No, don't start spinning in your desk chairs...rotate your food supplies!
This past week, I happened to talk to someone who has been a *prepper* for her entire life. She is LDS (Mormon) and was born and raised in the church. Food storage is second nature to her.
But here is what she asked me:
"How can I tell if my wheat is still good?" I looked at her confused; "What do mean *still good*?", I asked
"Well, some of the wheat in those buckets must be 30 years old...is it still good?"
Okay, here's the deal:
Your food storage is not just there to look good and make you feel better about some impending Armageddon, that food is to sustain you through rough times AND TO EAT NOW!
Yes, eat your food storage NOW.
I am not suggesting you go a bizarre binge, wolfing down beans, rice and wheat in reckless abandon.
No, I want you to include your food storage in with your regular diet.
It does you little good to have a half ton of wheat in storage if you do not know how to prepare it, grind it and use it in your daily diet.
Start using it NOW.
I prefer getting my long term supplies in #10 cans. Some people prefer 5 gallon buckets.
Either one is easy to move around and use. Plastic lids are easily found that fit the #10 cans and the 5 gallon buckets have resealable lids.
I use one #10 can of wheat every two weeks and about the same for my beans. I use my vegetables less often.
One reason to use your food storage now is to get your digestive system used to such a diet. If all you had was your food storage, how would you adjust to that? Would it cause you ills such as constipation/diarrhea/nausea/etc. ? Better to find out before it is too late to make adjustments in what you store.
I used to store TVP (texturized vegetable protein). I hung on to it for quite some time before I tried it. And before I tried it, I bought more and more until I was quite satisfied I had enough to last me a year. Then I tried making chili with TVP, lentils and pinto beans. It was delicious! BUT, the TVP did alarming things to my digestive system! Not to go into any detail here, but I was in the bathroom for 3 days straight. Obviously, TVP is NOT a good choice for me, unfortunately. (I ended up trading out my TVP for dried fruits and nuts)
Another reason is some elements of your food storage may be cheaper than what is in the grocery store. Compare how much your #10 can of wheat (after being ground into flour) is compared to the equivalent in whole wheat flour at your local grocers (a pricey item).
Lastly, some things have longer shelf lives than others. Your wheat may be good for 20 years, but your cans of dehydrated peaches may only be good for 5. LOOK at your labels, READ those labels.
When you open a can or bucket out of your food storage, replace it as soon as possible. Those prices aren't going anywhere but up!
Make sure you keep a good record of your food storage supplies. Keep a notebook. You should record the food item, size of container, when it was purchased, date of canning, and date when it is good til. (example: Wheat, #10 can, 8/20/2008, canned 7/10/08, exp. 7/10/2028)
Now, suppose like my friend you have some food storage you aren't quite sure of.
To check wheat, open the container, take out a couple of tablespoons, place on a paper towel on a plate, sprinkle with water. You should sprinkle with water every day for 3 days, keep the wheat berries moist, but not wet/soaked. The seeds should sprout! In fact, any seed type food storage should sprout if you do this. (Wheat, beans, lentils, etc.) Unfortunately, this method will not work on all your food storage, that is why rotating your food storage supplies is so important.
If the wheat or other seed does not sprout, feed it to the chickens or pigs. It may have enough nutritional value to pack on a few more pounds for the livestock, if nothing else.
ALL canned goods should be rotated. Use your oldest supplies first, and buy new to put at the back of the pantry.
Many people (myself included) take advantage of grocery sales to add to their food storage, buying cases of vegetables, fruits, etc. You MUST rotate this food stuffs!
Any bulging cans should be discarded. Any cans that are rusted, leaking, feel moist or sticky should be discarded. Bad food can kill you.
So, take a minute or 30 minutes to look through your pantry tomorrow. Rearranging the shelves will give you a feeling of accomplishment!
Remember, "Eat what you store, store what you eat."