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Frugal Pantry Storage Tips {Guest Post}

I’m so pleased to introduce a local colleague, Adrienne of Whole New Mom, a rockstar blogger much more experienced than I am in the world of traditional foods and frugal living. Her guest post today fits perfectly into the theme of the Eat Well, Spend Less Series, and I invite you to learn from her along with me:

Do you find yourself wondering how you are going to feed your family healthy, real food while staying on a budget?

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Gas prices are climbing and food prices are following and…guess what?! Things probably aren’t going to get much better anytime soon!

As the manager of your home, you have a big job ahead of you, but I have some tools that are sure to help.

First of all, let me tell you that, while this can be a daunting task, step by step it can be done. And I am here to prove it.

Healthy Food on a Modest Income – It Can be Done

My family has lived through 2 advanced degrees with no debt and lived on under $33,000 for 2 years in a row prior to moving to Michigan (that’s a lot of why we moved Smile) and we have never gone into debt. We also have a special needs child whose condition is not covered by insurance, our medical expenses top $5,000 out of pocket every year, and my husband does not make a six digit income. Nowhere close. And we are still not in debt. So believe me when I say that you can eat whole foods on a modest budget.

For any kind of job, however, you need the right tools and the right information in order to get the job done.

That is what I am hoping to provide you with; a list of some indispensable tools, with instructions for each to get you on your merry budgeting way.

Healthy Food “Couponing”

I am, of course, assuming that most of you reading this post are attempting to eat whole, real foods. (And if you aren’t, you should be :-))  As such, you will need to find a good system that enables you to obtain real, whole food at a consistently low price. Traditional couponing may be great for those eating processed foods, but there are no coupons (or barely any) for dried beans, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

Some people think that eating healthy has to cost a lot of money, but that is not true. However, the real food form of “couponing” means obtaining large quantities of bargain priced (or free :-)) food, processing it when needed, and storing it for use by your family throughout the year.

So I have put together a list of some of my favorite — and I think necessary — products and storage tips to help you start your frugal pantry. So pull up a chair and let’s get started.

But first, some much needed…

Encouragement

1. Don’t be intimidated. You can do this. Just break it down into manageable bites.

I have been at this — the building of a frugal pantry, that is — for quite some time now. It certainly didn’t happen overnight. Not much does, now does it? It started out of necessity when we lived in Oklahoma. My husband worked at a college where pay was slim and raises were almost non-existent, and we were just starting our path down the road to eating all whole foods. I bought my first bulk bag of steel cut oats — and the rest is whole food pantry history.

Now I continue to learn new ways to buy, process, and store foods that can help us with our goal of having a diet that is healthy for both our bodies and our budget. And I am learning more all the time.

2. You don’t need to do it all at once. Especially if you have younger children at home, and more especially if you have a special needs child at home (like I do), big projects take a lot of time. It is important to slow down and not get ahead of yourself with unrealistic expectations that will just become stumbling blocks down the road.

For example, I am for sure not an expert on all that you could do to build a frugal pantry; I have yet to attempt canning on my own. I canned once with a friend about 20 years ago (yikes!!) and although I have a canner in my basement, it is just sitting there in its pretty pristine blueness. That being said, I do think that it is a healthier option to dehydrate and freeze most foods, and these storage methods are preferable to canning in the hot summer months. UPDATE: Cost of canning vs. dehydrating vs. freezing

But I sure would love me some canned tomatoes and salsas on my shelves — any skilled canners living within shouting distance of Grand Rapids who are willing to teach me are welcome to shoot me a comment through my Contact Me page and I will be a happy camper! Adrienne, you can come over and learn from me even though I barely know what I’m doing! Here’s canning tomatoes and canned salsa.

3. You are not alone. The whole team working on this Eat Well, Spend Less series are all partners with you in this. We all have budgets that we are working with while trying to feed our families healthfully. With all of these tips and all of us working together, we can get this job done. I encourage you to hang in here for the entire series, subscribe to all of the contributing bloggers’ sites, and then supplement the posts with comments so that we can all learn from each other.

Your Main Tools

These are the “indispensables” that I currently use in my frugal pantry:

1. Cold storage: A chest freezer, and possibly a second deep freeze or fridge

2. Good quality plastic storage bags & clips

3. Buckets made of food-grade plastic for storage

4. A dehydrator

Now, the specifics on how to use these tools to get your frugal pantry going.

Cold Storage

The freezer will enable you to take advantage of opportunities to purchase of bulk beef and chicken, and will also be a storage place for frozen vegetables and other freezables that you find on sale or deep discount throughout the year. Truth is, you can freeze almost anything. Two exceptions would be potatoes and fresh lettuce (though I once processed lots of organic discount salad greens for adding into stews and soups).

