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Do You Really Need Those Emergency Food Rations?

Sure, Just like anyone else, I like the thought of being stocked on food in case there was a disaster, but today at lunch, as I was opening a can of Meijer Chicken to toss in the Lipton Dry Chicken Noodle Soup, I noticed that the due date on the chicken was May 12, 2018, and I bought six of these 5oz cans for $.89about three months ago (June 2015). I then picked up the noodle soup box and checked it’s date. May 12, 2016. I’d also purchased this box of soup on the same day as I got the chicken. Totally curious now, I reached over and grabbed the Stakist Tuna pouch also in my food stash. Good until April 28, 2018.

Foods Don’t Magically Go Bad After The Due Date

According to PJ from, canned goods don’t magically go bad after the due date, and in some cases (I’d say to use caution), have been known to still be just as edible five or more years past the expiration date.

“So the question remains just how long after the expiration date are canned foods good for? 1 year, 5 years, 10 years? While the method by which you store the food surely has an impact on shelf life (i.e. cool basement versus hot storage shed) there have been cases where canned food survived almost 100 years with no microbial growth whatsoever.”

It’s a known fact that canned meats will still be safe to eat two to five years past the expiration date from a quality standpoint, and up to 15 years in survival situations, assuming that they’ve been stored away in a pantry or cellar that maintains an average temprature of 60-75 degrees Farenheight all year round.

Most other dry foods such as the soup packets I mentioned above, crackers and cereal have a shelf life of one to four years past due date (PDD) in the original packaging, or up to six years PDD if stored in air/water tight ziplock bags.

So, do you really need to have those MREs or Mountain House Freeze Dried meals? I would argue that you don’t need them in your house if you rotate through your food stock regularly. If you want a store-and-forget solution, sure. They’re a decent option. I would argue that the freeze dried meals and MREs are perfect for leaving in the car during winter in case you get stranded. Having at least a 48 hour food supply is easy, and doesn’t take up a lot of space if you pack the Mountain House meals.

Did you know: 
“You open the fridge, drag out the cottage cheese, check for fur, and if there isn’t any, you say, “Honey? Will you sniff this?” This is not, however, the approved method of checking for freshness. The approved way lies in a voluntary system of labeling.

Yes, voluntary. The only items required by federal law to be labeled for expiration are infant formula and some baby foods; some states also mandate pulling dairy from store shelves on the expiration date.” — Source: WebMD

Our family puts a 72 hour supply of Mountain House meals in the minivan for winter. That’s two 12 meal buckets assuming we eat two meals a day for all six of us plus a few meals left to share or save for later.

At home, we have started building a stock that currently could support us for almost two weeks if needed. With every grocery trip, we add a few things (under $20 usually gets between 15-20 cans of food) to the stock.

MREs or Mountain House meals aren’t something I see a need for in the home. Sure they have rediculously long shelf lives (up to 25 year for quality), but at the same time, paying out $130 for just three days worth of meals for my six person family isn’t something that I care to do when I can get three to six times as much canned food that lasts five plus years past the due day for the same price, with the only tradeoff being that it requires a little attention every year or so to rotate out food.

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