Food Storage: How Long?


We all intend to rotate our food storage. But sometimes as we dust off a number 10 can or a bucket of our dry-pack food, we wonder if it’s still any good. If we’ve stored it in dark, dry, cool conditions (below 70 degrees is recommended), the food should be good even beyond the “best if used by” date.

Do we need to toss it after that? Maybe not; it likely has significant nutritional value, but try to use it soon. To help you know how long you might keep your dry-pack items, post the table (left) in your food-storage area, and refer to it as needed.

Rotate your food by using it yourself or by sharing it with others. This chart and additional information are available at www.providentliving.org.

“Best If Used By”

Dry-Pack Storage Items

Years of Storage (when stored under recommended conditions)

Sugar

20+

Wheat

20+

Carrots

8–10

Fruit Drink Mix

8–10

Dry Pink, Pinto, and White Beans

6–8

Apple Slices

6–8

Macaroni and Spaghetti

6–8

Chopped Dry Onions

6–8

Hot Cocoa Mix

3–4

Rolled Oats

4–5

Chocolate Pudding Mix

5

Vanilla Pudding Mix

5

White Flour

5

Soup Mix

4–5

Rice

3–4

Nonfat Dry Milk

2–3

Instant Potatoes

1–2

[illustration] Illustrated by Joe Flores