Keeping It Fresh: Maintaining The Quality Of Your Preps By Rotation

Imaging you are in a SHTF situation. You are thinking “well, as bad as things are, we will get by because we have our pantry stacked deep…”

You pick up a can to open to make a meal, and notice rust on it. “Well,” you think, “It’s probably OK, I’ll open it and see…” When you make your first turn of the can opener’s handle, an horrible smell emerges… this is the exact WRONG time to realize you should have been more diligent about rotating your stores.

Buying preps isn’t enough, you have to maintain & rotate them to keep them fresh enough to use… even “durable” items need to be inspected and sometimes maintained.

We did a short (14 minute) podast on this subject, you can listen to it by clicking the following link:

As Spice says “I know it’s not an exciting topic,” but “It’s absolutely essential if you want things to actually be ready when you need them.”

A lot of preps don’t need much in the way of active maintenance.  When you buy those big buckets of food that are designed to be good for 30 years, you really don’t need to do much but store them in a cool, dry place with constant temperatures (like a dry basement) and you are good to go.

However, many items DO need to be rotated and inspected.

Can foods need to be rotated to keep them “fresh”. I wrote a post about this which you can read by clicking this link

As we talk about in the podcast, there are several specific types of foods that need to be checked and rotated on a quicker baisis

Foods and other items with high oil content don’t have nearly the shelf life as things with little oil/fat. In fact, cooking oil has a relatively short shelf life before it turns rancid. 

I tell the story about the milsurp peanut butter I bought many years ago. It was a large can, and it got pushed back to the back of a little-disturbed long-term prep shelf we have. Over the years, it deteriorated and literally exploded inside of it’s box. We only noticed it when we walked into the kitchen and were hit by a horrible odor. Let me tell you from personal experience, cleaning up rancid peanut butter is not a “fun way to spend a morning”. 

Things that are acidic, like pineapples and peaches, for example, are very hard on their cans and tend to rust them. Expect shorter shelf lives from them, and get them eaten quicker.

We always think about food when it comes to shelf life, but

Food’s not the hard part, drugs are.

First, let’s look at drug shelf life. Prescription and over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, minerals and supplements all age differently, for the most part most just loose potency over time but some drugs (especially some diploids) become dangerous to take as they age and break down. The old adage “if in doubt, throw it out” comes into play with drugs.

Things that really, REALLY kills drugs and supplements quickly is include high temperature, as well as exposure to light and also extreme temperature variations. Most drugs are designed to be stored at room temperature, while some are better refrigerated. See the labels for details.

One problem Spice and I have is when it comes to our bags… our get home bags, our 72-hour bags and bugout bags all have a variety of everyday and emergency medications/first aid drugs and bandages in them. 

These bags are subject to sitting in cars in high heat/freezing temps. Interior of cars change temps dramatically even during very cold days if the sun is shining, and one of the biggest deteriorating effects is caused by constant temperature changes.

This leads us to rotating them often.



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