If money were not an issue, and given that I'm a single person, I would simply rely on #10 cans from the LDS online store for most of my long-term storage needs. However, I'm on a strict budget, so I have to get as much food storage out of my available dollars as possible. I'm not eliminating #10 cans -- just using other alternatives as well.
Here is a cost breakdown for pinto beans to give you an idea of the difference in costs. Like I said, if money is not an issue, then it may not seem worth the effort. But to me it is definitely worth the effort.
1 case of six #10 cans of pinto beans from the LDS online store sells for $39.75 and contains 31.2 lbs. of product. The shipping will be $3.00, so that's $42.75, or $1.37 per lb. of beans. Good for many, many years.
I purchased a 20 lb. bag of pinto beans from WalMart for $17.78, no shipping costs. I purchased a pack of 25 gallon-size Mylar bags, 5 mil, for $14.95, including shipping, or 58 cents each. I could have gotten them cheaper per bag from LDS online store, 38 cents each, but they sell them in minimum packs of 250, way too much for me to dish out at one time. The oxygen absorbers from LDS Online store cost $12 per 100, plus $3 shipping, or 15 cents each. It required 4 Mylar bags to pack away the beans, and I used 3 oxygen absorbers for each bag to ensure a vacuum-packed seal (more on that below).
$17.78 for 20 #s of beans
+ 2.32 for the 4 Mylar bags
+ 1.80 for the oxygen absorbers
$21.90 for 20 lbs of beans = $1.10 per lb., good for storage for the same length of time as #10 cans.
I packed the 4 bags of beans in a rectangular 4-gallon plastic food grade pail that my daughter-in-law Jenny got from Sam's Club, for FREE. I get various sizes of pails from my local Dillons Grocery store -- 2 gallon, 3.5 gallon, and 4 gallon -- all food-grade.
If I don't have the money to buy 20 lbs at a time, I can purchase the 4-lb bags at Dollar General for $3.60 per bag, which would be the equivalent of $18 per 20 lbs. So I can add a little bit here and there, as it works into my food budget. On the other hand, to purchase from the LDS online store, I have to buy a whole case of six #10 cans. That's why I'm hoping we can get some collective buying going in the Pratt Branch, so we can share cases.
Now, here's the least expensive way to store those beans long-term, and this is totally 100% approved by the Church, based on a study done at BYU which I referenced in an earlier blog. That is to recycle PETE bottles. Fruit juice bottles which come in 2 qt., 3 qt. and gallon sizes, and 2-liter soda bottles are PETE bottles and they have the types of lids that give an air tight seal. Think about it, soda has to have an air tight seal or it would lose all its fizz.
So, now I can buy my beans and put them into PETE bottles with oxygen absorbers and I've eliminated another couple of dollars from the cost of 20# of beans. And, saved some landfill space by recycling.
Sealing with Oxygen Absorbers
Oxygen absorbers do not remove air, like vacuum sealing does. They remove oxygen from the air. If you press out most of the air from a filled Mylar bag and use the right number of oxygen absorbers, you will get a good hard vacuum-packed seal. If you don't, that doesn't mean you don't have a good seal. However, if the bag of food is puffy, it may burst if pressure is applied and the bags won't pack as well in the plastic buckets. That's why I like to have a good vacuum seal, and I'd rather throw in 1 or 2 more oxygen absorbers.
If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome. Anne Bradstreet
And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them. Ether 12:27
Yea, all things which come of the earth, in the season therof, are made for the benefit and the use of man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart; Yea, for food and for raiment, for taste and for smell, to strengthen the body and to enliven the soul. And it pleaseth God that he hath given all these things unto man; for unto this end were they made to be used, with judgment, not to excess, neither by extortion. D&C 59:18-20