What do you use to store your preps in?

my family survival What do you use to store your preps in?

Today’s non-fiction writing contest entry; “What do you use to store your preps in?” was written By Trish

We all have various ways to store our preps for various scenarios. Most of us purchase our storage outright from whatever store we like. But what about recycling the plastic storage we find with other items.
I’m a strong believer in trying to recycle “stuff” that most would throw in the landfill. My oldest son is beginning to catch on that mom is not going to throw something away if it can be used for another purpose, especially for prep storage! When I have enough, I find someone else who could use them, or recycle them if they can be recycled. I’ve also included some of the other store purchased containers I’m using.

Packaged lunch meat containers

These are mostly the Ziploc type storage boxes. They are washable and reusable. I use these for small items like matches or tea/votive candles, or sewing items like thread, needles and small collapsible scissors, and other small items, or for personalized first aid kits to be put in bug-out-bags. I also use them to store small similar items in bigger containers that we have for the various categories in our main storage. They can also be used in a pinch for pet food and water, dishes to eat in, gathering water, and other things in a SHTF scenario.

Other Small Plastic containers

I have a thing for the instant cappuccino…..not the small cans, though those can be used for storage of small items, too, but they are metal, and can rust. I buy the Hill’s Brothers brand cappuccino in English Toffee flavor. (One of my indulgences,) These are red plastic boxes with a gold lid. It makes a good container for a first aid kit and easy to find.

The only drawback I have found with these for storage is that the lids can come off easily, but some duct or masking tape works wonders to keep the lids on. I’ve currently got a lighting “kit” in them consisting of tea and votive candles, lighter, and a small box of matches. I currently have eight of them…..one for each of us to use in any situation, but I’m going to do a few more just in case.

Plus I’ve also made personal first aid kits in these.
Empty mechanical pencil lead containers are awesome for putting needles and pins in to keep you from being poked by them in your BOB or INCH bag. These are hard plastic. Some have sliding lids and others have pull off lids.

Empty M&M cylinder tubes and medicine bottles (with the labels removed, then washed and dried) can be used for small items like dice and playing pieces for board games, small batteries (AA and AAA), lint or small pieces of steel wool for fire starting, jewelry, and other small or tiny items that you don’t want to lose. You can put them in another container or vacuum seal them.

I have some of my parent’s empty bottles and some of the M&M cylinder containers with lint in them to start fires that I vacuum sealed. I divided some of the large bags lengthwise into 3 compartments, sealed the bottom, put in an M&M tube into each section, then vacuum sealed closed. You can do the same with the medicine bottles, just figure out how many bottles you can put into the vacuum bags. One container can be cut free by cutting next to the seal, leaving the other container sealed closed in the vacuum bag.

Butter, cottage cheese, and other food containers are good for storing things like nuts, bolts, washers, small spools of wire, nails, batteries, duct tape, scotch tape, and other small items. Like the cappuccino containers, a little duct tape will keep the lids securely on the container.

I’m going to vacuum seal these containers in my food saver to keep moisture out as well as keep the contents in the box, adding desiccant packs to them to take care of any moisture that may be in the containers before they are vacuum sealed.

I know most don’t smoke or use e-cigarettes, but a lot of these come in hard plastic containers that could be used for storing fish line, hooks and sinkers in them, and be used to wrap the line around for fishing purposes. Casting, like for fly fishing, would be difficult using the case for the reel. This set up would probably be best suited for “off the bridge” fishing where you can just drop your weighted line off a bridge or pier to fish.

Kitty litter buckets

OMG! We go through two buckets/jugs of kitty litter a month for the two cats we have in the house. I used to throw them away, but in the last three years….most of them are kept and are used for something. Talk about handy storage and a multitude of uses! They may not have a sturdy hinge or a super locking lid, but they are awesome for a lot of things and come in various sizes and types. And since these are plastic, they stack well, and, they are relatively waterproof! They can also be used as seating if you need it in short term situation (a pad or pillow would be suggested to put on the lid).

