By March 30, 2012 Read More →

Prepping on a Budget: Part 1 – Food storage, don’t forget the lids!

Even if you are just hearing about “prepping” for the first time there is no way to miss hearing about the importance of storing food.  Food storage is one of the focal points of every Prepper household.

Ultimately a food supply of 1 yr (per person) is the goal for my family.  We have put together a nice pantry of canned foods so far and about XXX 50lbs bulk bags of rice and beans which are heaped into a pile in our “food closet”.  We have a few cases of mason jars for canning, but no pressure sealer as of yet.

I find myself saying over and over “we need to prioritize here”!

The canned food is fine as it is.  But, just because you went to COSTCO and bought a few 10lb bulk bags of rice or beans, doesn’t mean they will still be ready to use when you need them.

This stuff all needs to be stored properly.  It matters where the bulk items are stored.  Temperature makes a huge difference in the life of your food.  Bulk food also needs to be oxygen regulated.

So, do I spend the $100 + on a pressure sealer for the canning jars I have not used yet or do I invest in some less expensive containers for my bulk food to be sure the food I have piled up is properly stored.

My answer, BUY THE PRESSURE SEALER!

You may think I’ve lost my mind suggesting that you go ahead and spend your hard earned (and even harder saved money) on the more expensive items but…we have found a way to put “prepping on a budget” to good use.

I use the pressure sealer as an example of course, it could be anything you have on your “ta buy” list. Or cheaper still would be to use the “hot/water bath” method of sealing the jars.

Bulk food items are best stored in #2 food containers, (It’ll actually have a 2 on the bottom) or buckets. These come in a variety of sizes, 2 gallon  – to 10 gallon . Most commonly you will find the 5 gallon buckets. If you had to buy let’s say 10 of these food grade storage buckets you’d be looking at easily $10 each. That’s right, $50 just for the buckets to store the bulk food that didn’t even cost you $50 to buy in the first place!

The solution: go to your local grocery store, walk right up to the bakery section (provided your store has one) and simply ask the person behind the counter if they have any empty ICING buckets they can give you. It’s that simple. I ask every time I go to our local store and 4 out of 5 times I will get 1 to 3 buckets a trip.

Now, more often than not I am given 2 gallon buckets but, if I catch them on the right day before the buckets are thrown out, I can come home with the 5 gallon buckets as well. We just asked what the best day and time is to come by and ask for the buckets. They have no problem giving them away. The buckets are garbage to them once the icing for the donuts or cakes has been used up.

We now have a food grade stack of free storage buckets to start putting or bulk food in. You will however need to bite the bullet and spend a little bit on Mylar bags and oxygen inserts to keep your food fresh. This will prevent worms / bugs/ bacteria growth in your food.

So there you have it. Go ahead and put something else in place of storage buckets on your priority list.

Just ask and ye shall receive!

“Don’t forget to ask them to give you the lids to the buckets. As long as the lids are still intact and the outer seal isn’t broken anywhere, the lids are still fine to use. Just wash both buckets and lids very well before using. *

 



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41 Comments on "Prepping on a Budget: Part 1 – Food storage, don’t forget the lids!"

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  1. Kris Watson says:

    I am confused. Do you mean 5 GALLON or 5 POUND buckets?

  2. Alive14 says:

    Yes, 5 Gallon bucket.

  3. Phil Burns says:

    Nice catch Kris!  I missed it when I reviewed it and it got missed in editing too!  I went through and fixed it for ya Alive…

  4. Kris Watson says:

    OCD – it’s a double edged sword. And sometimes it makes other people feel bad. I hope that wasn’t the case here, Alive.

    But truthfully, I am not particularly bright sometimes, and was’t sure if there were such a thing as a five pound bucket. There’s a lot to learn about prepping, you know !

