Pantry Expiration Dates and Your Stockpile: How Long Can I Store That?

Disclosure AffiliateThese Pantry Expiration Dates guidelines will help you know how long you can actually store the staples in your kitchen and how to make them last longer.

Have you ever gone into your pantry only to pull a can of whatever out, look at it and wonder if it is still good because you’ve had it for so long? If so, don’t feel bad since this is actually a fairly common occurrence in most households. Pantry goods have such a wide array of expiration dates that it can be hard to tell when something should be tossed or when it is still good to use and it is that wide array that can lead to confusion. Learning how long you can safely store pantry items as well as how expiration dates affect your pantry can help end that confusion while allowing you to build a fully stocked pantry stockpile.

First, the skinny on expiration dates. For refrigerated items and items in your medicine cabinet, you need to pay attention to them since using them past their “use by” date can be dangerous, but for pantry stockpile items, you have a bit more leeway. Manufacturers are required to date their products and as such, most of them do so with a date that they can guarantee the product will still taste good and hold onto its nutritional value. This is why most canned or boxed foods actually say “best by” and not “use by.” That best buy date is, simply put, a guide so that you are aware that after that date the product may taste a bit differently than you might expect.

Because of the difference in wording, this means that the majority of the products in your pantry can be stored a lot longer than the six months or so that they actually say by date. How long though? We can help you out with info on a few common pantry stockpile products and how long they are actually good for.

Rubbermaid Modular CanistersRubbermaid Modular CanistersRoyal Air-Tight Food Storage Container SetRoyal Air-Tight Food Storage Container Set

Before we get to the date information, one thing is key: How you store your pantry items makes a difference! By transferring items from their cardboard boxes or bags into tight-sealing containers, you can greatly extend the life of your staples. I’m a fan of Rubbermaid containers because they’re easy to use and have a tight seal. Another option that looks gret if you have glass front cabinets or open shelving is Mason jars. They even make them in a big half gallon size!

1 Ball 64oz Wide Mouth Half Gallon Mason Jar1 Ball 64oz Wide Mouth Half Gallon Mason Jar


Pantry Expiration Dates

Canned Tuna – 2 to 5 years from the date of manufacture
Canned green beans – 2 to 5 years
All-purpose flour – 6 months to 1 year if stored in the freezer or an air tight container
Granulated sugar – 6 months to 1 year if stored in the freezer or an air tight container
Brown and powdered sugar – 6 months if stored correctly
Canned pastas – 2 years – 4 years
Canned soups – 2 to 5 years
Spam – 2 to 5 years
Canned broth – 2 to 3 years
Other canned meats – 2 years
White rice – up to 20 years if stored in an air-tight container
Salt – indefinitely if stored in a dry area – moisture is salt’s worst enemy
Canned whole kernel corn – 2 to 5 years
Honey – Indefinitely – If it crystallizes, heat the honey and shake to reconstitute.
Baking soda – Indefinitely if kept dry
Pasta – 2-5 years if kept in their own packages, 20+ years if stored in air-tight containers with oxygen removed
Oats – Indefinitely if stored with oxygen removed, 2-5 years in an air-tight container.
Dried beans – 5 years if stored in normal air-tight containers, 20+ years if stored with oxygen removed.

Crazy, right? So what does this mean for you? Feel free to stock up the next time you see a great sale! You’ll have time to use them before they spoil and you’ll be able to save big by building your pantry stockpile!

Also be sure to check out this Baking Ingredients Shelf Life Guide!

These Pantry Expiration Dates guidelines will help you know how long you can actually store the staples in your kitchen and how to make them last longer.

About Chrysa

Chrysa is the founder and owner of, a site dedicated to living a fabulous life on a frugal budget. Her approach is that by spending less on the boring everyday stuff, you can have more money to splurge on the things you REALLY want, whether it’s travel, fashion, electronics – you name it! Chrysa is married, has a 9-year old nephew she dotes on, as well as three lovable cats and a big sweetie of a German Shepherd.


  1. shelly peterson says:

    This is really great information to know. I have always wondered about this.

  2. Hannah C says:

    This is really helpful information! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Julie Wood says:

    I wonder why sugar does not last longer. I have my sugar for over a year and it still works. I think that this is a very good list to follow.

  4. Cynthia R says:

    Yikes, I’m not following your sugar and flour guidelines. I super coupon and a lot of times end up with things that expire before I know it. I have to regularly give away things to prevent waste.

  5. Wow! I have not been good when it comes to storing my flour. I think I still have some in the original packaging. Definitely need to check my pantry and use your tips.

  6. We learned a very hard lesson with flour quite a few years ago when beetles showed up. We’ve also had an outbreak of pantry moths, and let me tell you, those aren’t fun to get rid of. Especially with seeing all of that money going down the drain. We now use mason jars, and the airtight containers from OXO to store our goods. That way I don’t freak out about money being wasted!

    • omg the pantry moths are the WORST. Its a nightmare getting rid of those.

      • MaryBethHartHicks says:

        I just cleaned out my cupboards AGAIN . Saw a moth in there and got all freaked out .. last time I emptied all boxes of pasta into colander and looked thru carefully .. found lots of bugs .. so I thru out a ton of things .. now I saw a moth in the cupboard and moved things so only canned good in that cupboard and moved pasta into a diff cupboard .. we’ll see .. I thru out lots of thngs that had old dates .. just not going to use the once I’m freaked .. I should put flour and sugar in freezer that’s next

        • you might want to try sprinkling a few Bay Leaves inside your cupboards (whole, not crushed). Years ago we moved into a rental (duplex) and within a few weeks we had these little tiny bugs. Small as fleas but they weren’t fleas. They got into the flours, oatmeal, rice all the grains. I threw out everything, scrubbed down everything and tried again but they came back. 3 x I did this then I remembered an old wives tale about using bay leaves in your cupboards. Well darn if that didn’t work. I kept bay leaves in all the kitchen cupboards, drawers, pantry and they didn’t come back. I would even put a few leaves inside the packages layed on top of the flour/rice etc. just to be extra sure. I know you had moths but this might be worth a try!

  7. What a great informative post about how long we can store stuff. I often wondered about the shelf life of some things. I swear some items can’t be junk when the label says sell by date, but love that you have given insight in a deeper level so now I know when I clean out my pantry what to toss and not toss and how to properly store stuff!

  8. I always try to stock up on canned goods when there’s a good sale. Oddly enough I find that I run into more expiration date questions with refrigerated or frozen food than I do with cans.

  9. Sugars are my big issue. I need to get new storage containers that work well so it is airtight and lasts longer.

  10. Sarah L says:

    Good info. I just need more pantry space.

  11. Good info! I notice some things that I don’t tend to use, they just quietly sit in the back of the cabinet – for ages! Then I end up getting rid of them. One thing to note – most food pantries have a rule to not give out anything expired, so check before you donate.

  12. PUt the flour and pasta in the freezer

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