Storing food in them is not suggested, but you can store just about anything else in them. I have various litter buckets with similar items in them like shampoo and conditioner; shower gels and bar soaps; shaving cream/gel and razors; hair stuff like brushes, combs, mirrors, hair pins, clips, and elastic ties; “clean up” stuff like rubber gloves, work gloves, plastic drop cloths, old rags, and such for storm clean up; dish clean up that has a collapsible plastic double sink used for camping, dish soap, dish towels and sponges; one that has tools like hammers, screw drivers of various types and sizes, nails, screws, a small hand saw, and other things; towels, wash cloths (in vacuum sealed bags) and solar showers; candles, lighters and matches; old clothes that have been cut/torn into rags; sterno and sterno stoves; and there are a couple of more categories that I have that I can’t remember. Some of the categories have more than one bucket. I do have eight of them as personal bug out buckets as not everything that will be needed will fit into a bug out bag.

These are also good for using as a toilet (IF you have to) in any scenario that you don’t have running water or a facility to use. I use a short litter bucket for the car/truck emergency kits. I don’t know about any of you, but being stuck in a vehicle for three or four hours without being able to use a bathroom is not something that appeals to me.

I put most of the emergency kit in some sort of plastic box or bag so it can be removed easily so that if I have to use the bucket for a toilet it’s not a hassle….don’t forget to include the toilet paper! You could use a potty bag in the shorter litter boxes that have a removable lid. The short ones are getting harder to find at Walmart, but could probably be found at a regular grocery store.

I used kitty litter buckets during my temporary stay in Oklahoma to store water in for flushing the toilet if the electricity went out (the well wouldn’t be working). I also washed some of them out really well and bleached them to store bathing and dish washing water in. I do not suggest using the buckets for drinking water as there are chemicals that could still remain in the buckets even after washing and bleaching them, as they are not rated for safe food or drinking water storage.

Kitty litter jugs

These are stored around our house for flushing toilets in an emergency. We keep two in the second floor bathroom and the main floor bathroom has one….the rest are stored in the basement. The large jugs hold about 2 ½ gallons of water for flushing the toilets. These could also be washed out and bleached for use for bathing and dish washing. As with the kitty litter buckets….these are not suggested, nor recommended for drinking water storage.

Plastic boxes with “locking” lids

These boxes have a “lock” that comes over the lid to secure it in place. These have been a God send for me as I started buying them when I was traveling between Illinois and Oklahoma at least once a month…..and it made it so much easier for me to load up the bed of the Dakota truck when I had to load it up really quick by myself when there was the threat of a wild fire near where I was temporarily living. I was proud of myself….

I actually loaded the truck in 30 minutes by myself. These boxes stack quite nicely together, come in lots of different sizes, and can be found at Walmart and Target. I have extra towels, wash cloths, sheets, blankets and pillows in big ones plus most of our back up first aid supplies in one big one with smaller boxes inside to separate items like bandages, gauze, first aid tape, scissors, and such.

Vacuum seal “Space” bags

These are somewhat good for keeping blankets, clothes, pillows, sheets and such dry. My only issue with these “Space” bags is that they sometimes do not stay sealed. I wish that Food Saver would make a larger version of their sealer, along with the larger bags for things like the blankets, etc. But, alas they don’t.

Food Saver and Bags

This is the most awesome thing I have ever purchased!! I have both sizes of bags, and have made very good use of it for prepping. If it can be ruined by moisture or dirt/dust, it goes in the food saver bags. I have divided the bags for the M&M and medicine containers with lint, bandaids of all sizes, toothbrushes, tea and coffee bags, and bar soap, and undivided for gauze pads, towels, wash cloths, small clothing items, food items (in their original boxes or bags), and even though it squishes the tubes, I’ve vacuum sealed paper towels and toilet paper to make them more compact (and waterproof) to fit into a bucket or bug out bag.

