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Something we all do is consult lists. There are lists of things to do and things to buy as well as lists of important numbers and lists of friends and relatives. There is a problem with pre-existing lists, however. If we adopt a list as our own, we are also adopting some other persons view of our own reality. The solution, of course, is to adapt a list to our own needs.
Circling around to our preps, chances are you have a list of basic items that you have been working through as you accumulate supplies and gear for rainy-day, emergency needs. Heck, some of those lists likely came from Backdoor Survival. A good example is this one: 20 Items to Kick Start Your Food Storage Plan.
I have always been a big believer of keeping track of what I use and how long it lasts. Taking this to the next level, I believe that Sharpies were invented so that prepper’s could mark the purchase date on all of their goods. Sharpies and labels, that is.
Today, Backdoor Survival Contributing Author Rob Hanus shares his take on labeling your stuff with a date and keeping track of your stuff – with, what else? – a list.
Date Your Everyday Items
Do you know how long a tube of toothpaste lasts you? What about your contact solution? How many rolls of TP does your family need for 30 days? How long will a pound of coffee last you?
Marking dates on your supplies can help you answer these questions, which is important, as it avoids having to guess and gives you valuable information on how long certain supplies last. And knowing this aids you in knowing how much to buy for storage.
You should get into the habit of marking the date on anything that you consume on a regular basis. You’re either marking the date of the day you bought it or the date you opened it, depending on the item. Food should be marked with the date of when you bought it, because once opened, it’s usually consumed rather quickly.
If you use a can rotator, you only need to mark the last can you put in, as you can estimate the dates of the other cans. Also, if you buy supplies at the big box stores, like Costco, BJ’s or Sam’s Club, you don’t need to mark the date on every case in the case, simply mark the case or box itself.
Having dates on the cans becomes important when those “stragglers” get pushed to the back of the shelf and lost for a year, or two. Or three. Or seven. There has been more than one occasion when we have been clearing out the pantry for a periodic cleaning and found something that is older than half a decade, hidden behind something. Finding that is a good reminder of how difficult it can be to do proper food storage rotation and illustrates how useful something like a can rotator can be.
Once you start marking dates, it will, of course, take awhile before you start seeing answers to some of these questions on how long things last. For items that you consume at a faster rate or are in smaller quantities, you’ll probably start learning how long they last fairly soon. Other things, like toothpaste, contact solutions, or that 25 lb. of flour, will take longer to determine.
Keep a log of all these items and how long it takes you to consume them. There’s nothing worse than going through the trouble of marking everything with dates, only to forget how long something lasts.
Being prepared is a mindset. It’s not just about beans, bullets and band-aids. It’s about looking at the signs and signals that are occurring now and being able to project or forecast how it might affect you and your family in the future, then taking steps to mitigate these effects.
Don’t Rely on Product Labeling – It is Bogus
In my opinion, labeling your products with the date purchased is far more useful that marking them with a manufacturers “best used by” date. I have found that most of the manufacturers dates are artificial and simply an indication of how long they
According to a report by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Harvard Law School’s Food Law and Policy Clinic, “Americans are prematurely throwing out food, largely because of confusion over what expiration dates actually mean”.
The report authors say the re-education could start with a clearer understanding of what the dates mean.
“Use by” and “Best by”: These dates are intended for consumer use, but are typically the date the manufacturer deems the product reaches peak freshness. It’s not a date to indicate spoilage, nor does it necessarily signal that the food is no longer safe to eat.
“Sell by”: This date is only intended to help manufacturers and retailers, not consumers. It’s a stocking and marketing tool provided by food makers to ensure proper turnover of the products in the store so they still have a long shelf life after consumers buy them. Consumers, however, are misinterpreting it as a date to guide their buying decisions. The report authors say that “sell by” dates should be made invisible to the consumer.
So there you go. I have consumed canned goods that are over 10 years old and suffered no ill effects other than being a crazy old prepper lady!
The Final Word
As with everything preparedness related, the needs of you and your family are going to be different than the needs of your neighbor or someone on the internet that is telling you “this is the way it is”. By keeping track of what you use and in what quantities, you can better gauge the amount you need to set aside to satisfy future needs if the SHTF.
I am sincere when I say that even with my own website, what you read is a recommendation and that your mileage may vary.
Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!
