20 Things That Will Survive 20 Years In The Cupboard

By molly atherton 7 months ago
In a world where expiration dates seem to mock our best intentions and grocery shopping can sometimes feel like a race against time, wouldn't it be nice to have a secret stash of foods that defy the relentless march of decay? Picture this: you open your cupboard after two decades, and there, like the triumphant survivors of an edible apocalypse, stand your trusty companions, ready to grace your plate once again. Forget about those guilt-inducing "best by" labels!

Powdered milk

Powdered milk has a best by date of around 18 months, typically. But in actuality, the USDA says powdered milk is a shelf-stable food that can last indefinitely when stored in a pantry. Many say that non-fat powered milk will sustain a shelf-life of over 25 years!
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The extraordinary shelf life of powdered milk is a testament to its resilience and suitability for long-term storage. This long-lasting quality is particularly notable in the case of non-fat powdered milk, which can be expected to maintain its quality.
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Salt

This savory condiment can bring flavor out of virtually any dish! The best part? It will last forever in your cupboard. Be sure to keep it in a cool, dark place. It should also be kept dry and in a place where the temperature is relatively constant. It's an every day staple, so why not buy in bulk!
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Proper storage is the key to ensuring that this flavor-enhancing condiment maintains its quality and stays ready for use at a moment's notice. To achieve this, it's imperative to keep it in a cool, dark place, away from the perils of moisture and exposure to light.

Instant coffee

This is maybe the most important information. Instant coffee stored in the freezer will basically last forever. If you store it in the pantry, it can last up to 20 years! So either way, you're probably good. Because it's dried and contains no sugar, wheat or fat, it has a very shelf-stable life!
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The incredible longevity of instant coffee can be attributed to its unique characteristics. This coffee variety is dried through a meticulous process, removing nearly all of its moisture content. As a result, it becomes a product that is incredibly stable.

Soy sauce

We already know that salt lasts forever, and soy sauce has a high concentration of it! If you keep it sealed, it will last FOREVER in your pantry. Once you open it, be sure to store it in the fridge. It will last for about two to three years once it's open, which is still a long time!
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When you keep a sealed bottle of soy sauce in your pantry, you're essentially preserving it for an indefinite period. This remarkable longevity can be attributed to the salt content in soy sauce, which acts as a natural preservative, inhibiting the growth of harmful microorganisms and spoilage.

Honey

Honey is a staple that should be in your pantry! Did you know that it can truly last forever? The package may have an expiration date, but in reality, this just means it's when it will start to crystallize. It does not mean that it's inedible. You can return the crystals to their "normal" state by heating it up.
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While honey packaging may display an expiration date, this date is not an indicator of when the honey becomes inedible. Instead, it is typically a "best by" date that suggests when the honey might start to crystallize. Honey crystallization is a natural process that occurs over time.

Champagne

This is good news for everyone. Champagne will last for a very long time. If you're known for drinking the vintage stuff, then you're in luck. This will keep for 20 years or more! If it's less rarified (sparkling wine), then you should expect a shelf-life closer to 4-5 years.
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Proper storage is crucial to ensure that both Champagne and sparkling wine maintain their quality. They should be stored horizontally in a cool, dark place, away from temperature fluctuations and light exposure. The consistent conditions will help preserve their flavors and effervescence.

Pure vanilla extract

You should have tasty foods, even if you're in a literal survival state. So stock up pure vanilla extract. It's said that this item not only lasts forever, it only gets better with age, because it's about 35% alcohol. It could really help flavor up that instant coffee you'll be drinking!
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Pure vanilla extract is typically made by macerating vanilla beans in alcohol. It contains approximately 35% alcohol, which acts as a natural preservative. This high alcohol content makes it exceptionally stable and prevents the growth of harmful microorganisms that can lead to food spoilage.

Oats

Oats are a fantastic breakfast food and make you feel full longer. They can be a challenge to store, because of insects, moisture, etc. But if stored properly in an airtight container or in the freezer, they can last over 25 years! This is definitely something you'll want to keep in your pantry for future use!
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Storing oats in airtight containers is one of the most effective ways to keep them fresh for an extended period. Hermetically sealed containers prevent moisture and air from reaching the oats, reducing the risk of spoilage. Oats should be stored in a cool, dark place.

