Montanans know better than anyone, the fewer trips you have to make to the grocery store, the happier everyone is. Buying in bulk saves money, trips to the store, and is great for being prepared for emergency scenarios like blizzards and hurricanes.
It also cuts down dramatically on the environmental footprint of our food purchasing habits, reducing travel and waste from packaging.
But how do you store food long term without it going bad?
It’s not an exact science, but there are several ways you can ensure that the bulk foods you invest in don’t go to waste.
What You Can Buy In Bulk
There are a lot of foods you can buy in bulk, but what you invest in (because bulk foods are absolutely an investment) really depends on the type of storage space you have and what your eating preferences are.
In short, store what you eat, and eat what you store — never get anything you’d be less than thrilled to turn into a meal, or you’ll wind up wasting a lot of food.
One of my favorite nutritional staples, wheat berries are a dry food that keeps for years, are high in protein and essential amino acids, and can be cooked a variety of ways, from sweet breakfast bowls to chili.
Get a 50 lb. bag of Wheat Montana wheat berries here.
Flour is a core staple that should ALWAYS be in your kitchen in some form. Wheat Montana sells flours in big beautiful bulk bags at their bakeries, and they’re perfect for keeping your kitchen stocked year round.
Get a 25 lb. bag of Wheat Montana whole wheat flour here.
Another nutrient-rich food that stores well long-term, oats are affordable, easy to find, and store really well in dry conditions.
You can get an 8-pack of Wheat Montana 7-Grain Cereal here.
Dried beans are cheap, protein-packed, and store for very long periods of time. Be sure to rinse them before cooking, and go for organic if you can.
Nuts can be a little trickier to store, but can last for a while under the right conditions. Always make sure you only store roasted and salted nuts, since raw ones can contain insect eggs and grow fungus.
Tea, Coffee, and Herbs
Over time dried goods can lose some of their flavor, so if you plan to store tea, coffee, or herbs, be sure their containers are airtight, and try to use them up yearly or every two years.
Meat can be stored in bulk quantities either dried or frozen. If storing large quantities of meat in your freezer, be sure that you have a plan for power outages (because that’s an expensive mistake to make).
If you talk to local farmers, many will cut you a deal on large bulk quantities of produce. Be prepared to spend plenty of time rinsing, prepping, and preserving your haul afterwards. It’s labor-intensive, but incredibly gratifying.
How to Store Food in Bulk
As you start stocking your pantry, it’s incredibly important to date and label EVERYTHING. What’s in it, where you got it, and what the estimated shelf life is. Better yet, cut the label off the packaging (if there is any, or print it off the company’s website), and tape it to the container itself.
Rotate Your Supplies
Think of your pantry or freezer as a grocery store, and like the stores, you need to rotate your stock regularly to ensure you’re using up what’s oldest first. Set reminders on your phone if you have to to ensure food are consumed by their expiration date, and prepare to come up with plenty of crafty recipes to ensure you don’t get sick of anything.
Keep It Cool, Dry, and Dark
Food stores the best in a space that’s kept cool and dark, so make sure that wherever your containers go, it’s a windowless space away from sources of heat like fireplaces and your kitchen. Keep a humidity gauge in the room to ensure things aren’t getting muggy without you realizing.
Use the Right Containers
A lot of people practice long-term food storage in plastic bags and are perfectly fine, but I prefer something a little sturdier to prevent the occasional mouse from stumbling onto a gold mine.
Whatever you use, make sure that it’s airtight and food-grade, and ALWAYS wash new containers before use.
Containers for Bulk Food Storage
Everyone has their own preference as to what works with their space, the amount of food they’re storing, and their budget, but there are a wide variety of container options available.
If you’ve ever worked in a restaurant, you’ve had to wrestle open those behemoth pickle buckets. Enormous though they may be, food grade buckets are perfect for long-term storage of bulk products like flour, oats, and wheat berries, and are BPA-free to boot. You can get some here, or you can talk local restaurants into saving theirs for you.
Glass or Plastic Jars
Mason jars are of course, perfect for storing preserved produce and herbs, but I also use the larger ones for things like nuts and beans. Like food-grade buckets, these are containers you can often get restaurants to set aside for you.
New Paint Cans
Though relatively unheard of, paint cans are a great smaller container option that keep bugs, light, and moisture out, while being a more manageable size. Though they’re mostly airtight, it’s advisable to use plastic bags as a backup if you plan to store something longer than ten years. And of course, only use new paint cans for food storage.
Food Storage for Peace of Mind
Long-term food storage isn’t just for preppers, it’s for anyone who’s ever lost a job, been hit with a power outage, or simply tried to reduce their grocery bill.
Whether it’s for emergency use or just so you can take advantage of the discounts of bulk pricing, get your containers and set up your space, and start figuring out what your family can start buying in bulk.
What do you buy in bulk? Let us know what and why on Facebook and tag us in the post @WheatMT!