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  • Couponing like crazy!
  • Turning Junk into Treasure!
  • Saving Plastic Bottles from Landfills!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

What to stock

The first rule of stockpiling is this:
If you won't eat it, don't stock it!

There are lots of other rules that I am learning, and I think you'll all find them helpful too!

-If you're going to take the time to clip the coupons, find the match ups, and get yourself to the store, take the extra minute at home to date the item and rotate your storage as you put it away!

This is a lesson that I have had to learn again! I have just not been good at it... ever. I have recently repented and am working like crazy to find ways to use the zillion cans of recently expired diced tomatoes I have stocked up. Among other things!

-Certain foods only stay fresh a short time. (more on this further down)

This really sucks, especially since some items only come on a great deal once or twice a year. For instance, graham crackers! They go bad much more quickly than I would have thought. I sadly discovered that two large boxes in my pantry had gone bad. So sad!!! Come to find out, in the pantry, their shelf life is just ONE MONTH!!! You can keep them in the freezer 3-4 months but I don't have that kind of freezer real estate and I'm afraid they'd get soggy.
Another one is saltines. Those yummy, salty crackers that come in so handy during flu season! They are on special this week and my first instinct is to totally stock up! No! Can't do it! Saltines only last ONE MONTH as well! Unless you freeze them! It seems that one month is the general life span for most crackers. Major bummer! All the great prices on crackers at New Year's.....  :(

-Maintaining a stock pile is a huge responsibility and doesn't allow for a lot of laziness.

It isn't just a matter of buying the stuff and throwing it in the cupboard! You've got to actually USE the stuff!! I know some people buy those 25 year buckets but that's not as cheap or exciting as shopping with coupons. The upside of the long life buckets is that you don't need to worry about them for a few decades. The bad part.... It's 25 year food!! Not exactly gourmet!
So, if you do things the way I do, it is super wise to plan a weekly menu for your family. This isn't really hard to do and there are lots of great ideas online to help you get started. 
The basics are these:
Take a tour of your pantry, fridge and freezer. See which items are getting close to expiration. (This requires dating and inventory tracking). Take any 3-4 items and type them into google. Some kind of recipe will come up! Write it up on the white board and pull the necessary ingredients each morning. Leave them on the counter where they will shame you into actually using them! A great adventure!! 

-Even canned foods don't last forever!

Do you know, without looking at the tiny printed best by date, how long your canned veggies and meats will last?
High acid goods, such as tomatoes, are good for 12-18 months. 
Low acid canned goods, such as meat and chicken and most vegetables can be stored on the shelf for 2-5 years!

**After the sell by date on your can, the food will likely still be safe to eat for some time but the quality will be affected.

-In the freezer

You can certainly extend the life of most foods by properly packaging and freezing them, but who really wants to eat 5 year old snow peas???
Follow this handy link to a comprehensive list of freezer shelf lives for most foods
I was amazed and shocked by some of the recommended freezer lives for some of these foods! I will definitely have to take a new inventory of my freezers and get a better system going there!!

-How about flours??

Another surprise here! I thought that flour was pretty much good until you found weavels in it! No. Unfortunately, that isn't the case. Of course, if you do find new residents in your grains, I would recommend throwing them out!
Here's another comprehensive list:
**notice that this list says "past sell by date." That gives me hope!


Sugar is one of those amazing, yummy little deals that really does last FOREVER! Well, pretty much anyway. :)
The only exceptions:
Brown Sugar
Powdered Sugar
Both of these are best within two years. This becomes super obvious in brown sugar! Yet another lesson I've had to have beaten into my head with rock hard bags of fossilized brown sugar!
**A funny tip I never would have thought of: Marshmallows! Apparently, putting marshmallows in your air tight bags of brown keeps the sugar soft! Who knew?!
There's also the old stand by, leave a slice of fresh bread in your bag of hard sugar overnight to soften it.

I admit, I have learned a LOT in just putting this post together! I still have a long way to go, but eventually, I WILL be a food saving, stockpiling pro!!

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