Cracking Open a Ten-Year-Old Bucket of Food

Commander Zero
By Commander Zero March 6, 2017 13:25

Cracking Open a Ten-Year-Old Bucket of Food

This article was gladly contributed by Commander Zero.

School starts up again this week, so I need to start doing breakfast. Since I’m incredibly lazy, I want something easy and fast. Cold pizza is my #1 choice, but who can afford that? I figured I’d just have instant oatmeal. Turns out, my pantry was devoid of the stuff. Must have used it all up last semester. Hmm. Well, let’s rotate some out of storage.

Sometime around 2006 I ran into a really nice sale on instant oatmeal. As I recall it was a package of ten for a buck. Hey, for brand-name instant oatmeal, why not? So I picked up a bunch. Here are another 32 essential foods to stockpile. 

As I’m sure you are familiar with, instant oatmeal is usually packaged in paper pouches – not the best sort of thing for long-term storage. As always, I turned to my trusty vacuum sealer. Sealed up ten pouches to a bag, sealed ’em up in a bucket, and tucked ’em away. Until today. Let’s see what we got.10 year old instant oatmeal

Inspection tag says this was last inspected in 2011. I need to be a tad more diligent about this sort of thing. Every other year should be good. Surface of the bucket is a bit dusty, but that’s to be expected.inside the ten yeard old bucket of oatmeal 1

Spin off the Gamma Seal lid and the contents are clean and dry…as expected.inside the ten yeard old bucket of oatmeal 2

A dozen sealed ‘bricks’ of packages of instant oatmeal. Awaiting the day a hot breakfast is needed before a full day of hanging looters, manning barricades, killing zombies, and rescuing desperate-but-grateful coeds from cannibals.inside the ten yeard old bucket of oatmeal 3

The individual pouches kept their vacuum and everything appears good. No food smells, no insects, no nothin’.inside the ten yeard old bucket of oatmeal 4

Everything seems good to go. Contents of pouches aren’t caked together from moisture or anything else. Chalk up another win to the vacuum sealer.

Add some boiling water and…tastes just fine. You can also use it to make delicious MREs at home.

Without a laboratory I can’t tell what nutritional value (if any) might be, but I can tell you that calorically it’s all there. Some canned/dehydrated fruit, powdered orange drink, instant hash browns, powdered scrambled eggs, maybe a freeze-dried pork chop and you’ve got a pretty decent breakfast after the apocalypse.

This vacuum-seal and bucket combo is also how I store 4# bags of sugar and salt. Sugar, especially, works well in this. The vacuum sealing keeps all the moisture out so your bag of salt or sugar doesn’t become a somewhat useless hard brick…and it keeps the bugs out as well.

I’m always gratified when I get to put food-storage theory to the test…empirical data for the win.

This article was gladly contributed by Commander Zero and first appeared on Notes From The Bunker.

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Commander Zero
By Commander Zero March 6, 2017 13:25
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  1. Fullclip March 6, 15:02

    Nice job, and nicely written post. I am into a similar time warp experiment with Ramen noodles. The only added step I took was to place the packages in my deep freeze for 72 prior to vacuum packing. This kills any insect eggs that may be present any doesn’t cost anything. So far, I am into it for 6 years and they smell and taste just fine. Since I need a 20 year shelf life for my food storage plans, I’ll check them again in 5 or 6 years and post the result – if we are all still here.

    Reply to this comment
    • Lu March 6, 15:21

      The only problem with Ramen noodles is if you also use the seasoning packet. The high salt content is not what you need for survival. Yes we will need salt, but we shouldn’t be consuming 3 or 4-days worth at one siting. I used to take two packages of Ramen noodles prepare per instructions, then drain the noodles including and then add scrambled eggs (6-8 eggs) – makes a great meal for a family of four – and most of that unneeded salt will be drained off.

      Reply to this comment
      • Softballumpire March 6, 15:50

        I was curious as you said you drained the noodles, yet nothing mentioned about the next step for the water. In a survival situation, saving that water would appear to be a must. My tendency is to put it into a jar for soup base or the start of a pressure cooker full of chili. Pressure cooked chili made without added salt until the jar filling stage uses the discarded salt as well. Reducing the added salt before canning works well.

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      • PUNISHER March 6, 20:54


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  2. chris March 6, 15:23

    I recently opened a can of Yoders bacon I had in the pantry for over 10yrs. some friends were over one night we wanted to have breakfast and I had no bacon so I remembered the can we had more than enough for 6 adults and had some leftover for BLT’s later good stuff my friends could not believe it was that old and came from a can.

