Living Like By the Shores of Silver Lake ~ Food Storing Containers

by Merissa on May 13, 2011

in Living Like Little House

When the Ingalls  knew winter was near, they started to prepare of what they should do. Their first idea was to just go back East, they lived in a shanty out on the prairie and surviving would be difficult. But then Pa got the offer to stay in the Surveyors House on the other side of the lake. It was going to be empty for the winter and available. Laura gets to the house first because she ran ahead of the wagon and so she gets to describe what she saw for us.

"She opened the third door. A squeal of excitement came out of her mouth and startled the listening house. There before her eyes was a little store. All up the walls of that room were shelves, and on the shelves were dishes, and pots and pans, and boxes, and cans. All around under the shelves stood barrels and boxes. The first barrel was nearly full of flour. The second held corn meal. The third had a tight lid and was full of pieces of fat, white pork held down in brown brine. Laura had never seen so much salt pork at one time. There was a wooden box full of square soda crackers, and a box full of big slabs of salted fish. There was a large box of dried apples, and two sacks full of potatoes, and another big sack nearly full of beans. ~ By the Shores of Silver Lake p.144

In a previous Living Like Little House article I wrote I talked about my food storage in general. I showed a video of the different storage spaces that we keep things in around the house. But I didn't touch much on how we store our bulk goods like it talks about in this paragraph from the book.

I buy most of my food in bulk. Flour, beans, oats, rice, and more. For different products I have different storage methods, here is some of them.

For the products I get that come in large quantities, like 50lb bags of turbinado, sucanat, flour, I use 5 gallon food grade buckets. I order these from my co-op online. For lids, I buy gamma seal lids. You pound them on to create a seal and then they are so easy to open. You just twist the middle. They also help to make the buckets stack really nicely. And let me tell you, when you have several large buckets of food in your house you are trying to find storage for, being able to stack them really helps!

Those buckets work really well for the big things, but then there are other things I buy in bulk that don't really need such a big bucket. For these things (ie: powdered buttermilk, cocoa powder, salt) I like to use glass jars. I really like to store in glass when I can and I also really like to be able to see the product that's in the container without taking it off the shelf and opening it.

I use all sizes of glass jars for many different things. Like I said above, I like the gallon jars for bigger storage, I use half gallon jars for many things in the fridge like whey, chicken broth, and more. And I like the pint and quart jars for spices and small dried things.

Everyone should have a supply of clean water on hand in case of an emergency. Most sources recommend that you have 2 weeks of water supply on hand for every member of your family(1 gallon per person per day). Storing water in those plastic milk jug like containers isn't good because they deteriorate too fast and can leak chemicals into the water. I buy these opaque food grade jugs like the ones pictured above to have our water storage in.

What do you keep your food in? Is there something special you use that I didn't mention here?

Make sure you check out the entire Living Like Little House series!

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{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Heather May 13, 2011 at 7:27 pm

I recently started using gamma lids and I love them! It’s awesome to be able to buy in bulk without the awkwardness of storing big bags.


2 Merissa May 13, 2011 at 8:05 pm

Heather, do you have any of the Gamma lids for 2 gallon buckets? I’m going to get a couple of those next week, I haven’t tried them yet.


3 Heather May 13, 2011 at 8:21 pm

No, I haven’t tried those yet but I’m curious about them. I thought about getting them at one point and then decided that I don’t have much in that two gallon range that I need to store. Seems like most of my storage is big enough for a five gallon bucket (or two!) or small enough for a jar. Please let us know how they work out!


4 Merissa May 13, 2011 at 8:24 pm

I’m not totally sure what I’m going to put in them yet either but I think I will get one or two and just try them out. I will let you know if I find a good use for them!


5 Sam I Am May 17, 2011 at 9:10 am

Everytime i buy juice in a clear half gallon container, I save the container. I wash the container out and then fill it with water. I have about 5 gallons of water saved in our office closet. We also have 2- 55 gal. barrels outside filled with water.


6 Grammy Tammi May 26, 2011 at 3:00 pm

That’s what we do too. I like the Kirkland juices from Costco, those containers are really nice. And when we go camping, we take the water from the jugs to fill our 5 gallon jug. We also take a couple for drinking water for the dogs. This way we are always rotating the water.


7 Grammy Tammi May 26, 2011 at 4:45 pm

Where do you purchase your gallon jars?


8 Merissa May 26, 2011 at 4:46 pm

I either buy them from my co-op Azure Standard or I get them from local restaurants.


9 Stacy June 25, 2012 at 9:41 am

I am using emptied vinegar bottle for my water. They look just like the jugs in the pic you posted. The tap water here is awful, so I fill them up at my gorcer’s for 39 cents a gallon.


10 Benjamin Comeau January 31, 2013 at 7:21 pm

FYI: I have read that it is not good to store water in milk or juice jugs. Apparently no matter how well you wash them out, even using bleach, you cannot clean out all the sugar. And bacteria feed on sugar, thereby contaminating your water. Tried to find the link but my browser is not cooperating. Think I read it on


11 shannon January 27, 2014 at 9:16 pm

I also use the juice containers but I store.
Macaroni, rice, beans, spaghetti and other. Dry goods in them with a oxygen absorber. I also store my flour and sugar in them.


