storage Items this Thanksgiving WeekThis post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com

When I went grocery shopping today I noticed a lot of sales for items that can be used for food storage.  I always encourage anyone starting their food storage plan to set aside a small amount, say $5.00 and pick up a few things every week.  You can easily supplement your emergency food supplies by picking up a few extra cans or boxes.

Cheap food storage items that I saw:

  • canned corn
  • canned green beans
  • instant mashed potatoes
  • canned cranberry
  • canned mandarin oranges
  • canned peaches
  • gravy packets
  • pumpkin puree
  • flour
  • sugar
  • yeast
  • honey
  • cooking oil
  • oats
  • baking powder
  • baking soda
  • bread mixes
  • canned evaporated milk
  • canned condensed milk
  • wine and liquor

Make sure you check expiration dates before you buy.   Don’t pick the items from the front; those usually have the shortest expiration dates.  Reach way back in the shelf.  I realize some store clerks don’t like this, one pointed out there is no difference in reaching way back.   The stores usually keep the earlier expiration dates in front, so I reached to the back of the shelf anyway.

You can also pick up everyday staples or sale items and freeze them for use later, such as:

  • butter
  • green beans
  • turkey
  • ham

Yams and potatoes are also going at good prices and these last for a couple of months in a shelf.  Even if you just use these foods for everyday meals the savings are well worth it. 

These deals won’t last.  Last year I waited until after Thanksgiving, thinking the low prices would continue.  But I found out that inventory gets really low after Thanksgiving, and prices go back to normal levels.  This time, I am not waiting around.  If I had more space, I’d have picked up more.

© Apartment Prepper 2014

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Reader question: How Do you Protect your Emergency Supplies from Pests?

protect your emergency supplies from pests1

Photo provided by reader “S,” used with permission

This post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com

I get a lot of emails on Apartment Prepper, and I always respond to readers’ questions.  Here is an excerpt from a recent email from reader “S.”  (I have removed any personal references.)  “S” provided actual photos.

protect your emergency supplies from pests2

Emergency bag, eaten through by mice. Photo provided by reader “S,” used with permission

I had some bad luck recently. My car broke down coming home from work.  As a result I had to leave the car at a mechanic for a week to fix a now bigger problem & figured it was wise to move my earthquake emergency bags from my trunk to my living room floor while the car was being fixed so that no one would be tempted to “borrow” from my supplies while fixing the car.

While that was happening, a restaurant next door started to be remodeled & I had to go out of town with a relative for several days. Since that relative had their own earthquake bags in their trunk I left mine at home over the trip so we’d have room for the suitcases.

I came home to my apartment & discovered something had eaten through the bags to get at the trail mix inside & had even ripped open a bag of store self tuna but decided it didn’t like it so the house smelt of rotten fish!! I had never had anything other than ants, spiders & crickets in the apartment before for years so this was a completely new experience for me!

So my question is, how do you keep your supplies safe from pests?

Reader “S” described a common problem among apartment dwellers.

She mentioned there was some remodeling going on next door.  Pests do travel from one unit to another.   I have noticed whenever someone moves out nearby and the unit is fumigated, there is an uptick in pests trying to come into our area.  That’s because the pests are driven out of one unit and they try to invade nearby units if you let them.

Preventive measure:  If you see movers, spray insecticide along entrances as well as corners of shared walls.  This should help prevent them from trying to come to you.  However this works on insects, but not mice.  We have discussed insects in a previous post, but today we are looking at rodents.

How do you protect your emergency supplies from pests such as mice?

To protect your emergency food, store them in food grade 5-gallon food buckets.  Mice or rats cannot chew through the plastic of the 5 gallon bucket.   Reader “S” has ready to eat items such as trail mix, granola bars and packaged tuna – these could all go in the 5-gallon bucket.  Place the sealed bucket in your closet.  Make sure the lid is super secure.  Hang your bug out bag (with non food items) in your closet.  In the event of an emergency and you had to leave, take the food from the bucket and transfer them to your bug out bag – this should only take 5 minutes before you run out the door.

If you are storing bulk food such salt, sugar, flour etc. for long term storage, here is a link to simple instructions: Repackaging salt for long term storage

Sometimes you can get food grade 5 gallon buckets for free.
How to Get Free Food Grade Buckets for Long Term Storage

Natural repellants for mice:

Thoroughly clean and sweep your areas, and remove any food.  Cover all trash cans so they don’t try to go in.  If you are already using 5 gallon buckets for your emergency food, make sure you are protecting your every day food as well – do not leave anything edible on counters.