These are some of my storage solutions that I’m using for our SHTF scenarios.

Prizes for this round (ends October 20th 2014 ) in our non fiction writing contest include…

  1. First place winner will receive –  A $500 gift certificate off of any product or products at MRE Depot!
  2. Second place winner will receive –  a gift a gift certificate for $150 off of  Winchester ammo from LuckyGunner and a Wonder Junior Deluxe grain mill courtesy of Kitchen Neads.
  3. Third place winner will receive – a Survival Puck  courtesy of Innovation Industries and  20 Live Fire Sport – Emergency Fire Starters from LPC Survival.
  4. Fourth Place winner will receive –  a copy of my book ”31 Days to Survival: A Complete Plan for Emergency Preparedness“ and “Dirt Cheap Survival Retreat” courtesy of  TheSurvivalistBlog.net and copy of “The Survival Medicine Handbook” courtesy of www.doomandbloom.net.

Well what are you waiting for – email your entries today. But please read the rules that are listed below first…

Comments

  1. I’m a big fan of recycling and repurposing. Great article and you gave me several ideas I hadn’t thought about. If I may,I’d like to add an idea that might come in handy in a cooking emergency. Those tin cans that you see around the holidays can be made easily into hobo stoves and wood gas stoves to cook on or purify water.

    • I have to agree, bc. We reuse as much as we can. One brand of bottled water we drink comes in really sturdy 16.9 oz bottles. I have 4 30 gal trash bags of them saved and probably 3 times as many lids.

      I same, not only medicine bottles, but opaque vitamin bottles and the little snap-top canisters my blood test strips come in.

      I save small broken electronic devices for modeling parts. It’s amazing what looks good on the outside of some SIFI modle project, after you paint it.

      Of course there are for food grade buckets and barrels that you get from the store. Water containers from 5 gal to 275 gal.

      We use a bunch of zip-lock bags, although I don’t recycle those from packaged foods, we do reuse the freezer-type (heavier duty) we buy from our business.

      Re-purposing is a great way to save, and even make money. Just look at what BC does.

      • Another thing we have been changing over to are clear, stackable plastic containers for large and smaller items. For multiple quantity smaller item I get a 12.7 qt tub from Wal-Mart. They are under $5 each, stack well, and then get a label. After a while you really appreciate being able to see what is in a container, versus opening the box to find out.

        • I’m in the process of doing that as well. Out with the cardboard boxes (which get recycled into mulch and compost) and in with the clear tubs. Been repacking bulk handgun ammo into 50 round plastic boxes as well.

          My favorite re-purposed item is a vintage Alka-Seltzer travel tube with a metal screw on lid (with sandpaper glued inside the cap for JIC) that my mother kept quarters in. It now holds two bundles of strike anywhere matches packed in vacuum sealed plastic bags in my go bag.

    • mountaingypsy says:

      JC, I grew up in a family from depression days. So reusing things I totally approve, and am used to. I hate to go buy, buy, buy if a bit of common sense comes in handy to repurpose. Garage sales, as we know are a great way to get good cheap stuff. One time I bought loads of canning jars at garage sales, reused their stuff. Dollar store places usually have better prices than Wal Mart, which I refuse to support. I have to watch the hoarding tendency that my grandparents/parents used to do! They never ran out of toilet paper, string, canned goods, paper sacks, plastic containers…..ha!

  2. Thomas The Tinker says:

    DW and I do our shopping with an eye toward food grade containers. MommaSan loves Diet Coke…. we only buy it in the 2 liter size… I love the empties. Anything in a Bucket… yeaaah. Plastic Coffee ‘cans’ are how I store small lots of ‘ready’ ammunition. Put in a few copper pennies and a coffee filter load of Cat litter… a ring of tub caulk around the lid and burp it when closing.

  3. Nebraska Woman says:

    And I thought I was organized!! Great ideas.

