A huge part of prepping is generating a stockpile that can sustain you and your family through TEOTWAWKI and beyond. We as preppers frequently discuss how to create such a stockpile and what should be in it. Equally important is where and how to safely house our goods. All of this is valuable information, but the things you need to know do not end there.
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If you go to the grocery store during stocking hours, it is likely that you will see persons placing items on shelves. Rather than plunk things down haphazardly in the assigned section, there is a method to the madness, or at least there is supposed to be if the job is done right. That method is one of rotating stock. Old items should go to the front so they are sold first, with new items going in the back. As shoppers take items from the front, the newer stock moves forward to make room for more stock that is newer yet. This rotating effort prevents items from being pushed to the back of the shelf and forgotten about, thus allowing them to expire and become waste.
Waste is a terrible thing, whether in the eyes of a corporate giant or your own personal stockpile. To avoid waste, it is important to rotate your stock and keep an eye on expiration dates. This is also why it is important to buy things you will actually use and eat, because you need to be using them. Stockpiling is not as simple as buying everything you might someday need and sticking it in your basement to forget about it. You must use the stock you have and replace it so that there is less chance of anything expiring in the meantime.
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If you do not take expiration dates seriously, you may get an unpleasant surprise when you open an expired item. While non-perishable food will last a long time, even canned goods have an expiration date. It is not just your food that will expire, either, as things like gasoline go bad and bleach gradually loses potency. The chemicals in medicines may break down as well, causing them to become less effective.
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To better put things in perspective, the list of items below can be relied on to last beyond five years if stored optimally:
- First Aid Supplies
- Dehydrated foods
- Freeze-dried foods
- Alcoholic Beverages (some but not all)
On the opposite side of the coin, the following items should be rotated and replaced at or before reaching the five year mark:
- Canned goods
- Condiments (ketchup, mustard, etc.)
- Jam, jelly, peanut butter, etc.
- Legumes (Beans)
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With all of this in mind, the bottom line in any good stockpile is this: use it or lose it. If the items you have collected are not used, rotated, and/or replaced, some of them may become unusable with the passage of time. Instead of the mindset that your stockpile should never be touched except in an emergency, make plans to incorporate using it into your regular life. Having stored items that are a part of your normal use will make it that much easier to keep them fresh. In the event that such a plan is too much to embrace, making it a point to check dates monthly or bi-annually and move items that are close to expiration from the stockpile to the pantry, then replace them on your next shopping trip. The bottom line is that rotation is necessary to keep a successful stockpile, so get to work checking those expiration dates today!