About one year after moving into our new home, we started talking about purchasing a chest freezer. True to my nature, I did quite a bit of research into what would be the best type of freezer to buy if we were indeed to purchase one and wondered whether we should pull the trigger or not. With trepidation we went out one night, bought the freezer, and got it into our basement. Well, also true to my nature, I questioned the decision a lot. For one day.

Because the very next day my friend who worked at Aldi called me and told me that they were selling their bananas for $.10 per bag. Now, how many bananas you can pack into a Nissan Sentra’s trunk? A lot! In all of my bargain-hunting euphoria, I actually calculated how much money we had saved with that purchase alone as I peeled and packed bananas into our new freezer, and I found that we had just saved over $47! Our freezer was already beginning to pay for itself.

You might also consider one other fridge or freezer, depending on your needs. I store bulk grains (ones that cannot be stored for a long time at room temperature), nuts, and seeds in our second fridge.

Bags and Clips

imageI have these on hand at all times. And not those expensive zipper lock thingies with seals that take so much time to close or those pesky twist ties that end up tying you into knots. No, this is storage sanity. I use these to store prepared beans, bulk nuts and seeds, dehydrated produce, bulk baked goods, and even bulk spices.

I use both 6 x 3 x 15  & 4 x 2 x 8 bags from Country Life Natural Foods. There are some bread bags available on Amazon, but I have not purchased them and cannot attest to their sturdiness. Mine hold up quite well.

The clips I use are just fabulous. They hold their shape, are dishwasher safe and come in a variety of useful sizes. They are the same Twixit Clips that you can also purchase elsewhere with another company’s logo on them, but who needs that? Frugal mommas opt for no logo and choose savings instead.

I purchase all of my grains, nuts, and seeds in bulk and then use these bags and clips for storing them. I share more of how in my post on How to Store Nuts and Seeds.

Food Grade Buckets

imageThese buckets are another frugal pantry “must.”  My basement (though I won’t let you see it right now Smile) has a bunch of these babies, all full of beans, wheat, and organic popcorn that I purchase regularly in 25# bulk bags. You can also store granulated sweeteners and salt in them.

Now, you can for a time purchase bulk bags of grains, beans, etc. and store them “as is” in your basement, but you sure don’t want one of those tipping over onto your floor – so get the buckets as soon as you can!

Whole wheat is one grain that can be stored at room temperature for a LONG time, so get a bucket and pour it in. I recommend putting a strip of masking tape on top with a label stating the ingredients so that you don’t spend years opening lids to find out what is inside (like I used to do :-).)  Other grains will need to be stored in either a refrigerator or freezer because they go rancid at room temperature.

Dehydrator

A dehydrator is a must as well for the whole foods, frugal family. This is just the right tool that will enable you to take advantage of inexpensive (or free) produce at farmer’s markets and elsewhere.

What can you do with your dehydrator? Well…the question is more “What can you not do?”  Literally. Cut up and dry your cheap grocery and fruit market finds and your garden extras. And your neighbor’s garden extras. Deep discounted applesauce makes great fruit leather, and of course, you know that you need one for drying your nuts. There is so much else that I could write a bunch of other posts about it and I will in the future. Take it from me, you want one of these. More on How and Why to Dehydrate Foods, part two, and where to buy one…

And yes, I have even made dried bananas. Can you say “Aldi”? Have you seen the price of dried bananas? They are typically at least $10 per pound! That alone justifies the price of a dehydrator in and of itself!

Now, finally, in thinking about buying the buckets, bags and clips, and even yes, the more expensive dehydrator and freezer, and you are probably wondering if it makes sense to lay out that kind of money with things being as tight as they are. You may wish to read my post on “Inflation – One Way to Beat It.”  It just might be better to buy it now than later and start saving right away. Dehydrators and freezers are investments that we know will pay dividends — a rare thing in these financially uncertain times.

What is your favorite bulk food storage tip? Any questions about food storage?

imageAdrienne Urban of Whole New Mom is a wife and a homeschooling mother of two boys, one of whom has Asperger’s and life-threatening food allergies. In her past life she worked in the financial services industry and taught in Japan. She has a passion to help others navigate the sea of information on the road to healthier lives while trusting God for the results of their efforts. Because she loves to (and can’t afford not to Smile ), she specializes in frugal living and simplifying special diets (allergen-, gluten- and sugar-free). You can also find her on Facebook or grab her awesome essential oils guide freebie HERE.