Baking soda

Did you know that baking soda lasts indefinitely? It should be said that it CAN lose its leavening power over time, but it has a lot of other uses. If you want to test the state of yours, combine a bit of baking soda and a bit of vinegar. As long as it bubbles, you're good to go!
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One of the simplest ways to determine if your baking soda is still active is by performing a quick test. All you need to do is combine a small amount of baking soda with a bit of vinegar. If the mixture fizzes and produces bubbles, your baking soda is still active and suitable for baking.

Uncooked rice

Uncooked white rice can last between 25 and 30 years in your pantry if stored properly! You need to keep it in an oxygen-free container, but it will be completely safe to consume up to this amount of time according to the US Food & Drug Administration!
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Keeping uncooked white rice in an oxygen-free container is crucial to prevent the oxidation of the rice grains, which can lead to a rancid taste and spoilage. Vacuum-sealed bags or airtight containers are ideal choices for this purpose, effectively sealing out oxygen and moisture.

Coconut oil

People swear that coconut oil does pretty much everything! It's a nutritious fat and has a stable shelf-life. If your item has the factory seal in place, it will last forever. And even if it's well past the expiration date, if you're too nervous to consume it, you can always use it for moisturizer or even sunscreen!
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When coconut oil is purchased with its factory seal intact, it essentially possesses an indefinite shelf life. This is primarily due to the unique composition of coconut oil, which includes a high concentration of saturated fats, predominantly in the form of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs).

Dark chocolate

We have fantastic news! Because dark chocolate is high in cacao and doesn't have any milk, it's great for long-term shelf life. Just be sure it's stored in a cool and dry place. It needs to be in an airtight container as well, but in the right conditions it can last over 20 years!
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To maintain the quality of dark chocolate, store it in a cool and dry place. Exposure to heat can cause the chocolate to melt or develop a whitish bloom on its surface, altering its texture and flavor. Using an airtight container is crucial to protect dark chocolate from exposure.

Cornstarch

Store your cornstarch in its original container. As long as you keep it in a cool, dark place, it will last forever. Cornstarch dissolves when it comes in contact with water, so it's important to keep moister out. It's a natural thickening agent and can come in handy in a pinch!
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One of the best practices for storing cornstarch is to keep it in its original container. The packaging is typically designed to protect the product from external factors that can affect its quality. The container should be tightly sealed to maintain its freshness.

Dehydrated foods

One of the things that shortens shelf-life is moisture. So dehydrated foods have the ability to last long-term. When stored in an airtight container with oxygen absorbers, dehydrated fruits and vegetables can last for up to 25 years! It's pretty affordable and the end product is compact for easy storage.
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Moisture is one of the primary factors that can shorten the shelf life of food. Dehydrated foods are crafted by removing moisture from the items, a process that inhibits the growth of spoilage-causing microorganisms. This absence of moisture makes dehydrated foods naturally resistant to spoilage.

Hard liquor

Unopened bottles of pure liquor like whiskey, vodka, or rum will never expire as long as you store them correctly, and they're properly sealed! One of the biggest things is to make sure you keep it out of direct heat and sunlight. If it has flavoring or added elements like dairy or cream, this does not apply!
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One of the most critical aspects of storing liquor is to shield it from direct heat and sunlight. Exposure to high temperatures can lead to changes in its flavor, as the alcohol may expand and contract, possibly causing bottle leakage or cork damage.

Ghee

Ghee is dehydrated butter, and it can last forever when stored in your pantry in an airtight container. All you have to do is take any butter of your choice and gently cook it until all of the water has evaporated and then store it. It's a long-life food that can make your food extra tasty, especially if there's a food emergency.
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Using an airtight container is crucial to prevent exposure to air, moisture, and potential contaminants. Properly sealed containers help maintain the freshness and quality of the ghee over time. Store ghee in a cool, dark place, such as a pantry or cupboard.

