For couponers, knowing how much to stockpile and when to properly rotate what you have is essential. This is necessary because throwing away anything, even if we paid only pennies for it, is so not cool! My rotation strategy is pretty basic: when I purchase 10 new boxes of cereal, I place them behind the other boxes on the shelf in my garage—same goes for everything else, from pasta sauce to toothpaste. Then, at least four times a year, I go through everything I have to make an inventory. Even though I don’t write it all down, I’ve found it helps me determine which products I need to replenish and which products I need to avoid. Anything that’s in my stockpile that’s going to expire in the next three months gets brought inside or marked for donation.

The more you coupon, the easier it will become to know how much to buy at a time. You’ll learn how often body wash is free, or when peanut butter is $1.00 or less. The more you coupon, the easier it will be to gauge how much to buy when you find a great price. In addition to knowing how often an item can be found for a certain price, it’s also vital to have a basic knowledge of a product’s shelf life. In order to help, we created a list of what we thought were the top 100 shelf-stable products, and listed them with their corresponding shelf lives.

Please share your tips and strategies! How do you know how much to buy and how do you rotate your stockpiles?

1. Salty Snacks

Chips, corn tortilla 3 months
Chips, potato 2 months
Crackers 3 months
Nuts, shelled 4 months
Popcorn, kernels 18-24 months
Popcorn, packaged/microwavable 12 months
Pretzels 3 months
Snack Mix 3-6 months

2. PB & J

Jams/Jellies/Preserves 12 months
Peanut Butter 9 months
Nutella 8 months

3. Fruit

Applesauce 12-18 months
Fruit, canned 12 months
Fruit, dehydrated 8-12 months
Raisins 6-12 months

4. Vegetables

Beans, canned 24 months
Beans, dried 12 months
Beans, refried 24 months
Lentils, dried 12 months
Olives 12 months
Pickles 18 months
Pumpkin, canned 24 months
Tomatoes, whole or diced 12-18 months
Tomato sauce 12-18 months
Vegetables, canned 24 months

5. Pasta

Pasta, dry 24-36 months
Pasta sauce, tomato based 18-24 months
Pasta, white 12-18 months

6. Soup

Bouillon 24 months
Broth, canned 12 months
Chili, canned 18-24 months +
Dry soup mix 12 months
Soup, canned 24 months

7. Baking

Baking powder 18 months
Baking soda 24 months
Cake/Brownie mix 12 months
Chocolate chips, semisweet 18 months
Coconut, shredded 12 months
Cornmeal 12 months
Cornstarch 18 months +
Corn syrup 24 months +
Flour, all purpose 8-12 months
Flour, whole wheat 6 months
Frosting 3-8 months
Gelatin 18 months
Honey indefinitely
Marshmallows 3-4 months
Milk, condensed 12 months
Milk, evaporated 12 months
Milk, non-fat dry 6 months
Molasses 24 months
Oil, canola/vegetable 18-24 months
Oil, olive 24 months
Pudding mix 12 months
Salt indefinitely
Shortening 18 months
Sugar, brown 4-6 months
Sugar, powdered 18 months
Sugar, white granulated 24 months +
Vanilla extract 24 months
Yeast, active dry Exp date on pkg

8. Breakfast

Cereal 12 months
Fruit snacks 9 months
Granola bars 6-8 months
Oats, old fashioned or quick 12 months
Pancake mix 6-9 months
Pop Tarts 3-6 months
Syrup, pancake 12 months

9. Prepared Sides & Rices

Bread crumbs, dried 6 months
Rice, brown 6 months
Rice, minute 18 months
Rice or pasta, herb/seasoned 6 months
Rice, white 24 months+
Instant potatoes 12 months
Stuffing mix 6-12 months

10. Condiments & Toppings

Ketchup 12 months
Mayonnaise 4-10 months
Mustard 24 months
Parmesan cheese, grated 10-12 months
Salad dressing 10-12 months
Salsa 12-18 months
Soy sauce 24 months
Steak sauce 24 months
Syrup, chocolate 12 months
Vinegar 24 months +

11. Drinks

Coffee, ground 12 – 24 months
Coffee, instant 12 months
Creamer powder 18 – 24 months
Drink mix, powdered 18 – 24 months
Hot cocoa mix 8 months
Juice, bottled 12 months
Soda pop 3 – 9 months
Sport drinks 9 months
Tea, bags 18 months
Water, bottled 12 – 24 months

12. Baby

Infant formula Exp. date on can
Jarred baby food 12 – 24 months
Rice cereal 12 months

13. Meat

Chicken, canned 12 – 36 months
Tuna, canned 24 – 48 months


Shelf lives listed are for unopened products stored in a cool, dry environment and are commercially canned, bottled or packaged. Dates are approximate and may vary by brand. Always look at the product’s “Best By” or “Use By” date and discard any food that exhibits a change in odor, color or taste. Once products are opened, shelf life decreases substantially.


How to Properly Rotate Your Stockpile