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DTOM
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Discussion Starter #1
Many (most?) of you reading here know that when you stockpile supplies then you should also use what you have, and rotate your supplies so everything stays fresh.

Just recently I had a personal experience as to what can happen if this is not followed. A family member of mine had to leave their home and move to another state for health issues. She was old and did not have the resources to clean out her house, so me and a few others had the duty of cleaning up and clearing out the place.

This lady was a hoarder, but was also saving up supplies in case of a SHTF scenario. She lived through The Depression of the 30's and was quite poor much of her life, and she did not want to be caught unaware and unprepared - again. She started stocking up on stuff in prep for a Year 2000 "issue" and never stopped getting ready. But she couldn't get rid of stuff!

She thought she was prepared, and I was VERY impressed with the collection of things she had. She could outfit a small army for a goodly amount of time.

But then we looked closer...

Only about 4 cases of canned food was still viable. The other dozen (or so) cases were between 5 - 10 years past expiration. MANY cans had actually burst and been left in place. Other packaged goods were also years out of date. Out of maybe 50 bottles of Hydrogen Peroxide and rubbing alcohol, there were 3 that were not expired; many other first aid supplies (medicine, etc) were in the same situation. A dozen new tubes of toothpaste - but only one unexpired. Stacks of new clothing was only 1/2 good - the rest were chewed on by insects and rodents, and were hidden from sight. Piles of batteries can be lifesavers, but they were useless because of being out of date, or badly corroded.

There was still a good amount of supplies, probably enough to fill a 1-car garage, but the amount of wasted items was staggering.

This was a good learning experience for me, and I wanted to pass it on to you. Stocking up on SHTF supplies can be expensive and time-consuming, so do yourselves a favor and learn a lesson from an old lady that never had to use her stuff. Rotate your supplies! If you buy it, use it, then get more. Don't let things go to waste!
 

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I see a bad moon arising
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1,267 Posts
Thanks -- good post and a good reminder. I try to keep my supplies
rotated, but some of the stuff that doesn't seem as time-critical does
fall by the way-side in my rotation process. I need to rummage deeper
into my supplies and check some of that stuff.

I've seen mixed information on the expiration of toothpaste.
Typically dated as two years, but other sources say it's basically
indefinite, and the two year expiration is (1) the government mandating
some sort of expiration date on a oral product, and (2) the toothpaste
companies wanting to sell you more toothpaste. Read a post
elsewhere of someone using 20-year old toothpaste and it being just fine.

The rubbing alcohol expiration surprised me. Would have thought that
would last indefinitely. Apparently it's hydroscopic (likes to absorb water,
even out of the air, through the plastic bottle.) OK, good to know.

In researching this a bit, I ran across the following website with
expiration times of numerous products. There's lots of these types
of sites around, but this one seemed a bit more extensive than many
I had found, and seemed to have some unique info that I hadn't
found elsewhere.

http://www.organizeyourlife.org/expiration.htm
 

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Super Moderator and Walking Methane Refinery
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67,124 Posts
I agree 100% on rotation. But remember that expiration dates on some things are not the thing to go by. Canned goods can last for decades if they remain properly sealed. A lot of things will last well past the expiration date. Some things such as bleach, peroxide and such will not. They have short shelf lives.

Your post also highlights the need for good storage procedures. The ruined clothing points that out very well.
 

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Certified Organic Grower
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4,969 Posts
I think sometimes we might get stuck on a "gather, gather, gather" mode, that we forget to actually use the stocks.

I use all that I stock, so when I run out of a particular item I grab it from the storage supplies. I make a run at the supermarket once a week, and make sure to replenish the stock item. Doing it this way keeps my storage goodies fresh and young!
 

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DTOM
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130 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
I agree 100% on rotation. But remember that expiration dates on some things are not the thing to go by. Canned goods can last for decades if they remain properly sealed. A lot of things will last well past the expiration date. Some things such as bleach, peroxide and such will not. They have short shelf lives.

Your post also highlights the need for good storage procedures. The ruined clothing points that out very well.
Yes, I agree on the expiration dates - for most items. However, we couldn't take the stuff with us, and everything that could be donated was - but receiving organizations will not take items that are past the marked expiration date, so many potentially good things were trashed.

I think sometimes we might get stuck on a "gather, gather, gather" mode, that we forget to actually use the stocks.

