Author Topic: DIY 44 gallon can of food for $250  (Read 9911 times)

Offline Heavy G

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DIY 44 gallon can of food for $250
« on: November 08, 2008, 09:23:21 AM »
I recently got some very storable food and put it in a rugged 44 gallon garbage can.  The whole thing cost about $250.  This posting describes exactly what I got, where I got it, how much it costs, how to fit it all in the can, and how to store it.  This is simple and relatively cheap.

Here's an overview of what you and your family might be dining on for a few weeks in a SHTF situation:  pancake and/or biscuit mix, spaghetti pasta, beans, rice, mashed potato mix, gravy mix, drink mix, and spices and flavorings.

All of these require only water and heat to prepare.  They will store for a couple of years. 

I put the costs in here but they're from memory; but I know that the whole thing cost about $250.

The can is the starting point.  I got a (Rubber Maid?) "Brute" brand plastic garbage can for $40 at Home Depot.  You have to get a very strong plastic can with a good fitting lid.  (Not all lids fit as well.  Try each one at the store until you find one that fits snug.)  Don't get a $25 flimsy can.  Mice will chew through it and ruin the rest of your investment on food.  And this will happen when you need the food the most.  Don't get a metal can because it will rust. 

The food is at a discount grocery store only.  Some are called "Cash and Carry" or something like that.  They sell things in bulk.  I think they also sell to small restaurants because also have restaurant supplies.  There's one in every midsized and up metro areas.  These items, in these sizes and prices, are not at a grocery store or Costco.  The sizes of the items matters because they only fit in the can a certain way.  I think the sizes of packages at a discount grocery store are industry standards so the same sizes I found will probably be at the discount grocery store in your area.  I put the sizes of some items down so you can make sure it's the same thing I got (and that fits in the can).

Here's what I got:

2 x 25lb. pancake and/or biscuit mix (or one of each).  Size: 14x14x7.  Cost: $20.  I think pancakes would be easier to cook (just a stove, no oven) but I noticed on the biscuit box that you can make pancakes with biscuit mix.  I got one of each.

1 x 20lb. spaghetti pasta.  Size: 21x8x5.  Cost: $15.

5 x 5lb. beans.  Cost: $5 each.  Why five separate ones instead of one 25lb. bag?  The smaller bags fit better in the can and I like variety.  I got black, two red, pinto, and white.  You'll need variety if you're dipping into this SHTF can of grub.  Also, 5lb. bags are smaller units that are better for barter than a 25lb. bag.

4x 52oz. mashed potato mix.  Cost: $8 each.  I got the slightly better mix that has dried butter in it.  You can also get au gratin and scalloped potato mix in these sizes for a few bucks more.  I hadn't tried them yet and, following Jack's suggestion to try it before you buy it, I didn't get these.

1 x 25lb. rice.  Cost: $19.  I got "premium sweet rice" for a couple bucks more.  I don't know if it's better than regular rice, but it was only a couple bucks more.  The premium sweet rice also came in a stronger bag, which could be helpful.  Why not save some money (per pound) and get a 50 lb. bag?  It won't fit in the can.  There's another reason to get smaller packages of food.  You might need to haul food around.  Two 25lb. bags are easier to carry than one 50 lb. bag.  And what if you need people who aren't as strong as you to carry stuff--that 50lb. bag will be a big obstacle to them.

5 x 1lb. gravy mix and alfredo sauce mix.  Cost: $2 for gravy and $4 for alfredo sauce.  Gravy goes great with mashed potatoes and even rice.  Gravy has lots of fat and salt.  We don't each much gravy in these good times when we have plenty of healthy food around.  But when you need fat to survive and salt because you're sweating so much doing manual labor, you will rediscover our parents' and grandparents' love of gravy.  Plus, it's cheap, stores well, and goes well with other staples like potatoes and rice.  The alfredo sauce is for the spaghetti.  I don't have any spaghetti sauce stored.  It's liquid so it can freeze and expand so I don't put any liquid-based stuff in my grub can, which sits in an unheated shed. The topic of separately stored liquid-based flavorings is mentioned below.

10x 1lb. sugared drink mix.  (I think they're 1lb. but might be smaller)  Cost: $1.50.  They come in foil packages and come in fruit punch, orange, lemonade, grape, etc.  Like gravy, sugared drink mix is something you probably don't normally buy.  In a SHTF situation, you very likely will be drinking treated water (iodine, etc.) that tastes yucky.  Flavoring will really help, especially with getting kids to drink enough water.  Also, you will need the calories so sugar will be a good thing.  After eating bland foods, you will crave sugar.  Sugared drink mix solves all these problems, and it's cheap and very easy to store.  The drink packages fit nicely in the nooks and crannies in the can.

OK, here's the order to put them into the can.  They only fit this way.

