On my long-term goal list is the idea of buying shelf-stable foods in bulk. I want to do this for several reason: to reduce trips to the market, reduce the waste we create (and thereby trips to the dump) and stress reduction too. I think I have a great resource for figuring out what to use other than plastic or the consumer packaging to store things in my home: my old housekeeping books.
One of the best for this is a book published in 1921. She has what she calls “marketing charts” which are mostly useless as they tell you to do things like buy “washed raisins,” but there’s a column of how to store foods too. Here’s the information I pulled (my comments are in italic).
Buckets or Cans: Whole Wheat Flour, Rye Flour
Cool, Dry Place: Buckwheat, Canned Goods, Chocolate, Salts (table, cooking & ice cream), Tea, Vinegar
Cool, not Too Dry Place: Nuts
Dry Place: Bar Soaps, Sugar
Tight Container: Cooking Fats (in cool place), Cornstarch (in dry place), Macaroni (pasta), Olive Oil (in dark, cool place), Soap Powder, Spices, Syrup
Jar: Shelled Almonds, Dried Cereal, Cream of Tartar, Currants & Raisins
Glass Jar, Covered or Stoppered: Bay Leaves, Citron, Cocoa, Coconut, Molasses
Rack 2″ from Floor: Flour, white & pastry (One assumes in a barrel or at least a cloth bag? Certainly NOT the paper bags flour comes in today!)
Tight Container: Dried Beans, Crackers, Extracts (in dark place)
Tin*: Baking Powder, Coffee, Cornmeal (covered), Matches
*Any foods stored in a tin I’ll put inside a food safe plastic bag or container which I will reuse.
Image from fixturescloseup.com via google images.
My other observation is that this isn’t likely to be very useful unless I start buying shelf-stable foods in bulk. Many ideas here are reflected in supermarket packaging: extracts in brown glass and olive oil in green glass bottles, for example. But if you buy them in bulk? Extracts come in white plastic bottles (or at least the commercial packages I’ve seen) but you can purchase olive oil in any bottle you wish.
Now that I’ve created this list, I’m not sure how much I’ll use it? But the idea of it made me stop and think about what I’d need to store household consumables, purchased in bulk. I consider that valuable, even if I don’t actually use the chart!