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    • PUNISHER March 6, 20:57


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      • left coast chuck March 7, 04:56

        I bought a can of bacon based on the glowing reports I had read of how delicious it was. I wanted to try it out before I popped for a case. I thought it was the greasiest stuff I had seen other than the wheel bearings on my boat trailer and the taste was indescribable. By that I mean I had never tasted anything quite like it. It definitely wasn’t a bacon taste in my opinion. I realize that tastes vary. I’m not really wild about stewed okra although some are crazy about it. I am not fond of Japanese natto which is fermented soy beans although for many Japanese it is soul food, so maybe others would find the canned bacon acceptable. As for me, I did not spring for the case of canned bacon. In a SHTF situation I will just have to shoot one of the feral hogs that are rapidly infesting Kallyforniya due to poor game management by the wildlife folks and property owners who think they are going to get rich charging exorbitant fees for pest elimination.

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  3. 12AngryWomen March 6, 17:28

    “Awaiting the day a hot breakfast is needed before a full day of hanging looters, manning barricades, killing zombies, and rescuing desperate-but-grateful coeds from cannibals.”

    My favorite line!

    Also loving the sealed brinks in buckets concept which I will immediately incorporate into my bucket menu. Thanks!

    Reply to this comment
  4. Dar March 6, 18:29

    after you fill and seal your buckets, can you then store them in an old barn or shed? I have no room in this house to store any thig much.

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    • life long learner March 7, 17:57

      light, oxygen, temperature, humidity. These all play a part in the ‘life’ of food. With a barn or shed the temperature would be a factor. If it could be kept cool – shade tree, high roof-that would help. Light DOES permeate through the white buckets. You could use mylar bags with CO absorbers but place them in the white buckets also or the mice will get to them.

      Reply to this comment
      • Dar March 8, 00:36

        Thank you so much I thought you might say this but wanted to be sure.

        Reply to this comment
      • Prepping Mom March 10, 14:10

        I was wondering if you could vacuum seal powdered/dried milk the same way. I am just starting to prep and milk/sugar/salt are commodities that will be needed.

        Reply to this comment
        • life long learner March 19, 23:16

          I have HEARD that it’s not good to use a vacuum sealer on powdered items as some of the powder gets sucked up into the motor. Maybe some sealers have a filter you can clean?? On some powdered things that I have sealed in glass jars, I placed a coffee filter over the end of the tube before attaching it to the sealer-worked fine. Your best bet for milk is probably mylar bags with CO packets.

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  5. Wannabe March 6, 19:01

    Love his sense of humor

    Reply to this comment
  6. TFZ March 6, 23:44

    if you want a cheap way to remove the oxygen from the bucket, squeeze and drop in a hand warmer packet before you close it up (take it out of the package 1st). and line the bottom with (baked) cat litter first (4 moisture); “preferably clean”.

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  7. kitty March 7, 08:40

    even if your sugar or salt gets brick hard, it’s still usable. use a grater to shave off however much you need.
    perhaps the same could be said for your oatmeal and such since there is little nutritional value to be compromised?

    Reply to this comment
  8. Thomas Bradley March 7, 10:13

    I was Looking forward to getting a book, what happened? YOU say you want to help people Right? well I like to read , IT’s like a good steak you eat so you can saver the taste and remember it. not some erecorded info. so if you can get the book great to me grate let me know.thanks.

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  9. Wannabe March 7, 21:43

    Off subject a little. Somebody please tell me if Jim Bakker is legit this time or is he still a con artist? Seems to me he is trying to scare people into buying his products. A lot of prominent conservative leaders have been on his program. And has anyone bought any of his long term food? I hear it is terrible

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    • left coast chuck March 7, 22:52