1.   Two 25lb. pancake and/or biscuit mix.  One on top of the other.

2.   Spaghetti to the side of the pancake/biscuit mix.  It is a long thin box.  The thin part (5" I think) is wedged in between the side of the can and the side of the pancake/biscuit box.  Its long end (21" I think) is pointing up.  You'll see what I mean; it only fits one way.

3.   Bean bags on top of the pancake/biscuit boxes. 

4.   Fill in the nooks and crannies on the sides of the can with the gravy and drink mixes. 

5.   Rice bag on top of the beans.

6.  The mashed potatoes on top of the rice.  Some might stand up and a few others might need to go on their sides.

At this point there might be some spare room.  It varies.  You could put in more gravy and/or drink mix. 

Or you could put in some flavorings.  They shouldn't be liquid-based because if they freeze they'll expand and burst.  If you store the can in a heated place then this isn't a problem (as long as you know it will always be heated).  My storage is not heated.  So I have some dry spices like salt, pepper, garlic salt, and onion powder.  You can get those Morton packages with a set of disposable plastic shakers full of salt and pepper for a couple bucks.  They're all packaged up and won't leak out like a zip lock bag of salt or pepper.  I also have a container of those bouillon foil squares.  You might get more bouillon than you'd need for beans and rice because you (hopefully) will be cooking up some game meat and can use the extra for that.

Write the month and year on a piece of paper and throw it in the can on top where you can see it when you open it.  This way you'll know when the food needs to be rotated.  I'm not sure, exactly, how long this stuff will last.  I'll let someone else reply and tell me.  I'm thinking a minimum of two years and probably longer.  And I just might be so hungry I don't care.

The last thing I put in is very important: directions on how to cook beans and rice from scratch.  I googled these directions and printed them out.  Why?  Because 98% of suburbia doesn't know how to soak beans overnight or cook rice on a stove.  You might know this because you listen to the Survival Podcast but you might not be the one doing the cooking.  What good is rice and beans if someone doesn't know how to make them into food.

Store the can in a good place.  Put the lid on tight.  Tight.  The "Brute" can latches securely if you line up the tabs under the lid with the handles on the can.  Make sure it's tight.  Mice can get into amazingly small spaces.  I put a 2x2' piece of plywood on top of the lid and put weight evenly on top.  Not too much weight because 100 lbs. would sag the sidewalls of the can over time.  But not too little.  I put a half-full ammo can of ammo in the center of the plywood.  I should probably put more weights around the edges.  Test the spaces around the top of the can.  If you can get even a little wiggle room in there with a finger, a mouse can get in.

That's it.  A do it yourself 44 gallon can of food for $250.  It could feed a lot of people for a long time with only water and heat.    

P.S.  What if a couple years go by, the food should be rotated, and SHTF hasn't happened (as I hope is the case)?  Take the grub can to a food bank or homeless shelter.  Heck, it'll even be a tax deduction, which will be good with the coming hike in taxes.  The food will be worth way, way more than you paid given the inflation in food.  You can write off the inflated value (I'm guessing; I'm not an accountant).

P.P.S.  The peace of mind you have from having one of these grub cans is fabulous.  I can watch the news and not get as concerned because I'm good to go for a while with my grub can.  I know my kids will have pancakes for breakfast.  Think about it.
 

kaiservontexas

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Re: DIY 44 gallon can of food for $250
« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2008, 12:44:00 PM »
Why not seal it with a glue of some type? Instead of weighing it down? Oh and wrap it up tightly with plastic sheeting sealed up with duct tape? I am just curious, but I would that would prevent any pest problem. Truth is a rodent can chew through most anything . . .

Offline 19kilo

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Re: DIY 44 gallon can of food for $250
« Reply #2 on: November 09, 2008, 02:45:34 AM »
Very cool.  I use smaller rubbermaid totes.  They get pretty damn heavy to move around.  Do you plan on doing more than one of these cans?

Are there wheels on the can?

Offline Heavy G

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Re: DIY 44 gallon can of food for $250
« Reply #3 on: November 09, 2008, 08:32:16 AM »
Oh and wrap it up tightly with plastic sheeting sealed up with duct tape? I am just curious, but I would that would prevent any pest problem. Truth is a rodent can chew through most anything . . .

I hadn't thought of duct tape, but I am now.  I figure if rodents can chew through a heavy plastic can, they could chew threw duct tape.  But it wouldn't hurt to add duct tape.  I could also put some newspaper on top of the food.  It'll take a rodent at least some time to chew through that.  Thanks.

Offline Heavy G

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Re: DIY 44 gallon can of food for $250
« Reply #4 on: November 09, 2008, 08:34:07 AM »
They get pretty damn heavy to move around.  Do you plan on doing more than one of these cans?

Are there wheels on the can?

