The little birds...

If you watch little birds you will see they are busy and happy! Using whatever they can find they create the most gorgeous little nest.
I would be the little bird with some glittery thread in her nest!
We can be like this. Happily working away with the things that are available to us to create a beautiful and happy home.
All the while with a little song in our heart.

Banner by Free Pretty Things for You.

Tuesday 18 August 2015

Pantries and Preparedness. Storage.

At the Cheapskates Workshop on the weekend a lady asked about storage containers for the pantry. It seemed she was inspired to start building up a pantry (insert happiness from me!) and was wondering about containers. Cath suggested saving jars as one thing to do. Right there I thought of so many things that are so effective and so cheap to use for pantry storage. This is a subject all of its own!

Now, there are some containers worth paying for. The vacuum seal containers Glenda showed us in last weeks post for instance. These greatly extend shelf life and are a worthy investment.

Today I am talking about the run of the mill containers we need for the things we have on high rotation and shorter term storage. It is easily possible to spend thousands on pantry containers and I have been to product parties (years ago) where hundreds and hundreds of dollars filled a shelf or two of containers. In what we are trying to do I think it's more important to spend out money on the food! 

In earlier posts I have shown my beloved jars I have collected for years.  Most have been 20c or 50c and later years there are a few I paid one or two dollars for.  Many have been free. I love them and glass keeps things very fresh and does not contaminate food. 
I do not live in an earthquake prone area, this is the only thing... so possibly this is not for those who do. However in normal use I have never even broken one!  
I still collect jars. The best are the really old thick and irregular glass. LOVE.

Old tins are another favourite! They keep things fresh and I love them! Tins can be painted... I add transfers.

More recently as I have been adding a lot to my pantry I have been given large coffee jars. These are big, have a great seal and have been free from a lady who drinks this coffee. I now have 14 of these...

I am still collecting them and sent the lady jars of jam I made as thanks. I am encouraging her to keep saving them for me!

There are other brands that have coffee in giant jars. Mum is collecting some with red lids. These ones are Moccona Coffee jars.
So you can ask around for jars as well as watch op shops etc. 

If you know someone who works in or owns a bakery, cafe, hotel, caterers... you can ask them to save you large containers. They get many buckets with lids suitable for bulk flour etc. I had friends with a bakery. They had amazing containers and were glad to give them away. Truly, ask around.

Just now I have baby formula tins. I looked at these and thought !!! storage! 

They are a good size, they seal and they are free. Now I'm aiming for sets but I started with these. 

I just covered them with wrapping paper and fancied them up.

If I can get more I am going to try painting them and adding rose transfers. I am thinking of really pale pink or blue and roses. :)
But anyway, they are good storage, free and you could have rows of these labelled in your pantry. 

There is just no need to buy expensive containers when there are so many free ones or really cheap options. You could try asking around, asking on face book, placing a free ad somewhere...  soon you will have so many!

There are also inexpensive options at cheap shops. I have large plastic tubs in the cellar. I use them to group together and protect supplies ie candles and matches, batteries, spare blankets and a;; kinds of things.

At the workshop on the weekend Cath and Wendy stressed the importance of the pantry as a buffer in all kinds of circumstances. As your food security. In the real world we can not always just run to the store for this or that. And every time you do it increases your costs in time and fuel etc. If you drive to the store for one thing that is a very expensive thing! Without a pantry you would mostly be paying full price for things. With a pantry you never pay full price for anything! 
Effective storage containers are a big help. You can do it so simply and spend your savings on food and supplies instead. 

Keep at it, use every opportunity and it will add up faster than you think! xxx


  1. Annabel this past week all my Family were laid up with Influenza B, no fun let me tell you, and my Husband was so glad his crazy wife had food storage, we only had to get our perscriptions (anti- Virals are brutaly expensive) and some pet food. I still have a few more days at home to recover , but that also means 2 weeks wages (mine, im on casual wages) are gone, never seen it coming, never get this sick, Opps !! Never say never, so i love the work you guys do spreading the word about being prepared,you can never be too prepared. The good side of it all is i have seen the gaps that i need to fill in my Pantry and finances. It is an ongoing work in progress. Thank you .