I use all that I stock, so when I run out of a particular item I grab it from the storage supplies. I make a run at the supermarket once a week, and make sure to replenish the stock item. Doing it this way keeps my storage goodies fresh and young!
Totally agree, this was 99% a 'gather only' situation with very few things used. The term "use it or lose it" applies here too!
 

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Your move Sparky...
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Past dated canned goods make great pig feed or bait.

Could be a nice way to restock?
 

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I have control issues
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Yep. When I shop, I check the "best by" dates on the packages, and get the ones with the date farthest away. Then, when I get them home, I mark the best by date on the container, and "file" them by date (can't count on when you bought it, because sometimes the "new" stuff you just bought is "older" than what you already have on your shelves!) I use the whole storage area as my "pantry", so I'm always keeping things rotated. "Store what you use, use what you store."
 

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Bread Baker
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I had a relative that did the EXACT same thing. Once he passed away, the family went into the home to clean it out and get it ready for the market. To be honest I had never been in the home. Anyways, in the basement kitchen (used for canning mostly) around the corner in behind the steps was a door. You wouldnt have known it was even there. Open the door, and voila, probably thousands of home canned goods. And I do mean thousands of jars. Consider this, the man probably had not canned for 20 years! Everything was tossed. Just a shame.
 

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I had a somewhat similar experience when my grandmothers home burned.
We tore into it to rebuild it and one of the things we cleaned out from a basement pantry were stocks of home-canned food.
They had quite a pile of it.
.
.
.
And it turned out much of it had been canned by great-grandmaw, not grandmaw....
Well, we did keep many of the jars. Great grandma water bath canned everything and often just poured melted wax on top for a seal.
It was a shame to see such a stock pile go to waste as the rest of the family would have gladly greedily gobbled the stuff down. G-G-maw was known as a great cook.

It seems that lot of old folks who have lived through the last great depression do indeed have a thing for hoarding.
Kinda makes you think....

Anyway, we don't have SHTF supplies at home. We just have supplies. By buying the foods that you normally eat in bulk you'll have a nice stockpile on hand and it will automatically be rotated.
The tendency today is to eat "hand to mouth," right out of the box or the refrigerator so the speak. People run to the store every week, or even more often than that. Our grandparents did some of that but mostly they bought basic supplies and cooked 'em up into all sorts of meals. We tend to do the same.
My wife stocks white and wheat flour, rye flour, white and brown rice, sugar, various types of beans, oatmeal, cornmeal, potatoes and probably a few other things I'm forgetting about in bulk.
When we buy flour, it's 100 pounds at a time. We store the bulk items in 5 gallon buckets under the counters in our kitchen and eat off it all year long.
Every fall, we go on a shopping trip and refill these bulk items.
Should TSHTF we may be caught low on one thing or another, but never all of it.

We usually get snowed in for five months out of the year where we can't get a vehicle of any kind up to our cottage.
Since carrying supplies up in a backpack on snowshoes really sucks, we make sure we always have the better part of a years supply of food on hand going into the winter.

Of course, I'm lucky to have a wife that doesn't have to work a day job for coin to make ends meet.
The way most people eat today is a product of their fast paced lifestyle. Many folk simply can't take the time to cook every meal from scratch. Still, if you eat rice, it isn't a bad idea to get 50 pounds at a time and store it in two five gallon buckets. Same goes for other staples you consume.


This falls trip -



Some of the bulk items before they were put away -



Where we stash it all! -

Rather than fancy modern counters that waste so much space, our kitchen counters are sturdy work benches with plenty of room to store bulk items in five gallon buckets underneath.

 

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I, luckily, have been the beneficiary of a gentleman hoarder type who fancied himself a homesteader (even though he wasn't). We inherited his beehive & equipments --still in the box, never used -- along with the plans for rabbit housing, several rabbit raising books, etc. We also got his huge stamp collection and a bunch of letters from a penpal of his overseas '60s-'70s. Traded the stamp collection for a very nice lunch! ; ) Set up the hive too. Sometimes they have great stuff stashed away, but there was a lot of "stuff" and a lot had to be thrown out. We're very thankful to the people who gave us his things!!
 

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Fire/EMS
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My grandmother was a hoarder as well. When she passed we went to clean out the house. Most of it was magazines and newspapers bundled up, many from the 80's.
But we got to the back of the house, and found the canned goods she had never used. Pork and beans from the mid 80's and 90's. 10 years expired etc. Was not a pretty sight.
 

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This is not new problem. A buddy went to help clean out great grandparents house a few years ago. There were FOUR large chest freezers in the basement. Grandparents used to bring leftovers when they went out for dinner. They found a bill inside one of the sacks from a local food place that was 24 years old.
 

