My Foray Into Food Storage

A regular gal learning about Food Storage, Home Cooking, Canning, Gardening, and more!

What I Truly Want Is A Basement!

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I grew up on the east coast of the USA near Washington DC in a house with a basement.  I miss basements.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love my house, but I would love it even more if it had a basement!  In California, our garages are our basements.  That’s probably why so many homes have 3 or 4 car garages.  But still, they aren’t basements.  They get hot, and you can’t store food in them long term.  *Sigh*  So, instead, we have a ping-pong table in the garage.  My boys like that a lot.  You may wonder why I don’t park my car in there.  Well, this is California.  It’s what we do.

 

My California "Basement"

My California “Basement”

 

I guess if that’s the worst thing I have to complain about my life is pretty good, isn’t it?  Truthfully, it is.  I am blessed with a good life.  This post is not intended to be a lament about my lack of basement storage.  It’s about adapting and making do and learning what is truly necessary.

 

So what is necessary?  That depends on what you eat.  I love bread.  I think I’ve said that a few times.  Well to make bread, I need to have some kind of flour.  I use wheat flour, and I go through quite a bit of it.  As I was refilling my buckets from the 50-lb bag of flour I pulled from my chest freezer, I realized that you might want to “hear” how I store my favorite ingredient.

 

Remember my pictures from my first post?  I showed you my pantry, and it had a variety of Tupperware (and other brand) plastic storage bins.  I used to buy enough flour to fill one of those bins, plus one extra 5 or 10 pound bag.  That served me well for many years, but recently, I realized I was spending a lot of money on flour.  I wondered if there was a way for me to buy a bigger bag (like a whopping 50 pound bag) and have a place to store it.

 

Tupperware bins with staples.  I've used Tupperware (and other brand) containers to maximize the vertical space in my pantry.  I have rice, extra sugar (which is behind the four stacked containers), extra bred flour, oil, and more in this cupboard.

Tupperware bins with my “working stock” of staples. I’ve used Tupperware (and other brand) containers to maximize the vertical space in my pantry. I have rice, extra sugar (which is behind the four stacked containers), extra bread flour, oil, and more in this cupboard.

 

I had a large round bin I kept rice in, but I needed a couple more bins like that.  I found the two tall bins (with green lids) at Bed, Bath, and Beyond (in the pet food section) and started using those to store rice and flour.   That wasn’t enough storage space, so I got some buckets (from my friendly grocery store manager, they’re used frosting buckets I cleaned and disinfected), and I keep them in my Harry Potter closet under the stairs.

 

My messy closet under the stairs with my extra buckets.  I've actually straightened it a tiny bit since then, but I promise I'll clean it up and show you it at its best.

My messy closet under the stairs with my extra buckets. I’ve actually straightened it a tiny bit since then.  I promise I’ll clean it up even more, and take a new picture to show you my fun “Harry Potter closet” at its best.

 

I finally had enough storage, so now I buy the huge bags of flour, sugar, rice, etc., and store them in my buckets.  When the bins in my pantry run low, I refill them with the staples from my larger bins and buckets.

 

Pantry Storage

Pantry Storage

 

When the buckets run empty, I refill them with large bags purchased from Costco or Sam’s Club.  See?

 

DSCN5682

Closet Storage
One 50 pound bag of flour fills two of my buckets and my pantry Tupperware bin.

Did you notice I write dates on my buckets?  I do this for two reasons.

First, flour doesn’t last forever.  (Wheat is a different story.  Whole wheat lasts a super long time!)  Depending on the type of flour, the shelf life can be as little as a few months to a year.  This website has a handy guide on the shelf life of flour.   You can extend its life by freezing it or storing it in a mylar bag with oxygen absorbers.   When stored in the freezer, it lasts about 2 years.  When stored in mylar bags with oxygen absorbers or in a #10 can, it is good for about 10 years.

Flour in cans lasts 10 years.

