My husband and I were interested in buying food staples in bulk to save money on our grocery bill. We jumped in enthusiastically, but not educated about bulk foods. Our first acquisition: a 50 pound bag of rice. Price: $15! Great deal! However, we worried about how to store the rice. So many questions came up, such as: What kind of container would be right? Where could we purchase food-grade containers locally? Would the containers be an expensive investment? Where and at what temperature does the food need to be stored to keep well?
We hit a local wholesale supply store and told the associate what we needed. She wasn’t knowledgeable about food storage containers, and we ended up purchasing two 10-gallon lidded buckets for $40. What we discovered once we got them home is that they were food-grade plastic, but had lids which did not seal and barely even latched onto the buckets! A little online research showed that we had just purchased Rubbermaid’s food-grade lidded trash buckets! Uh oh.
We committed a frugal shopping blunder: shopping without researching first. My husband did his homework online (afterward) and found the necessary info about food storage requirements. A trip to Walmart allowed me to bring home four 5-gallon buckets which seal perfectly, are food-grade plastic, and are the right color. Total price for 4 buckets: $25.04.
A few tips my husband picked up from some LDS emergency preparedness websites:
1. Food grade plastic will have a little emblem printed on it somewhere in raised plastic that has the number “2” inside.
2. The lid has to fit and seal tightly to keep out moisture and pests.
3. The color has to be white, clear or grey to be food-grade (colored plastics have dye that can leech out into the food).
Jennifer at Declutter It! wrote a great article called Bulk Food Storage: Flour and Other Dry Basics. She offers info about storage, including light, moisture, and temperature requirements.
Lesson learned: Do your research before you shop, especially if you aren’t knowledgeable about what you’re purchasing! You can’t always rely on the salesperson to know more about the item than you do. Remember that our frugal friends know a lot about food storage, so use these great resources.