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Whether you’re preparing for the apocalypse or taking advantage of a good deal, you don’t want your stockpile to spoil before you get a chance to use it.  Despite what the label says, most foods are safe to consume long past the printed date.  Typically, the “best if used by” date refers to the foods quality not its safety.  So it may taste a little different but you can still eat it as long as it’s been stored properly.  With that being said, here are some foods with a long-shelf life.


Under normal conditions, raw white rice can last in your pantry 4-5 years past the printed date.  However, you can bump that number up to 30 years by storing your rice in an oxygen-free container at 40°F or below.  Just keep an eye out for rice weevils which can destroy your food.  White rice is the only kind of rice with a long-shelf life.  Brown and wild rice can only last 6-8 months past its printed date.  You’ll know when your brown rice has gone bad because it will have a rotten smell.

Dried beans

When stored in a cool, dark place (under 75°F), dried beans have an indefinite shelf life.  The only drawback is that they’ll lose their moisture over time.  So, after about a year, you may need to soak or cook them for a longer period.  You’ll be able to tell when your beans are rotten because they’ll be surrounded by a white liquid and smell sour when you cook them.


Even if you don’t consider yourself a drinker, it still makes sense to keep a bottle of booze handy.  If an emergency strikes and you need to go into survival mode, it can serve multiple purposes.  For instance, it can be used as a disinfectant, deodorant, fire starter, anesthetic for tooth pain, etc.  Base liquors like vodka, tequila, rum, gin, whiskey and brandy can last forever.  But cream liqueurs like Bailey’s must be thrown out after 18 months.

Dried fruit

Most unopened packages of dried fruit can survive in your pantry a year past the printed date.  However, they can last forever if you store them in the freezer instead.  You just need to make sure it’s sealed airtight.  Signs your dried fruits have gone bad include discoloration and loss of flavor.

Instant coffee

Some people act like they can’t survive without a cup of Joe.  The good news is the instant coffee in your kitchen may outlast you.  The shelf life is anywhere between 2 to 20 years in your pantry, indefinitely in the freezer.  To determine if your coffee is still good, just take a whiff.  If it still has its delicious aroma, the flavor will still be there.