Maple syrup

If unopened, maple syrup will last FOREVER. Once you open it, though, it's good for up to a year. Be sure to store unopened bottles in your pantry, but keep the opened bottles in the fridge for longer shelf-life. It's another one of those things you can put in your instant coffee to improve the taste, if that's your vibe!
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Once you open a bottle of maple syrup, it's important to note that its shelf life is considerably shorter. While it's still safe to consume for up to a year, the quality may begin to decline over time. To prolong its shelf life, store opened bottles in the refrigerator.

Pasta

Okay, so pasta will typically last about a year or longer. But if you store it properly, some say you can still consume it for up to 25 years. To make it last that long, you need to remove it from its original packaging and put it in an airtight container. This way it doesn't absorb chemicals (like glue) that might be part of the packaging.
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One of the first steps in maximizing the shelf life of pasta is to remove it from its original packaging. While most pasta packaging is designed to protect the product, it's not always airtight, and there may be trace amounts of chemicals or compounds in the packaging materials.

Wheat

Wheat sometimes gets a bad rep, but in reality, it's high in protein, essential minerals, and fiber. It's said that if it's stored well, it can remain good for 30 years! Put it in an airtight container and keep it cool in your pantry. You can use an oxygen absorber packet to keep it even fresher and make sure there's no bugs in it!
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Storing wheat in an airtight container is crucial to prevent exposure to air and moisture, which can lead to spoilage and loss of nutritional value. A well-sealed container acts as a barrier against external contaminants and helps maintain the freshness of the wheat.

Peanut butter... kinda?

Okay, so in ~theory~ peanut butter can be eaten after it's expired. Peanut butter will keep on the shelf for 3-5 years. That being said, after time, oxygen starts to break down the food's flavor and also gives it a weird smell. But eating it after it's expired won't hurt you.
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As peanut butter ages, oxygen can gradually break down some of its natural compounds, resulting in changes to its flavor and aroma. It may develop a slightly rancid or off-putting smell. While these changes might not make it as enjoyable as fresh peanut butter, eating it after its expiration date is unlikely to cause harm.

Vinegar

Vinegar is another item you shouldn't be afraid to buy in bulk. Keep it in its original airtight container, and it'll last you well over 20 years. Experts say it will actually never expire! Just be sure to keep it away from heat sources and in a dry spot in your pantry!
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It's a good practice to keep vinegar in its original airtight container, which is designed to maintain the product's freshness and prevent external contaminants from affecting its quality. Make sure the container is securely sealed after each and every use.

Instant potato flakes

Okay, it's not quite 20 years, but instant potato flakes can store (unopened) for 15 years. Just throw them in a sealed #10 can and keep them, as always, in a cool, dry place. If they're already opened, the lifespan is much shorter of about 6 to 12 months.
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It's important to note that once the can is opened, the shelf life of instant potato flakes is considerably shorter, typically ranging from 6 to 12 months. The exposure to air and moisture that occurs when the can is unsealed can lead to changes in texture and flavor.

Popcorn

Keep your popcorn kernels in a sealed container and those suckers will last you literally forever! You can buy in bulk for super cheap, and it will NEVER EXPIRE. If you're like me, and occasionally only crave popcorn for dinner, this is fantastic news. Buy a stovetop popper and you're in for a delicious snack!
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Store your popcorn kernels in a sealed container, preferably an airtight one. An airtight seal helps prevent moisture and contaminants from affecting the kernels, ensuring that they remain in excellent condition. Keep the sealed container in a cool, dark place, such as your pantry or cupboard.

Spices... kinda

Similar to peanut butter, spices will definitely last a very long time. In fact, spices are safe to eat indefinitely. But, that being said, they WILL lose their aroma and flavor as time goes on. But it won't hurt you to consume them. Maybe placebo effect will kick in, and you'll still taste the flavor!
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As spices age, they may gradually lose their potency, aroma, and flavor. This is due to the exposure of the volatile aromatic compounds in the spices to air, moisture, and light. The result is a milder flavor. The spices may not be as robust as when freshly purchased.

