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How to Store Bulk Foods in order to Save Money on your Grocery Bill

Updated on August 24, 2014

With the rate of inflation due to go up even further a lot of people are starting to consider buying and storing bulk foods. History has shown that whatever you buy today will be cheaper than tomorrow and if you buy in bulk you will not only save money because of buying in bulk but you will also save money due to inflation. And, let's not forget that when you buy in bulk you do help the planet out as there is usually less packaging for bulk items. But, if you're anything like me the closest thing you've ever come to storing bulk foods is to buy a large can of chili at Costco! So here is a little starter course on what to store and how to store it once you've grown it or bought it.


Remember to store all of your bulk food in cool, dry dark places, air, moisture and light are your enemies when it comes to food storage. If the packaging is airtight you can keep the items in the original packaging but if that isn't the case or you have grown your own food then you will want to procure airtight, white, food grade containers with screw lids like Gamma Seal lids which are airtight and don't leak. It's very important that you store your food properly.

How to Store Items and How Long They Will Last When Stored Properly

First of all some things store better than others. There is no reason to go out and buy items in bulk that will not store well. Here is a list of the best items to store in bulk and how long they are good for.


Rice:

Long-grained white rice can last forever if stored in a cool, dry, place in a tightly covered container. In fact they have found archaeological digs with rice that could cook normally after hundreds of years.


Rice Flour:

And rice flour when properly stored can also last indefinitely.


Coffee:

There are differing opinions on how long instant jarred coffee will last, but the prevailing wisdom is somewhere between 6 months and 2 years. Keep it in a cool, dry, dark place. Personally, if I was in desperate need and there was an unopened jar of instant coffee I'd use it no matter how old...but that's just me (I'm addicted).


Cornmeal:

6 to 18 months in the same containers you would keep flour.


Nuts:

If you want to store nuts for the long haul the best thing to do is to shell them and keep them in your freezer. They will last for about a year in a sealed container.



Beans:

Dry beans are good for at least two years if stored properly. If they dry out too much, you can wind up with “hard seeds,” beans with moisture content so low that they won’t rehydrate and soften, no matter how long you cook them. However, even hard beans after cooking them can be smoothed out in a blender. No need to throw out that soup if you have a good blender like a Vita Mix blender.


All Purpose Flour:

All purpose Flour – When all-purpose flour is stored in cabinets, it is expected to last at least 8 months. However, this is only possible if it is under some certain conditions like stored in a dry container that is tightly sealed. For longer results, we can always place all-purpose flour inside a refrigerator or better yet freezer, and it will gain extra four more months before it will spoil.


Wheat Berries:

Wheat Berries will last even longer; some say they will last up to 5 or 6 months but others say indefinitely.


Sugar:

Sugar will last for years and possibly indefinitely if stored properly. Granulated sugar does not spoil, but if it gets damp it will likely cake up or get lumpy. If it does, it can simply be pulverized again until it regains its granulated texture. By the way you can make confectioners sugar out of granulated sugar by whizzing it in your Vita Mixer or blender.


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Canned Fruit and Vegetables:

In general home canned fruit and vegetables will last about a year, however if they are high acidic foods like fruit, tomatoes or foods with vinegar they should last for years and years. Low acidic foods like meats can last for a very long time but should probably be eaten within 3 to 5 years. Soups without tomatoes, carrots, pumpkin and peas are also low acidic foods. However, if you dry fruits and meats they will last for a very long time..just make sure you dehydrate them properly in a good dehydrator. A good dehydrator can cost upwards of $100 but it will save you a lot of money in the long run if you can either grow your own fruit or buy it when it is in season in bulk.


Peanut Butter: They say 6 months but I would go for longer if it is unopened.


Salt:

Salt will last indefinitely if stored in a cool, dry airtight container.


Oil:

Oil will last from 2 to 5 years if unopened and stored in a ...once again a cool, dry, dark place. However, if the oil is exposed to heat, light or air it will start to deteriorate and some people recommend keeping it in the refrigerator. Some oils are better than others when it comes to long term storage, olive oil, peanut oil, and vegetable oil stores well but walnut oil tends to turn rancid more quickly.


Baking Powder:

Should be stored at room temperature in a dry place and SHOULD NOT be stored in the refrigerator. It lasts for no more than one year. Once the can is opened it should be good for 3 to 6 months.


Chocolate:

Properly stored chocolate can be kept indefinitely! Isn't that great news! I thought you would like that. Chocolate should be stored in an airtight container like a tin box in a cool location with little or no humidity. The temperature should be kept between 63 and 75 degrees and in this instance air needs to be allowed to circulate around the container (which is why tin is a good option) in order to keep moisture out.


Finally, don't forget to USE your bulk foods. What good is saving money by buying food in bulk if you don't use it! As you use your bulk foods make sure to replace them so that you have a good supply at all times. And, as inflation sets in and prices rise to outrageous levels you will be glad that you thought ahead and prepared for a rainy day because the arc has been built and I see dark clouds coming fast!

Inflation is why you should be Buying in Bulk NoW!

Comments

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    • MarloByDesign profile image

      MarloByDesign 

      3 years ago from United States

      I did not know you can store flour in the fridge. Thanks for the tip!

