TOTM Apr. 2017- Store what you use, use what you've stored

Discussion in 'Back to Basics' started by DarkLight, Apr 1, 2017.

  1. DarkLight

    DarkLight Live Long and Prosper - On Hiatus

    Sorry for the tardiness of the post. I was up until the wee hours of the morning Thursday/Friday and actually slept in today.

    Yes, it's April First. No, this isn't an April Fool's. They actually let me do a TOTM...go figure! :D

    “Store what you use and use what you store”

    Sage advice from the veteran prepper to their newly awakened friends or family. We have said it here more than once and will probably say it again, and taken at face value it’s generally good advice to rotate your far as that goes. And we'd all love to have a room (or more) dedicated to our storage...


    Admittedly, some things simply lend themselves to being rotated. Canned goods are a prime example, especially if you have and can use some sort of rotating “device”, not that you have to. Boxed goods, or at least boxes of individually wrapped “stuff” can be rotated fairly easily as well. There are also a number of things that we think we’re stocking up on but go through so fast that we never run the risk of having it expire (yes, I’m talking about Ramen noodles).


    Some other things fall in the middle for me, like rice. We buy it by the 25 lb bag and keep a couple of bags in the closet. We go through rice VERY quickly, having it with at least 3 meals a week which adds up. When we open the oldest bag, which is never more than 2-3 months old, and dump it into the buckets we use to rotate, we buy another bag that week.


    And then there’s the non-perishable items that you can just put wherever and grab when you need long as you keep an eye on the level of stock on hand. Stuff like toilet paper, napkins, paper towels, paper plates and bowls, sponges, kitchen “stuff” (plastic wrap, waxed/parchment paper, etc.), plastic utensils, ziploc bags and containers, trash bags, hygiene products (soap, shampoo, razors, etc.). All of that can be rotated fairly easily because you don’t have to pack it for long term storage and can store it almost anywhere.

    But I’ve found that the statement doesn’t really go very far. Conceptually, storing what you eat or use on a regular basis, using it and then replenishing and building the stockpile is a good idea. In some cases it’s also really easy to do and I’ve found that “using what I store” is one thing, but “using what I’ve stored” is another thing altogether.


    I eat spaghetti. I store spaghetti noodles. I do not eat the spaghetti noodles I’ve stored.

    I use brown sugar when we cook (sometimes). I store brown sugar. I do not use the brown sugar I’ve stored.

    I eat beans in a number of dishes. I store beans. I do not use the beans that I have stored.

    I could go on but you get the picture. So, we all know why we store these things. So why don’t I break into the prepped spaghetti noodles when I run out in the pantry? Because they are in a vacuum packed mylar bag with an oxygen absorber...which cost me real money to buy and pack. Yes, I tried to leave enough room that I could open it and re-seal it again if I needed to, but let’s be honest, that’s kind of a pain in the behind. Plus, if I open it, I run the risk of tearing it or contaminating the bag somehow, which is a fair concern to have.

    So, how did you take that step from “Store what you use and use what you store” to “Storing what you use and using what you store”? What tips do you have for making rotating more accessible?

    Do you have a can rotator for your shelves?

    Do you use a labeling system?

    Do you use something other than mylar and O2 absorbers?

    Are you an Excel (or LibreOffice Calc) guru and use a home-grown spreadsheet or inventory system?

    How are your shelves organized to facilitate rotation?

    How do you pack your long-term preps and what tips do you have for doing the work?

    And finally, how do you rotate your long-term storage into your every-day consumption so that it doesn’t just sit there until it eventually still expires?

    Do you simply chalk up the cost of preparations for your preps (pun intended) as the cost of doing business? Do you buy mylar and O2 absorbers in such bulk that it’s really a non-issue? Do you choose to freeze more and plan on a massive battery backup and solar system?