  5. Wow, I have never seen a 5 gallon bucket for $10.00. At home depot they are $1.99. Can you go into more detail about the type and style of pressure sealer you are talking about buying please? I bought a Food saver vacuum sealer a while back and you can buy an attachment for it that will seal any one quart mason jar without using the hot water method. For dried foods of course. :)

  6. Brandy Wilson says:

    Hi Alive14, I’ve heard stories in the past from my mother about pressure cookers. If not used or connected properly there could be a big problem with the lid flying off…so I’m nervous about thinking about using one. Could you go into a little more detail about the hotwater method. This is something I’ve wanted to do, to put together a winter’s supply of fresh summer vegetables…but don’t know how to can them. Would rather not freeze. Would appreciate your input. Thanks.

  7. Alive14 says:

    Sure, tell ya what; give me a day or so and I will write an article on it ok? 

  8. Alive14 says:

    There’s also water bath canning, but from what I understand it’s not as safe as far as food poisoning goes. I’ll explain how both are done and the pro’s and con’s of both in the canning article.

  9. Gramma T says:

    Nice article. It had never occurred to me to try to pick up the free food grade buckets at the bakery. Every little bit of savings is money I can spend on the food itself – so thank you for that suggestion. I’m putting that right on hubbys “Honey Do” list :). We are in the process of buying a pressure cooker too. I am a little nervous about them as well, as a result of hearing the horror stories of explosions as i was growing up. I assume investing in a good one is going to be key – but I am going to hold off on our purchase until I read your next article.

  10. Kris Watson says:

    Here I am again, sticking my nose into somebody else’s business. It’s a sickness.

    There is a serious difference between a pressure canner and a pressure cooker. The canner can also be used to cook, but cooker cannot be used to can. Canning requires a very precise measurement of pressure, and have easily-read gauges for that purposes. Pressure cookers generally just have a weight that rocks back and forth under pressure, but you don’t know how much. The exact amount of pressure is important to know, as the pressure changes the boiling point of the jar contents. If the contents are not heated to a specific point, for a specific amount of time…you have not guaranteed a botulism-free environment. As far as water bath versus pressure canning, only high acid foods such as fruits, tomatoes and pickles can be canned in a water bath. That’s because botulism not only succumbs to high temperatures, but also to an acidic environment–and nothing else! Hope I didn’t overstep by answering. I teach canning classes, so I have this compulsion…..

    • Kris Watson says:

      CORRECTED VERSION

      Here I am again, sticking my nose into somebody else’s business. It’s a sickness.

      There is a serious difference between a pressure canner and a pressure cooker. The canner can also be used to cook, but cooker cannot be used to can. Pressure canning requires a very precise measurement of pressure, and pressure canners have easily-read gauges for that purposes. Pressure cookers generally just have a weight that rocks back and forth under pressure, but you don’t know how much. The exact amount of pressure is important to know, as the pressure changes the boiling point of the jar contents. If the contents are not heated to a specific point, for a specific amount of time…you have not guaranteed a botulism-free environment.

      As far as water bath versus pressure canning, only high acid foods such as fruits, tomatoes and pickles can be canned in a water bath. That’s because botulism not only succumbs to high temperatures, but also to an acidic environment–and nothing else!

      Hope I didn’t overstep by answering. I teach canning classes, so I have this compulsion…..

  11. Alive14 says:

    You’re right, I just stayed up writing a whole article on it, just waiting on pictures. The All American has both a pressure valve & a 3 setting pressure regulator, 5-10-15 psi, so you can set it where you want and then monitor the gauge, plus it is both a cooker and a canner. Also, you can still can some low acidic foods in a water bath, you just have to add vinegar, lemon juice, or citric acid, unless the acid is so low it would ruin the taste of the food by adding large amounts of it.

    • Kris Watson says:

      Oh MAN!!! What I wouldn’t give for an All-American! My Presto has done more than 2000 jars and is still going strong…but a 41.5 quart A/A stacks quarts…and costs about $600!!!!

      Looking forward to your article…and pictures! LOL

  12. Richie x says:

    I didn’t even think about some of those things…  Really good information… thanks

  13. Jim says:

    Lowes has 5 gal buckets that say food grade on the side. I got mylar bags(1.75 each) oxygen packs and lids with sealers from Emergency Essentials. Buckets were reasonable, way less than 10 bucks each. Home Depot has them online but not in the stores. I like the idea of checking the supermarket for the buckets! I’d like to know how long you can store items in the buckets once they’re sealed?

