Frugal Dad‘s How to Stockpile Food for Survival post unintentionally made me giggle. Before reading the full post, I started thinking about the pseudo grocery store that is my in-laws’ basement. Half of the area is comprised of all manner of cabinets — if it could hold food, it was installed. So what they wound up with is a ragtag bunch of cabinets, drawers and pantries.
In one cabinet, beans. Arranged by type — cannelloni, kidney, navy, pinto, black — you’re likely to find any of those in there. Another cabinet is full of condiments such as mustard, ketchup and many salad dressings. Then there’s the potato chips, pastas, sodas, teabags, cans of crushed tomatoes and tomato paste. They’ve got sundries, too: A seemingly never-ending supply of paper plates, cups, paper towels and toilet paper.
If Armageddon arrives anytime soon, they’ll be ready for it.
But what about expiration dates? On more than one occasion, we’ve brought up a salad dressing or a ketchup bottle from the great beyond and I’ve noticed that the expiration date had since past. Usually, it’s only by a few months, but it still unnerves me. Another family member has cabinets full of canned goods, some of which are far past their expiration dates.
Does this mean stockpiling goods is a bad idea? Not necessarily. There’s a difference between hoarding and legitimate use.
When It’s Worthwhile To Stock Up on Canned Goods (or Non-Perishables)
1. Use coupons to get your deals. If you can get 10 cans of tuna fish for pennies on the dollar, why not? Folks who do extreme couponing tend to take this a bit too far, but if you will use your pantry stock within a reasonable amount of time, it’s worthwhile. Donating extras to a food pantry or a women’s/homeless shelter is even more noble.
2. You buy within reason. Just because you can get 50 bottles of mustard for $5 doesn’t mean you should buy them for your fallout shelter — er, I mean, pantry.I’ve learned that it’s better to have that extra bottle of ketchup in reserve just in case I run out in the middle of consuming my favorite sandwich — taylor ham, egg and cheese on an English muffin — which I first drown in ketchup and then accentuate by adding another dollop of ketchup on the plate next to it for dipping.
As Frugal Dad added, rotating your stock so that the items with the latest expiration dates are in the back is ideal — you’ll use up the stuff that’s closest to expiring first. Also, if you see a can is bulging, DO NOT USE. It could be tainted with botulism. In this case, when in doubt, throw it out!
In the End
We have a small pantry closet in the hallway next to our kitchen. Since it’s just me and Mr. Saver, I don’t go overboard on buying “extras.” We have 2-3 ketchup bottles, 4 mustards, 2 peanut butter jars, 3 boxes of the tea I favor, an extra ranch dressing, a few small bags of brown rice, a half-dozen cans of crushed tomatoes, 4 cans of diced tomatoes, 3 cans of black olives, numerous bottles of Frank’s Red Hot and reduced-sodium soy sauce, random cans of turkey chili, salsa and enchilada sauce, and an extra bottle of the cranberry/pomegranate juice we like. And there’s the extra 16 rolls of toilet paper, 4 boxes of tissues and about 8 rolls of paper towels.
I have yet to throw anything out due to it being past the expiration date. In fact, if it were up to Mr. Saver, I’d have much more foodstuffs stockpiled, but for the time being, I think we’ll be just fine.
Do you have an overstuffed pantry? Have you checked the expiration dates lately?