    *As a side note, growing your own food can and should be a part of your preps if possible, and I fully realize that it’s not something that everyone can do. I live in suburbia and would starve in a week if I had to rely on my 5 raised beds. But for those of you who can and do grow an abundance, and who put some of that aside via dehydrating or canning or some other means, how do you rotate that into your day to day? I’ve got 8 quarts of peaches from over 2 years ago (canned 24 quarts) and I don’t know that we’ll use all that remain before we have to just dump them. The last thing I want to do is make everyone sick (or worse) and I’ve heard that 2 years is pushing it for water bath canned peaches (someone correct me if I’m wrong, please!). Clearly having a jar every two weeks or even once a month didn’t happen, and they were RIGHT THERE!
  2. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Monkey+++

    Excellent topic @DarkLight.

    Rice. I think I am in a year of hating rice. I ate too much (rotating stock) so now I cannot stand it. But because I am avoiding rice, I find the family eating more spaghetti. I have learned that the thin spaghetti noodles are being consumed quickly but all other noodles are not. A while back, I started packing my rice in 4 cups per bag. It works great because I can grab a bag and that will last me a few meals. It costs more in materials to store in 4 cups per bag but in my mind it preserves it longer.

    I am glad you mentioned canning because I would like to know how long people store canned meat. I know many on here can chicken but I have wondered how quickly they rotate it out. I buy canned chicken, we eat it regularly and think it would be cheaper to can my own.

    This is a case of corn that has been moved into the kitchen pantry.

    I always try to get the cardboard box that the cans come in when I am buying cans in bulk. I have found if I go early enough in the day that I can get the boxes. I bring the case home, turn the cans over (so critters do not contaminate the top where I open) and write the expiration year on the bottom in Sharpie. I no longer bother with the expiration month, the year will do. By eating the current year canned corn, I know that I am running low on corn. Since I knew I was moving, we ate our food storage for quite a while because I had no desire to move cases and cases. The boxes are used in the ready to consume pantry.

    I also use milk crates to store cans. You can stack the cans 2 high in the crate, they are sturdy plus you can stack the crates. These cans will be brought into the pantry when the pantry starts running low. So I would say a can goes through 3 stages of storage in our home. Most recently purchased, then move up to getting ready for use then into the pantry. I will admit some things get missed in the shuffle but most things are used in a timely manner.

  3. Oltymer

    Oltymer Monkey++

    We store in depth, but only store what we eat on a regular basis, and rotate the old to the front to be eaten first with the new going into the back. Since I have a spring, do gardening year round and forage a lot of food from the wild, my food storage needs aren't as critical an issue as it is for many others.
    Sgt Nambu, Seepalaces and chelloveck like this.
  4. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    OK, then, a side issue pertaining to use, not storage. No one with an ounce of sense will disagree with storing what you eat and eating what you store as part of a stock rotation plan. In addition, you have also (say) 90 days worth of (say) Datrex bars in case you need to bug out and abandon all your stores. The crisis never happens in spite of dire predictions, and you happily (or nervously) go about your business daily while waiting for the shoe to drop. At what point in your life does (say) 20 years of rotating stocks of staples become more than you can ever expect to consume or need to renew? Say you make it to 80 y.o. and you still have 20 years worth of beans, rice, and (say) pasta, and in addition a whole beef in the freezer. Do you start eating down the inventory at 80, or sooner? What's your life expectancy, and what does it have to do with your inventory?
    Altoidfishfins and Seepalaces like this.
  5. chelloveck

    chelloveck Diabolus Causidicus

    Some here, prep not merely for themselves, but with an eye to enabling their kin to survive...any stock unused when the self has passed on from this mortal coil becomes part of one's estate to augment one's heir's sustainment. It's no different to leaving an inheritance of jewellery, stocks, bonds and PMs, only that its edible. What happens to the food hoard after one carks it after one is dead, will be past one's cares and concerns, as one will be dead, and be beyond caring.
  6. Thunder5Ranch