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Member
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Turns out my new neighbors (in their 80's) had -four- other houses full of stuff, and I -do- mean full. When the house would fill up, they bought another house and moved there, filling that one up, so on and so forth.

They started doing the same thing here...but I talked with their kids when they came to visit (this is how I know about the other houses) and have now started helping them to NOT do that. They were 'disinclined' to throw anything away, but I showed them a place in town that accepts all kinds of stuff for reuse and recycle. I help them load up stuff once a month and tote it yonder.

They accepted that and now things are a lot neater at their place...much happier, too.
 

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Old Hounds Smell Good
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Lots of hoarders find an easy "out" by saying they are preppers. When some people talk about their stead and all they have, I can't help but think of a hoarder. I'm completely paranoid about becoming a hoarder. Like many of you I've seen a house, live and up close, of a hoarder and I agree, it does seem to be really focused on Depression era folk or folk who have had extended periods of severe deprivation or poverty in their youth. I think it just clicks that "gather" button and keeps pressing.

Anyway, too true about the rotation. For some items I find it almost impossible to do that. Since I have a big house to myself...for most of the week...and take care of my nieces and nephews as needed but must also be ready for when they live with me (which has happened multiple times) I have to have enough for all.

Take TP. Even though it doesn't expire it does take up room. Were it just me, I have about 5 years worth. If the kids were there, being teens, it would be more like 3 months worth of unmonitored use. Monitored use, it would be 1 year for all. How do you rotate that?

Ditto with toothpaste to jars of tomatoes. When you must prepare for more than actually use it regularly, how do you rotate perfectly?

In my case, I don't want my family to get in the habit of using my house and pantry as a grocery store and just shopping as they like there. So, I gather up everything that is needing rotation every so often and drop it off for them to use. They are still getting groceries from me, but at my choosing rather than just raiding it when they need to and never improving in their own planning deficiencies.

I was lucky in that I got to have my home built here so I had full sized pantry closets in each bathroom, huge or double closets in each bedroom and a pantry in the kitchen as well as the laundry room. So I have plenty of room for stuff, but that does complicate the issue of ensuring I rotate.

Sorry you had to see and clean that up.
 

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I have control issues
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My grandmother was a hoarder as well. When she passed we went to clean out the house. Most of it was magazines and newspapers bundled up, many from the 80's.
But we got to the back of the house, and found the canned goods she had never used. Pork and beans from the mid 80's and 90's. 10 years expired etc. Was not a pretty sight.
You will see this kind of thing a LOT with elderly people who lived through the Great Depression and WWII. EVERYTHING was either in such short supply, or folks had no money to purchase things, that they saved and re-used EVERYTHING! To this day, when my mother uses aluminum foil, she will carefully wash it off with a dishrag, dry it, fold it up, and put it in a drawer to be re-used later. She will continue to use it until it literally falls apart. You don't EVEN want to know the stuff my grandmother used to hang on to! (old newspapers were just the beginning...)
 

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Super Moderator and Walking Methane Refinery
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Ditto with toothpaste to jars of tomatoes. When you must prepare for more than actually use it regularly, how do you rotate perfectly?
Perfect rotation isn't nearly as important as just rotating it. For example, if you have 3 years worth of tomatoes and you're using them regularly, you'll rotate through them in about 3 years. They have a longer shelf life than that anyway.

With the types of foods that I store, I find I used to rotate through about a year's worth in 2-3 years. That's just fine because they have a much longer shelf life than that. You don't have to rotate a year's supply in a year. I store several years worth, because I do manage to get it all rotated in time regardless.
 

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Super Moderator and Walking Methane Refinery
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You will see this kind of thing a LOT with elderly people who lived through the Great Depression and WWII. EVERYTHING was either in such short supply, or folks had no money to purchase things, that they saved and re-used EVERYTHING!
My dad was like that. My mom used to tease him about being a pack rat. But sure enough, whenever he needed something, most of the time he had it on hand. Be it a nut or bolt, a piece of wire, or a plumbing part.

There's a certain amount of merit to it and it's something that I practice to this day. Not quite to the level that he did, because of storage space limitations. But if it's something I might need, I try to hang on to it. And sure enough, it has come in handy for me too. A month or so back I had a toilet go out at night. I just fixed it with parts I had on hand, rather than wait till the next day and make a special trip just for parts. I can't count the number of times I've been able to find a screw or bolt I needed and saved a trip.
 
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