My latest trip to the supermarket was to pick up several varieties of beans, rice, cornmeal, grits and pasta to top off my 5 quart jug storage. When checking out I had half a cart full of 6-12 pounds of each item and the checkout girl was looking at me kind of funny. Finally she asked, what was I going to do with all this? I have a stock answer for these people. “I donate it to my church so they can feed needy people”. A smile came to her face and all was now fine in her world…
About my food storage let me be clear here, this particular type of dry bulk food storage is for “Hard Core Survival Eating” or to stay alive in the worst of times. Not included or discussed here are my can meats, fruits, vegetables, dehydrated foods and spices that will increase the amount of meals stored.
I’ve been working on this six month level for about five years. It’s not that it was expensive to do but figuring out just what to store was the hard part and I made a number of mistakes along the way. The test cooking of these items as I went onward took the most time. I’m now quite happy with what I have in stock and maybe you can get some ideas for yourself from the item list below. This is a quick look at what I do and how much I store of dry bulk food. I’ll get into more detail and recipes in later posts.
The total amount of food I have stored here excluding all the wheat grain and all purpose flour that’s used for bread and baking is a total of 976 cups of dry food. When prepared, this dry amount will at least double and sometimes triple depending on the food after it’s cooked. So the actual yield will be 2-3 cup meals from just one cup of dry stored food.
I use two methods for my dry bulk food storage:
You will see that I have two methods of storage. One is in five quart jugs and the other is in 5 gallon buckets.
Five Quart Jugs; The Best Way to Begin Dry Food Storage:Why five quart jugs?
In the beginning I didn’t want to buy 5 gallon buckets of dry food without being able to test cook meals first. What if I didn’t like it? I’ve just wasted that money so I needed a way to buy and store smaller amounts first and test cook it to see if we liked it.
Supermarkets carry many of the survival dry foods in 1-5 lb bagged quantities and for all the different grains or beans that the supermarket doesn’t carry most health food stores carry those in small amounts.
The jugs let me have a large variety of food items in a small space and I can spend $5-$6 a week building the initial amounts and then test cook them along the way. I’m also a believer in using this food at least on a weekly basis. For one, it saves money on the food budget and the other is it allows constant practice of new recipes and how to cook great tasting meals while leaning the many tricks of cooking with dry bulk foods. With my jug system I have 24 varieties of dry food stored in 48 jugs. So there are two jugs of each variety giving me 2½ gallons of each in a very convenient way to access any of these foods. The shelving unit is in the extra bedroom closet. Some of the most used foods in the jugs can be refilled from the bucket stock.
Here’s what my jug storage looks like.
5-Quart Jugs in the Closet Pantry, 24 varieties in 48 Jugs:(4 Shelves Used, 2 Jugs of each = 2.5 gallons or ½ a bucket of each variety)
(*also in 5 gallon Bucket Stock)
Top Shelf #1
Potato, Instant Mashed
Milk, Instant Non-Fat
Cream of Soup Mix
Rice, White Long Grain*
Egg Noodles, Pasta*
Wheat, Hard White*
Bottom Shelf #4
Red Small Kidney, Beans
Navy White, Beans
Bucket Storage:Why 5 gallon buckets?
That’s pretty simple as it’s the best way to store large amounts of dry bulk food cheaply and safely. As you can see I only needed 18 buckets for my six month storage program and it fits nicely in three shelves of a 18 x 48 x 72 inch tall heavy duty wire shelving unit purchased from Sam’s Club. You can buy these wire shelving units most anywhere. These shelves hold 650 lbs per shelf so they’re pretty stout.
Here’s what my 5 gallon Bucket Storage looks like:
5-Gallon Buckets (18 buckets):(3 Shelves used, *packed in gallon bags)
1 Flour, All Purpose White
1 Barley, Pearled*
1 Beans Lentil*
1 Salt, Table
2 Sugar, White
4 Wheat, Hard White
2 Rice, White Long Grain*
2 Pasta, Elbow*
2 Pasta, Egg Noodles*
2 Pasta, Spaghetti*
In the buckets alone excluding the Wheat, All Purpose White Flour, Salt and Sugar buckets I have there are 704 meals in the buckets. That’s 704 meals or 234 days for one person! As you can see it doesn’t take a lot of room to be prepared for the worst.
The 4 buckets of stored Wheat can bake a total of 120 loaves of bread to go along with your meals.
US Plastics Corp for the Storage Containers I use. Direct Links below.
12.5 x 18x4.3 mils thick: Used to store 1 gallon of food in each bag.
20 x 30 x 4.3 mils thick: Used in 5 gallon buckets.
For my convenience, I only buy and store/stock 500cc absorbers as it is a common size that can do everything I need without the added expense of stocking multiple absorber sizes. However you can buy the size that suits you particular needs best.
1-500cc oxygen absorber per quart canning jar.
2-500cc oxygen absorber per gallon bag.
10-500cc oxygen absorbers in a 5 gallon bag/bucket.
Light weight wire shelf unit in Closet Pantry
I bought mine at Target. These are commonly available at any hardware or big box stores.
Heavy Duty wire shelf unit for the bucket storage I bought at Sam’s Club.