    • Brie Hoffman profile imageAUTHOR

      Brie Hoffman 

      5 years ago from Manhattan

      Thank you "findwholeness" please feel free to share it on your facebook page and please vote it up.

    • findwholeness profile image

      Kristine McAdams 

      5 years ago from Midwest

      This is great, thanks!

    • Brie Hoffman profile imageAUTHOR

      Brie Hoffman 

      7 years ago from Manhattan

      Thanks for the tip Ash.

    • Ash Hicks profile image

      Ash Hicks 

      7 years ago from Tucson, Arizona

      If you like to store in bulk, the best way to buy is to go to local markets. Often times, organic or local farmers who can no longer sell their products to the grocery stores will sell upwards to fifty or more pounds of fruit and vegetables for around ten dollars. If you have great recipies that can be frozen (like zucchini fritters) or turned into canned vegetables or soups, this is a great way to buy. There are several in Tucson each month, and I am sure there are more all around the country!

    • Brie Hoffman profile imageAUTHOR

      Brie Hoffman 

      7 years ago from Manhattan

      Thanks Gregoryy..good to know.

    • Gregoryy profile image

      Gregoryy 

      7 years ago

      The food you need to live and prosper is not actualy that expensive or difficult to buy.

      You can meet all nutritional needs from these 10 foods and drinks. Water,Spinach,Broccoli,Carrots,Bannans, Apples,Oats,Milk,Eggs,and Salmon. You could live of these foods/drinks each day for life. You by these all for a week or 2, for a fammily, and it would be around 80-100 dollars which is less than most people spend on grocerys for a fammily

      Yea there is popcorn, exotic vegtables, fruit juice, steak,bread, nuts, corn, peas, mangos etc. However all nutrients that are found in those foods can also be found in the foods/drinks i have listed. I worked at Whole Foods before, and a lot of times people have very exotic looking shoping carts, while all they need is a few simple foods.

      Imagine buying 10 pounds of broccoli, 10 pounds of spinach, 3 pound bag of carrots, 2 bags of apples, a ton of bannnas, dozens of eggs, 5 gallons of water, 3 gallons of milk,3 containers of oatmeal, 2 pounds of salmon.

    • Brie Hoffman profile imageAUTHOR

      Brie Hoffman 

      7 years ago from Manhattan

      I'm glad you like it, thanks for writing.

    • tlpoague profile image

      Tammy 

      7 years ago from USA

      Great hub! Even though my family has dropped in size, I still buy in the bulk and try to can my own foods. We cut down on the cost of meat by hunting and processing it ourselves. Thanks for sharing these great tips and helpful information.

    • Brie Hoffman profile imageAUTHOR

      Brie Hoffman 

      7 years ago from Manhattan

      Yes, common sense is King!

    • Pamela N Red profile image

      Pamela N Red 

      7 years ago from Oklahoma

      Great tip, Brie. I've been doing this for years. I use freezer bags and divide my staples and put them in my big freezer. You do have to look at the price though because sometimes they'll actually charge more for the larger amounts.

    • Brie Hoffman profile imageAUTHOR

      Brie Hoffman 

      7 years ago from Manhattan

      Hi Mike: I agree completely, you have to use the stuff you buy...and rotate them. It is a lifestyle to be sure. Thanks for the comments I totally agree that people waste too much food and if you don't use and rotate what you have it's a waste of time and money!

    • MikeNV profile image

      MikeNV 

      7 years ago from Henderson, NV

      It's good to have a supply of food, but I don't know if you really save anything. If something goes bad your losses are larger. And most of what you can store for extended period of time is void of real nutritional value. You certainly wouldn't want to have to survive eating that way.

      Having said this... the real secret is to keep DATED records of when things go into storage and make sure you have a plan to utilize them.

      From personal experience I have been to many a family members home and looked at the pantry and found several items ready to be tossed because the items are clearly passed their expiration dates.

      It takes a very organized and disciplined person to make this work.

      A better plan and this is not to criticize your article which is well done is to group together with family members, buy in bulk then redistribute. For example when Costco, Sams, or Whomever offers 10lb bags of carrots you can purchase them and just split them up. Much cheaper, but nothing goes to waste either.

      Cheers. You are a workhorse of a writer, still fighting the good fight.

    • Brie Hoffman profile imageAUTHOR

      Brie Hoffman 

      7 years ago from Manhattan

      Not at all, put it everywhere! It helps me when you put it out there as long as it is in link form to revert back to the original article.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 

      7 years ago from the short journey

      Linking this to my lunchtime plan hub, if you have no objection. Thanks!

    • Brie Hoffman profile imageAUTHOR

      Brie Hoffman 

      7 years ago from Manhattan

      Thanks so much, greatly appreciated RTalloni!

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 

      7 years ago from the short journey

      Super resource that's generating great comments. Voted up and bookmarking. Thanks much!

    • Brie Hoffman profile imageAUTHOR

      Brie Hoffman 

      7 years ago from Manhattan

      Glad you like it, I wrote it for myself and figured others would benefit from it as well. Please feel free to repost on facebook.

