Looking for home storage solutions for bulk items such as flour, sugar, rice.
August 9, 2008 5:10 AM   Subscribe

Looking for home storage solutions for bulk items such as flour, sugar, rice.

My SO went full steam ahead at Costco, and now we have enormous bags of rice, flour, sugar, etc. The problem is we don't have much storage space in the kitchen and at some point we actually have to open the bags: at which point we will need to store them.

So I'm looking for containers that will hold 15-25 lbs and can be stored efficiently, also varmint/insect proof obviously. Also, *where* do I store them? We have some space in the basement, the temp is steady down there but it's also on the humid side.
posted by jeremias to Food & Drink (18 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Take a trip to the Container Store and have the time of your life.
posted by HotPatatta at 5:34 AM on August 9, 2008

Agreeing with the Container Store. Or hit Target and get a few Rubbermaid containers. Not the newer, cheaper clear ones, but the older school opaque rubberier ones. They seal up fairly well.

There is something fun about buying 25 pounds of sugar for $9, isn't there?

I would store the stuff in the basement as long as the container seals up well.
posted by gjc at 5:54 AM on August 9, 2008

Check with your local resturants as well, they often receive foodstuffs in large plastic containers....
posted by HuronBob at 6:00 AM on August 9, 2008

Best answer: I would recommend dividing the flour, rice, sugar etc. into smaller zip-lock gallon size bags and THEN putting those bags in the plastic storage containers. That way when you need something, you can just grab a baggie size portion and it will keep the unused ingredients fresher.
posted by NoraCharles at 6:07 AM on August 9, 2008 [5 favorites]

Best answer: HuronBob has a great suggestion. I used to work at a deli and they had these big 5 gallon plastic pickle buckets. Once cleaned, they were great for other uses and kept a very tight seal. Of course a pickle 'flavor' may not be what you want for your sugar, for example.

This site looks like it has some suggestions on where to find these kinds of containers and keep them out of landfills!
posted by pants at 6:09 AM on August 9, 2008

If you go with something by Rubbermaid or from the Container Store, first check that it's a food-safe plastic.

Here's a food-safe acrylic 25-pound flour bucket from the King Arthur Baker's Catalogue.
posted by bcwinters at 6:22 AM on August 9, 2008

I'm frugal and tend to buy things in bulk. A system thats worked for us:

  • Purchase multiple, sealable boxes, in at least two discrete sizes for each commodity - we're using a product called Really Useful Boxes - it doesn't matter what you use as long as it gets a good seal

  • The largest box should be sufficient to store the biggest bag you've bought (e.g., 10L)

  • The smallest sealable box is used for day to day storage in the kitchen - we aim to get two weeks product into the smaller box

  • When stuff first arrives from the store (e.g., rice, pasta), saran wrap the producer bags and then further bundle the sealed bags into plastic shopping bags, using a rolling / wrapping to close them tight - these sealed bags go into your largest box

  • This big box can be stored anywhere; we find the bottom of clothes closet works fine as you won't need to access it very often

  • As you need product open the sealed bag and decant into a smaller box - plan your usage and intermediate storage so you don't open the larger box more than three or four times before the main supply is exhausted

  • The idea is food goes into the biggest boxes then flows in one direction, into smaller boxes in the kitchen. You don't want to open the larger boxes, those containing your main supply of a commodity, for day to day use - the hassle factor is one reason, another is contamination. The less you open your main supply box the better.

    You can save tremendous amounts of cash by purchasing in quantity. Just be aware of how much product you actually use; you don't want to acquire more than one years worth of dry goods, if for no other reason than the cost of an infestation or accident (pipe flooding) would negate any long term savings.
    posted by Mutant at 6:26 AM on August 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

    my mother used to store her flour & sugar in big tins, like these from charles chips. if you can't find these, stores generally sell huge tins of popcorn around the holidays (and after the holidays you can get the tin & the snack for $5 or less). we kept the flour sifter in the tin w/the flour, so we always knew where it was & it wasn't taking up space in the cupboards.

    the tins are decorative, bug proof, and will last a lifetime. i'm guessing they'd hold at least 25 lbs of dry goods.
    posted by msconduct at 6:50 AM on August 9, 2008

    oh, yeah ... the tin was stored behind the door leading from the laundry/mud room to the kitchen. they're also water/element proof (for the most part) so you can put them almost anywhere & stack them on top of each other.
    posted by msconduct at 6:53 AM on August 9, 2008

    Best answer: Your local ice cream parlor probably gets its ice cream delivered in 10 litre buckets, and will probably save some for you if you ask nicely.
    posted by flabdablet at 7:32 AM on August 9, 2008

    You can deal with humidity by putting desiccant bags inside the ice cream buckets with your bulk goods. Make up some four by two inch cloth bags, put a few tablespoons of silica gel in each, and tie them closed with string. Cheapest source of silica gel I'm aware of is "crystal" cat litter. Regenerate used silica gel by baking it for an hour or so in a slow oven.
    posted by flabdablet at 7:36 AM on August 9, 2008

    Response by poster: Thanks for these answers, the forum pants linked to above, does have some good ideas, one of these I'm going to try:going to the Costco/BJ's and asking the bakers for free containers ,also will try this with our local ice cream shop per flabdablets suggestion.
    posted by jeremias at 8:15 AM on August 9, 2008

    Get a couple of plastic funnels too - they're perfect for spill-free pouring all sorts of goods from larger to smaller containers to keep at hand in the kitchen.
    posted by ceri richard at 8:22 AM on August 9, 2008

    You can buy food-grade 5-gallon buckets or often get them free from restaurants. Then put a Gamma Seal lid on them.
    posted by hattifattener at 10:49 AM on August 9, 2008

    I would suggest checking out a local restaurant supply store for large, food grade storage containers--they'll have exactly that, and probably pretty cheap too. Check "restaurant supply," naturally, in your yellow pages. I'm not sure if it actually matters or if it's just to bring in regular consumers, but my favorite local store specifically identifies themselves as "open to the public." If you check out their website, you can get a general idea of what restaurant supply stores carry.
    posted by jroybal at 3:58 PM on August 9, 2008

    You should be aware of "weavils" getting into any grain product. Do a google search and read about those pests.

    One way to prevent weavils is to put a bay-leaf in with the grain product.

    We keep grain products in the freezer until we need it.
    posted by JayRwv at 7:01 PM on August 9, 2008

    I love the clic-clac storage from Container Store. They are airtight, sturdy, easy to label and they have square sides so they take up way less space than round canisters in storage. Oh, and they are clear so you can see what's inside.
    posted by saradarlin at 12:22 AM on August 10, 2008

    Post to Craigslist Items Wanted asking for metal popcorn containers. It's not such a bargain if you pay a lot to store it.
    posted by theora55 at 8:56 AM on August 11, 2008

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