Dried lentils

Dried lentils can last in your pantry, literally forever, if they're stored properly. It's also said that by-and-large, when it comes to taste for emergency foods stored over a long time, this type of food won out big time! They need to be kept in a cool, dry place. So find a cozy spot in your pantry and stock up!
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The key to preserving the longevity of dried lentils is to store them in a cool, dry place, such as a pantry or cupboard. Protect them from exposure to temperature fluctuations and humidity, as moisture can lead to spoilage and the growth of microorganisms.

Dried beans

Similar to lentils, dried beans will last indefinitely. They are one of the cheapest long-term foods available. Try soaking them if you want to cut down on cooking time. They're great for meal-prepping and for keeping on hand in case of an emergency!
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Dried beans are incredibly versatile and can be used in a wide range of recipes, from soups and stews to salads and side dishes. They are a great source of protein, fiber, and essential nutrients, making them a valuable ingredient for both everyday cooking and emergency food supplies.

Powdered jell-o

Stock your pantry with powdered Jell-O for a long-lasting on hand treat. It's said that Jell-O will literally store forever when it's in its dry state, so you can keep the packets and always be prepared to make a fun gelatin recipe. What's your favorite flavor? I'm a watermelon girlie!
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Powdered Jell-O opens the door to a world of creative and delicious gelatin recipes. You can use it to make classic gelatin desserts, colorful parfaits, fruity molds, and even layered treats. Its versatility and the wide range of available flavors make it a versatile ingredient.

Corn syrup

Corn syrup is in the sugar family - a liquid sweetener made from cornstarch. And it is delicious and used in most sugary things we love. It has a lot of uses and is mostly put in candy, frosting, and jam. It is also used in baked goods. It has a long and stable shelf-life, so feel free to stock up!
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One of the remarkable qualities of corn syrup is its stability and extended shelf life. When stored properly, corn syrup can remain in excellent condition for a prolonged period. Its low moisture content and resistance to microbial growth make it a reliable pantry staple.

Sugar

As with many others on this list - keep your white sugar in a dark and dry spot, preferably an airtight container, and it will last forever. Brown sugar will also keep for a long time, but because of the sugar and molasses, it will likely harden after a while.
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To ensure that white sugar lasts indefinitely, store it in a dark, dry place, ideally in an airtight container. Protecting it from exposure to moisture and air is key to maintaining its quality. White sugar has a low moisture content, which inhibits the growth of microorganisms and spoilage.

Energy bars

If you want food that will survive virtually anything, then look no further than energy bars. These things basically last forever and are perfect for on-the-go. You know, when you're outrunning an earth-consuming tsunami. So they travel well and the provide great fuel and even protein.
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Energy bars are manufactured to have a prolonged shelf life, often lasting for many months to even years, depending on the brand and specific ingredients used. Their ability to endure over time makes them well-suited for inclusion in long-term food storage plans.

Foods you can eat past their expiration date: eggs!

Okay, so we're not talking 20 years after the expiry date, of course, but it's always good to know what you don't have to throw out the second the clock gets to expiration day! You might be surprised how long eggs can actually last after their expiration date: five weeks, in fact.
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The expiration date on egg cartons is typically a conservative estimate provided by the manufacturer. It's intended to indicate the point at which the eggs are expected to be at their freshest and best quality. Eggs can often remain in good condition for several weeks beyond their expiration date.

Milk

Milk is one of the most common things to panic about when the expiration date is drawing near, and so much milk can get wasted from people just throwing a gallon away as soon as the date hits. A quick sniff will tell you whether it smells bad or good.
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The expiration date, or "sell by" date, on milk cartons is typically a conservative estimate provided by the manufacturer. It's intended to indicate the point at which the milk is expected to be at its freshest and best quality. Milk can often be consumed safely for several days to a week beyond.

Hard cheeses

Cheese is such a risky ball game because we all know aged cheese is a thing, and that you can eat cheese with mold on it (stilton) but other times there are certain cheese you shouldn't eat after they expire - it's all confusing! But a good rule of thumb is hard cheeses will last a lot longer than soft.
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Hard cheeses can last significantly longer than soft cheeses. They have a lower moisture content and a denser texture, which inhibits the growth of harmful microorganisms. When stored correctly, hard cheeses can remain safe and delicious well beyond their expiration dates.