      You really have to be careful buying “long term food.” A lot of food is advertised as a 3-day supply or a 30-day supple and they list how many servings are contained in the bucket. The problem is that the “servings” usually run less than 350 calories. The average daily caloric requirement for an adult ranges between 2100 to 2700 calories per day for moderate activity. Strenuous activity requires more calories. Of course, that assumes that the calorie content of the “serving” is correct. When the seller advertises that the bucket contains a 30-day supply of food and the total caloric content of the bucket comes to 1100 calories per day, I then wonder about the accuracy of the caloric content of each packet. In any event, assuming that the packet content is correct and it actually contains 325 calories, 3 x 325 comes to 975 calories a day. Everything I have ever read about the Japanese POW camps and the SS concentration camps in Germany indicates that the caloric content of the daily diet was about 1200 calories. We all know how well that worked out for the inmates of those establishments. While you will not starve to death in 30 days on 1,000 calories a day, you will be significantly affected in your daily performance and mental abilities. As an indication of your daily caloric needs in a SHTF situation, MREs run between 3600 and 4,000 calories per day. Now these are designed for young men in combat, engaged in very strenuous activity, but it gives you some indication of what you might need per day. If you are fleeing to a safer area; if you are chopping wood and tending a fire, fetching water, engaging in a fire fight on the way back from your errands, fighting fires and all of the fun things a SHTF situation might entail, your caloric requirements are going to approach the 3500 mark. The next thing is what constitutes the calories? Thirty packages of Tang at 250 calories per package bumps up the calories count but doesn’t satisfy your hunger pangs. The same with white rice. Lots of calories but not so much food value. I don’t know how long it takes to develop beriberi on a mostly white rice diet, I suspect 30 days is not enough, but it is something to be aware of. So, the first thing I would do if I were considering any vendor’s “long term food” is to examine its caloric content. If it doesn’t reach at least 2,000 calories a day I would not purchase it. The second thing is, I would buy the smallest amount I could. I would check it for damage upon arrival and I would immediately consume everything in the package (over the course of however many days it is supposed to support). Then if it is palatable and you feel that the calories contained can meet your daily requirement, in that event I would purchase the supply that you feel you might need. Again, immediately upon its receipt I would check the contents for damaged packaging. I have read too many complaints about the internal packaging being damaged to ignore this vital step. After that I would try to assure that the temperatures that the packages were stored at were as moderate as practicable for your locale. While I don’t have much respect for Dr. Phil, some of his homilies do have some truth to them. The best indicator of future conduct is past conduct. Once a crook doesn’t mean forever a crook but . . .so with regard to Jim Bakker you are free to form whatever opinion you want. Unfortunately a great many “influential” people are whores for money and for public exposure. They will appear on almost any television show for the public exposure and the money. The first name that comes to mind is Bob Dole and viagra on prime time television. Maybe everyone is ok with that but I have a problem with the man I thought would make a good president getting on television and describing his sexual deficiencies to the world. You may be okay with that and that is your right. That lowered my opinion of Mr. Dole quite a bit. I felt sorry that he felt he needed money that badly.

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      • Wannabe March 8, 00:48

        That’s quite the reply west. Thank you for taking your time to talk to me. Good info to chew on. I don’t plan to buy his food, I just can’t bring my self to support him. It just surprises me to see people like Jerry Boykin, Or Mike Huckabee on there. That is what is making me wonder about how genuine he is. It is only by Gods grace and forgiveness we wake up every day to breathe life in this world. I don’t watch his show just what I have seen on Jim Bakker you tube channel. Their food looks disgusting but I hope someone can give me true insight into the matter just so I can know if this guy is fake or really cares about helping others. Thanks again for responding you are the first to have a conversation with me. I love the dialogue and interaction with those I have never met.

        Reply to this comment
      • Wannabe March 8, 00:49

        Oops, I meant to say left not west

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    • tony fuckin z March 9, 13:52

      Don’t know about Bakker but you can do and get a lot more for yourself and for a fraction of the money! TFZ

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      • Wannabe March 9, 19:03

        I agree tony

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        • tony fuckin z March 10, 15:44

          Thanks Wannabe, one reason for my attitude towards these prepped storing meals is that people are so damn spoiled in this country, They can’t imagine what is coming. I was a mercenary for seven years. The things I saw made me and my fellow troops cry. Most of all The starving children. It’s not important to have perfect meals, with desserts! They just don’t get it. I used to teach wilderness survival during my 7 years in the U.S. military. I still teach it to my karate students. How “much” nutritious food is the important thing. I even used to sell “Wise” foods on the net, but I refuse to anymore. It’s good food but it costs a fortune, as do most of the others of its type.
          The average person can do so much better on their own with just a little learning and a lot less money. TFZ (

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          • left coast chuck March 11, 01:34

            Tony: Good move dropping Wise. It was their “30 day supply of emergency food” that got me checking content of the so-called emergency food business. There are some vendors who supply close to a day’s worth of calories for the number of days they purport, but lots more are so short on the food value of their emergency rations that it should be a prosecutable offense. In my opinion, when some company advertises a 30 day supply of food, I believe I am purchasing enough food that that supply will be all I need for 30 days less water. When the supplier tells me, “Well, when you have ravioli for dinner, you don’t just have ravioli, you have vegetables and milk and desert and bread.” Well, if I had vegetables, milk, desert and bread, I most likely would have a can of Chef Boyardi and wouldn’t need your dehydrated junk. I haven’t had experience with MREs, but I can tell you that C-rations provided a calorie rich main course, ham and beans, spaghetti and meatballs, chicken a la king with rice, sausage patties in gravy (ugghhh), peanut butter and crackers or jelly and crackers, hot chocolate, coffee, sugar and creamer, and the piece de la resistance, fruit cocktail or a can of pears or a can of peaches, sometimes pound cake. That’s one meal. That’s 1200 or more calories. Every meal was the similar. The caloric content was always a minimum of 1200 calories per meal, sometimes more so that you wound up with 3600 or more calories per day. A little short of fresh vegetables and roughage, but being slightly or even majorly constipated in combat is not a bad thing. Having diarrhea in the field or in combat sucks. It is not fun any time but in those circumstances, it really sucks. Fresh oranges and apples were supposed to supply roughage, but as you can imagine, they didn’t always get to their destination — for a variety of reasons, not always the fault of supply. If the truck hits a mine or gets hit with H&I that certainly is not supply’s fault.

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          • Wannabe March 13, 13:24

            With your experience, do you suggest some good manuels on survival? There are a million versions out there, I just want one or two that will be beneficial and not waste my time with bull crap. I am looking for good info on solutions to the hard times coming, survival techniques.

            Reply to this comment
            • tony fuckin z March 14, 08:14

              Yeah, one that I recommend to all my students is “Edible Wild Plants, A North American Field Guide” from Outdoor Life Books. Best I’ve ever seen! A tip, large Rat Traps, from Home Depot etc., are great for catching birds, Squirrels, turkey, even fish etc.. I spray paint them flat green/brown; drill holes in 4 corners; put wire in them to tie them down; Bait them with nuts, seeds etc. for whatever you’re after. Set up on edge for fish, in shallows, lube spring w/ veg. oil.
              Find a book on animal snares; most survival manuals cover “most” of them. I stock Oil & Vinegar; salt, oregano, pepper.
              TFZ (

              Reply to this comment
              • Wannabe March 14, 13:05

                Thanks tony I will check it out

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              • Wannabe March 14, 15:10

                Tony, one more question, who is the author? Want to make sure I get the book you are referring to. Some have almost the same title

                Reply to this comment
                • tony fuckin z March 17, 08:21

                  Authors: Thomas S. Elias & Peter A. Dykeman @ Outdoor Life Books
                  And Me @ TFZ
                  P.S. Your best “Fresh food” survival tools: the Rat traps (more the better, a good BB gun; Benjamin, 1 of the best!
                  (.177 cal.; NOT .22 pellet)NO Crossman or CO2 powered guns! Giant packs, copper coated BB’s-Walmarts, same as gun.
                  Lrg. Bags bird seed. A .22 rifle for larger stuff (10-22 Rugar or bolt action). (Ammo- .22 CCI Stingers for big stuff & people!) Use .22 shorts & BB caps for small stuff. I don’t know where you live but if you put just a few seeds out, the birds will come.
                  No Matter how many you get, 2maro more will come. Most of the BB’s you can recover when you clean them; Use Again.
                  No, I don’t like killing robins, jays etc.; I love’um all, but you’re trying to stay alive! Fire thru open window, BACK in room; No noise outside to attract attention. TFZ

                  Reply to this comment
            • Left coast chuck March 20, 02:09

              Arthur Bradley, PhD has a good manual out. It is well reasoned. You re right, Wannabe, there are many manuals that are not much help. The one put out by National Geographic is okay if your bugout location is the Amazon jungle or the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro, but it goes into too many esoteric locales to be useful to Joe Prepper. Most manuals have at least a few good points in them, so except for some exceptionally bad ones that I bought, I can say that no manual was a total waste. Even the NatGeo had some good tips in it. I think it had the Morse Code which is very helpful to learn.If you and your team learn Morse Code, there is a good chance that not even the military will be able to figure it out for quite a while. Way back in the days of the PRC 10 and 25, I was in a Marine Reserve Comm company and every radio operator had to know Morse. Not any more, Baby.

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  10. Alan March 8, 18:30

    Would like to know what kind of vacuum sealer you use and what would you recommend.

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