Looking for some food/water storage containers (Cheaper than a Nalgene)
May 6, 2014 2:54 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for containers to store food in the bilge (under the floor) part of my boat. Something like a Nalgene. But they are too expensive.

I'm taking a trip this summer on my boat. I just rebuilt the cabin sole (floor) of the boat and I ended up with a big space underneath it that I can store stuff in. The only issue is that at times water gets in there and can slosh around a bit.

I'd like to store food there in waterproof containers. Nalgene bottles would be awesome but they are too expensive. I could probably put 30 or more 1L Nalgenes down there. At $8 a pop or so, that's not going to happen.

Any suggestions on something similar? 1L is a good size, something slightly larger would work. Screw top would be the best. Something relatively durable because they would be moving around a bit down there. And hopefully not so horribly toxic that it will taint my food with bad chemicals.

Square would be preferable to round I think.

posted by sully75 to Food & Drink (23 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Can you just use a dry bag filled with whatever sort of containers (Rubbermaid, Tupperware, etc)?
posted by backwards guitar at 3:21 AM on May 6, 2014

Empty pickle jars?
posted by oceanjesse at 3:26 AM on May 6, 2014

How about these Rubbermaid containers?
I've used them camping, travelling and commuting and they don't seem to leak and they are inexpensive.

If you can spend a bit more money then go with Tupperware as I'd be more confident they would be waterproof.
posted by Snazzy67 at 4:29 AM on May 6, 2014

Sealing whatever containers you already own in Ziploc/zipper top bags?
posted by sarajane at 4:48 AM on May 6, 2014

Well, you could just recycle bottles (vitamin water, juice, soda) and reuse milk jugs for water storage.
posted by travelwithcats at 4:55 AM on May 6, 2014

I should add a couple of points:

glass is not good, must be plastic.

Taller thin containers would be better than wide containers because if there is water down there it won't get to the top. That's why the Nalgene kind of thing would be perfect if it weren't so expensive.

Wrapping things in dry bags would work, sort of, but ideally I could just open the hatches in the bilge and pull something out to cook with it, rather than having to hunt through bags for it.

Kinda hard to visualize from this picture, but the second hatch from forward is approx 16" deep and 24" long.

posted by sully75 at 4:56 AM on May 6, 2014

Oh and the other thing is I'd like to be able to stuff larger items into whatever I use, so wide mouth things are better.

Like...a container that has a bunch of tubes of anchovie and tomato paste.

So milk jugs and juice bottles won't work.
posted by sully75 at 4:57 AM on May 6, 2014

Plastic olive barrels are great for this, if you can find one - at a deli perhaps? I'm not sure how small they go, but the one I have is about 30 litres - label says it held 28.5 lbs of olives.
posted by Flashman at 4:59 AM on May 6, 2014

Rubbermaid Twist and Seal or Ziploc Twist n Loc might be options, but neither is as reliably waterproof as a Nalgene (I would trust them if you can keep them upright, but not if they fall over). Maybe you could put them in a plastic tray to keep them upright and a bit more protected.
posted by BlooPen at 5:32 AM on May 6, 2014

Heavy duty ziplock around as a second layer of a less durable container can work. Perhaps nested in a small milk crate like open box for grouping.
posted by sammyo at 5:36 AM on May 6, 2014

The olive barrel is the closest thing so far. But 30 liters is way too big. There's a couple Italian specialty stores I can check though.
posted by sully75 at 5:49 AM on May 6, 2014

You can pick up Nalgene bottles at thrift shops, cheap. When I camp, I use juice bottles (a couple are 1 gallon) or 1- or 2- liter beverage bottles. They're very sturdy and food-grade.
posted by theora55 at 5:54 AM on May 6, 2014

If you eat peanut butter, you can get it in 5-pound plastic screw-top containers that may be ideal for this purpose... check your grocery store. (But if you don't eat the peanut butter it wouldn't be the cheapest option!)
posted by metasarah at 5:55 AM on May 6, 2014

It might be more than you want to spend, but it will last you a life time - 3 gallon buckets with Gamma lids.

Firehouse Subs also sells their pickle buckets (sometimes with lids) for $2. Those are five gallon, not sure if the measurement will work.

I know these are all round, but if they are short enough to stand up right, not as much of a big deal. If you have to lay them down, use pool noodles to keep them from rolling too much.
posted by tilde at 6:15 AM on May 6, 2014

If you can commit to a case sized order ULINE sells wide mouthed, FDA approved food jars. A 1/2 gal sounds about right for your use. They also have square, grip sided ones if that would pack more tightly for you.
posted by fontophilic at 6:32 AM on May 6, 2014

I would think that a cheaper square wide-mouthed plastic carboy would work-- here are some examples, starting around 35 dollars. The ones with the wider openings are about the width of one of those Nalgene drinking bottles, just wide enough for a hand to get inside. The narrower-necked ones wouldn't work for storing food but would be great for storing drinking or washing water.
posted by tchemgrrl at 6:55 AM on May 6, 2014

Gallon-sized mayonnaise jars? We used to go through a LOT of these at the fish market where I worked (lobster rolls, crab rolls).
posted by mskyle at 7:07 AM on May 6, 2014

Now that I think about it, I think a local small chain sub shop in one of the counties here has pickle buckets, too, but they are one gallon like the Mayo jars noted above. Ask around!
posted by tilde at 8:47 AM on May 6, 2014

sully75, the barrel I have is identical to the large one in the image I linked (from a quick image search), so apparently they do come in smaller sizes.
posted by Flashman at 9:18 AM on May 6, 2014

Ziplock's twist and lock 4C container sounds like a good match to what you want. I can attest that they have a good, watertight seal, at least for keeping liquid in.

Rubbermaid also has a similar "take along" container.
posted by susanvance at 9:18 AM on May 6, 2014

Peanut butter jars.
Side note: From a food safety / cross contamination perspective, be sure to wash whatever container you use and bleach them periodically. As I am sure you are well aware of, boats collect mildew and mold. Plus the bilge is where everything runs to - boat soap, grime, spilled oil, etc.
posted by Nanukthedog at 9:55 AM on May 6, 2014

This is a crapshoot as their inventory is always changing, but it might be helpful to browse around the Containers section of the American Science and Surplus site. They've got a rotating selection of surplus lab/medical/manufacturing supplies and sell in bulk for very cheap. You can get 5 of these 32-oz jars for $3.95, for example.
posted by augustimagination at 12:14 PM on May 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

There's also generic Nalgenes, in bulk: http://www.campfirepremiums.com/wholesale-nalgene-water-bottles/index.html

They often have similar knock-offs at dollar stores or army surplus places.
posted by stillmoving at 8:04 PM on May 6, 2014

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