  14. Kevin says:

    I know Wal-Mart Super stores have 5 gal buckest some charge some don’t. HyVee W/ a bakery will give you them for nothing. all food grade and from 1-5 gal buckets…..little bit of work and you have a nice food grade bucket.

  15. firebuck says:

    If you are using mylar bags that are sealed, do you need to use food grade buckets?

    • Alive14 says:

      I believe you do. Even though you have the god buckets, you still need to do the Mylar & oxygen no matter what. The buckets keep rodents from EASILY chewing into your Mylar bags, and prevent accident like your bag ripping if you try to move it full of pinto beans or whatever. Mylar is strong, but it has it’s limits. Also, the buckets offer easy moving with their handles in case you have to bug out and you need to grab your food and git. So I always use both for double protection aand it the way I was shown. Don’t forget your oxygen eaters.

  16. Firebuck says:

    I understand the need for buckets and plan on using them. I just wasn’t sure if they needed to be food grade if I used the Mylar or if any bucket with a tight lid would do? Thank you for your time in replying

    • Alive14 says:

      Not a problem. We’re all just learning something, and the more we learn the more we realize we don’t know. I don’t know what your main interests are, but if it’s survival in non technical society I would recommend a series of books called the Foxfire Books. A bunch of high school kids, as a class assignment went into the Appalachia Mountains and talked to the older hill folk (these were originally written in the 60′s so these folks were alive in the 1800′s) and asked them how it used to be done. The project was so successful that it lasted for quite a few years and the books contain a wealth of detailed how to instructions. It also has hilarious stories told by the old timers themselves. Anyway, great books esp for homesteading and collapse survival.
       

  17. Kris Watson says:

    None of my buckets are food grade. All of my food is in it’s original packaging and/or FoodSaver bags.

    I also put Q-Tips in my ears, even though there is a danger warning on the box!

    The thing for me is this: If we are in deep enough doo-doo that I am cracking open survival buckets, the fact that my food touched plastic is the least of my worries.

  18. Alive14 says:

    Well Friend I suppose if we were hungry enough we’d all eat out of a trashcans. That’s kinda the point to “Prepping”.  Those of us who have bothered to go out of our way to be prepared by spending our money now on things we think are important to our future, like food, want to be sure that when it comes time to “crack open the survival buckets”, our rice and beans aren’t infested with bugs.There is more to getting through a tragedy than surviving, there is the quality of life during and after. Why not go a little bit out of your way to make sure the food for your family is safe and chemical free. 

  19. Kris Watson says:

    Bothered to go out of our way”? Wow. Really?

    I live at the poverty level, and practice Extreme Frugality on a daily basis. It is not uncommon for me to have less than $10 left to live on each month, last summer it was 84 cents. I don’t have a cell phone, cable TV, or many things others take for granted. Like a car. In many ways, I live as though the economy has already collapsed. And still, I prep. Not the “perfect” way, but I won’t die when the world falls apart.

    I am glad there are those who can afford the ideal situation when prepping. I am not one of them, and there are thousands like me. They are the ones I hope to inspire to do whatever they can to prepare, using whatever they can scrounge. I want them to think outside the box, to be creative in findings ways to prep, and not to give up and do nothing at all, because others tell them that what they are doing is inadequate, and they MUST meet a certain standard.

    I hope to represent those people who wouldn’t care two cents about sifting bugs out of rice, as long as they had something to eat. I also hope to never make a poor person feel shamed, judged, or discouraged because what they are doing isn’t the gold standard. Rather, I hope to stand alongside them and say, “For now, this is the best we can do. At least we will survive.”

    • Alive14 says:

      Ok so have you not gone out of your way to prep? I don’t get your point. How did I “shame” anyone? I wrote an article on how to get free “gold standard” buckets. I too struggle, my family lives on what I bring in myself, we home school three children, I personally teach two of the classes after work. It takes TWO of my checks just to pay my rent, the rest I have to pay bills, feed my family, and any other day to day expenses that pops up, and still put food away and prep. After working in my garden and coming in and writing articles for APN, I am pretty spent.Sift bugs if you like, I work too hard for what I have to not save it to the best of my ability. Sure in a survival situation well eat food from whatever container that contains food, but why would I when NOTHING is holding me back from doing it well? Maybe I am missing the point of prepping?