There are commercial repellants available such as Rodent Defense  Spray in the areas frequented by rodents to keep them away.

Other natural repellants I have heard about but have not tried:

  • Peppermint Oil: Saturate cotton balls with peppermint oil and leave them around the areas you where have found droppings.  This is said to repel mice, sending them elsewhere.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar:  Clean floors, the insides of cabinets and countertops with 50% apple cider vinegar (does not have to be organic) and 50% water.  Mice will avoid the area and leave.
 © Apartment Prepper 2014

Treats and Snacks in Your Food Storage

Treats and Snacks in Your Food StorageIn the movie Zombieland, one of the goals of Woody Harrelson’s character had was to find a store that had Twinkies.  He was obsessed with getting a hold of a Twinkie stash he wouldn’t let anything, including a bunch of zombies get in his way.  It might have been just some product placement but they still had a valid point – a disaster does not make you stop craving for treats.

At the worst of Hurricane Ike, which sent me on my path to preparedness, I really wanted cheese and crackers.  When the stores finally opened, there was no dairy to be found, including any kind of cheese whatsoever, even Cheez Weez was gone.  After that, I made sure I have cheese on hand, including cheese spread  – I know it’s fake, but it’ll do.  I admit I happen to like artificial cheese flavor – Doritos and Cheetos Cheese Puffs.

Adding snacks and treats to your food storage

What Snacks and Treats should you Include?

The answer really depends on you – the items you really crave, as well the amount of space you have.  Some ideas:

  • Chocolate   A lot of people crave chocolate; I do enjoy a good bar of plain Hershey’s on occasion, as well as my all time favorite, Heath Bars.  You can even rationalize that it is good for you, especially dark chocolate.  You do need to make sure you buy it well ahead of expiration dates, and the packaging must not be broken.  When I first started working, I had the misfortune of opening up a bar of Rocky Road Marshmallow Chocolate (these used to be my favorite) and it was full of maggots *shudder*  I bought it from a convenience store in my office building at the time and it must not have been stored properly.
  • Crackers and cookies   Cookies and crackers can be satisfying treats, and not just for the kids.  Again, pay attention to the packaging and dates.  You already know what you and your family like, just pick up a couple of boxes and save them.
  • Nuts and seeds   Nuts and seeds are both satisfying and healthy – pick up a few cans or jars of peanuts, cashews, macadamia, almonds etc.
  • Dried fruit   Again, they are both tasty and good for you.  Pick up raisins,  dehydrated strawberries, blueberries etc.  Or better yet, pick up a food dehydrator and dry them yourself.  (one of my “to-do’s”)
  • Chips   Okay, these are not so healthy but I like them.  Between salty and sweet, I am partial to salty snacks.  Go on, pick your favorites and have a few bags on hand, just in case.
  • Bacon   The only person I know who hates bacon is a vegetarian, everyone else loves it.  Bacon comes in a can, so you have options.
  • Soda   I am not a soda drinker, but I do like carbonated water.  Some people swear by 7-Up to relieve stomach aches so who am I to judge.  Keep a liter or two in your pantry, you can always use the plastic bottle for water storage.  Or, learn to make your own soda at home.

Tips:

  • Make sure the items you keep are shelf stable, that is, no refrigeration needed.
  • Buy items that have long expiration dates.
  • Pick up items while on sale and stock up.  Halloween is coming up in a few weeks – now is a good time to stock up on chocolate and candy.  You can even freeze them for later use and use them for making other desserts.
  • Follow the same tips to avoid food storage mistakes, as you do other foods.

As an added benefit, your non-prepping teen or spouse will feel a little more receptive to preparing if you include their wish list to your storage.  In an emergency, having favorite snacks would boost family morale.  And, if nothing happens, then you still have your favorite treats on hand for cravings.

 

 

 




10 Easy Tips to Avoid Food Storage Problems

10 Easy Tips to Avoid Food Storage ProblemsThis post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com

A lot of people are now considering storing food for emergencies but feel they have obstacles that prevent them from doing so.  Perhaps they feel they don’t have any free space, or become overwhelmed by the task.

Having limited space and living in a hot humid climate for at least 120 days out of the year, I am very familiar with storage problems.

Ideally, food should be stored at around 50-55 degrees, with no more that 15% humidity.   Does that mean you cannot store food if you do not have these ideal conditions?  Of course you can!  The conditions described are “in a perfect world” type scenario, and we all know it’s not perfect, otherwise we would not need to store food.