    Thunder5Ranch Monkey+++

    Always a years worth of personal food in stock here, except right now. I just don't raise, grow, process and preserve anything we don't eat on a regular basis. Very little of our food comes from the grocery store I have a fetish for Aldies mac n cheese so I buy up 10-12 cases of it once per year, ramen noodles yeah they suck but they last forever and are gut filler in a pinch. Sugar I buy in 50 pound bags by the pallet (40 per pallet) I vacpak 3 of the bags into 5 pound bags. The rest is for the bakery side of the farm. Rarely do I have less than 8,000 pounds of pork and 10,000 pounds in the freezers that is completely rotated out every 30-45 days. What doesn't sell ends up in my personal freezers until they are full, if they don't fill up I will process a hog or two and a couple hundred broilers to top them off going into winter. If there is a overstock I donate it to a couple of food pantries or do a 50% off sale. A good rule of thumb when it comes to home canning High Acid foods (Water Bath Canned) are best for 1-2 years depending on storage method before they really start losing quality. Low Acid food (Pressure Canned) 4-5 years. As long as there is no mold for funky smell odds are after that time it is still safe to eat but of very low quality. I decided to do a freezer test on pork steaks 15 years ago. Vac Packed them and open a package every 5 years, they are held at a constant -30. After 5 years no difference I could tell between just packed and 5 years old. At ten years there was a marginal decline in quality but still very good. At 15 years (A couple of weeks ago) they are at about 60% as good as they were at 5 years old. One Package left in the test that will get cut open in 2022. So as far as meats go I would say no longer than 5-7 years if vacpacked and held at -20 or lower. Butchers paper is only good for fresh or very short term storage. For us though the meat rotation just naturally happens. I hate rice and oatmeal never shall that crap be in my stock pile! On the flip side I dry down and shell out 5 kinds of beans and 5 kinds of field peas and keep enough as seed to replant the following year and the rest to stick in my stash and sell. About the time the new harvest is coming in, the last of the old harvest is simmering with a ham bone.

    If it ever gets so bad that 1 - 1.5 years worth of food isn't enough and I can't grow or produce more, then I figure it is time to say screw it and cash in the chips.
    Sgt Nambu, Seepalaces and Motomom34 like this.
  7. Thunder5Ranch

    Thunder5Ranch Monkey+++

    Yeah I loved inheriting Grandma's canned pear halves with 1951 written on the very yellow labels :)
    Sgt Nambu, Seepalaces and Motomom34 like this.
  8. chelloveck

    chelloveck Diabolus Causidicus

    1951 must have been a glut year for pear canning, or grandma wasn't so much into stock rotation....perhaps the pear halves can go to those favourite relatives one has dreamed about killing off. ;)
    Seepalaces and Motomom34 like this.
  9. Oltymer

    Oltymer Monkey++

    I'm figuring that middle age ends at around 120, so not sure when I will stop storing and go ahead and eat up my stocks.
  10. DarkLight

    DarkLight Live Long and Prosper - On Hiatus

    While I said that some things lend themselves more easily to rotation, I didn't address the mechanism for rotation. I'm going to guess that most have their shelves built into or against a wall, so "in the back/out the front" is a concept that isn't so easily attained. As a practical matter of rotation, I've been looking at a number of ideas to rotate canned goods specifically. Some of the dry goods we go through quickly enough that frankly, we'll be left wanting shortly after "the event". Specifically chips and "crap" that the kids nosh on as snacks.

    Canned goods have been addressed a couple of times here on the monkey (focusing on specific how to's):
    Storing Canned goods | Survival Monkey Forums (posts 1, 7, 36, 38 & 71)

    Some of the solutions I've seen and considered but either never taken the time to do or spent the money on are things like the following.
    For Purchase:
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Building-Canned-Food-Organizer (How To)
    Pantry Ideas - DIY Canned Food Storage - Shanty 2 Chic (How To)
    How to Make a Can Organizer Out of Cardboard (How To)

    All of the above are FIFO (First In First Out) that you "load" from the top and they roll back, "fall", and roll forward. Key here, they load from the front.