    • daskittlez69 profile image

      daskittlez69 

      7 years ago from midwest

      Great hub, thanks for the advice

    • Brie Hoffman profile imageAUTHOR

      Brie Hoffman 

      7 years ago from Manhattan

      me too!

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 

      7 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

      All Great advice here Ms. Hoffman. Gosh, I've kept instant coffee for long, much longer periods of time than you've got listed as it's life. Of course I don't drink it unless I for whatever reason run out of ground coffee.

    • Brie Hoffman profile imageAUTHOR

      Brie Hoffman 

      7 years ago from Manhattan

      Thanks Frank.

    • profile image

      Frank 

      7 years ago

      Brie, very informative article. It is this type of article that you write on what might be termed "off the grid" subjects that immediately grabs my interest. You really excell on these topics. Thanks.

    • Brie Hoffman profile imageAUTHOR

      Brie Hoffman 

      7 years ago from Manhattan

      You know what..you are so right Nick. I will add that to my list of items..thanks for reminding me!

    • profile image

      Nick Wampole 

      7 years ago

      I have not herd any comments on vacuum food savers? I have vacuumpacked wild game that is 4 years old and still very tastey. I have also sealed dry milk,oats and cereal that's 8 years old and still very palletable. Buy removing the oxegen you stop or delay the break down of the ageing process of the food.

    • Brie Hoffman profile imageAUTHOR

      Brie Hoffman 

      7 years ago from Manhattan

      Great tip, thanks a lot.

    • sade1night profile image

      sade1night 

      7 years ago from Priceville,Ontario

      Freezing the flour first kills any little critters /bugs that may be in the flour,very effective,I have stored flour for as long as 2 years with no problems .

    • Brie Hoffman profile imageAUTHOR

      Brie Hoffman 

      7 years ago from Manhattan

      What does freezing do to it?

    • sade1night profile image

      sade1night 

      7 years ago from Priceville,Ontario

      Great hub..I freeze my flour in the back porch and then place it airtight containers .I highly recommend to everyone stock up now!!!! even if you only have an extra $20.00 buy ....

    • Brie Hoffman profile imageAUTHOR

      Brie Hoffman 

      7 years ago from Manhattan

      Thanks RockDoc, Looks good, I added it above..thanks for the tip.

    • profile image

      RockDoc 

      7 years ago

      Good article! I might recommend a book by the name of "Stocking Up", describes various types of storage for foods.

    • Brie Hoffman profile imageAUTHOR

      Brie Hoffman 

      7 years ago from Manhattan

      Go to a drug store and get a shopping cart that folds up. You'll never spend a better 20 bucks! I live in Manhattan and that's what I use.

      Thanks for writing Nicole

    • Nicole Winter profile image

      Nicole A. Winter 

      7 years ago from Chicago, IL

      Fantastic hub, Brie, I can't buy in bulk, but the storage tips are fantastic! I go grocery shopping pretty much every day and since I walk there and back it has to be stuff I can easily carry. (I get flummoxed when I need to buy rice, it's hard to find a smaller bag of it that won't break my arm carrying it home!) There's a few items in my cabinet that, after reading your helpful tips, I realize I need to throw away, so I am going to bookmark this hub for storage tips / dates. Thanks!

    • Brie Hoffman profile imageAUTHOR

      Brie Hoffman 

      7 years ago from Manhattan

      You're welcome, glad you could use it.

    • crystolite profile image

      Emma 

      7 years ago from Houston TX

      Thanks Brie Hoffman for refreshing my memory on how to store bulk foods like nuts.Nice article.

    • Brie Hoffman profile imageAUTHOR

      Brie Hoffman 

      7 years ago from Manhattan

      You're welcome caretakerray.

    • profile image

      caretakerray 

      7 years ago

      Brie:

      Great Hub! Coming from a large family with parents from the depression era, this is a trick I learned early in life. Great advice and thanx for the very useful storage info.

      caretakerray

    • Brie Hoffman profile imageAUTHOR

      Brie Hoffman 

      7 years ago from Manhattan

      Your the best :) I can't tell you how many hubs I've read and thought.."darn" I should have done that!

    • cheapsk8chick profile image

      cheapsk8chick 

      7 years ago

      I have so much food in the basement that we "shop" there before I go to the grocery store! But I wasn't clever enough to hub about it, nor would I have done such a wonderful job! Thanks again for the hub, voted & rated!

    • Brie Hoffman profile imageAUTHOR

      Brie Hoffman 

      7 years ago from Manhattan

      Wow, great info cheapsk8chick...why did I know that YOU already to this :)

    • cheapsk8chick profile image

      cheapsk8chick 

      7 years ago

      Great hub. I buy huge quantities and always try to have at least 6 months of food stored up, and even more stores of wheat. If you find a local cannery, you can dry-pack can your food and things like beans can last for about 25 years!

    • Brie Hoffman profile imageAUTHOR

      Brie Hoffman 

      7 years ago from Manhattan

      Thanks, I needed this information so I thought you might too! :)

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 

      7 years ago

      I need to print this hub and refer to it. Thanks for all the helpful advice. Voted up and useful.

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