With this summer’s drought projected to drive up food prices on everything from corn to corn-laced products like chips and soda, it may pay to snap up menu staples when you can still find them at good prices.But this stuff won’t last forever, and on some items, you may not see the prices trickle up until sometime next year.
Still, it never hurts to be prepared, so here’s a little thumbnail guide to how long some of the major foods affected by the drought can last. You can also click on to Stilltasty.com for a more complete list of foods and their shelf life.
Beef, pork, poultry It’s the feed they eat that will drive up their supermarket prices. So if you see a sale, you might want to snap up some chops or burger meat and stash them in the freezer. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, you can freeze whole roasts and birds, steaks, and chops up to 12 months. You can safely freeze uncooked hamburger meat up to 4 months, and ham, hot dogs, and lunch meats up to 2 months. The USDA experts say that canned meat and poultry will keep 2 to 5 years.
Dairy Yes, you can freeze milk, cream, butter, hard cheeses, sour cream, and even yogurt up to three months. Just do it well before the use-by date. If you freeze cottage cheese, it may separate on thawing. And some of these things may need a good stir or shake to smooth their textures after thawing.
Anything made with corn, wheat, or soybeans We’re talking everything from bread to cooking oil. You can freeze bread, and even chips and crackers, up to 6 months as long as they are packed in air-tight, closeable freezer bags. And most cooking oil has a pretty long shelf life—about a year after opening. But according to the food pros at North Dakorta State Cooperative extension, it too can be frozen. It may look a little cloudy, but should clear on thawing. Canned corn will keep for 2 to 5 years.
The USDA has a complete website for home food preservation woth checking out, too.