An Easy Way to Rotate The Top 4 Items in Your Emergency Food Supply

Emergency food storage is something you need to give some thought to if you want to ensure you and your family have what it needs in case of an emergency. The emergency could be natural such as a flood or tornado, or man made such as civil unrest or Trucking strikes.  

Just having the food is great, but it is NOT a "fix and forget" option! You have to make a habit of checking on it and rotating it.


I will share with you in this post the simple steps I use to monitor and "work" my emergency food supply. 

Rotating your food supply ensures that everything you have in storage is safe to eat and maintains the most nutrients possible when the time comes to eat it. No one wants to eat bad food! Its not just a foul taste you could get!!!!

While some foods may be able to be stored indefinitely, rotating your supply will eliminate waste and will allow you to use some of what you have stored on a regular basis. And by using it you will learn what you and your family like and dislike. 

My first suggestion to you is to set an event in your calendar (I use google calendar) for a convenient day each month to go check on your storage. I choose the first Saturday of each month. The calendar should have a method of repeating the event each month on the same day AND send you numerous reminders to GO CHECK YOUR STORAGE!

Start at the top or the bottom and work to the other end. Do not skip around. Be methodical in your approach so you do not miss anything! 

Wipe off containers if you see any dust or build up (mice will find this out of the way area no matter what you do!). Try to not get metal can wet!

Make sure you can clearly see the date to be used by on each container. If you can't see the date easily, remark it with a permanent marker. I like to write the date in the center of the lid to the containers. Using the same spot on all the containers makes it easy to find and see.

While checking dates make sure the date closest to the front is the nearest to the current date, and that the furthest out date is at the back of your shelf. OLDEST to the front, NEWEST to the rear. 

I wait to add new containers until I do a monthly check. That way I can check what I have and add to it at the same time. I just set all the new purchases to the side and as I check I add them in.

The four basic divisions of your storage will be Dry, Freeze Dried, Dehydrated and Canned. (I do not consider my freezers as part of my emergency stash.)

Lets briefly discuss each of the four basic types of foods in your stash.

  • Dry Foods
    Can be stored for years, but to ensure they maintain the best quality in terms of taste and nutrition, work through your rotation of dried foods like beans, flour, sugar, and oats, every two to three years.
    Take a package out every few months and place it in your pantry for use with your day to day menus.

  • Freeze Dried Foods
    These are your "Buckets o-food" or your Hiking Pouches and are able to remain in storage for several years, some up to 25 years!
    Freeze dried foods will retain their nutrients much longer than other types of foods and don't have to be rotated as often.
  • Dehydrated Foods
    These are most likely vacuum sealed can be stored for many years.
    If it is food that you have dehydrated yourself, you should rotate your stock every three to five years.
    This will ensure there is no mold or rancid fats.

  • Canned Foods
    These tend to have a much shorter shelf-life than other types of stored food. This is especially true if you have canned them yourself.
    Canned foods should be rotated every one to three years for safety's sake.
    Canned soups and vegetables, such as those bought in the grocery store, have an expiration date printed on the label.
    Start to rotate these types of foods as the expiration date comes near.

Some Final thoughts on Rotating Your Food Supply

  • Incorporate your stored foods into your day to day life! This will ensure you like what you stored and will be adept at preparing it.
  • Proper food rotation isn't difficult but it is REQUIRED! Use a calendar (electronic or print)!
  • Choose specific dates to inspect and rotate your food supply. Do it MONTHLY!

This will ensure that all of your food is rotated in a timely fashion and that your family has the freshest to choose from in an emergency.

Their full bellies and smiles will make all of your preparations worth it!

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Father, retired Firefighter

Preparedness - Baby Steps
Preparedness - Baby Steps

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