Day: June 8, 2023

Thur. June 8, 2023 – some thoughts about food storage

Damp and cooler, but getting hot later.   It was 94F in the shade by late afternoon yesterday.   Then it rained, just enough to mess me up.  I’m hoping for dry today.  Got lots to do.

So yesterday, of all the things that need doing, I chose to attack the food shelves that had been despoiled by the rats, and the possum, and the exploding peach cans.   Joy.   Just moving all the cans to milk crates took a while, and I haven’t cleaned them yet.   Threw out a couple dozen.   Mostly  peaches, but also some other failures due to rust or acidity.  A case of tomato paste.  A case of tomato puree.   A half dozen condensed milks.   Some random veg.   There might be more as I clean them and restock the shelves.   I know I’ll have ‘breakage’ due to my extremely bad storage conditions, so it’s just part of the cost, but it sucks to have it all at once and for it to mess up other cans too.

I moved 6 months, one meal a day for 2 adults and 2 kids to milk crates.   It’s my minimum, my version of RBT’s “iron rations.”   One can meat, one can veg, rice.   Of course I have more, breakfast and more canned and dry food, but 6 months fits in 12 milk crates.   Stacks really well too.   Plus the buckets for the rice, one bucket per month.    32 cans per crate.  Roughly the same for meat.  There is a bit more variation in the size of the meat cans.   So two milk crates and a bucket will feed you a nutritious meal a day for a month.  You and your family.   You won’t get fat, but you won’t starve either.   Add a bucket of flour or tortilla mix, and a crate of soup cans and you get two meals a day.   The cans leave a bit of room at the top of the crate that could be filled with oatmeal in bags, or repackaged pancake mix too.

It’s all very compact for storage and isn’t crazy expensive.

For box meals, retort pouch meat, and mixes I’m still using shallow tubs with lids but you could pack that into either buckets or milk crates too.   I just find it easier to treat the tubs as ‘drawers’ and have access to the contents without un-stacking a bunch of stuff.   And for day to day, I’ve got the cans in FIFO racks.  Those racks were FILTHY from the burst cans, and the rodents.  I ended up pressure washing them, using a scrub brush and clorox cleaner on the shelves, and then pressure washing again..

Lessons learned, fruit in cans is not a super long term storage item.   Fruit in the cheapest Hill Country Farms cans is REALLY not a long term item.   Rust is  the enemy of cans.   The FIFO racks are very hard to clean and keep clean.   From now on, I’ll be putting a waste paper basket trash can liner over each bucket in storage.   The lids get filthy and opening a gamma seal lid is a 20 minute ordeal of cleaning before opening to be sure you don’t drop cr@p in and contaminate your dry food.   Clear plastic liners over the buckets should help tremendously.   The shallow tubs worked.   They protected their contents from cross contamination, and predation, and when a can inside popped, they kept the mess confined to the one tub.

If I was designing a storage/pantry system from scratch, I think I would build it around buckets and milk crates.   Each milk crate holds about 32 cans with some space at the top.   Mix your veg, beans, and other cans so each crate has a variety of food.  Do the same with your canned meat or pouch meat.  Fill a bucket with 25 pounds of rice (just shy of 3 cups to the pound, btw, and 200 calories a cup.)   Stack a few months worth in the closet.  Both buckets and crates stack well.  Pull two crates and a bucket at the start of the month, and refill them to rotate back into storage before the month is over.   You could decide to skip the rice and add another crate of veg instead.   Top off the crates with breakfast food like oatmeal or pancake mix.   Add a crate of soup for lunch.   Campbells cans are a bit smaller but not enough to get more in a crate.  There is more room for breakfast or condiments though.

Compact, sturdy, organized, and moveable if needed.  Easy to rotate.  Plus you can see at a glance how much time/food you have.  Easy to share if you want to.  Hand them a bucket and two crates.


Busy day today, I don’t know if I’ll get the remaining shelves cleaned and everything put back.  I’ve got pickups, an airport run to do, swim meet this evening, and all the normal domestic bliss…  I’m pushing my client into next week when the gear arrives.  DirecTV can wait a week for their gear.

Stack some more food.   You know you like to eat.  And if you don’t, I’m pretty sure you don’t like to starve.   Having at least one secure meal a day could make the difference for you and your family.



4 milk crates, and 2 buckets per month and you are living large.

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