SNAP Foods That Last the Longest
If you are on SNAP, you know that you have to make your food dollars count. While SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) is great, it also doesn’t leave a lot of room for waste. Finding food items and ingredients that can make several meals, as well as last for a while on the shelf, in the refrigerator and in the freezer is the key to stretching the SNAP dollars as far as they will go.
Most foods go bad because moisture gets to them, or the microbes in the area begin to break down the cell structures of the food. Some foods or ingredients take longer to break down, or are downright resistant. Salt, for example, is one food item that will last for years before losing its usefulness. The same can be said for honey, which as long as it is kept sealed and away from heat, can be stored for years as well. Continue below to read about more SNAP-friendly foods.
Rice and Powdered Milk
Rice – and you can make a lot of dishes using this staple – will also last indefinitely if it is stored properly. Make sure that the rice that is being stored is not the instant type of rice, but rather, is the type of long-cooking rice. Some reports say you can store rice in a cool place for up to 30 years. Keep sugar dry and it will last a long time, as well. Powdered milk is also in the same category, remaining viable for years, as long as it is kept away from moisture and damp conditions.
Beans, Ramen Noodles and Soy Sauce
Another staple for so many meals is the bean. Beans of almost all types will store long-term as long as they are kept away from the light, and in someplace cool. Ramen noodles, which can form the basis for many dishes, and have been a favorite of college students for decades, will also last for an extremely long time, as long as the original packaging is not damaged in any way. This is because the noodles are actually dried before storing. And, as luck would have it, soy sauce is another commodity that will last indefinitely (as long as it is unopened).
Syrups, Canned Goods and Peanut Butter
Most syrup, such as corn syrup and maple syrup will last indefinitely if stored correctly. Corn starch and baking powder can be stored long-term, but will generally begin to lose their effectiveness once exposed to the elements. Most canned vegetables can last long-term, so purchasing them when they are on sale and stocking up is a very good strategy to make SNAP food dollars do the most work. Canned meats, unfortunately, only last a few months, even though they are in the can. This is because the properties in meat tend to break down and provide ample environment for the microbes to do their work. Peanut butter, as long as it is unopened, will also last for years. This is not true of the ‘natural’ varieties, however. Those nut butters that don’t have to be kept in the refrigerator are the types that will keep for years. A great source of protein, peanut butter pleases a majority of the household.
How to Properly Prepare Animal Proteins
What will not keep well long-term is any type of meat, though many types of meat can be prepared and stored in the freezer for up to six months. Purchasing cheaper cuts of meat, and then placing them in a crockpot to tenderize and to flavor them is a very good way to enjoy beef. Most experts suggest individually portioning larger cuts of beef, first wrapping in plastic wrap, then foil, then another overlay of plastic. This ensures that no air will reach them, and will help to avoid freezer burn. Chicken and pork can also be stored in this way, so when these proteins come on sale, it is easy to get them and store them for up to six months. Fish and seafood are the least efficient to store as their longest shelf life (in the freezer) is about three months.
The holy trinity of wheat, rice and beans can keep you alive and quite healthy. The good news, too, is that these staples are not too costly, and will store indefinitely, allowing you to stock up and create many varied dishes throughout the week. The secret to keeping the foods long-term is to keep the temperature where they are stored as cool as possible, ideally around 75 degrees. They also need to be kept away from moisture and light.