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