The Top 10 Foods to NOT Store!

pantry The Top 10 Foods to NOT Store!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.

I discuss this list in today’s episode of The Survival Mom Radio Hour.

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.

6.  Breakfast cereals. These are not packaged for longterm storage, likely contain GMO ingredients, and probably contain a lot of additives that you would just as soon not consume. However, I know they’re a quick and handy breakfast food, especially if you have kids. If you must store them, again, rotate and repackage them for the longest possible shelf life.

7.  Canned tomato products. Personally, I have always stored a number of canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, and tomato paste, but then, we use those products often in our meals. Over the years I have heard more complaints about canned tomatoes than any other canned foods: the cans leak, they bulge, a seam opens. If you store these, be sure to rotate through them and plan on growing your own fresh tomatoes so you’ll have those to rely on instead.

8.  Home-dehydrated foods. Again, these aren’t bad, but for long-term storage they won’t last nearly as long, mold-free, as commercially dehydrated foods. This is because we have no way of measuring the actual moisture content of our home-dehydrated foods. We dry them, “until crispy” or “leathery” but those are pretty subjective measurements. Commercially dried foods are tested for moisture and then packaged in a container in which most or all of the oxygen has been removed. If you dehydrate your own foods, and please continue to do so!, just keep in mind that it has a shelf life of a year, maybe two, and rotate through them.

9.  Brown sugar. There really is not need to store brown sugar if you have granulated sugar and molasses on hand. Molasses has an extremely long shelf life, as does sugar, and when you combine 1 cup of sugar with 1 tablespoon molasses, you have freshly made brown sugar.

10.  Bottled salad dressing. When a bottle of Kraft ranch salad dressing is the same color as Thousand Island, you know something went very, very wrong on your pantry shelf! That was our experience just last week. About 4 years ago I used a number of coupons to buy bottled salad dressings for my brand new food storage pantry. I didn’t stop to think that I usually make my own homemade dressings, so here these 8 or 10 bottles sat. Needless to say, we tossed them into the trash. It’s too easy to make homemade from fresh or shelf-stable ingredients, so forget the store-bought dressings unless you rotate through them fairly quickly.

Please keep in mind that I’m not saying to never buy these or never have a few of these on your shelf. They just aren’t good candidates for long term storage, so don’t stock up on them in large quantities unless you really are going to rotate through them on a regular basis.

What foods would you add to this list? What have I forgotten?

A version of this column originally appeared in

25 Things That the SHTF Doesn’t Care About

SHTF doesn’t generally drop by at the best of times.  In fact, SHTF thrives and grows exponentially under more adverse circumstances.

So, suck it up, put on your boots, and power through it – SHTF doesn’t care and neither can you!

SHTF doesn’t care about inclement weather – snow, hail, tornadoes and hurricanes all just add to the party atmosphere for SHTF.
SHTF doesn’t care that you sprained your ankle, broke your leg or are otherwise less than ambulatory. If you have to bug out without a vehicle, you have to bug out, regardless of your injury status.
SHTF doesn’t care that you decided to start prepping after the trip to Disneyworld (because that trip is expensive!!!!)
SHTF doesn’t care that you are on a boat in the middle of  the ocean, regardless of what you paid for the luxury cruise.  (Check out recent ill-fated Carnival Cruise of the Triumph if you don’t believe me!)
SHTF doesn’t care that you had planned to get your vehicle repaired.  You have to evacuate regardless of the leak from the oil pan, the condition of the brakes and the funny noise in the transmission.
SHTF doesn’t care that the entire family is ill with the stomach flu.  The entire family will just have to pause to throw up while bugging out.
SHTF doesn’t care that you need new hiking boots and that you just haven’t had time to get to the store and buy them.
SHTF doesn’t care that you planned to buy some bulk foods with your next paycheck.
SHTF doesn’t care that you always use electronic banking. If the ATMS are down and you have no cash, you cannot buy anything.
SHTF doesn’t care that you used all your ammo at the range and Wal-Mart has been out for the past month.
SHTF doesn’t care that the grocery store is closed because of a power outage and you only have a can of peas and some saltine crackers in the house.
SHTF doesn’t care that you are wearing high heels when your car plummets to the bottom of a ravine – you still have to climb out.
SHTF doesn’t care that the pharmacies are closed because of a pandemic and that you have no OTC or herbal medicines at home – if you catch the virus, you will suffer through it without medicine to treat it. And so will your kids.
SHTF doesn’t care that your truck is almost out of gas and the local gas stations have closed because of the disaster.  If you have to bug out, you may end up walking instead of driving.
SHTF doesn’t care that you are depressed because you just broke up with your spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend. S happens when S happens.
SHTF doesn’t care that you have made a rock solid plan to get in shape - as soon as the weather warms up.
SHTF doesn’t care that you are visiting your in-laws, the most unprepared people on the planet.
SHTF doesn’t care that you had planned to get the propane tank refilled and now the propane trucks aren’t running.
SHTF doesn’t care that your wood is not dry.
SHTF doesn’t care that you have 300 pounds of beans and rice but failed to plan on a way to cook them.
SHTF doesn’t care that you don’t know how to cook over an open fire without inflicting 2nd degree burns on yourself.
SHTF doesn’t care if you have only a week’s supply of toilet paper – if the crisis lasts longer than a week, things will be progressively less pleasant regardless of your intention to purchase more Charmin.
SHTF doesn’t care you planned to reinforce your door frame and install a metal security door – if thugs arrive to invade your home, your hollow core door will serve as a minor inconvenience instead of a deterrent.
SHTF doesn’t care if you believe the fecal matter is headed towards the oscillating device or whether you think it’s a conspiracy theory.
Whatever your excuse may be, you may rest assured, it could easily be on this list.   And SHTF won’t care about that either.

A version of this column originally appeared in