(Top Photo Credit)

Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

76 thoughts on “Frugal Pantry Storage Tips {Guest Post}”

    1. You can freeze any grain. I read somewhere that it reduces vitamin E content but any can be frozen.

  1. I love Aldi!!! It is the very best place for produce. I am a “canner” and got 26 lbs of tomatoes at the Mennonite farm for 8 dollars and other produce for salsa and made 2 1/2 gallons of salsa for about 13 dollars and it is amazing! I already had my jars and lids and only had to buy the inserts. They can get 12 for 99 cents at Dollar General Store.

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  4. I believe their is a place for canning, freezing and dehydrating as well as fermenting in the frugal homemakers food storage plan. I save my 2 freezers for bulk meats. As mentioned before you can save a lot of money by purchasing portions of the whole animal. I have currently in my freezers: 1/4 cow, 1/2 pig, a whole lamb, 10 chickens, 5 turkeys, and 5 ducks. Also getting your meat in this manner encourages a direct relationship with the farmer and an understanding of h0w the animal was raised and fed. You also can save lots of money while increasing your nourishment by letting it be known in the butchering process that you want the organs, fat, head, and feet. When we relearn the old traditional skills of processing the whole animal we bring complete life-saving/earth-saving nourishment to our families. Remember the best part of the animal is not the filet!
    Then I use the canning process for foods that I would be cooking anyway. I do not like to can things like peaches or green beans because you have to cook the bejezus out of them and I’m sure you lose some nutrition in the process. I can lots of tomato sauce, paste, ketchup, salsa, etc. and also can my bone broths with a pressure cooker canner.
    Fruits are dehydrated, as well as many of the wild local free greens like dandelion and stinging nettle. I do dehydrate other vegetables like zucchini, tomatoes (yum), onions and garlic. However my all-time favorite way to store vegies is lacto-fermenting. So easy and a great bonus in healthy microbes for your family’s digestion and immune system. This is very easy to do. I am enjoying sauerkraut, kim chi, a pepper medley, fermented wild raw salmon, and a tomato/corn salsa. You can make large quantities of these fermented vegies. They last forever if you store them well. Find people in your area who can teach you. Let’s relearn these traditional skills that our foreparents knew and pass them on to our children. In their world these skills are likely to be essential.

    1. Adrienne @ Whole New Mom

      I completely agree with you that there is a place for each. In fact, I just did a post on a cost comparison of all 3 storage methods and it makes it clear that all three make sense for the frugal pantry: http://wholenewmom.com/whole-new-budget/which-costs-the-least-dehydrating-freezing-or-canning/

  5. Ask at your local grocery store bakery for buckets -mine gladly gives me FREE food grade buckets with lids.
    Also, consider storing grains, nuts, and seeds in half-gallon or gallon plastic milk cartons. They stack nicely on their sides, and keep out humidity and bugs. Cut the bottom off a 2-liter bottle for the perfect funnel to fill them up. And it’s all free from your neighbor’s recycle bin. 🙂

  6. I didn’t read ALL of the comments, but I did see some mention of vacuum-seal units. I have used both for small farm and home use a Sinbo vacuum sealer, I have officially retired my original and bought an identical unit and I feel this is better than FoodSaver or like units. You can buy any bag for it that isn’t a “roll” type, if you buy in reasonable quantities you can save over store-brand “ziploc” type freezer bags, and the foods you store in them last and last! Thawing is easier, and you can use it for many things besides freezing foods. Make homemade granola bars into a “grab-and-go” packaged snack (and stay fresh), package items like matches for camping and they’ll stay dry, package longer-storage items like a family-size portion of pasta in one bag and you’ll save time on measuring and food prep.
    On freezers, our family replaces them when the warranty goes out. Sell them locally, buy another! Why? We kept one for several years later once, and it went out. Wouldn’t you know that it had the priciest of our prized savings in it? It has saved us money to sell it (usually for half the purchase price) and buy new than to risk losing the savings of our grocery deals! There is also something to be said for an upright with coils on the shelves for “quick freezing” a large batch of food at once. Be cautious of overloading your freezer with packages not evenly spread out, sometimes the “middle” packages do not freeze as quickly.
    Happy Bargain Hunting!

    1. Adrienne @ Whole New Mom

      Wow – Thanks so much for the tip on the Sinbo – do you think it makes a big enough difference in how your foods turn out? I think it sounds great and the Country Life bags that I use would be perfect!

      I appreciate the tip on the freezer as well….now I just need to see when our warranty wears out!

      One question: what did you mean by an upright w/ coils on the shelves? Are there different types of upright freezers?

    2. Adrienne @ Whole New Mom

      Can you tell us where you purchased the Sinbo machine from? After just a quick look on the internet it appears it isn’t available in many places. Also, one of the places sells numerous other machines for food storage. Is there a particular reason that you chose this one?

      Thanks!

