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5 foods with a long shelf life

There are few things as upsetting as reaching for an ingredient, only to find out it expired three weeks ago. From oatmeal to condiments like soya sauce, here are five foods with a long shelf life, along with some helpful storage tips.  


How long it lasts: Two to three years 

Oatmeal, the number one nutritious (and delicious) breakfast for many, is jam-packed with essential vitamins, minerals and fibre, making it the perfect food to stock up on in your pantry. “Regular and quick-cooking oats can last in the pantry unopened or resealed for two to three years,” says Laura Burak, a registered dietitian and founder of Laura Burak Nutrition.  

Storage tip: If you want to store your oats for a long while, keep it in a cool, dry place in the original cardboard packaging. Additionally, you can transfer it to an airtight container. 

Spoil your family with these scrumptious rooibos, oat and honey cakes. 

Soya sauce 

How long it lasts: Indefinitely (unopened); six months (opened); two years (refrigerated)  

Good news, sushi lovers! You can buy your soya sauce without fretting about the expiration date. Soya sauce is used extensively in Asian cooking and is a fantastic ingredient to stock in your pantry. Plus, it lasts for long whether it’s been opened or not.   

Storing tip: Once opened, store it in the refrigerator. Putting it in your pantry? Keep your bottle away from appliances that generate heat (like a dishwasher or stove). 


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How long it lasts: Two years 

Most of us go through sugar so fast that we never spare a thought about its expiration date. Those white (or yellow or brown) granules that make our world go round can (technically) be stored forever without spoiling. However, for best quality, it’s recommended that you use sugar within two years of opening.  

Storage tip: Keep your sugar in an airtight, moisture-proof container on a cool, dark shelf in your kitchen. 


How long it lasts: Six to twelve months 

From Ceylon and Earl Grey to our beloved rooibos, tea is a popular warm (or cold) beverage enjoyed by most. Depending on the quality, looseleaf tea’s shelf life can extend a year longer than tea bags. Additionally, the type of tea (like aged white tea) can determine the lifespan and even improve with age, while others (herbal teas with added oils) have a shorter shelf life.  

Storage tip: Keep looseleaf tea and tea bags away from moisture and stow them in a sealed container for best results.  



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This yummy strawberry and basil iced tea will cool you off during summer’s heat 

Dried fruit 

How long it lasts: Twelve months 

What do you do when you don’t have fresh fruit on hand? Reach for dried fruit (in moderation), of course! Whether you snack on it, throw it in a potjie or use it for baking, dried fruit is a versatile ingredient to stock in any pantry. 

Storing tip: Keep it in tightly sealed containers. Additionally, you can pop it in the freezer to extend its shelf life even more. 


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