I don't plan on moving it around.  The can is at my bug out pad.  You can buy a wheeled lower for a Brute can for, I seem to remember, $30.  If I didn't have this can at my bug out pad, I would definitely get the wheeled lower.

millerized1

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Re: DIY 44 gallon can of food for $250
« Reply #5 on: November 10, 2008, 05:41:04 AM »
And....it looks like a trashcan.  Stack a few more around it with trash in them, presto....hidden in plain sight should someone come looking.
Nicely done.

tash

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Re: DIY 44 gallon can of food for $250
« Reply #6 on: November 10, 2008, 09:10:36 AM »



well... not really 'useless' but pictures would be great!

(also, not trying to be an ass, but there is a DIY section: http://thesurvivalpodcast.com/forum/index.php?board=29.0)

Thanks for the advise.

kaiservontexas

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Re: DIY 44 gallon can of food for $250
« Reply #7 on: November 10, 2008, 03:22:13 PM »
Oh and wrap it up tightly with plastic sheeting sealed up with duct tape? I am just curious, but I would that would prevent any pest problem. Truth is a rodent can chew through most anything . . .

I hadn't thought of duct tape, but I am now.  I figure if rodents can chew through a heavy plastic can, they could chew threw duct tape.  But it wouldn't hurt to add duct tape.  I could also put some newspaper on top of the food.  It'll take a rodent at least some time to chew through that.  Thanks.

The reason I bring this up is we have had too many field mice make a home in our garage. They eat books! I store nothing in the garage I do not want to lose to be honest, but that is because I know at least once every winter I will have to kill via poison or hunt a rodent in the garage.

We also get bugs. Texas has bugs. The wood roaches will move in during the summer. They come off the trees. I find it odd they stay out of the house, but we keep a tight ship in the house. The plastic wrap and duct tape keep the bugs out. Unless you like finding a box full of wood roach eggs. It is gross I know, but we learned this early for storing stuff out there like books, photo albums, etc. My mom is a pack rat.

Now one thing I know no pest gets into in the garage is a fridge. I have to have some thing to keep the beer right?  ;D Just because a fridge is not working does not mean it has no purpose, is my point of mentioning that little fact.

Offline Squidi

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Re: DIY 44 gallon can of food for $250
« Reply #8 on: November 11, 2008, 01:13:33 AM »
I use a metal trashcan to keep dog food in, because mice generally don't chew threw metal. Well, at least so far.


Offline creuzerm

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Re: DIY 44 gallon can of food for $250
« Reply #9 on: November 14, 2008, 09:43:05 PM »
Could  you get some fine hardware cloth and wrap that around the inside of the garbage can a few times? It would need to be fine hardware cloth as mice can fit though a hole the size of a quarter.

This wouldn't fix the bottom, where mice can most easily reach. A few inches of concrete and perlite?

This would give you a farily rodent proof container that still has the 'look' of a normal garbage can.

just an idea...

kaiservontexas

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Re: DIY 44 gallon can of food for $250
« Reply #10 on: November 14, 2008, 10:54:43 PM »
Another idea, it is a fact that raising something off the ground cuts down on infestations. I am not saying it is fool proof. I learned this from the fact that people have tried teaching undeveloped nations that if they raise their food storage and grain silos off the ground it cuts down on infestations. It does not fool proof them, but it provides a small measure of protection. I am sure we will take whatever precaution that works.

Offline sludgy_nixer

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Re: DIY 44 gallon can of food for $250
« Reply #11 on: November 15, 2008, 09:51:08 AM »
so tell me if i'm all wet here, but i've see talk of using cayenne pepper to sheild plants from certain pests.
wondering if you could mix the pepper in some water (boil it maybe) then with a sponge coat the can.
course i've seen mice eat through some interesting stuff, so maybe the pepper would just flavor up the plastic for them!
just a thought.

Offline lonestar

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Re: DIY 44 gallon can of food for $250
« Reply #12 on: November 15, 2008, 08:03:13 PM »
Okay folks, let me add 3 cents on pest control here.   This is my business and my job.  Has been for the past 8 years.  Mice and rats will eat just about anything.  I have seen them eat hot cocoa packets, marlboro cigarettes and all kind of other oddball things.  There are 3 things that Rodents cannot chew through.  They are
metal, glass and cured concrete.  Storing in metal trash cans is a good thing to do.  ROdents need an opening ( or hole) as big as their head to get into something.  That is the only part of their body that they can not flatten out.  I usually look for openings larger than a dime when sealing openings on a building to seal them up.  Main issue here is to reduce or remove odors as that is what they are detecting.  Vision on rodents is not very good, rely on hearing, smell and their whiskers to detect things in their environment.   

