Retro Saturday: Free Bulk Food Storage

Retro Saturdays give Ivy and I a chance to hang out with our families and gives our newer readers a peek at what’s in our archives. Please thank Ivy for holding down the fort while I took a much needed vacation with the kiddos.
girlHeather says:

freebucket.jpgMy family goes through oatmeal at an amazing rate. We have it nearly every morning with different add ins. I purchase the oats in bulk , but the store is in an area that is nowhere near my usual circuit. My regular grocery store was quiet the other morning and I had a brief chat with the lady in the bakery department. I asked if she had any of the 5 gallon buckets used to store frosting. She said I was welcome to have one, but that I would need to wash it out.

A little hot water, a little soap, and I now have a great place to keep my oats. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be getting a few more for rice, flour, and sugar.

Remember to be considerate while asking, if the department is hopping, wait for another day. Every bucket repurposed as bulk storage is one less bucket that heads for the recycling plant or the landfill.


  1. Diaper Cakes Becca on February 2, 2009 at 9:57 am

    I am going to be a “guest” at Costco this week….check it out and see if it works for my family. What a great idea, though! I would love to switch our menu over to these items and save some money on groceries. We are spending WAY TOO MUCH every week on food….and I can now think of all these inexpensive recipes that would utilize these ingredients.

    I love this site!

  2. Rebecca on February 2, 2009 at 1:42 am

    These buckets are great for storing whole grains in. We buy dry bulk items like wheat, beans, and rice and store them in similar buckets.

    I do want to note that its really not a good idea to line them with trashbags. The buckets are food grade, and won’t leech chemicals into your food, but trashbags are NOT foodgrade. Most tinted plastics will start leaving color behind on things inside…and you don’t want to be eating that. Its best to just put the things right in the foodgrade buckets. Or you can purchase mylar bags that you can seal with your handy dandy iron. But they can be a bit pricey.

  3. Carye on February 1, 2009 at 11:00 pm

    Very clever, but then again, you’ve always been brilliant. I too go through a lot of oatmeal and this would be good for that, but also for bulk bird seed, parrot chow, etc.

    I’ve missed reading this. I was without a computer for so long.

    Good to *see you and Ivy.

  4. Keter on February 1, 2009 at 9:56 pm

    I keep six months’ worth of dry staples (rice, beans, oatmeal, dry milk, flours, noodles, salt, basic spices, etc.) in a spare closet, in thick garbage bags inside Rubbermaid bins. To prevent bugs, freeze everything for a couple of days to kill lurking eggs and larvae before sealing inside the knotted garbage bags. Be sure to date label and rotate (newest in, oldest out) stock regularly.

    I haven’t found a bulk deal for oatmeal that beats $1.99 for 42oz. (generic) at my local Super S. I bought some bulk Quaker at Costco the other day, and not only was it more expensive by almost double, I couldn’t tell the difference in taste or cooking performance. The Quaker was a bit prettier – more whole flakes of consistent size – but the tongue and stomach don’t care about looks, and all oatmeal looks pretty much the same once cooked.

    Now that I have all that oatmeal, where can I get bulk sheeps’ stomachs for making haggis? NOT! ;o) But I do mix it with ground turkey and assorted veggies to make my own dog food.

  5. Heather on February 1, 2009 at 7:55 pm

    Currently I buy rolled oats by the pound at Whole Foods. We go through it fairly quickly. I’ve been disappointed to see a price jump in the last six months. We used to get it for $0.99lb and now it’s $1.49 which is a significant change that I find frustrating. I’m looking to see if I can find it cheaper, elsewhere.

  6. Lotte W on February 1, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    Fantastic idea!

    I use a large plastic bucket that originally contained Halloween candy to store my homemade granola, but hadn’t thought of asking about the empty frosting containers.

    I buy flour, sugar, pasta and rice in bulk (Costco mostly) and store them in large stackable flip-top plastic boxes that I bought from Ikea. A stack of 3 of these is the perfect height to fit under a metal kitchen counter/table (also an Ikea purchase), and it is just wide enough to take 2 stacks plus my kitchen bin. This means I can have one for rice, one for pasta, one for sugar, one for wholemeal flour, one for bread flour and one for all purpose flour.

    I do need somewhere to store oatmeal though as it is the regular breakfast for the kids in our house too, so will be asking about the frosting buckets!

  7. Diaper Cakes Becca on February 1, 2009 at 9:03 am

    Where are you guys buying this stuff in bulk….Sam’s or Costco? Just wondering because with a family of 7 we should be doing this. One of the big turn-offs for me has been lack of storage or shelf space. With one of these (or a few) we could make use of the floor space under the shelving in the pantry.

    Do the oats and sugar and flour come in those big “Little House on The Prarie” sacks?

  8. Christina @ Northern Cheapskate on February 1, 2009 at 7:04 am

    I agree! This big containers are perfect for bulk food storage! Our local community college has a culinary arts program and they are always willing to give out these large containers. They work great for storing dry dog food!

  9. kira on February 1, 2009 at 12:25 am

    There are a lot of great sites out there that will sell you bulk amounts of oatmeal at GREAT prices for your bucket! Just make sure to package it right or you will get lots of bugs … I learned that one the hard way with my oatmeal.

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