  7. thanks for all the tips! i want to start doing this kind of food storage and bulk buying. however, my husband isn’t so sure we’d be saving money buy buying in bulk and freezing because we’d be paying electricty to run the freezer every month. have you ever figured out how much you save considering the added cost to run the extra fridge, freezer and dehydrator?

    1. Adrienne @ Whole New Mom

      I just found a fabulous chart outlining the costs associated w/ freezing, canning and dehydrating.

      I will try to write a post on this in the next week or so, so you may wish to subscribe to my blog via email or RSS or follow me on Facebook so you don’t miss it.

      Basically, it shows that dehydrating is the most reasonable, with canning next and freezing last. But from what I am reading, it appears that they all make sense. I think you will agree. It all depends on if you are a savvy shopper and can take advantage of good deals.

      These are just tools that will enable you to be the sharp economical manager of your home that we all need to be in these tough times.

    2. Georgia,
      If you want to do some math, you can use these equations at an old post I wrote on the electricity appliances use: http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/2009/03/05/appliance-cost/ I want to say I guesstimate the deyhydrator at about $1/24 hours. Freezer, yes, definitely a cost, but oh, my, i just couldn’t imagine life without it. Chicken stock alone wouldn’t be possible w/o a deep freeze, and our u-pick berries save us TONS. I just appreciate the convenience of having meat and leftovers always on hand, too, so I’m vying for a bigger one as soon as I can! Hope that helps you in your cost/benefit analysis – just remember it’s not only monetary cost. 😉 Katie

    3. Adrienne @ Whole New Mom

      I just put together a post on the costs of canning, freezing and dehydrating. Hope this, together with Katie’s info is helpful! Thank you for ordering from Excalibur Food Dehydrators, your order has shipped. Below is the information about your order and your tracking number. You can click on the link to be directed to FedEx to track your package or you can go to FedEx.com and input the tracking number below.

      http://wholenewmom.com/whole-new-budget/which-costs-the-least-dehydrating-freezing-or-canning/

  8. Adrienne @ Whole New Mom

    Bebe,

    I completely agree with you! I have long tried to balance out my desire to have the best tools for “my trade” while reducing our expenses in other arenas. This is hard to do when there are so many categories to consider, and so many aspects of each, but I know that we have for sure felt that the dehydrator, vitamix, freezer, etc. have more than paid for themselves in savings.

    One also needs to take into consideration the amount of other benefits that you can get with a new “tool.” For example, when I purchase my Bosch mixer, I spent a bit more for one that could easily be stored away. It gained me a lot of counter space, which I consider to be “expensive.” I would easily sacrifice the expense of convenience foods for awhile to be able to afford some extra counter space :-).

    I am blessed to have a husband who really supports me in all of this. He always wants me to invest in what will make our home run more smoothly and efficiently. I have always appreciated this about him – and admittedly I need to work harder to think more about his needs than I do about mine.

  9. A vacuum sealer is also handy for berries and rhubarb in the summer (we are in Alaska, that’s about the extent of our easy-to-come-by and/or free fruit, but we love them both and try to take advantage of the natural bounty!)

    That said, I believe very deeply in the value of investing in good quality tools, no matter your trade. Mine happens to be homemaker so my tools have to do with cooking, cleaning and creating. Be it a freezer, VitaMix, broom or sewing machine… you get what you pay for so buy the best you can possible afford. It will pay for itself quickly in money and/or time savings.

    I buy many things used, I re-use and re-purpose and just plain reduce consumption, which I find balances the big ticket items I buy new (still trying to make sure I have found the best price possible, of course ;))

    I believe home-makers need excellent quality tools just as much as home-builders do. Thanks for posting on these tools of our trade!

    1. Adrienne @ Whole New Mom

      Oops…I did it again and didn’t reply directly to you..

      Here is my reply:
      Bebe,

      I completely agree with you! I have long tried to balance out my desire to have the best tools for “my trade” while reducing our expenses in other arenas. This is hard to do when there are so many categories to consider, and so many aspects of each, but I know that we have for sure felt that the dehydrator, vitamix, freezer, etc. have more than paid for themselves in savings.

      One also needs to take into consideration the amount of other benefits that you can get with a new “tool.” For example, when I purchase my Bosch mixer, I spent a bit more for one that could easily be stored away. It gained me a lot of counter space, which I consider to be “expensive.” I would easily sacrifice the expense of convenience foods for awhile to be able to afford some extra counter space 🙂 .

      I am blessed to have a husband who really supports me in all of this. He always wants me to invest in what will make our home run more smoothly and efficiently. I have always appreciated this about him – and admittedly I need to work harder to think more about his needs than I do about mine.

  10. Before going out an buying a bunch of food grade buckets and lids, stop buy the neighborhood school cafeteria. We got loads of 5 gallon pickle buckets for free.