Hope this helps.      :)

Offline DIM TIM

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Re: DIY 44 gallon can of food for $250
« Reply #13 on: November 15, 2008, 11:40:20 PM »
Why not just use metal trash cans, and paint them with RUSTOLIUM ?  ;D

I love this post. I had been trying to think of something like this for some storage for a while with no answer till now.
Thanks Heavy G for the great info. ;)

Man I just love these forum boards. Thanks to you too Jack.  Keep up the good work with this and the podcasts. 8)

Offline Heavy G

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Re: DIY 44 gallon can of food for $250
« Reply #14 on: November 16, 2008, 08:49:01 AM »
Mice and rats will eat just about anything.  I have seen them eat hot cocoa packets, marlboro cigarettes and all kind of other oddball things.  There are 3 things that Rodents cannot chew through.  They are
metal, glass and cured concrete.  Storing in metal trash cans is a good thing to do.  ROdents need an opening ( or hole) as big as their head to get into something.  That is the only part of their body that they can not flatten out.  I usually look for openings larger than a dime when sealing openings on a building to seal them up.  Main issue here is to reduce or remove odors as that is what they are detecting.  Vision on rodents is not very good, rely on hearing, smell and their whiskers to detect things in their environment.   

Thanks, Lonestar.  I checked with the farmer who owns my bug out pad.  I asked him what he stores feed in.  He said ultra thick plastic garbage cans work better than metal for him.  In fact, he said metal cans rust in his experience. I think it's because of our climate (very wet Washington state). Mice and especially rats are relatively rare here (I've only seen one rat in my life). There are no signs of mice or other rodents in the shed where we store the food can.  Doesn't mean there will never be rodents.  Another reason to use the thick plastic cans is that they are bigger (44 gallons) than the metal cans available in my Home Depot.  Could I put some mouse traps around the can to see if any mice are coming and going?

That said, I would strongly consider moving the cans to metal ones if that's what people who know more about this than I do would suggest.  Let me know your thoughts out there.

P.S.  Dim Tim: you're right that these forums are awesome.  Where else can you find these kind of things out from real people?

Offline creuzerm

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Re: DIY 44 gallon can of food for $250
« Reply #15 on: November 17, 2008, 12:44:32 AM »
Heavy G, does the farmer have barn cats? They also help keep the rodent population down. Great idea, asking the farmer how he stores his grain!

Offline Heavy G

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Re: DIY 44 gallon can of food for $250
« Reply #16 on: November 17, 2008, 08:33:41 AM »
Heavy G, does the farmer have barn cats? They also help keep the rodent population down. Great idea, asking the farmer how he stores his grain!

Yep, he has at least one barn cat.  Nature supplies a solution.

I should have added that I looked at the web site for the big farm supply company, The Tractor Supply Store.  Most of their line of feed containers are ultra thick plastic, although they do have some metal too.


Offline Stein

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Re: DIY 44 gallon can of food for $250
« Reply #17 on: November 17, 2008, 09:18:01 AM »
I believe you have a good idea here.

One improvement I may suggest is to line the garbage can with the heavy duty contractor grade 55 gallon garbage bags.  You the larger bags would give you plenty of room at the top to seal them tightly with a wire tie or hog ring.  Maybe even double bag it.  This should keep most of the small bugs out as well as moisture.

Offline Hippy223

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Re: DIY 44 gallon can of food for $250
« Reply #18 on: February 25, 2009, 08:53:35 PM »
i keep my feed at the barn in rubber trash cans and dont have any problems.
Dont have any cats and there are mice around catch them every year in the house.

Offline Master Guns

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Re: DIY 44 gallon can of food for $250
« Reply #19 on: February 25, 2009, 10:26:03 PM »
Heavy Plastic is fine.
Just put out some RAT Pellets (In the required cup on the floor of the room)
If you do have one come snooping around he will find the pellets well before he gets in the buckets.

Clearly follow all the requirements to not have it around the food but in a small dish on the floor at my bugout location I use this. Now and then I see some of it disturbed but never have them in the area or find any poop etc.

Common seance is an uncommon virtue.
 ;D

Offline bwachob

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Re: DIY 44 gallon can of food for $250
« Reply #20 on: March 01, 2009, 06:47:18 PM »
Kaiser, you are right about non working refrigerators.  I have one fridge and one old Pepsi machine in my garage that I keep ammo and other firearm accessories in.  They are airtight and the Pepsi machine still has the lock in the door.

Offline Heavy G

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Re: DIY 44 gallon can of food for $250
« Reply #21 on: March 16, 2009, 08:14:12 AM »
(This thread has been selected as a “best of” thread by Heavy G.  You can search for “best of” threads by using that term in the search mode.  Everyone on the forum is encouraged to reply to a post they think is “best of” worthy so we can all search for them.  For more information on the “best of” thing, see http://thesurvivalpodcast.com/forum/index.php?topic=3423.0 )