STOP! Before throwing any of these items away, read this post about repackaging food!!
Based on my own personal experiences and mistakes, I do not recommend storing these foods in large quantities, long-term. Let me know what you think of my list and what other foods you would add.
1. Any canned vegetable or fruit that you do not like. Don’t assume you will fall in love with slimy, aged canned apricots five years from now if you detest apricots now! Canned veggies and fruits aren’t nearly as tasty as fresh versions, so if you decide to store them, make sure you really like them.
2. Tuna. I know that canned tuna is a staple in many food pantries. However, I’ve discovered that after a couple of years, canned tuna becomes mushy. Now, if you love the taste of tuna, you may not mind the mushy version, but for me, I really didn’t like it. Also, reports from a year ago found that every single bluefin tuna caught in the Pacific Ocean, in a study, was contaminated by radiation from Fukushima. I don’t know what the current status is of radiation in bluefin tuna, but I’d rather not store it in our food pantry.
3. Flour. As flour ages, it can develop a stale, rancid smell. Additionally, it likely contains the microscopic eggs of flour weevils, which will hatch at some point. To get the longest possible shelf life out of flour, first place it in an airtight container and freeze it for about a week. This will kill the insect eggs. Then, before storing it, add an oxygen absorber or two, depending on the size of the container. Still, you can expect a shelf life of 18 months or so from flour, which is why most preppers prefer to store wheat.
4. Saltine crackers. Just for fun, take a sleeve of saltine crackers out of the box and set them aside, at room temperature, for 3 or 4 months. You’ll never get over the stench of rancid saltines! If you must, you could store them in an airtight container with oxygen absorbers, or learn how to make them from scratch. Buy and enjoy saltines but do rotate through them and don’t depend on a giant stash staying fresh a year from now.
5. Graham crackers. I didn’t think our family favorite, graham crackers, could go bad, but they do go rancid with time. Again, you can repackage them in an airtight container using oxygen absorbers, but that’s a lot of extra work. You can also store the ingredients to make homemade graham crackers. Have an extra 3 or 4 boxes around is quite fine. Just remember to rotate and use up the oldest crackers first, while storing the newly purchased crackers for later.
As a follow-up to my blog post about which foods you shouldn’t plan on storing long-term, here’s a list of foods typically found at grocery stores that can be stored but must be repackaged.
Keep in mind, that by repackaging these foods you will also be protecting them from oxygen, pests, and humidity, three of the five enemies of food storage. (The other 2 are heat and light.)
- Raisins and other dried fruit
- Breakfast cereals
- Any type of cookie or cracker
- Bread crumbs
- Pancake mix (Sometimes these are packaged directly inside the cardboard box without any type of inner plastic bag.)
- Pasta, rice, and potato convenience mixes, such as Rice-a-Roni, Pasta-Roni, instant potatoes, scalloped potato mixes, etc. (These may either have microscopic insect eggs inside the package already and/or be invaded by insects and rodents from the outside.)
- Tea bags (Repackage for best flavor and longest possible shelf life.)
- Dried, instant milk (If not already in a sealed can.)
- Spices and herbs packaged in plastic bags
- Chocolate chips, baking chips of any flavor
- Sugar, brown sugar and powdered sugar
- Any type of mix to make bread, cornbread, pizza dough, etc.
- Most anything else that is packaged in flimsy plastic bags and/or cardboard. This type of packaging is not intended for long-term storage, but that doesn’t mean the food inside can’t have a longer shelf life if repackaged correctly.
Most everything on this list will do very well packaged by any of these procedures: