Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Prudent Prepping: Inventory Time

The dust has settled and the First 72 Hours have passed. Now we concentrate  on what to do in, and how to plan for, the long term via Prudent Prepping.

Inventory and Rotation

After checking out the current state of my local emergency/backup water sources last week, it was time to go through the stores and check expiration dates. This is something I do at least every three months, or when I find older items.

As everyone should know, the 'Best By' date is not necessarily the date your stored items are bad, but rather the point where a certain percentage of freshness and nutrition is lost. The really hard part to figure out is the deterioration rate of your various stored items in comparison to each other. There is no clear-cut definition (that I have found) to what is lost first, fast or most in our stored food supplies, beyond general guidelines like those found here. The most important quote for me is a paragraph from this page on food storage, which links back to the USDA National Agricultural Library page, and the language is almost the same from both sources:
"In general, high-acid canned food such as tomatoes, grapefruit and pineapple can be stored on the shelf for 12 to 18 months. Low-acid canned food such as meat, poultry, fish and most vegetables will keep 2 to 5 years, if the can remains in good condition and has been stored in a cool, clean and dry place. Discard cans that are dented, leaking, bulging or rusted.
"Be sure to read package labels. Some items must be refrigerated after opening. "
    I follow those guidelines in this manner:
    • My pasta sauce gets moved out of storage and onto my pantry regularly, as it is an easy, flavorful addition to put on many things besides pasta. 
    • I do not have much canned fruit, and those which I do have are not acidic by any measure. 

    I have always had stored staple food items like canned meats (tuna, Spam, chicken), beans, rice and pasta just as most of my friends do, but they do it without making a conscious effort to store an extended amount. I was like that too, but the prepping mindset grew bit by bit over time until I found myself with about two weeks of supplies for my family just by accident!

    Because of recent changes to my life I needed to rebuild my stores from scratch, and have been documenting the process in this blog series. What has changed the most since then is the quantity of items I can purchase at one time, which is a good and bad thing all at once.
    • The Good:  I get to add smaller amounts of of different items so everything is not going out of date at the same time.
    • The Bad:  I am not necessarily able to buy items as economically as I would like, since larger packages and quantities are usually cheaper to buy. 
    One way around the bad is to buy with a friend, as I have started to do this year. We share 25 lb and 50 lb bags of rice and beans and vacuum bag them into smaller, easier to handle sizes. This fits into my "Divide and Survive" style of keeping several complete multi-day supply pails ready to go; if the Big One hits and damages this house, I should be able to salvage some or all of my prepping supplies.

    What I am not going to compromise on is making regular additions to my stores, even if it is as simple or as small as an extra can opener.

    What I am moving out now are some packages of pasta and some of the canned meats in my main prepping supplies. These are not close to the dates coded on the cans or bags, but are getting to the point that I will not be able to use them up before that date. All will be donated to my local food bank by dropping them off at their closest collection center.

    Purchases This Week
    •  6 1lb bags of penne pasta, Sam's Club: $6.48
    • 5 cans of chicken breast, Sam's Club: $10.98

    Some Is Always Better Than None
    I have been asked why I have the tag line of Some Is Always Better Than None. When I started to really look into serious prepping, wanting to see what more experienced people have done, I came across a guy who said "... some is the same as none." meaning (to him) that unless you have big stores of fill-in-the-blank, you have nothing. This is wrong. This is defeatist, and with that thinking no one will do anything! Start. Do something, anything. Make a change. You will feel better!

    As always, if you have comments, suggestions or corrections, please post them so we all can learn. And remember, Some Is Always Better Than None!

    NOTE: All items tested were purchased by me. No products have been loaned in exchange for a favorable review. Any items sent to me for T&E will be listed as such. Suck it Feds.

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