Stored Foods Shelf Life


Shelf Life of Food

© Copyright 2012 by John Shepherd  



Ever wondered just how long the items in your food storage stay good? Of course, you have the expiration dates to use as a reference, but when that date comes, does that mean the food is immediately bad and must be thrown out? If you are like many people, you probably do just that, not wanting to risk food-borne illness or anything like that. While it is good to be cautious and aware, it is also good to educate yourself on the shelf life of foods in your food storage. Knowing just how long these items can last, even after the expiration date, can really help you use those items before they expire and avoid wasting them.


Here is a list of common food storage items and their various shelf lives. Hopefully it will help you make more informed decisions and use your food storage to its full potential.


Canned Beans, unopened (any kind, including refried): 2 - 5 years

Brown Rice: 3-6 months in pantry / 6-12 months in fridge / 12-18 months in freezer

Peanut Butter, unopened: 2 years / Opened: 3 months in pantry and 3-4 in fridge

Dried Herbs: 1-3 years

Dried Pasta: 3 years in pantry

Dry cereal, unopened: 1 year (for best quality) / Opened: 3 - 4 months

Uncooked Oats: 1 year in pantry or freezer

Sugar: Stores indefinitely

Whole Wheat Flour: 6 - 8 months in fridge / 2 years in freezer

All-Purpose Flour: 1 year in pantry / 2 years in fridge or freezer

Canola or vegetable oil: 2 years in pantry

Olive Oil: 2 years in pantry or fridge

Corn Syrup: Stores indefinitely

Honey: Stores indefinitely

Shortening, unopened: 2 years / Opened: 1 year


As you can see, many items are good for far longer than you might have expected. If you keep your canned foods unopened until you are ready to use them, you really increase their shelf lives. It might also be surprising to you that some foods store indefinitely, such as sugar, corn syrup, and honey. Of course, you need to make sure you are storing them correctly. Make sure all of your food storage items are tightly sealed and kept on shelves in a dark, cool area. This helps reduce issues with bacteria growth and ensures the safety and quality of your food.


As you rotate your storage, using the oldest items first, you should be able to go through all of these items before they go bad in the years to come, especially since many of them have a few years of good use. Just a quick tip: You can purchase shelves that rotate your foods for you. You simply put the newest cans and other items at the back of the shelves and use the oldest (and consequently, the ones closest to the front) first. In addition, make sure you label all of your food items when you purchase them, so you actually know just how old they really are. Doing these few things will help make your food storage rotation a breeze and keep you and your family safe and healthy.


About the Author : John Shepherd  is a freelance writer and expert in  emergency food preparedness and freeze-dried food


Shelf Life of Food Storage Items


Gary Benton has over 45 years of outdoor experience in camping, hiking, fishing, and other activities. He's no armchair survival man, he's walked the walk from the arctic to the desert and all the area in between. Gary has an associates degree in Search and Rescue, Survival Operations, a B.S. in Industrial Occupational safety, and all but his thesis completed for a M.S. in Counseling Psychology.
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