  4. I am currently laundering/cleaning everything and sticking it in trash bags and/or plastic tubs in preparation for the exterminator to come and de-bedbug my house in a couple days. I have an enormous amount of clothes and linens to clean.

    I think having clean clothes/sheets in protective, airtight plastic bags can be a time saver in the future, if I ever get bedbugs again. Since I have to undergo 4 treatments 2 weeks apart, each with the same “clean everything” requirement, I chose one trash bag to be my “suitcase” and I will just keep wearing and laundering that bag full and keep the rest of the clothes stored in their respective bags until it’s over.

    I once saw what another lady did as a regular practice, she had all her shirts and lingerie in Ziploc freezer bags, and then stacked the bags up in bins. Each garment was visible that way and separate from the rest, and the bins didn’t need to be airtight. That might be a little much in the way of packaging, but she was also able to suck the air out of the bags and get the garments to pack down quite a bit. There are also garment storage bags that can hold several garments and have valves to remove the air.

    In an extended grid-down, the options for fighting bedbugs are going to be very much reduced. Maybe all people will be able to do is sweep with a broom or whisk broom, and strew DE, herbs, or poisons they already had sitting around, or switch from a mattress to a hammock or something else easy to clean. Also, if there is ever a nuclear incident and we get a lot of fallout dust, you might want to have clean clothes in plastic, so you don’t have to wash the dust out of everything with your precious drinking water before you wear it.

    Once I get everything laundered, and the house gets fumigated, I’m going through it all and getting rid of most of it. I just want to give the thrift store clean clothes, and not a case of bedbugs.

    As for food, for dry things like beans I use Homer buckets. Lately I’ve been leaving the beans in the bags they came in, and just shoving the whole bag into the Homer bucket. I have a lot of canning jars. I will re-use lids I already canned with once, for dry things stored in jars, since they don’t need to be vacuum packed. I also save wine bottles, beer bottles, 2 liter bottles, coffee cans, cookie tins from the thrift, spice shakers, pickle jars from my tenants, and condiment jars from the store with lids.

    I recently got rid of a lot of booze bottles and only kept the wine bottles, because it was getting stupid how many bottles I had accumulated and I hadn’t decanted anything into them.

    • In an extended grid down, we’ll have more to worry about than bedbugs, but at least the preventative is easier than enduring them. It’s only the speed at which I need to accomplish all this cleaning that is such a drag. Others who don’t have a deadline or bugs now may take their time.

      • mountaingypsy says:

        PP, I am not sure what all critters (or bugs) this works on, but we had some mice get in this past fall/winter. I had read that peppermint oil makes them leave. I tried and it worked !! They left! But I about fumigated us as well. ha. It takes a few minutes until the potent smell goes. I just dripped a little oil behind furniture or where they left evidence of being. So, no traps, or other yucky ways to rid them. I can’t remember the natural way to get rid of bed bugs etc. I am sure a remedy is available on sites to avoid harmful chemicals. Outside, I will not use round up.

      • Cedarcide is great for bedbugs, fleas, spiders etc. It is non-toxic and does not stain. You may spray it right on your pets for fleas. I am looking to make my own with Texas red cedar oil in the future as Cedarcide is spendy but works great.

  5. I use a cabinet in the kitchen for the food, water, and other stuff. I also use boxes

  6. I really like the frenchs onion plastic tubs with a snap top have made several “coat pocket” survival kits with them also made several survival fishing kits with pill bottles they work well as you can wrap the line around the bottle while fishing and everything fits in the bottle which in turn fits in your pocket. I buy the metal coffee cans when i find them make great emergency bucket to boil water plastic ones organize empty shell casings etc. Half gallon juice bottles hold water stores. Getpickle buckets from work and long term rice and bean storage plastic 18 gallon totes also hold food storage in mylar bags. Ammo cans and smaller totes for ammo and fire making preps. Pantry holds canned soups and more readily used food preps.

