Storing food has two rules:
- Store food properly to maintain the nutrients, keep it edible, and save you money.
- Use the containers, jars, buckets, #10 cans, etc. that work FOR YOU!
Most foods that will be in your 3-month storage will be smaller and can be stored in their original packaging. But there are ingredients that I use in my daily cooking that I buy in bulk and need to be stored properly. Wheat, flour, oats, millet, sugar, brown sugar, rice, are all bulk items that I use regularly. I am going to show you what works for me and how I store my food, both short and long term. It may or may not work for you. Hopefully I have convinced you that #10 cans of "just in case" food aren't the best plan. Your stored food needs to be foods you use daily, and they will need to be accessible, or you won't want to bother getting it out and using it.
Now, hard core preppers may think I'm crazy to show you what I have and how I store it, but I am comfortable in showing my storage room. It's to help you, I hope ;) I am lucky, very lucky, to have a storage room just off of my garage. It is just steps away from my kitchen and it holds A LOT! The bottom row all around the room are 5-gallon buckets. Around 70 of them. I know this because I carried them into the moving truck and back out again. I keep wheat, rice, sugar, oats, millet, and flour in them. Most, if not all of them have gamma lids for ease. I use these buckets to fill my smaller kitchen pantry containers. It's soooo much easier to have a gamma lid when I need to refill a smaller container.
I tried using different colors for different items, but it turned into just using what I had when I needed a bucket. I am kind of OCD when it comes to organizing and I really want the lids to all match....some day.
Buckets are great for long-term storage. I do have #10 cans of long-term wheat and milk that will last 25-30 years, but I like buckets for most of my storage. Mylar bags inside of the buckets will give you another barrier against air, light, and rodents. I live in a very dry climate and so far, no rodents. I'm OK with no Mylar bags, see rule 2 above.
Pastas and other grains....
For my pastas I use these bins that I found at a local discount store. We use this food in a year or less, so I feel a #10 can would be overdoing it. I take the pasta out of these bins and put them in my kitchen pantry in vertical storage containers.
I can pour directly from these containers, also found at the same local discount store, into a pan of boiling water. Plus I love the way they line up and have labels.
There are a few items that I store in mason jars. I am a big fan of the foodsaver! I love to seal up dehydrated foods that I have dehydrated at home, and also food from #10 cans that I won't be using in a timely matter before they go bad. (click HERE to view all my posts on using the foodsaver)
Oh, and I like to seal chocolate too. Click HERE to see that post :)
I opened my #10 can of freeze dried cheese to use it one night, but needed to make sure the remaining cheese stayed freeze dried. I sealed the remaining cheese in mason jars. We use a lot of cocoa powder at my house and I make sure it stays fresh by sealing it in jars with the foodsaver.
-#10 CANS: #10 cans are perfect for long-term storage and for items that you aren't going to use on a daily basis. I have powdered milk, freeze-dried fruits and veggies, freeze-dried cheese, rice, oats, and wheat stored in #10 cans. If they were canned properly, all of those items are good for 25+ years in a #10 can. Sugars, pastas, and other grains I prefer to keep in buckets. I use them more frequently and feel having them canned would waste money.
-ORGANIZATION: Having shelves organized and labeled will allow you to rotate through your food before it's expiration. I have buckets, #10 cans, plastic bins, smaller canned food, mason jars, a little of everything, stored on shelves, in buckets in my storage room, and smaller containers in my pantry, and I rotate bulk items from the larger containers to the smaller containers. This is what works for me and allows me to find what I need quickly. There are many can rotater shelving units on the market and even a few homemade versions on pinterest. I store my smaller cans in a Can Organizer. Click HERE to view a post on how I put them together. It's another area you need to research to find what works for you. *Remember rule #2 :)
-STORE PROPERLY: When I purchase food I immediately put it away. This is a not a time for procrastination!! Get the buckets out and fill them. Put cans away. Don't let food sit out. Label cans with dates, if that helps you to remember when to rotate it. Remember FIFO- first in first out- older cans go up front and newer cans go behind. Don't assume you'll remember when you bought things. (that's from experience too :)
-EAT IT: Most importantly....eat what you store!!! Don't store foods just because a website or book says you are suppose to have x amount of something. I detest most canned veggies, I'm sorry, but I can't eat them, so I have dehydrated and freeze dried versions, and extra water stored instead. I do have #10 cans of milk and buckets of wheat that I don't use everyday, but almost everything else in my food storage gets used, almost daily! That is how it has to work for rotation. Store what you eat....eat what you store!!