    • PrepperChick says:

      I’m right there with you Kris. I pretty much already live like the SHTF and it really sucks. I’m trying to prep on food stamps only and have absolutely no income. I’m disabled and waiting for my disability application to go through, but until then I am scraping to make it every month. I just got my first 2 buckets from the local bakery today, one which has no lid lol, I’m planning to grow a tomato plant in that one. I live in an apartment where anything placed outside gets stolen almost immediately so I’m trying to grow some plants in my bedroom to help with the food costs. I can’t afford mylar bags and o2 absorbers, so my food is going in the buckets and I’m hoping for the best. If it has bugs, hey that’s extra protein right?

      Luckily I do have a nice pressure canner and a excalibur that I bought a few years ago when I had income, so it definitely makes it easier to prep. Right now I am doing the best that I am able to do, and it may not be perfect, but if the shtf we will have food to eat.

  20. Alive14 says:

    The whole point of the article is getting the food safe buckets for FREE, not the $10 a piece their listed for on Amazon. So living the “Gold standard” is right there, free.

    • Firebuck says:

      thank you again Alive14 for the great advice. I stopped by some of my local stores and acquired 9 food grade buckets for free and a couple of the stores took my number to call me as they get more. Great idea as I to am prepping on a tight budget.

  21. Kris Watson says:

    You are absolutely right and I completely over-reacted. I am now dismounting my high horse, and ask your forgiveness.

    • Alive14 says:

      Sure, I am not mad, I just really didn’t understand what I said to offend anyone. For future reference if I say something offensive, know it was unintentional. I have been likened to a bull in a china shop, but I am here to learn and share what I learn just like everyone else. I hope we’re cool? 

  22. Tati says:

    I will take any suggestions Gold Standard or not .. whole point is to EDUCATE yourself and that’s what i see here from EVERYONE … so i say to EVERYONE .. THANK YOU! :)

  23. Tanja says:

    I saw on one of the shows they used cleaned out two liter plastic cola bottles.  Is this a safe way to store rice and beans?

    • Alive14 says:

      I would say no. Some would say use what you have and live now and worry about the complications of it 40 years from now, but I believe too many chemicals in your food will reduce the QUALITY of your life. I don’t so much care about the length of my life, but I would like the quality to be good while I am here.

  24. Jim says:

    Kris; My hat is off to you. At least you are trying and will probably survive better than most since you are already at the point of doing without. Might try hooking up with other preppers near you. most of them would gladly help you with advice,skills and freindship. If things go south,groups of people will have to band together to make it and you’ll probably be a value to a group. Hang in!

  25. mamahen says:

    Please help! I feel silly asking this, but I went to Lowes last week and purchased some Encore food grade 5 gallon buckets with lids, got them home, cleaned and filled. Here’s my problem, how do you put the lids on?? I figured they would just snap on or I could even stand on them. Nope. I even pounded the bloody hell out the lid with a hammer! What am I doing wrong?
    Thanks in advance.

    • Rick:) says:

      Smack em on with a rubber mallet. You can buy an opener, looks like a fancy pry-bar, takes the lids off in a fashion that allows them to be reused. I like the lids from Emerg. Essentials with a screw on center, but they are pricey. $7-8.00 each. I have one friend that likes the buckets with a screw on ratcheting type lid. Bucket and lid are a set, and they are expensive. They are used for pool chemicals for example, designed to open without tools.

  26. JPat says:

    Only use Food Grade buckets (even if cleaning and reusing ones from supermarkets or restaurants). Mylar lining is not enough.

    Non-food Grade buckets, like the orange ones at Home Depot, are made from recycled plastic. They may contain toxic material that can leech into your food. Food Grade buckets are made from never used raw plastic . No chemical leftovers to worry about.