  7. Good article. And a LOL, ’cause I know we preppers eyeball just about everything in our path for useful purposes.

    I use boxes (w/cardboard pad between) for regular canned goods & label the boxes. Some small things (i.e. granola bars) go into freezer bags & then sealed with my PumpNSeal, then put into plastic boxes. Most other things are in plastic boxes as is. It was a killer when the dp (not a very good helper & doesn’t have a clue) started unloading boxes and putting stuff on a totally different shelf in direct sunlight. Groan.

    Other/small containers: Re-use glass jars, plastic mint containers, Altoids metal boxes, ammo boxes, plastic coffee jugs, plastic pails, 64 oz Snapple plastic bottles, pretzel plastic jugs w/lid, 35mm film cannisters, and virtually anything that be closed or sealed.

  8. 5 gal buckets of course. Canning jars but for normal canning process not for storing rice or other items. Mylar sealed bags inside 5 gal buckets for some food items. I like 5 gal water bottles for storing water (the kind you put in a water cooler), easy to carry and easy to buy. regular cans of food bought at the supermarket. Frezze dried food in #10 cans. And some freeze dried food in single and double serving mylar packs.

  9. Oxy- Moron says:

    Trish
    What type of vacume sealer do you have that allows you to make compartments in the vacume seal bags?

    • Betty Keeney says:

      Turn the bags sideways and put a seal where you want it. And across the bottom. Leave the top open to put stuff in before sealing. I did extra medicine pills/capsules this way. Great for storing little things easier and very handy.

  10. I have a first aid kit and a fire kit in altoids tins. I use 3 liter pop bottles from the dollar store for water storage. I use old medicine bottles to store matches, and old film canisters to store spare flashlight bulbs packed in cottonballs.

  11. I had considered using my old cat litter buckets for storage, but hesitated because I didn’t want to store food in them. But your article has so many great suggestions, I will be keeping them and using them for storing non-food preps! And if someone breaks into my garage, heaven forbid, they probably won’t ransack cat litter buckets!

    • mountaingypsy says:

      Jeanne, LOL about anyone wanting the kitty litter buckets. I think you can use the Mylar storage bags, that seal, in any buckets that are not food grade. Recycling all the storage containers mentioned by everyone are great ideas. I hate spending money on store bought, if I can reuse. I do love the large clear storage containers. I am in process ditching all the cardboard boxes, I used before. I keep reading about some plastics leaching into foods stored or microwaved in them. I am still doing that though. Perhaps a smaller size inner bag can be used in some containers. The oddity of different containers, is a good prep tip also good when traveling.

  12. Weird, I just lost my post.

    Anyway, who knows of a good/cheap place to buy food grade storage buckets? I haven’t priced any in stores but my “trader’s helper” someone was selling buckets with lids for $1.50.

    • Canyonman says:

      Haven’t seen ‘em for $1.50, but you can buy buckets plus lids at Lowe’s for a better price than some of the prep suppliers. We’ve had a few packed with bags of rice/ramen/dehydrated potatoes for several years, and they seem to be just fine.

    • I now get mine for $2 cleaned with used but serviceable lids from a candy store. They make taffy and fudge.

      • Tinkicker says:

        And I bet they STILL smell flippin’ AWESOME! The smell of fudge alone during hard times could cheer me up. :D :D :D

    • karena
      Check with your major grocery stores that have a good sized bakery, and ask if you can have their food grade buckets “with lids”. The major stores will just give them to you, saves on their trash bill. If you have a large bakery in your town, see if they will let you have them. It does not hurt to ask sometimes the say YES and sometimes they say no.
      If you get the buckets with the garlic margarine spread wipe it out with paper towels and use Dawn dish soap to cut the grease. Try to remove as much of the spread as you can, or it will clog up your drain if you do not remove it before washing them up.

      Do not ask Winco or WalMart, they do not give them to the customers.