Summer temperatures in Texas reach over 100 degrees with 80% humidity.  To save electricity, we keep the air conditioning at around 78-80 degrees.  The A/C cuts down on humidity, but moisture still seeps in.  This is something we cannot ignore.  We just factor in that the food stored will not last as long as it would have at cooler, drier temperatures.

Here are some tips:

  • Clear out an area before getting started, or as you supply grows.  Clean out the junk closet and sell or donate items, leaving free space for food storage.  Try using underutilized spaces such as under the beds, inside empty suitcases or TV cabinet.
  • Avoid waste and store only foods that your family eats.  Resist the urge to stock up on sale or discontinued items just because of the low price.
  • Choose canned foods that have the longest expiration dates.  Do not buy cans that are dented or misshapen even if they are heavily discounted.  Although some studies have shown they can last a few years past their expiration dates, I prefer not to risk it, especially after a friend’s unfortunate experience.  Getting ill from eating spoiled food is not worth it.
  • Rotate your food constantly.  I mark the expiration date with a Sharpie marker on top of the canned food and on the sides to make sure I use them before those dates.  At least twice a year, go through your supplies and use anything close to expiration.
  • If you are storing bulk foods in mylar bags, observe the proper technique by using oxygen absorbers and letting all the air out.  Label your buckets with the contents and the date the food was stored.  Plan on using these stored foods within five years, instead of ten, if your storage conditions are not ideal.
  • Find out that pests got into your stored food such as rice or flour would be disastrous, not to mention expensive to replace.  Clean the area surrounding your food storage thoroughly.  Make sure the area is dry and pest free.  For additional protection from pests, keep stored foods in five gallon food grade buckets with tight lids.
  • For maximum shelf life, choose dehydrated or freeze-dried foods.  Mountain House, a provider of food for recreational and emergency purposes, just increased their stated shelf life from 10 years to 12 years on their pouches.
  • If you are storing water in containers for drinking, use and replace the water after a year.  Mark the date of storage on the container using a label or sharpie marker.  Mold or moss may develop after the container been sitting in a warm, humid area for a while.  If you do use water that has been stored for a long while, have a backup water purification system by running it through a filter, boiling etc.
  • Make sure your food and water storage is not close to gasoline or other chemicals that emit fumes that will contaminate your supplies.

This tips will help minimize mistakes,  and ensure your stored food and water will be available when you most need them.

© Apartment Prepper 2014

Don’t let those expiration dates get past you.  An inexpensive but helpful tool to keep track of supplies:

 For beginning preppers

Fire Roasted Vegetables for Food Storage

Mountain House Fire Roasted Veg Blend4At last week’s Monday Musings, I mentioned I was catching up on product reviews.  Therefore, in lieu of the scheduled posts, this week is Review Week!

I had the opportunity to test out the new Mountain House Fire Roasted Vegetables.

Mountain House Fire Roasted Veg BlendLong time readers know we’ve tested a few Mountain House entrees, and brought them on camping and backpacking trips.

I was a little iffy about how fire roasted vegetables would turn out, as this is one of my favorite foods and some restaurants don’t even cook them properly.  But I gave it shot so here’s the result.

Here is what the vegetables look as you open the packet.  It contains freeze dried fire roasted bell peppers, onions with corn and black beans.

Mountain House Fire Roasted Veg Blend2

As usual, I followed the instructions to take out the oxygen absorber then just add 1.5 cups boiling water.

Mountain House Fire Roasted Veg Blend3Then mix up the contents to make sure the water has covered the vegetables.  Then seal up the bag and wait.  The directions said leave it alone 7-8 minutes.

I checked it after the 8 minutes were up and the vegetables were ready the the black beans were still a bit tough.  So I left it for another 7 minutes for a total of 15.  By now the black beans were perfect.

Mountain House Fire Roasted Veg Blend5I tasted the vegetables and they were excellent.  They had a sweet, fresh taste and a firm, not mushy consistency.  The pouch contains 2.5 servings.  I had it plain for lunch and it was satisfying.

I think it’s actually better than some of the frozen fire roasted vegetable blends I’ve tried from the supermarket.  They would be great for camping, backpacking and long term food storage.  I highly recommend Mountain House Fire Roasted Vegetables.