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Spotlight: From BDS contributor, Rob Hanus, The Preparedness Capability Checklist succeeds where other survival lists fail. You won’t find outdated or useless equipment here. Instead, the checklists in this book focus on the capabilities you need to do in order to survive any number of disasters or crisis events. With this book, you can actually answer the question, “Am I prepared?”
Bargain Bin: Here are some items to consider in your quest to be a modern, 21st century homesteader. Of course the rule of thumb is always this: first purchase what you need to get by and later, as budget allows, add the extra items that will enhance and add dimension and depth to your gear.
Sharpie Permanent Markers: Sharpies were invented for preppers! And without question, Amazon is the cheapest place to buy them.
Lodge Double Dutch Oven and Casserole with Skillet Cover: While not huge, this 5 quart Dutch Oven is, in my opinion, the perfect size for use indoors and out. The price is outstanding and it also includes a lid that will double as a skillet.
Lodge Logic 12-Inch Pre-Seasoned Skillet: This purchase changed the way I cook. I use my cast iron cookware for everything from burgers, to bacon and eggs, to biscuits. Be sure to select the Value pack Skillet with Silicone Handle which is less money and a better deal.
US Forge 400 Welding Gloves Lined Leather: These well-priced gloves provide complete heat and burn protection. Perfect for use while cooking outdoors over an open fire.
Rothco Type III Commercial Paracord: You can get 100 feet of Paracord for very affordably. This is a real bargain but be aware that price can vary substantially depending on the color.
Ticket To Ride: What can be more ordinary than playing a family board game? This is my favorite board game, bare none. Family friendly, you will spend hours in front of the fireplace playing Ticket to Ride with your favorite people. This is worth the splurge.
Dorcy LED Wireless Motion Sensor Flood Lite: Don’t let the price lead you to think this wireless flood light is wimpy. I have two of these and feel that these lights are worth double the price. Using D-cell batteries, the Dorcy floodlight will light up a dark room or a dark stairway in an instant. I can not recommend these enough.
Quikclot Sport Brand Advanced Clotting Sponge: A must for any first aid or emergency kit, Quikclot Sport stops moderate to severe bleeding until further medical help is available.
Israeli Battle Dressing, 6-inch Compression Bandage: This is another inexpensive, yet critical item for your first aid kit. Combat medics, trauma doctors, and emergency responders all recommend this Israeli Battle Dressing (IBD) for the treatment of gunshot wounds, puncture wounds, deep cuts, and other traumatic hemorrhagic injuries.
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My eBook, The Prepper’s Guide to Food Storage will provide you with everything you need to create an affordable food storage plan, including what to buy and how to store it. Nothing scary and nothing overwhelming – you really can do this!
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4 Responses to “Fast Track Tip #8: Make Dating Your Preps a Habit”
One of our cats requires fancy prescription food which comes in nitrogen pack bags, and I wanted to figure out how long a bag lasts. Every time I opened a new bag I wrote the date on it, and when finished just shoved it back into the vermin proof container we keep them in. After finishing the fifth bag I pulled out all the empties and figured that every one of them had lasted 29 days.
So now I know that for practical purposes, a bag a month is a good approximation. It does make planning easier.
To my understanding it is not the 10 year old can is contaminated but that it has lost it’s nutritional value.
I have found the //www.stilltasty.com/ website to be extremely useful at figuring *real* use-by dates for canned and packaged foods. Check it out, it’s a very handy tool! 🙂
Good advice. I do it a little differently. I keep a log taped to the inside of the medicine cabinet door and the food cabinet door. Both have a pen in a home made pen holder taped there too. I write down the day I open a new product and the size. Sometimes the brand too. Since most products in the bath are used daily, I only need the start date of each new package to know how long they last. Now I know if I want a year’s worth of TP, I need X number of rolls.
Food is different. I don’t use the same products daily. The time between opening and emptying often was considerable. So I tried to count the number of “my servings” not box servings I get. A family could still use the open date method.
How to get the rest of the family to cooperate and remember to write stuff down? Especially if they are not preppers like you. Perhaps explain that you don’t want to run out of things without warning and have to waste time and gas to make an extra unnecessary trip to the store. Or, explain they do not want to be on the toilet to find out there is no paper to complete the job. Or no shampoo before a date. To that goal I also keep a running shopping list on a white board on the fridge with things I have emptied or about to empty. This is transferred to my electronic device I take to the store.
A natural consequence of the kids not helping is they get to walk (no family car) to the store to replace items not on the list. They will not forget twice.