Raw meat/poultry

We know it's surprising that this is even possible based on how important it is to store and cook meat properly, but it's entirely possible to extend the shelf life of your meat as long as you have a freezer! Meat kept in the fridge will need to be eaten by the date, but you can freeze ground meat.
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Freezing meat significantly extends its shelf life. Meat kept in the freezer can remain safe to eat for an extended period, often several months to a year or more, depending on the type of meat and the quality of packaging. To maintain the quality of frozen meat, it's essential to package it properly.

Yogurt

Because yogurt is another thing that's dairy-based, it's understandable to worry about leaving it too long before throwing out. But if you haven't yet opened the yogurt, it can last a good few weeks after the date, and that's because the probiotics and lactic acid defend against bacteria growth.
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Yogurt in sealed, unopened containers can often last for several weeks to a few months after the expiration date. This is because the probiotics and lactic acid naturally present in yogurt help defend against the growth of harmful bacteria. The key to prolonging the shelf life of unopened yogurt is proper storage.

Fish

You can use the same principle with fish as you can with meat, so if you want to store your fish for much longer, just pop it in the freezer! It all depends on what kind of fish it is, but fish already frozen can last up to a year, smoked fish can last a few months, and other fish 6-9 months!
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Fresh fish can be safely stored in the freezer to extend its shelf life. Properly wrap it in airtight, freezer-safe packaging to prevent freezer burn and exposure to air. When properly stored in the freezer, fresh fish can typically remain safe and of good quality for about 6 to 9 months.

Bread

The best investment you can make if you eat bread and toast a lot is a toaster with a defrost function - because bread can last ages when stored in the freezer instead of out on the side! No more panicking about eating whole loaves in time. Bread can last up to six months when frozen.
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Freezing bread allows you to buy in larger quantities and reduce the risk of bread going stale or moldy before you can consume it. Having frozen bread on hand means you can enjoy freshly toasted bread at any time, without the need for daily trips to the bakery or grocery store.

Fruits and veg

The best way to extend the shelf life of your fruit and vegetables is again to take advantage of the freezer! We know fresh fruit and veg is the most logical option, but it can go off very quickly when left on the side. You can freeze fruit and veg (or buy frozen fruit and veg) to extend the shelf life for months.
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Start by washing, peeling, and chopping the fruits and vegetables as needed. Blanching is a helpful step for most vegetables. It involves briefly boiling them and then immediately cooling them in ice water. Blanching helps preserve the color, texture, and nutritional value.

Tomato sauce

Tomatoes themselves are high in acidity, which means it takes longer for them to spoil. The same applies to tomato sauce, like pasta sauce or tomato paste, which is good news for extending the shelf life a little. Unopened ketchup can last up to a year in the pantry.
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Tomatoes contain citric acid, which gives them their characteristic tangy flavor. This natural acidity helps protect them from spoilage and the growth of harmful microorganisms. Whole, fresh tomatoes, when stored in a cool, dry place, can remain in good condition for an extended period.

Canned veg

The thing about vegetables that come in a can is that they'll already have an amazing shelf life, usually a few years. But, even better, you can make them last even longer! As long as you haven't opened the can, they should last around another two years after the date given.
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Canned vegetables are typically heat-processed and sealed in airtight containers, which helps prevent spoilage and the growth of harmful microorganisms. Unopened cans of vegetables can often last well beyond their "best by" or "use by" date. Many manufacturers provide conservative estimates only.

Leafy greens

The thing about buying fresh leafy greens, as healthy as they might be, is that they very soon start to wilt or go soggy if you don't eat them quickly enough. The key to extending the life of leafy greens is to soak them in ice water to restore them, or you can wash and spin them.
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Fresh leafy greens like lettuce, spinach, and kale are nutritious and delicious additions to your meals. However, they are notorious for wilting and turning soggy relatively quickly. To extend the shelf life of leafy greens and keep them crisp and fresh, you can soak in ice water.