      1. Sun works great, also baking soda. I had one bucket that I didn’t work at as much. It smelled for quite a while, but after about a year it went away. My grains never tasted like pickles.

  11. OK, so WHERE do you get your food safe 5 gallon buckets?? I also struggle with pantry moths UGH!!!! So this is a common problem for us, I try to keep all my beans and grain in our extra fridge but it has to share with my 6 gallons of raw milk weekly and the space gets pretty tight.

    1. You can call a local bakery and ask for their buckets. Sometimes they will give them to you for free!

  12. Sorry to post twice….I have a question, after reading that RO Q&A article by Mr. Frank.

    It may seem obvious, but why use RO? What exactly is one trying to remove that my existing carbon filter doesn’t already cover? It seems like RO relies heavily on carbon filtration as part of the RO system, but I don’t see what the RO part is actually contributing. It seems like RO gets rid of the heavier particles, like lead, which carbon should do anyways. And carbon, of course, handles the city’s chlorine-like chemicals.

    1. I also read your post too, of course! I just didn’t quite catch, for some reason, *what* I am removing with the RO itself (besides minerals! Which I realize you are then re-adding).

    2. Adrienne @ Whole New Mom

      I will get back to you. I looked back over my water post and realized that I hadn’t gone into the details that I should have. In a nutshell, the RO will remove ALL fluoride and viruses and EVERYTHING, which is why you need to put the minerals back in.

      With a carbon filter, you are doing better than tap water, but there are a lot of undesirables still there.

      I’ll try to pull the info together and update the post or at least post a reply here soon.

  13. Do you have recommended sources for buying in bulk? I dropped my Costco membership since I couldn’t get whole wheat flour or brown rice or other items I actually use in bulk quantities.

    1. Adrienne @ Whole New Mom

      It depends upon where you live. I buy most of my bulk food from Country Life Natural Foods. They will ship anywhere and if you can join w/ other families in your area you get a break on shipping for over 200 pounds shipments. They also have trucks that deliver for free within their delivery area. Their routes are mostly w/in the Midwest.
      Some things I have gotten inventive with. I have spent a lot of time working on bulk orders w/ local families like ordering bulk dried unsweetened cranberries, and bulk raw almonds. Country Life has a West Coast counterpart called Jaffee Bros. and I have heard of another one, but their name escapes me now. Anyone else have any ideas?

    2. Adrienne @ Whole New Mom

      By the way, Costco has some good deals that you may not have noticed, though I am currently considering whether or not to continue w/ them…I love their..organic bottled lemon juice, minced dried onion, natural Coleman hot dogs, organic carrots, organic frozen green beans, Exp Pressed olive oil, organic spinach and baby greens. I have heard that their organic corn is really good, but I have never had it. Their organic black mission figs are a good deal as well – and boy are they yummy!

  14. Thanks so much for this post. I am just starting out on my whole foods journey. I’m an avid couponer, so this is a big switch for me. After going “storeless” for a month and documenting it on my blog, I realized we eat TOO MUCH processed food. I was shocked. That was the end for me. Now we’re just getting rid of what we have….and looking for a grain mill. 🙂
    I am a bit overwhelmed, so this was good for me to read. Thank you.
    My first big switch was to start making kefir. Could you give me advice on what other things would be good to tackle first?
    I grew up on a farm, so I am used to fresh beef and vegetables. I can with my mother and we freeze tons of produce. I do have an extra refrigerator AND freezer, so I’m ready with that.

    1. Adrienne @ Whole New Mom

      I think deciding on what to tackle first depends on what your priorities are and what you have in place. Let me know and I will try my best to give you a helpful response.

      I get temped by the couponing thing, but overall it seems to take more time than it is worth for a whole foods family. I think that sticking to making as much as you can on your own and staying away from processed foods and chemicals for your home is best.

      1. I guess I’m just overwhelmed at all the different options for going “whole foods.” When I think about trying to do it all, I just want to sit down and cry. 🙂 I already make all our cleaners and laundry detergent. If I start small, tackling one thing at a time it still means I’m relying on processed foods to get me through until I’m ready to switch.
        I’m afraid I’ll cut all this convenience food out and then I won’t have any food in the house. Does that make sense? I’ve always had a “snack” on hand – be it a cookie or some crackers. I am aware that’s a silly fear.
        My priority right now is definitely switching to making all my own bread and eventually milling when we save up enough for the mill.

        1. Adrienne @ Whole New Mom

          Oh, Stacy, I have been there myself, and I am sure that Katie has too. Feel free to keep commenting and I’d be happy to help. First of all, I know Katie likes them too, but try soap nuts instead of homemade detergent. Depending on your formula, it may cost abt the same and it is much easier. I think more effective too.