Second, I like to know exactly how much flour we use in a year.   My friend, Sarah, gave me this tip a few years ago.  I write the date on things when I open them so that I know exactly how much I need for a “year supply.”  My ultimate goal is to have a year supply of basic food items, and other necessary supplies (like toothpaste, of which we only need 7-8 tubes for a year supply).  By putting a date on my buckets, I know exactly how long it takes us to go through a 50-pound bag of flour (about 3 months).  So, I know I need about 200 pounds of each for a year supply.  That may sound like a lot, but cost-wise it’s not too bad.  I need 4 bags of each at $15/bag.  That’s $120 for a year supply of flour (both all-purpose and bread flour) for my family.  You may not need that much.  I make my own bread (most of the time), so I go through more flour than the average American.

Now it’s your turn.  What is one item you couldn’t live without?

Do you have any extra on hand?  If so, how do you store it?

If not, why not?  How can we help you build a little stockpile?

** Don’t forget my first ever giveaway!  Visit this blog post to view the details and to enter!  It continues through the end of the month with daily entry opportunities. **

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Author: Laurie Nguyen

I am a happily married, stay at home mom with four sons, ages 24, 22, 18, and 14. I'm not a professional blogger, and I'm certainly not a foodie or a chef. But I like food, so I think I'm qualified to write about my own life experience with food. Want to be a little more prepared for the unexpected? Check out my Food Storage Blog, http://forayintofoodstorage.com. Have a question about Food Storage? Email me: forayintofoodstorage@gmail.com.

15 thoughts on “What I Truly Want Is A Basement!

  1. That’s quite an operation! Curious if you’ve ever read Mother Earth News? They seem to have an article every other magazine or so about canning/food storage. Best, JW

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  2. I’m a traveller and so can’t store food. However, one of the tips I picked up in a past life is to double seal buckets like that with duct tape to keep out weevils etc. In an emergency looting situation, though, I’d run off with as many legumes/pulses/vetches as I could carry!

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  3. I store wheat and grind it when needed for making bread. I do store white flour also , I have found at times I get moths and it usually comes from store bought flour. I use moth catcher traps. They can be found in King Arthur flour catalog and other kitchen speciality catalogs. Once you get moths it is difficult to get rid of them.

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  4. Hi there. We tend to use various sizes of Sterilite. Thank you for following my blog. I appreciate it!

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  5. You should see how I squirrel flour around the house! So many different kinds! So little organization! Harry Potter closet, LOL. Pet food section…good idea!

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  6. Hi Laurie, thanks for stopping by my blog recently.
    I grew up in a remote area of Alaska, and we got our groceries by air once a month. Mom always made our bread, and she was a master at figuring out how much food we needed til the next order would come by. Buying staples at the local store was not only expensive, but risky. Many times items would be expired, moldy, or otherwise spoiled. We had to crack eggs in a bowl to check them first because they were often bad. So, your story on food storage brought back memories of then.
    I discovered I’m gluten intolerant several years ago, so I stopped baking bread. There’s nothing like the smell of fresh bread in the over, though. 🙂

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    • Have you tried some of the gluten free “bread” out there? It’s not quite the same, but I made some from almond butter that was quite nice.

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      • Yes, I have tried several types. I’ve come to the conclusion I’d rather do without than eat those, though. On rare occasion I will make cinnamon rolls or some other type of bread and indulge. The consequences make me choose my indulgences very carefully and infrequently.

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  7. I can’t live without rice. But as it’s just the 2 of us, I don’t need to store that much. Plus the brand I prefer has only 4lb bags, but I’ve recently bought another brand in a 10lb bag to try out. Don’t have a container for that size yet! Will wait and see if we like it.
    For storage we use a lot of clip & close (or lock&lock) containers but not sure what their largest sizes are. And the ‘really useful boxes’, they are practical and easy to stack but not air tight so are not suitable for everything.
    Like your tip about writing the date when opening, will start doing that for some things.

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  8. Haha I had that same situation until I moved into my house. Now I wish that I was able to have a better organization in my basement like you do in your garage. How do you do it?

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  9. That’s a really good idea writing the dates down so you know how much you go through. I might have to start doing that!

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