12 Dawn January 27, 2014 at 9:32 pm

May I ask where you order the plastic gallon jugs from? I would really like to purchase several.

Thank you!


13 Merissa January 28, 2014 at 7:50 am

I order them through my co-op, Azure Standard.


14 Jen Rice January 27, 2014 at 9:45 pm

A suggestion I heard for water was to just can it using extra Mason jars! The jars stay sterile and so does your water.


15 Susan January 27, 2014 at 9:48 pm

Would like more information on the plastic jugs you buy. I think they would also work nice for rice as well.


16 Danielle January 27, 2014 at 10:20 pm

We haul all our water in 5 gallon juga in the winter we use 55 5 gallon jugs and the summer we have a 250 gallon gravity feed tank for baths and dishes. The winter we average 250 gallons and the summer anywhere from 500 gallons to 1000. All hauled from town. Which is what we recommend because treated well water is tricky! We don’t have a well or running water of any kind( unless you count what runs off the roof!) there’s no water needed for an outhouse or we would need to haul more! I love food storage I. My big gallon jugs but I have just received some used food storage from a restaurant, those containers are TO.DIE.FOR!


17 Peter White January 27, 2014 at 11:12 pm

I have only one answer, Tupperware. I know the initial cost is high, but it is food grade plastic and so doesn’t leach chemicals and, in New Zealand still comes with a lifetime guarentee. I have containers and lids bought at thrift stores and garage sales as well as new. My oldest was my dad’s lunch box it dates from the mid 1960’s and is still airtight.


18 Jeannette Hickson January 28, 2014 at 12:54 am

I have a large extended family and I feed 3 to 30 each evening so we buy everything in bulk. I buy mayonaisse by the gallon, pickles by the gallon, ranch dressing by the gallon, etc. These are excellent gallon jugs and glass jars to recycle to keep rice, powdered milk, etc in. I also have cats so I by the cat litter by the 5 gallon buckets. I wash these carefully, dry them in the sun and then I store flour, sugar, noodles, etc in them. But you must remember, nothing is “in storage” for over 6 to 8 months. I use empty canning jars for nuts as they can go into the freezer for longer storage. A jar, jug, bucket or box never gets thrown away at my house. Also food is never thrown away. I have cats, dogs and chickens that get any leftovers left in the fridge 3 days or longer, and if they won’t eat it then it goes out for the wildlife. Oh and all the 4 teenage boys know about the 3 day rule in the fridge. Supper leftovers are always included in the next nights supper. Unless there is enough leftover for a whole other supper (it goes in the freezer). As I said, food NEVER goes to waste at my house and there is always something to store it in. Baggies as a last resort. I do have a food saver and love it for bulk cheese. A 30# horn of cheese will mold in baggies in a month but in the food saver it will last!


19 lynn January 28, 2014 at 3:49 am

Have you ever tried putting a hand-warmer packet in one of your buckets of dry goods? I had heard that it keeps the dry goods preserved. I never have tried it. Wondering if you heard of it or tried it. Thanks!


20 Merissa January 28, 2014 at 7:36 am

I have not tried it yet.


21 Audra Coldiron January 28, 2014 at 6:28 am

We do exactly the same thing here on Maryland’s Eastern Shore! The only difference is I’ve never heard of gamma lids. I’m off to research them now. Thanks!


22 Sheila January 28, 2014 at 4:21 pm has lots of useful ideas for storage which I use for my bulk storage.


23 Naomi January 29, 2014 at 5:39 pm

I always wanted a nice pantry like the had in the books so I can buy things in bulk and start cooking more meals at home.


24 Stephenie Shaw February 10, 2014 at 6:49 pm

These are great storage containers! I also can’t wait to try your rice flour chips…lucky for me I work at Azure Standard so I can get the ingredients and storage containers as I need them!


25 Sandy August 26, 2014 at 9:56 pm

The Azure Standard gallon glass jars come without lids. Where do you get your lids?


26 Merissa August 27, 2014 at 7:58 am

They sell them separately Sandy. Search on their site for “wide metal lids”.


27 marcia October 28, 2014 at 9:28 pm

We like to pick up gallon glass jars(those used for pickles in local bars) at the local recycling center that have been discarded. We clean them out very well before using them. We store everything from bulk oatmeal, pasta, cornmeal, bags of spices, dried beans and peas to name just a few things. Great for storing because the tops screw on tightly.


28 Guylaine February 4, 2015 at 10:56 am

Can we use vinegar gallon containers. I have alot of them, and I was wondering if these are good to store water in. They look just like the ones you show.


29 Merissa February 4, 2015 at 1:19 pm

Yes that’s what I use, they will keep much better than milk jugs because they are thicker. Just make sure to change the water every few months like with any water storage.


30 Robyne February 20, 2015 at 4:51 pm

Its always interested me I watched the shows Doomsday Preppers and America unplugged and non of them have rain water tanks like we have in Australia. Here we have at least 8 big tanks all filtered free clean water. As we don;t have mains it is our main supply but we always have enough water. On the chook pen we have 44 gallon drums we use in the gardens.
It would be a good way to have extra water on hand


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