Monday, January 24, 2011

Provident Living Spotlight - Food Grade Plastic Buckets for Free

Last week I found a 20lb bag of pinto beans for 13.00 dollars. That's pretty good. Normally they're around 23.00 dollars. When you buy food in bulk like that it usually comes packaged in a large plastic bag. That's fine if you are going to go through it quickly but not if you want to store it long-term. In plastic bags the food becomes susceptible to moisture, insects and rodents.

If you are just starting to make or built up a long-term food storage supply, the first thing you will need is something to store your food in. A great option is to use food-grade plastic buckets. Most buckets are food grade but there are times when they are not.

Sometimes dye has been added to the plastic that is not food-grade This will prevent the FDA from approving it as food-grade. Sometimes the bucket manufacturer uses recycled plastic. These buckets also are not food-grade. But most importantly, when something is put in the bucket that is a non-food product such as paint or chemicals, it makes them no longer food-grade.

Most plastic containers will have a number inside a small triangle, usually a 2. Some people think this signifies that the bucket is food grade but all it tells you is that it is made from High Density PolyEthylene (HDPE) plastic. HDPE plastic is slightly porous and will absorb chemicals or other non-food materials into the plastic and those chemicals would gradually leach back into any food you place in the bucket later. Not good.

So, how do you find buckets that are safe to use for your food storage? If you are going to buy them, ask the store. The grocery stores where I live sell food-grade buckets every few months when they do a canned goods case lot sale.

The buckets they sell are 5 gallon buckets made to store food safely and cost around 4-5 dollars. Sometimes they come with a lid and sometimes you have to buy them separately for $1.99.

I have a few of these. I store flour in one in my pantry but all the rest are filled with rice or wheat for my long-term storage. In my mom's pantry she has like 6. She stores her sugar, flour, rice, beans and a few other things in them.

To get an idea, one 5 gallon bucket holds around 30 lbs of sugar or 25 lbs of rice or beans. Using this size of buckets works for my mom because with 5 kids she was always rotating through her food fast enough. Once your stored food had been opened you should eat it within a year. With just me, my husband and a toddler there is no way we can cycle through that much food.

I started thinking that it would be great to have smaller buckets to help keep my food fresh but I've never seen a smaller size offered at my grocery stores.

The other day I was reading a few comments on being frugal and one of them mentioned that you can get used food-grade buckets from places like bakeries, ice cream manufacturers, large restaurants, or food processing plants. I guess Burger King's pickles come in 5 gallon buckets and someone knew a manager who would save them for him.

This was an awesome idea so I decided to try it out. You know they are food grade since they've only had food packaged in them by a professional company and best of all you can get them for free or really low cost.

The next time I went grocery shopping, I stopped by the bakery and asked if they had any food-grade buckets they were getting rid of. The woman said they didn't right then but they would at the end of the week and she'd save some for me if I wanted to come back. I said sure.

Sure enough, when I went back she had some for me and guess what? They even had 2 and 3.5 gallon buckets! Just what I was hoping for. All the icing they use for their cakes comes in the smaller size buckets but they did have 5 gallon buckets too.

This made my day. I was kind of skeptical that it would actually work but my motto for life has been "It never hurts to ask" so I did and I ended up getting exactly what I wanted for free! If I would've had to buy them (if I could even find the right size) I'd have had to spend at least 15 dollars which is more than my bag of beans cost. And best of all, the bakery didn't have to throw them away so I'm helping the environment too.

There are ways to be provident all around us. It just takes initiative.

I'd love to hear any ideas you might have.

3 comments:

  1. I am more a glass girl, and have paid the big bucks for glass bottles and jars of various sizes. However if you have coffee places, you know like Duncan Donuts or those such chains they also have the various bucket sizes and usually are awesome about no cost, just take them away. Have used in the past, until I went on a glass thing.

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