    Boxed goods don't roll worth a darn though, so rotating is a bit more difficult and, for us, usually means pulling out the 3-5 remaining and putting the new in behind and re-shelving the old.

    Big bags of stuff are even more difficult since they weigh a lot. We've taken to standing them up instead of stacking them...because...restacking sucks.

    Some stuff, like honey, ends up being rotated just like the boxed goods.

    Buckets, when we pull out the front bucket, we pull the back bucket forward so that when we refill the now empty bucket it's a quick swap (we don't ever have more than 2 buckets in non-kitchen use storage at any one time).

    All of these, however are for my 90-180 day preps and don't address the oxygen starved, mylar packed stuff.
    Sgt Nambu, Motomom34 and chelloveck like this.
  11. DarkLight

    DarkLight Live Long and Prosper - On Hiatus

    @Motomom34 - you mentioned rice burnout, and I know exactly what you mean. The key for us, and we have rice probably 3-4 nights a week, is to rotate the type of rice you cook. First, we have a rice cooker which truly does make cooking it really convenient. If you go this route you can spend a little or a lot and generally you get what you pay for. We were given a Zojirushi which is awesome, but for the longest time we had an Aroma brand from Costco and the only thing that made us get rid of it was the mistake at one point to use metal in the bowl and the non-stick scratched. Otherwise it was a great little rice maker that would cook enough for 15 people easy (yes, 15 people).
    Yes, I know how to cook rice on the stove. Yes, I know how to cook rice over a portable/camping stove. Yes, I know how to cook rice over a campfire. And more than know how, I have done all three (and a couple of others...hello exhaust manifold, gas and charcoal grill and oven...yes, oven) and I do occasionally use other methods just to make sure I still can).
    ***End Note***

    The second thing we do is we don't do plain, enriched, white rice. It has little to no taste and is of questionable nutritional value. It's a filler as far as we are concerned.

    Third, we rotate the rice we do use, which includes:
    • Jasmine rice for general "base" material and when eating most Asian type meals (Thai, Chinese, stir fry, etc)
    • Basmati rice for Indian or a change
    • Sushi/"sticky" rice for Onigiri (Onigiri - Wikipedia), which the kids actually take to school occasionally
    • Brown rice for morning cereal - put it in at night and set the timer to be done when you wake up. There are a TON of recipes that include dried fruit, seasonings, etc.
    We stay away from parboiled/instant rice and the "plain white" rice. Jasmine and Basmati are both technically a white rice (long grain) but they are fragrant and flavorful which makes a HUGE difference in the long run.

    As for pasta, I would suggest you mix it up as well. Thin spaghetti is good and depending on the amount of oil used in preparation can hold a fair amount of sauce (if you like a lot of sauce) but we deliberately do the same thing with pasta because sometimes "mouth feel" makes a difference to the meal as well.
    • [​IMG] Bow Tie pasta (Farfalle) holds a lot of sauce and is good for mixing together with the sauce/meat as opposed to putting sauce on top of a plate of pasta
    • [​IMG] Fettuccini is wide but not necessarily thick and works well with cream sauces (alfredo anyone)
    • [​IMG] Linguini is a narrow, thicker pasta that works well in stir fry dishes (a lot of Chow Mein is actually Linguini)
    • [​IMG] Orzo is rice shaped/sized and was originally introduced to me as a kid when it became apparent (for a variety of reasons but dryness being the biggest) that my dad couldn't eat rice. One of our favorite is Pork Chops in Cream of Mushroom gravy over "rice" (orzo). Okay, I'm getting hungry
    • [​IMG] Penne or [​IMG] Penne Rigate (with the ridges) is what we probably use the most of with a tomato/meat sauce and bakes well in casseroles.
    Some of the others are obvious and not pictured, including the spaghetti's, lasagna and elbow macaroni which you're likely aware of. There are dozens of others but I'm not a pasta snob so I really just cycle through the ones mentioned above (all of the images came from here: Pasta Shapes Dictionary - Pasta Fits and there are a bunch more with ideas for what to pair with/how to use)

    Some other types of "pasta" include Gnocchi which is a potato flour based pasta, spaghetti squash which is...well the insides of a squash but it's pretty darned good with a pasta sauce, and cellophane noodles for Asian recipes.