Root veg

Root vegetables are always a must for healthy, delicious recipes! But if you're constantly battling with root veg which isn't keeping as long as you'd hope, especially if you buy in bulk, then the key is how you're storing them. You can store veg like potatoes and parsnips in cool, dark places so they can last several weeks.
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Root vegetables like potatoes, parsnips, carrots, and beets are versatile and delicious ingredients for a wide range of recipes. However, their longevity depends on how they are stored. To extend the shelf life of root vegetables and keep them fresh, store them in a cool, dark place.

Dry cereal

Anything that counts as 'dry' is going to have a much longer shelf life than might be advertised, because of the absence of moisture - so dry cereal is a good way to go. Both dry cereal and granola could last for several weeks after the expiry date if they're completely sealed in containers.
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Keep dry cereal and granola in airtight containers or resealable bags. Ensure that the containers are tightly sealed to prevent air and moisture from getting in. Store these containers in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight and temperature fluctuations. A pantry or kitchen cabinet is ideal.

Nuts

Nuts are another dry food that can last for a very long time if kept in a sealed container away from moisture. They could even last for months after the given expiry if they're stored properly! But that doesn't mean they're without risk of going off, due to their fat content.
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Nuts are a nutritious and delicious snack that can have an extended shelf life, particularly when stored correctly. Nuts are considered "dry" foods due to their low moisture content, and this characteristic, along with their high fat content, can contribute to their longevity.

Dried beans

They have to give an expiration date on dried beans, but the reality is they can last for so long that we can't even give a timeframe - they keep good indefinitely! You just need to make sure you store them in a cool, dry place (as always) and then beans, legumes and lentils will stay good for a very long time!
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Dried beans, legumes, and lentils are fantastic staples that offer long-term shelf stability when stored properly. While manufacturers provide an expiration date on the packaging for various reasons, these dry foods can essentially last indefinitely.

Dry pasta

Again, the key is 'dry', so your dried, uncooked pasta is going to last a very long time, too, if it's in an airtight container and stored in a dry place! It's actually so good at being stored this way that it could last up to two years after the expiration date! So don't be throwing out any unused bags of pasta anytime soon.
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Dried, uncooked pasta is an excellent example of a dry food product that can have a remarkably long shelf life, even well beyond its indicated expiration date, when stored properly. The key to preserving the quality and edibility of pasta is to keep it in a dry, airtight container.

Salt

If you've bought a huge tub of salt but you only use a pinch or two now and again, you might have been worrying about not using enough of it before the expiry date hits - but don't worry! As long as you keep salt away from moisture and anything else it could absorb.
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Salt is a staple ingredient that has a virtually indefinite shelf life when stored properly. It's one of the few substances that don't spoil or expire, and you don't need to be concerned about using it up before any date. Keep salt in a sealed, airtight container to protect it from moisture and contamination.

Baking ingredients

Most baking ingredients will be dry ingredients, like bags of flour, baking powder, baking sugar or powdered icing. The good news is, if you changed your mind and you're not going to be uploading your finished cake to Instagram anytime soon, the ingredients will keep - a month or two after the expiry date, in fact.
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Baking ingredients like flour, baking powder, baking sugar, and powdered icing sugar are typically dry and have a relatively long shelf life when stored properly. These ingredients can often remain safe and suitable for baking well beyond their indicated expiration dates.

Honey

Honey is low in moisture and high in acidity, both of which make for the perfect "I'm going to last a pretty long time" tag. It's very good at preventing bacteria growth, so it's very unlikely to spoil, so as long as you keep it in a cool, dry place in a sealed container, it should last for years!
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Honey possesses several remarkable characteristics that contribute to its exceptional shelf life, making it a natural choice for those seeking a long-lasting sweetener. One of its key attributes is its low moisture content, a feature that significantly contributes to its longevity.

Sugar

Preserving sugar will need a little TLC, but it's do-able. A lot of the time, bags of sugar can be banished to the back of the highest cupboard once you've filled up your canister, and this is where it's at risk of pets or being compromised. So seal your sugar bag up tight!
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Preserving sugar may not require an extensive effort, but a little tender loving care can go a long way in ensuring its long-term quality and usability. After all, sugar is a staple ingredient in countless recipes and is something many of us use on a regular basis.