Emergency Essentials/BePrepared

Emergency Essentials/BePrepared

11 Emergency Food Items That Can Last a Lifetime

11 Emergency Foods that can Last a LifetimeThis article originally appeared in Ready Nutrition

By Tess Pennington

Did you know that with proper storage techniques, you can have a lifetime supply of certain foods?  Certain foods can stand the test of time, and continue being a lifeline to the families that stored it.  Knowing which foods last indefinitely and how to store them are you keys to success.

The best way to store food for the long term is by using a multi-barrier system.  This system protects the food from natural elements such as moisture and sunlight, as well as from insect infestations.

Typically, those who store bulk foods look for inexpensive items that have multi-purposes and will last long term.

Listed below are 11 food items that can last a lifetime

Honey

Honey never really goes bad.  In a tomb in Egypt 3,000 years ago, honey was found and was still edible.  If there are temperature fluctuations and sunlight, then the consistency and color can change.  Many honey harvesters say that when honey crystallizes, then it can be re-heated and used just like fresh honey.  Because of honey’s low water content, microorganisms do not like the environment.

Uses: curing, baking, medicinal, wine (mead)

Salt

Although salt is prone to absorbing moisture, it’s shelf life is indefinite.  This indispensable mineral will be a valuable commodity in a long term disaster and will be a essential bartering item.

Uses: curing, preservative, cooking, cleaning, medicinal, tanning hides

Sugar

Life would be so boring without sugar.  Much like salt, sugar is also prone to absorbing moisture, but this problem can be eradicated by adding some rice granules into the storage container.

Uses: sweetener for beverages, breads, cakes, preservative, curing, gardening, insecticide (equal parts of sugar and baking powder will kill cockroaches).

Wheat

Wheat is a major part of the diet for over 1/3 of the world.  This popular staple supplies 20% of daily calories to a majority of the world population.  Besides being a high carbohydrate food, wheat contains valuable protein, minerals, and vita­mins. Wheat protein, when balanced by other foods that supply certain amino acids such as lysine, is an efficient source of protein.

Uses: baking, making alcohol, livestock feed, leavening agent

Dried corn

Essentially, dried corn can be substituted for any recipe that calls for fresh corn.  Our ancestors began drying corn because of it’s short lived season.  To extend the shelf life of corn, it has to be preserved by drying it out so it can be used later in the year.

Uses: soups, cornmeal, livestock feed, hominy and grits, heating source (do a search for corn burning fireplaces).

Baking soda

This multi-purpose prep is a must have for long term storage.

Uses: teeth cleaner, household cleaner, dish cleaner, laundry detergent booster, leavening agent for baked goods, tarnish remover

Instant coffee, tea, and cocoa

Adding these to your long term storage will not only add a variety to just drinking water, but will also lift morale.  Instant coffee is high vacuum freeze dried.  So, as long as it is not introduced to moisture, then it will last.  Storage life for all teas and cocoas can be extended by using desiccant packets or oxygen absorbing packets, and by repackaging the items with a vacuum sealing.

Uses: beverages, flavor additions to baked goods

Non-carbonated soft drinks

Although many of us prefer carbonated beverages, over time the sugars break down and the drink flavor is altered.  Non-carbonated beverages stand a longer test of time.  And, as long as the bottles are stored in optimum conditions, they will last.  Non-carbonated beverages include: vitamin water, Gatorade, juices, bottled water.

Uses: beverages, flavor additions to baked goods

White rice

White rice is a major staple item that preppers like to put away because it’s a great source for calories, cheap and has a long shelf life.  If properly stored this popular food staple can last 30 years or more.

Uses: breakfast meal, addition to soups, side dishes, alternative to wheat flour

Bouillon products

Because bouillon products contain large amounts of salt, the product is preserved.  However, over time, the taste of the bouillon could be altered.  If storing bouillon cubes, it would be best repackage them using a food sealer or sealed in mylar bags.

Uses: flavoring dishes

Powdered milk – in nitrogen packed cans

Powdered milk can last indefinitely, however, it is advised to prolong it’s shelf life by either repackaging it for longer term storage, or placing it in the freezer.  If the powdered milk developes an odor or has turned a yellowish tint, it’s time to discard.

Uses: beverage, dessert, ingredient for certain breads, addition to soup and baked goods.

Prepper's CookbookAbout this author

Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Cookbook: 300 Recipes to Turn Your Emergency Food into Nutritious, Delicious, Life-Saving Meals. When a catastrophic collapse cripples society, grocery store shelves will empty within days. But if you follow this book’s plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply, your family will have plenty to eat for weeks, months or even years. Visit her web site at ReadyNutrition.com.