    The idea is to avoid any kind of food fatigue by swapping things out.
  12. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Monkey+++

    I have can holders like the soda can displayed above. I bought metal because plastic is such garbage now. The metal holder can nicely hold chunky soup cans and small jars of peanut butter. I bought mine at Walmart. To make sure they would nicely fit the cans, I swung by the grocery section and picked up a bunch of cans that I normal store and then tested the can holder out. No sense in wasting a trip.

    ** We store the flavored noodles. They now allegedly have vegetables in the pasta. My kids like bowtie pasta with pesto sauce and sausage. Pesto is easy to make but for simplicity, I am hoping to grow fresh basil and tear up the fresh leaves hoping this will suffice. I am looking for simplicity- basil leaves pepper and salt, hopefully it would work.
    Sgt Nambu, chelloveck and DarkLight like this.
  13. DarkLight

    DarkLight Live Long and Prosper - On Hiatus

    Gotta have pinenuts for pesto though...just sayin'. ;)
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  14. Bishop

    Bishop Monkey+++

    If you add chicken bouillon powder to your rice you may like it again I like the instant rice I just add the powder to the rice I store
  15. T. Riley

    T. Riley Monkey+++

    I am eating chicken I canned in 2012 and 2013. Never had a jar go bad.
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  16. Altoidfishfins

    Altoidfishfins Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    I have canned as well as freeze-dried stored at the BOL. Wife and I keep track of what's there and the expiration dates.

    Before we go there we'll look at the Excel file, determine what's soon to expire and purchase fresh replacements. When we arrive at the BOL we'll swap them out, bring the older stuff home and eat it, effectively rotating the stock.

    While it's true that purchased canned goods are usually fine a year or two past their printed expiration dates, it's easy to forget just long ago they may have been purchased. Before we began to get somewhat methodical, it was not uncommon to find cans of soup and vegetables that were 5,6,7 years or more expired! Time flies.

    Not wanting to take a chance on food borne illness (which I once had as a young man - a memorable experience), those cans of long expired foodstuffs became cannon fodder.
    Motomom34 likes this.
  17. chelloveck

    chelloveck Diabolus Causidicus

    I thought the Geneva Convention prohibits biological weapons. :eek:

    street tag warfare: March 2012
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  18. Imasham

    Imasham Monkey

    Well...I definitely have been using what I store. Tonight my family ate our very last box of Jell-O 123 that we had in storage. I wish we had bought more prior to it being discontinued in 1996! It tasted great by the way! My youngest is 4 so the box was produced a LONG time before she was born!

    Jello 123.JPG
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2017
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  19. Imasham

    Imasham Monkey

    I'm eating beef chunks and ground beef canned (literally) in 2006 with no issues. In fact I have rarely had an issue with old food. Last week I used my last can of Campbell's mushroom soup from 2010.
    Canned beef.JPG
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  20. Imasham

    Imasham Monkey

    Wow...20 years of storage doesn't seem realistic. Can you really say you're rotating your stock if it takes 20 years to do so? Also, how much space does 20 years of food take? Seems impractical.

    I have about 18 to 24 months worth of food, some quite old (as shown in my earlier posts). My family recently instituted a 4 week meal rotation plan. We will follow this for the next six months and fine tune it as needed. We can now plan our storage accordingly, buy only what we need, and watch for sales.
    Sgt Nambu and Motomom34 like this.
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