      • Encourager says:

        It depends on the manager of the store, Becky. We have two Walmart’s within driving distance that will give them away – and one actually washes them first – and one that won’t. Always ask!

        • Encourager;
          Your store managers understand their customers and their needs.
          Our W/Mart store sells the buckets if you want them(cheap skates). I acquire mine through Safeway and Raley’s they are so happy to get rid of them to the public. What is also nice I have made acquaintances with the employees at the different stores.

    • Go to the bakery department at Kroger grocery stores. Ask for their frosting tubs/buckets. They usually have three or four different sizes & just throw them away. They will take down your phone number, and call you in a few days when they have some of them saved up, and are glad to give them to someone. They are food grade buckets, and generally have a tight fitting lid so the frosting does not dry out.

    • Just make sure there is a “2” in the recycling triangle – that means something is food grade.

      • No! It’s not enough that a bucket is stamped #2. Both food grade AND non-food-grade buckets can be #2. The difference is the release lubricant that the manufacturer uses between the mold and the newly molded bucket. The non-food oil is cheaper, so they want to use that kind whenever possible. The food-grade lubricant costs more, so they only use it when they must for their food industry clients. That’s why it is such a bonus when we can get recycled buckets from a food source, like a bakery or deli. It’s a sure thing.

    • Encourager says:

      We get food grade 3 and 5 gallon buckets at Walmart and Sam’s Club for free. Yes, they need a good cleaning, but I like the free part. Any grocery store that makes cakes will have these as frosting comes in them.

      We were in KY one year on the 127 World’s Longest Yard Sale and found 3 gallon square buckets with a nice snap down lid for $1 each. They came from a baby food manufacturer and the company gave them away to employees. The ones we bought had held organic butternut squash puree. So if you have a plant nearby that processes baby food, check them out.

      Another use for the M&M tube containers and for the larger 90 day Rx containers is to use them to store BB’s or small pebbles for your slingshot.

  13. I’m bad.. I use the kitty litter buckets to store some of my food preps… but in my defense… I only store canned goods or things I have sealed in mylar in those… ;) Other than that, I definitely re-use and re-purpose everything I can to get the most out of it with the goal of having it “just in case”.

    • Country Vet says:

      Shandi
      You are not bad. There is absolutely no reason not use the cat litter buckets. They are completely safe for anything that is not going to contact the surface directly, so any packaged products such as rice, etc would be fine.

    • Shandi,
      I was so glad to read down to your post, and to have CountryVet confirm that the kitty litter tubs are OK. I use them to store things I have in Mylar/o2 absorbers. I scrubbed them out good and spray painted the outside white. On an index card I have written the contents.
      And they stack great!
      The brand I use changed from those wonderful tubs to a heavy duty bag about a year ago,, but we have lots of them saved from over the years.

  14. ChristineM says:

    Very helpful article.
    Margarita buckets work well for sample/ hotel size shampoo, soap, etc.

  15. PrepperLabGirl says:

    Trish, awesome use of kitty litter buckets! I don’t have a cat but my son does. Will have to see if he buys litter in buckets.
    Remember when mayo came in glass jars? I saved them for years and stored dried herbs and peppers in them. I’m still using them. Also use lots of glass canning jars.
    I use my vacuum saver and store the packages in plastic containers because they stack. 2 liter bottles of water are stored in cardboard boxes. We get large styrofoam ice chest shipping containers where I work and they are discarded. I use them for storing dog food and layer pellets.

  16. Cat litter plastic buckets, I use for emergency medical supplies(grab & go), everything inside is either vacuum sealed or in another container with a products list inside. There is also a medical list placed inside a plastic sheet, which is taped to the outside of the bucket for a quick summery of the contents. At the present time I have two of these, and each one is a duplicate of the other one-JIC.
    The plastic medicine bottles I have been putting the specialized nails, screws, washers we store in the garage inside these with one of the items taped to the outside for a quick location and usage.