          How about popcorn for a snack? I have a number of posts about fun and cheap popcorn topping ideas on my site. Also, Katie has a lot of snack recipes on hers. Two of the best & easiest snacks that we have been making a lot of recently are my nut/seed butter based fudges and bean fudge. They are so simple, really nutritious and good. I find I really don’t have much time to bake these days and I can whip these up and have them around, together w/ some popcorn and soaked and dried nuts and the occasional homemade bread product for putting homemade nut or seed butter on and there you have it – snacks galore!

          Try to slow down, think and pray. The stress is worse for you than anything you put in your body. Your first priority is good water filtration. Then, getting good sources for animal products (doesn’t have to be pasteured yet, just better) and getting the artificial stuff out of your diet. Then sugars and refined starches need to go. Coffee too.

          The path that we have been on has been a long one and one that I have been dragged down kicking and screaming at times.

          Hang in there and I hope you stay in touch. And no, it isn’t a silly fear. I’m glad you felt you could share it. 🙂

          1. I have recently found a meat co-op in my area, so I am going to switch to that. My dad is a cattle farmer, so I have my share of beef. 🙂
            Can you recommend a good water filtration system?
            I sent Katie an email a while back but she has not responded. 🙂 She’s a busy lady.
            I really appreciate you answering my questions.

            1. Adrienne @ Whole New Mom

              You’re doing a great job!
              I wish I lived near you for beef!
              I recommend RO for water filtration. Here is my sort of lengthy post on it: http://wholenewmom.com/health/how-to-make-your-drinking-water-safe/ It’s not exhaustive, but should answer your questions. Whatever else you want to know, just ask.

              I have to watch the busy thing too. Like I said, stress is worse than almost anything you can put in your body. Almost anything 🙂

            2. Our family uses a Berkey water filter and we are quite happy with it. Over refilling our own jugs at 35 cents per gallon, we figure that as a family of 5 we will recover our costs on it in about a year, and not have to drive to get water, stand outside in the hot/cold/rain and fill jugs, and lug them wherever. The downside? It does take up a bit of prime real estate on the counter. I think it’s worth it.

                1. Adrienne @ Whole New Mom

                  Berkey is pretty good, but it they don’t remove everything. If you check out their stats, they remove almost all of a lot of things that RO will remove completely. I am going to look into them for an emergency option, because that is something that I haven’t secured yet.

        2. we keep high quality cheese, yogurt, nuts, fruits, hard boiled eggs, homemade puddings/custards, and veggies on hand for snacking. smoothies with egg yolks and coconut oil are great to add in. I also make potato latkes or chips fried in butter/grass fed tallow for snacking. there are lots of great, healthy, fast snack substitutes, just have to get creative!

        3. Stacy,
          I hear you – I’m getting tired of nuts and raisins as the only “grabbable” snack unless I make something else…but I’m sure we all survive w/o snacks. I just like to grab something – a piece of cheese has been a recent standby as well. It’s not easy, but I’m still convinced it’s worth it, and you can take baby steps and not feel guilty about it in the least – focus on the improvements, not what you have left. We still buy tortilla chips, so that’s always a little guilty pleasure snack food when I’m feeling rebellious! 😉 Katie

  15. Pantry moths, should you ever be invaded by them, can and will eat right through those bags. I use half gallon mason jars and five gallon buckets with gamma seal lids for everything.
    I also save every glass jar that comes through the house and use for storage.

    1. Adrienne @ Whole New Mom

      I have never had the moth problem, but that’s good info.

      In case others are considering the gamma lids, check into what they do and how much you need or don’t need them. We use our grains and things up so quickly that we just use the regular lids for the buckets. It turned out to be one expense that we didn’t need to make. Doesn’t mean you won’t need them, but I decided that we didn’t.

    2. We also use jars for storage. We don’t have the space (no basement or large pantry) at the moment to store large amounts of anything, even though I know it would save us money.

      You mentioned that whole wheat doesn’t need to be refrigerated but other grains do. Do you have a list of what grains should be refrigerated?

      1. Adrienne @ Whole New Mom

        There is quite a bit of conflicting information on the web about this. My experience has been that whole wheat berries willl hold up extremely well, whereas the other grains need to be refrigerated.

        When I initially purchased my grain mill, the woman I bought it from said that she had had wheat berries around for 10 years plus and they were still fine.

        I have left kamut and spelt at room temperature for quite awhile as well and had no problems.

        1. I’ve been doing food storage since getting married, and my parents did it for years too. One thing I’ve always heard is that, until ground, wheat lasts pretty much forever. The anecdote I heard from someone at a local preparedness resource is that they’ve found wheat inside the pyramids in egypt that was still able to germinate just fine, and tested as being okay.

