This is a guest post by NotQuiteAHermit and entry for our non-fiction writing contest.
If there are commandments (ten or less, I presume) for food storage then the top two are probably rotate your supplies and be aware of expiration dates.
Here is a simple step that will make your life easier and help you keep the two commandments or suggestions. (We free thinkers don’t use words like laws. You are the owner of your life and I would never presume to tell you that you MUST do anything. At most, I would suggest.
Buy a Sharpie or other big, permanent marker.
Every time you come home from the grocery store empty all your grocery sacks out on the counter. Mark all cans and boxes (using the black marker) on the front or top with the year and date of purchase – i.e. 10-13 for month and year.
Next find the expiration date or “best used by” date. Round it up to the closest half-year (things always last a little longer that they tell you.) If you purchased the can of corn in October of 2013 and it says “Best used by 12/23/2014” then write under the “10-13” (the date you bought it) “1-1/2 yrs,” meaning that the corn is good through April 2015. You’ve added 4 months to their recommendation, but it should still be ok. If you are not comfortable adding this much time then write “1 yr” under the month and year you bought it. You decide.
This will only take a few minutes and will quickly become a habit.
Next, put your groceries away.
This makes it very easy to see when you bought it and easy to see when you can still use it. If you get in a hurry and stuff your groceries in to any open spot in the pantry you can always do a quick sort later by glancing at your marks and picking the oldest purchase dates and moving them to the front of the shelf.
Next time you want corn, look for the oldest can (in terms of when you bought it) and check the second date to see if it is still good. If you’ve had it longer that that 1-1/2 years then you need to make a judgment call. Is it bulged or rusty? Toss it. Have you had it two years? Well, you can open it and see how it looks and smells. Again, your call.
My 5-gallon pails of wheat I bought sealed in Mylar with oxygen absorbers has the month and year of purchase and under that “25 yrs +.” I mark everything. And I might add that this is important for your own canning and freezing storage. “What year did we can those peaches?” “How long did the canning book say the shelf life was?”
For years I just marked the purchase date. This still left me hunting for the expiration date when I picked up an old box or can. One day the light came on and I realized that it was easier to post the life span information when I brought things home than when I was getting ready to cook.
And how long have I been doing this? In my garage is a coffee can with nails in it. It still has the plastic lid. On the lid it says in black marker “6-77.”
Prizes for this round in our non fiction writing contest include…
- First place winner will receive – A Volcano Grill courtesy of LPC Survival a $134.99 value, a $150 gift certificate for Remington ammunition courtesy of LuckyGunner, a 60 serving bucket of Wise Freeze Dried Food courtesy of EmergencyFoodWarehouse.com and a Wonder Junior Deluxe grain meal a $219.95 value courtesy of Kitchen Neads and a USB Portable VPN courtesy of unspyable a $275 value. Total prize value of $899.99.
- Second place winner will receive – A Sopakco Sure – Pak MRE – 12 Meals courtesy of Campingsurvival.com, a $98.95 value, a Tatsu360 Tenkara Rod a $72.00 value courtesy of Dragontail Tenkara and a one year subscription to Personal VPN service, a $100 value, courtesy of unspyable. Total prize value of $270.95.
- Third place winner will receive – a copy of my book ”31 Days to Survival: A Complete Plan for Emergency Preparedness“ courtesy of TheSurvivalistBlog.net and a copy of “The Survival Medicine Handbook” courtesy of www.doomandbloom.net.
Be sure to read the rules before entering… This contest will end on November 10 2013