Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The importance of using and rotating your preparedness supplies

 I went shopping the other day, and, as usual picked up a couple of things here and there to put in our bulk supplies.  As I wrote the month and year on all of our new stock and rotated the supplies on the shelves so that the oldest came to the front and the newest went to the back, I realized food/supply rotation was something that I have not yet discussed.

When a grocery store receives new stock (usually about once a week), the stockers always pull the cans/produce/boxes from the back of the shelf to the front.  When they restock, the new stock always goes behind the old stock.  The reasoning for this stocking technique is to ensure that the store stock is always fresh. 

It is equally important for we prepper types to rotate our stored food stock.  I know that I would rather go to the end of the world with fresh supplies rather than old, tasteless, nutrition less rations.  It may be even more important to keep supplies of medications, vitamins and supplements fresh.  The freshness of some medications could be the difference between life and death.  It could be the difference between a cure and a poison.

The simplest way to keep your stored foods and supplies fresh is by dating them when you bring them home and using what you have stored.  It is tempting to put things into to storage and then buy new for your daily use, however, this plan is shortsighted, for numerous reasons.  When you pack things away and don't use them, you may not know how to use them when it really counts.  If you store beans, rice, dehydrated field corn and egg powder but have no idea how to soak beans, cook rice that isn't minute rice, rehydrate vegetables or substitute egg powder for real eggs, you will be up a creek without a paddle.  An emergency is not the time to learn new skills.  It is a time to put into practice skills that are old friends.

If you have put food into storage, but haven't rotated or used your stored foods, you may be in for a big surprise when you open your barrels, buckets and cans.  Things can happen to food in storage.  Bugs can invade, cans can be damaged and spoil the contents, food can go rancid in buckets.  If you are regularly using and rotating your stock, you will be less likely to have costly damage.  If you encounter a problem, you can take care of it before you lose all of your food or supplies. 

By rotating your food you will also ensure better quality, fresher food.  Things that don't have a super long shelf life, like oil, will be used up and replenished, long before it has a chance to spoil.  Wheat has been know to last for centuries, but I think I would prefer mine a little less aged.

The easiest way for us to keep our food fresh it to date all of our food before we put it into storage.  I simply write the month and the year that I bought the food right on its container and put it on the back of my shelf behind the food that it will be replacing.  Simple.  For foods that go into buckets or barrels, we use sticky labels to mark the contents of the bucket or barrel.  We write what is in the bucket and the month and year we put it into storage.  Typically, we have at least two buckets of any one item.  This makes it simple to be using food from one bucket while filling the other bucket with new food.  The same goes for barrels.  We will be using one barrel of wheat all the while we are filling a second barrel.  That way we are never without quite a good stock, but we are using what we have and keeping our food fresh.

We use the same tecnique when storing medical supplies, medicines and supplements and vitamins.  On the box or bottle, I will write the month and year I put it into storage and put it into the appropriate bucket.  I also keep a laminated sheet with data regarding the length of storage for each medication in the bucket with the meds - that way, anyone accessing those medications will be able to look at the date on the box, check that with the data on the laminated sheet, and know whether that medication is safe for use.

Trauma supplies are treated in a like manner.  Over time the sticky on band aides degrades as does medical tape.  Vaseline dressings dry out and so do burn bandages.  We put these things into storage with a date on the box or package and use the oldest first. 

Our home canned goods are mostly used up every year, but when they aren't, we put all of the fresh canning behind last years canning on the shelf in the kitchen.  We always like to use up last years canning before we break into the fresher canned goods.  It is easy to either write the date and year on the lids (providing you are using disposable lids) or put a label with the contents, date and year on the front of the jars.

When things get rough, and they will, I want to be able to trust that I have been a good steward of what God has provided for us.  I will know how to use what we have and I will know that it is as fresh as possible. 

I was sticking my tongue out at Sir Knight - he was taking my picture, again!


  1. Yes, it is very important to keep track of the "use by" date and the date something went into storage. I also date my water bottles.
    Every 6 months I replace the water.

    I was storing water in round food grade bottles, like clear soda pop bottles. Those round bottles were fine until I changed to using rectangular fruit juice bottles - the shape of the bottle makes a big difference regarding storage space. I now use only rectangular bottles for water storage. I can store several more gallons in my limited storage space solely due to the shape of the containers. Efficiency of form makes a significant difference in saving space.

    Round containers offer more strength, but that's usually only a consideration for bulk storage - something bigger than quart, liter or gallon.

    NoCal Gal

  2. I am currently experiencing the fun of rotating preps. I got an awesome deal on MRE's 4 years ago and going by the storage temp calculation for lifespan they are at the max end of shelf life for the temps I store them. So now my lunches for work consist of MRE entrees for the near future. So far I have only hit 2 out of 15 that were bad. My lesson learned was that while they MRE's were a good deal the money spent would have been better used on can goods or longer term storage foods.

  3. Grumpy EMT;
    MRE's are definitely emergency rations, however, they have no shelf life. They start losing their nutritional value after the expiration date, but as long as they are palatable, they are safe to eat. I believe they use radiation to kill the bacteria so there is none.
    Sir Knight (husband of Enola Gay)

  4. a really good article enola gay! lol, you oughta see the funny looks i get at the grocery store when i always reach to the back of the shelf for everything. sometimes they actually seem to follow me up and down the isles..and then when we get to the bread if they are still there with me i show them the date on the bread package and then show them the freshes bread is on the bottom shelf. that look of confusion usually turns into a beaming smile.