One of the biggest hurdles for people who are trying to store food for emergencies is tackling the questions, “What do I store?” and “How do I know if an expired can is still edible?”

This can be very frustrating. One of the most interesting facts that not many people know is there are items that will never expire and can be used for food. Of course there are extenuating circumstances, but if properly stored, these items will last indefinitely.

n Apple cider vinegar: This has many health benefits, works well with cooking and can last indefinitely as long as it stays sealed.

n Boullion cubes: If kept dry, these cubes will last. Seasoning food in an emergency is tough; these cubes can help with that.

n Corn starch: If corn starch remains dry, it can last indefinitely. However if mites get to it in the box, it can go bad very quickly. It is recommended to reseal in a food-grade plastic. Foodsaver sealers are great.

n Corn syrup: Is a great substitute for sugar. It may crystallize but will still retain its use.

n Ghee: Is an interesting butter substitute that has all moisture taken out. It can last forever.

n Hard liquor: This has numerous uses for disinfecting wounds and taking away pain. It can also be used to bargain with others. It never goes bad.

n Hardtack: This was a popular cracker during the Civil War. It is easy to make with flour and water and can last forever. It will keep you going even if it doesn’t taste great.

n Honey: This can be used to sweeten any dish. It will crystallize over time, but when heated up a little bit and stirred, it will go back to its regular consistency. It is a great thing to have in any kit.

n Maple syrup: Just like corn syrup and honey, it will crystallize but still be useful. Any one of the three would be great in a food storage.

n Salt: Any type of salt whether sea or table salt is extremely useful for food storage. It can cure meats, disinfect wounds and of course season any meal. Regular salt will last indefinitely as long as it doesn’t get wet. Seasoned salt, however, only lasts for one year.

n Sugar: All different types of sugar last indefinitely (again as long as they do not get wet). It will harden over time but can be broken into chunks to use.

n Pure vanilla extract: This will last indefinitely because of the way it is processed. It will not go bad like imitation extract. You can make your own with liquor or buy it from the store. It is a little more expensive, but worth it.

n Rice (except brown): Rice will keep forever if stored properly. Keeping it dry and away from creepy crawlies (preferably a 5-gallon bucket, with a moisture barrier packet) will keep it fresh.

n White vinegar: This is great for deodorizing and cleaning and can be used for cooking. If kept sealed from the elements, it would be a great addition.

n Baking soda: This is an essential item in any bug-out bag. It has so many uses in an emergency (check my next article) and should be stockpiled.

n Dry beans: Any type of dried bean can be stored for decades. It needs to be in a completely dry, airtight bag, in airtight containers, in a cool dark place. Even if they are older in the shelf life, they can still be used if you know how to reconstitute them.

There are a lot of options to add to your food storage and bug-out bag to survive an emergency. These items are relatively inexpensive and when properly cared for, can be used when times are tough. A food storage doesn’t have to be for an emergency. If you lose your job or see reduction in money, you can dip into one’s food storage to ride out the lack. You can have the peace of mind knowing there will always be something for your family to eat.

Emily Thornton is currently working on her masters in communication at Idaho State University. She enjoys writing, racing after her son and playing games with her husband.