          That said, remember that once you grind the wheat, it needs to be used or frozen within a week or two…

  16. I have not pursued another source for the bags, and I do not know if they are bpa free. I saw some “knockoff” ones on ebay once, but have not tried them. I do reuse them to help save on the cost.
    For me, the expense of using quality ingredients to bake something only to have it taste like the freezer and no one eat it is worth the cost of the bags.

    1. Went searching for the bpa in the bags and finally found this on someone’s site. The foodsaver site doesn’t mention it at all, you would think they’d want to, anyway…..

      “We spoke with Jarden Consumer Solutions, who happens to make both products, and confirmed that all of their 5 ply vacuum bags are made from poly nylon plastic. They explained that the bags are a polyethylene/nylon blend and all bags are BPA-free. And they are made without PVC and phthalates as well. This is great news for folks who buy their food in bulk and freeze extras for future use!”

      I think I’ll be checking amazon for a foodsaver!! 🙂

      1. Hi,

        I don’t usually post, but if you search Dehydrate2store, you’ll find a great resource of info. She isn’t into the whole foods so much, but she still has a lot to share. AND she has a link to get food saver bags that are great. I only buy mine from them.

    2. Adrienne @ Whole New Mom

      I just left a message with Country Life Natural Foods about their bags to see if they are BPA free. I seem to recall hearing that they were, but I am not sure.

      They are Seventh Day Adventists so they will be closed until Sunday. I will reply when I find out w/ the information.

      I know that they are not as airtight as the Food Saver bags, and I will still consider getting one, but they are CHEAP CHEAP CHEAP!!. The large bread bags are about 4.75 cents each and the small ones that I use for beans are about 2 cents each. You have to buy them in large quantities, but I don’t care; they are so cheap that I can easily waste/share some without concern!

      Country Life will send via UPS anywhere and they have trucks that deliver across a good number of states. They are definitely worth looking into for everything — not just for bags. They are a good part of what has helped our family save money while eating whole foods.

      1. Adrienne @ Whole New Mom

        For all following the food storage bag system and BPA in bag conversation, Country Life just informed me that to their knowledge there is no BPA in the bags.
        If the Sinbo machine can use any type of bag this would seem to be the way to go.

    3. Adrienne @ Whole New Mom

      One important note about freezers:
      If you have a deep freeze that requires manual defrosting (in other words, you have to every year or so take everything out and scrape off the ice and then load it back up again), then you will not have much of an issue with freezer burn.

      Freezer burn happens due to the automatic defrosting mechanism in freezers. The freezer’s temperature goes down to thaw a bit and then up again over and over again to keep ice out of the freezer – but then your food gets it instead :(.

  17. Another essential for me is my FoodSaver vacuum sealer. I always found that baked goods placed in freezer bags still came out tasting like the freezer. I use the FoodSaver for baked goods, cooked beans, and cooked chicken, all portioned for use in a recipe. The bags can be washed and reused (until they get too small to fit in the sealer), and can also be set in a pan of warm water to thaw–which is a huge plus for me since I seem to not be able to remember to get things out of the freezer on time!

    1. Adrienne @ Whole New Mom

      I have been looking at the FoodSaver for awhile and have wondered if it is worth it.

      What qualities do you appreciate? I have just been using my simplistic bread bag and Twixit method for so long and so far it works pretty well!

      I forget to thaw things all the time too. Glad to know that I am not the only one :-)!

      1. The best thing is that my foods stay fresh! Air is the enemy, and I could never get freezer bags closed well enough, even with sticking a straw in and sucking out the air myself! I was never happy with baked goods out of the freezer, and it was such a disappointment to put time and ingredients into good foods, only to have them taste nasty out of the freezer.
        The next best thing about it is that I can thaw in a pan of water.
        I got mine on craigslist for $20.

        1. Adrienne @ Whole New Mom

          Do you have a good source for the refill bags? I have heard that they are pricey.

          1. I just found this site with very reasonably priced supplies for the FoodSaver. http://www.thesweetattack.com/page/page/2380629.htm I have a FoodSaver and just LOVE it. I also have a dehydrator, large and small freezers, second fridge…learned to can last summer and am in the process of planting my first garden. Some of the garden will be with straw bales to see how that does. We raise miniature llamas and use their manure for fertilizer. So far, my lettuce, onions, garlic are performing very well, the asparagus has poked its head up and the organic potatoes have nice leafy plants started. This is my quest for healthy food…who knew when I was young enough for all this learning!

        2. Are the bags BPA free plastic? I’ve been wondering about getting one for a long time. Also wondering about the price for the bags. Thanks!

