As we store, there are some things we should not be storing long term. This is especially important during these difficult economic times. Budgets are stretched and it has not been more essential to stock up in decades. As you prepare your lists of items to store and as you search ads for sales to make your money go further, consider the following. It is important to store the foods your family loves but be aware some may need special treatment.

  1. Canned vegetable or fruit that your family does not love. Variety is important when planning great food storage, however, remember you will be eating these on a regular basis to rotate. If you have one recipe that calls for canned apricots, but you don’t like them from the can, only store a couple cans to use when you make that recipe. BUT remember if you don’t love certain fruits from a can, they can be frozen and used in smoothies.
  2. Snack crackers. We think of crackers as a replacement for bread during an emergency, however, they become stale very quickly. When purchasing, only buy as much as you will eat before the expiration date.
  3. Graham crackers, while we are talking crackers, they will also become stale shortly after the expiration date. These are a must in my storage plan but when we don’t use them for smores in time we eat pies with graham cracker crusts. Date all crackers with the expiration dates in markers to ensure you always use the oldest boxes first.
  4. Speaking of snacks, chips. Again, they will become stale and rancid shortly after the expiration date. As with crackers, date in a marker that can be easily read, with the expiration date and use before or shortly thereafter.
  5. Nuts are a great source of protein. When storing vacuum seal and for storage longer than a year, freeze.
  6. Tuna and salmon may change in consistency after a year, so again, store sparingly if you only enjoy tuna once a month.
  7. Flour can become stale, infested, and even become rancid. If it is stored in metal cans it will take on the taste of metal and the taste cannot be disguised when used in baking.  When storing, place flours of all kinds in the freezer for 3 weeks to a month. This will help to prevent infestations. Vacuum sealing will also help to preserve flours. Plan to use flours within a year.
  8. Breakfast cereals are not packaged for long-term storage. When storing cereals rotate often or store with an oxygen absorber. Cereals stored this way can last for a few years.
  9. Processed oats or prepackaged oatmeal may seem tempting, there are better ways to spend your money when it comes to oats. Processed oats have less nutritional value than steel-cut or old-fashioned oats. If stored correctly, a tub of oats will last well over a decade. Instant oatmeal is easy to make using old-fashioned oats.
  10. Canned tomato products are a must have in my storage, what’s food storage without taco soup? Most canned vegetables are safe to eat 7 years after the expiration date. This is not true of tomato products. The acids in the tomato react with the metal in the cans and spoil the contents after just a year or two past the expiration dates. This is also the reason you never store an opened can of tomato products in a metal container. Do not forget tomato soup when rotating tomato products.  Purchase pasta and pizza sauces in glass containers.
  11. Brown sugar can become as hard as a rock. We have probably all had that experience. Store in a vacuum sealed bag for best results. Never store any variety of sugar with an oxygen packet. In a pinch you can make your own brown sugar by combining 1 cup of granulated sugar with 1 tablespoon molasses. Molasses is one of the items that stores for years.
  12. Baking mixes. Cake, pancake, biscuit mixes all have a short shelf life. Prepare to use these mixes within a year after purchase.
  13. Mayonnaise based store bought salad dressing will expire and become rancid shortly after the expiration. You can easily make your own with powdered mixes and mayonnaise. Oil or vinegar-based dressing will last much longer.
  14. Mayonnaise is also an item that will spoil shortly after the expiration date. When getting close to or shortly past the expiration date, rotate in homemade dressing, casseroles or potato and other salads.
  15. Oils become rancid which is why I hate so many of the lists published on the internet. You know the lists that tell you to store so many gallons of oil, lots of grains and virtually no proteins except maybe peanut butter and tuna. They always advise too much oil for most families.
  16. Drinks other than water and 100% juice. If storing powdered mixes to add to water that is appropriate. Even electrolyte drinks are not good for long term storage. Soda will become flat in a short time and can actually cause dehydration. Never treat soda as a hydration alternative unless you are following a hydration recipe.
  17. Anything you do not know how to cook. This is a frustration for me. Never store wheat if you do not know how to cook or bake with wheat. Instead of wheat, concentrate on other grains for fiber and nutrition. Just because someone told you something is great to store does not mean you should store it if you do not know how to prepare it or you don’t like it.

A couple of reminders:

  • Store food groups. All food groups are important for optimal health.
  • Store only what you eat under normal circumstances. They will be the most appetizing during a time of crisis.
  • Remember many foods freeze well for longer term storage.
  • It is better to have a complete 2-week supply of all food groups than to have a three-month supply of only one or two groups.
  • Learn to make your own master mixes from favorite recipes, instant oatmeal, hydration recipes and much more is available.

For help with any of these, check for information at Please ask questions if you need help.