    • Rocketmama says:

      Becky:

      I LOVE the idea of using the plastic medicine bottles for specialized nails and such. Great idea to tape one to the outside. Totally using this idea!

      • Rocketmama
        Forgot mention the tape I use to secure the item to the outside container is clear packing tape. It is stronger and more durable than household tape. It handles the heat and cold fluctuation in our garage. Glad you liked this idea :-).

  17. patientmomma says:

    Good article; something we can all use! One thing I learned from a long-ago post on this site is to put your dryer lint in cardboard tubes and add either a bit of wax or petro-jelly in the middle and use for fire starter,, I also add dog hair in with the lint as it lights quickly. I also save the plastic packaging the freezer popsicles come in; after sanitizing I put salt, pepper, other spices, Gatorade, peanut butter and hot sauce in them and seal them up on the food saver. I have a friend who orders a lot of carry out and he gives me the packets of plastic utensils which also contain napkins, some contain spices. I package them with MREs and seal them in a food saver bag, which goes into different kits or cache barrels.

  18. Sisterjudi says:

    Thought provoking article.Thank you.Mother Superior says
    Waste not..want not.Good advice.

  19. TimeHasCome says:

    These are all great ideas . I found a commercial restaurant supply company that sells tomato sauce , tarter sauce and salad dressings in 55 gallon metal drums with the hoop ring gasket lids. When they reach their replacement date they are sold to the public for $25 each . The horse people buy them to store grains so they go fast . I use them to store all my dry goods . That would be bags of rice, beans, sugar , wheat , barley. They can hold up to #250 pounds and they can stack .

  20. Chuck Findlay says:

    I clean out and save a lot of glass jars for (spaghetti sauce size) for dry (oven) canning noodles, rice and other dry goods. the size is great for one person meals. I put the noodles in the jars and put them in the oven for 45-min at 240 deg. When they come out and cool off the lid pops down just like a canning jar. I would not use them for normal canning, but for dry food they work good.

  21. I store my beans, rice, noodles, flour, sugar, water and other dry goods in Coffeemate 2.2 lb plastic cans, and it is stackable. been doing it for 4 years now. Works well and they are stackable, water tight, and can be burried for a cache.

  22. mom of three says:

    I save the big yogurt &cottage cheese container’s for my mother, we use them to pick blackberries, each year, I save one to pick my raspberry, for the season then recycle it out I just don’t have the extra room to store containers. Great ideas to share with others.

  23. I get free food grade buckets from local bakeries and I store all sorts of food and non food items in them. Have quite a collection now that are clearly labelled. A friend loves a certain brand of cookies that come in tall square tins that I get from him and I store my bars of soap in them (mouse-proof). Some large plastic coffee containers from a friend are ideal to store emergency use toilet paper, while the big tote buckets store many dozens of double rolls of toilet paper with the centres removed. Other tote buckets safely store mylar bags of food from the inevitable mice around here. And like others, I buy most of my canning jars from yard sales and thrift shops, same with manual food appliances. I also get some free from elderly neighbors. Friends who buy tomato sauces in the ‘mason’ jars save them for me and I can food with them since they really are mason jars. I also check out the local Mennonite and Amish stores for better deals on items like quality bread pans, canning lids, etc. Ask around and you’ll find they also sell lamp kerosene very cheap.

    A friend gave me box loads of wools and yarns when she cleaned out her late mother’s house and now I have lots to knit mittens, scarves, sweaters, etc. It’s a bit mix and match but for free, who cares? I also collect garden tools from friends or get them at thrift shops. Hard to beat the durability and quality of North American made tools.

    I also trade plants with others and have nice clumps of comfrey, elderberries, tansy and other usefuls I didn’t have before. If I see a useful food plant in someone’s yard that they don’t use themselves, I ask permission and most are thrilled to see the item put to good use.