      2. I have the Kenmore vacuum sealer and love it. Their bags are less expensive. Not sure about the BPA since I purchased my last set of bags quite a while ago. Note the Food Saver bags do not work with the Kenmore vacuum sealer, at least not my version.

  18. Adrienne @ Whole New Mom

    Oh, how I wished you live close by as well! Thanks for the “offer!”

    We really hope to get a good garden going this year. It’s been tough in the past as we have heavy clay soil and black walnut trees. So this year our aim (ambitious, though it may be) is to put in raised beds.

    I really encourage you to take a second look at the freezer. One other tip: make sure that your electrical circuits can handle it before purchasing. Our basement was able to, but it took us awhile to figure out how.

  19. Good article – thanks! I can our garden produce and I used to live in Grand Rapids, but now am in NW Wi, sorry! It’s not that hard though, get the Ball Blue Book for home canning and you can teach yourself.

    I wanted to mention that I buy bread bags from Urban Homemaker and can attest to their stability. We use them over and over and they usually don’t get thrown out until something gets forgotten in one and molds.

    Anybody considering the freezer – go for it!! I have two in the basement and am pleading with dh for a 3rd! (we buy half a cow at a time so that fills up most of my 2 freezers). It is also wonderful to be able to make extras of things (including bread) and have in the freezer for later or needs of others. I also wouldn’t be without the dehydrator.

    1. Adrienne @ Whole New Mom

      I agree totally on the freezer thing. We actually need to replace our basement fridge and I am thinking about a second freezer instead.

      However, I have read that Vitamin E levels are affected by low temp so I am “on the fence” on this one. Any thoughts anyone?

  20. Thank you for these tips. I have been wanting a freezer for quite a while but I have yet to “pull the trigger” as you say.

    I do can, too bad I don’t live closer:) It is fun and exciting to see the finished product. I feel great in the middle of the winter knowing my jar of tomatoes was grown in my backyard and picked at the perfect time. I can never buy a tomoato again.

    I do couopon and I do eat whole foods. For my family, I have found using coupons and store sales to get my non perishable toiletries, dishsoaps, etc frees ups money for the more expensive produce we eat daily.

    1. Adrienne @ Whole New Mom

      Oops – I goofed and didn’t reply directly to you, so here is my reply:

      “Oh, how I wished you live close by as well! Thanks for the “offer!”

      We really hope to get a good garden going this year. It’s been tough in the past as we have heavy clay soil and black walnut trees. So this year our aim (ambitious, though it may be) is to put in raised beds.

      I really encourage you to take a second look at the freezer. One other tip: make sure that your electrical circuits can handle it before purchasing. Our basement was able to, but it took us awhile to figure out how.”

      1. I have had a garden for years and am switching to raised beds this year. We started in October, planting broccoli, spinach and onions in two, 4×10 beds. WOW!! What a difference!! I more than doubled my yield!! My spinach lasted through the winter. We’re still eating it!!
        This year we will plant the broccoli in September, to give it a better start.
        We are also using plastic over PVC pipe to make low tunnels. I plan to grow and sell lettuces and spinach, etc.
        Raised bed are the way to go.

        1. Adrienne @ Whole New Mom

          I assume you live in the south from all of your fall planting?!

          Can you explain what you mean by “plastic over PVC”? I hope our raised beds go as well as yours! I am planning them this week w/ my friend who is a much more experienced gardener than I.

          1. Yes, we live in the south, but in the mountains of W. North Carolina and it gets quite cold in the winter and we have regular snow.
            Here’s what we are doing to grow all winter long:
            First, we are growing cold weather crops that are traditionally grown in the spring. Then, in my beds I have, on the inside perimeter four 10″ PVC pipes on each of the long sides, (directly across from each other) and four on the short sides. We connected these to the box with pipe strap (a strip of metal that is flexable with holes in it). I can’t remember the diameter of the pipe, I think maybe 3/4 inch. When it gets cold or there is a frost warning we take 10′ PVC pipe (smaller diameter) put one end in the left side of the box and bend it over to the matching pipe on the right. Some people criss-cross these, we don’t. We do this all the way down the bed. Then we take 2 or 4 mil plastic and cover the beds. It makes a nice little green house. And it’s much cheaper.
            For my summer crops we use the four pipes on the short ends of the bed for PVC pipe that we cut 3′ 4″ and drilled holes at equal distances down the pole. We slide these into the 10″ pipes and run strong string through the holes from one end to the other. These are what my peas and beans crawl up.
            Hope this was helpful. I’m not the best at explaining things ;).

  21. Pingback: Bulk Food Storage – The Foundation of a Whole Food Pantry {Guest Post at Kitchen Stewardship}

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