    • Gloria:

      You mentioned putting TP in a plastic coffee can. I have a friend who came up with a neat deal for his truck. You take the small plastic coffee can, removed the cardboard tube from the TP, then put it in the can pulling the sheets from the inside instead of the outside. Works great and being red, does not get lost in the truck.

  24. JP – I do a similar idea. I have recycled 5 gal buckets that I bought the special toilet seats for and the coffee can TP dispensers are for them – 1 for #1, 1 for #2 – both are lined with black garbage bags for easier cleaning and disposal. Where I live we can no longer use the black plastic bags for garbage disposal.

    Forgot to mention I also save all cooking oils that I strain into canning jars that, when full, I waterbath to use later as lamp oil. I also collect used wine bottles that I scrub out and rinse with proper cleaning solution to decant the buckets of wine I buy… and then reuse the buckets.

    • I like your lamp oil idea! I used to put my earphones in an alto ides tin when I was commuting – that keeps the wires from getting tangled. I stored some dry goods in never-used metal gallon paint cans, but since we could only get Teflon lined cans, I used food-grade bags to line them first. I am currently using 2 liter coke bottles to store the water from the dehumidifier for plant watering.

  25. Canyonman says:

    I’ve been waiting to mention this, seems like as good a thread as any. But I don’t think I’ve seen anyone here mention individually packaged wet wipes/moist towelettes. We have purchased a LOT of these things. Ideal for your BOB/BOFP (Fanny Pack)/etc.

    This guy sells ‘em $6.50 for 100. eBay item number 321307723556

    • Canyonman:

      The are great. If you know an Amway dealer get some of their LOC Towelettes. These are great. Remove all the grime you would expect, leaving no smell or residue. I take them to the gun shoots to wipe my hands afterwards. The guys loved them.

  26. Canyonman, if you have a Costco card (or know a friend who has one) you can get 900 of their Kirkland baby wipes for about $20. They don’t smell babyish and are sturdier than either the Pampers of huggies brands. . My grown sons love them for cleaning up on their 18 wheelers when they can’t find washrooms. The case is divided into a number of smaller packets so they stay moist. For the car, I bought a small Pampers plastic container that I refill with the Costco stuff as needed.

    I also do as Jeanne does – save my dehumidifier water but I keep mine in new 5 gal camping water buckets I got for $2 ea at Habitat ReStore. My water is mostly for toilet use when power goes down.

    And lately I’ve been finding some brand new blankets very cheap at Value Village (thrift store) and Sally Ann. Good thing I had lots because my sons use them on their truck runs. Can’t find new ones all the time but regular checking yields a new one occasionally. Same with good quality lightly used bed linens and towels.

  27. Crazy Stevo says:

    Mason jars for dry goods, I use a vacuum sealer to seal them. When I use the dry goods, I clean then can can veggies in them.

  28. Some stuff is bagged, some in original case/boxes, larger, lighter dry goods go in plastic storage boxes. Old food grade buckets,2 1/2, 5, 6 gal keep some of the heavier looser products. Old 1/2 gal. juice bottles and original bottles hold water.Home canned foods are in glass jars. Premade ‘meals to go’ ,kinda like a homemade MRE, are in small boxes to grab in a hurry. Most of theses things are stored on homemade shelves or book cases/shelving units picked up cheap at flea markets.

  29. Since the DD is the coffee drinker and prefers Folgers, we have a nice collection of those plastic cans with snap on lids.
    35mm plastic film canisters if you can find them. I ask at the photo processing departments of any store that processes film and photos, and they occasionally have some around.
    We have quite a few 5 gallon pails with both snap on and Gamma lids.
    Bankers boxes, stored on the heavy duty wire shelving. And finally, the little plastic shoeboxes with snap on lids. The buckets and boxes are simply marked with a code, like A1 or F2 and we keep a list of what is in which box and the location, although sometimes the location data gets scrambled and requires occasional inventory.

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