    1. Dear Cassandra, I only had the flu badly once and I ended up in hospital and I will never forget! You will probably be tired and take a while to fully recover and need to be careful.
      You are right... really so many things we just cant plan for. even the fit and healthy can get sick or be injured or whatever. We need to have some provisions. Two weeks wages is a lot too. I hope you recover fast and also the budget recovers fast! With love and thanks,

  2. Annabel- your covered tins look beautiful , too good to use! I wish you lived next door to me, what a fun time we would have together :-) thankyou for your uplifting and inspiring posts and photos. I don't always comment as Im often late reading here But I love everything , love and hugs, Maria xxx

    1. Dear Maria, Thank you! I love to think that you have a late night peak and see what Im up to.... probably still up myself!
      We could also got op shopping if we lived near each other!!!
      Thank you so much for commenting, With love

  3. Annabel those baby formula tins look just lovely. Trust you to think of doing that and it is so effective. I use my Moccona coffee jars for storage as well as fermenting as I don't have to worry about burping whatever I am fermenting as the lid pops up when the pressure builds and I just press it down again.

    1. Dear Nanna Chel,
      My experience with fermenting is Mum making ginger beer. She kept it in the cellar and from below we could hear the explosions!
      This is handy to know about the moccona jars.
      Thank you! I am looking forward to trying painting the tins... next experiment! With love,

  4. OOOhhhh your storage jars and cans are just beautiful - and functional - and frugal! Do you ever have a problem with odors or flavors from what was originally stored in the containers lingering and permeating what you have stored in them now?

    Thank you once again for all the great ideas and taking the time to share them with us.

    1. Dear Debbie thank you! The jars I have problems with are jars that have had pickles in them! They pretty much stink. But if you wash several times then fill with bi carb soda and hot water, soak and re wash, this gets it out. I have sometimes left them soak for days like this but you do win eventually! It is worth it for good jars.
      I hope that helps! With love (and thanks)

  5. Annabel, you've waved your usual inspirational wand over an old idea and made it glamorous as always! I remember doing this 35 years ago when I was a young Mum, but I used the baby wrapping paper that had come wrapped around the gifts I'd received for the very baby, that required the baby! However I did not then have your flair and creativity and although mine were very cute and held flour, biscuits (which that baby later called 'diddies'), and sugar, they did not have the sheer elegance of yours. These look just gorgeous! Love, Mimi xxx

    1. Dear Mimi, Thank you! Sometimes in op shops I have seen very old jars or tins that you can see someone has made over many years ago for their kitchen. I think they are gorgeous and I imagine the hopes and dreams of the person trying to make their kitchen pretty using what they have. Mum was in the era of transfers... I still love transfers but they went on everything!
      And you still remember the "diddies" that your tins held. What a lovely memory! with love,

  6. Your pantry, jars and containers are gorgeous!!

    1. Thank you so much Tracy and thank you for commenting

  7. You can use just about any container as storage as long as it seeks well. I have a mixture of glass ton and plastic. I love what you have done with the baby formula tins they look gorgeous,
    Great ideas as always Annabel xx

    1. Dear Debbie, Exactly. So many things will do the job. I am looking forward to painting some tins as my next thing to try! I just think they could look so pretty!
      Thank you so much, with love,

  8. Hi Annabel
    As you know I have been really ill the past week on the verge of pneumonia and having DP away at work and dealing with DD5. I was so greatful to friends who helped out. Mostly I was greatful for the fact that I did not have to shop as my pantry was prepared for easy meals, as well as my freezer, not that I ate much.

    I generally make a meal for DD5 and I for when DP is away at work and as the recipe does at least 4 people I then freeze the rest for another meal next time DP is away, this saves me time and effort. I was able to pull out a meal and give it to DD5 and able to have some myself with enough left over for lunch the next day if I was hungry.

    I did find the packet soups a help also, as we had eaten almost all the soup out of the freezer and whilst I generally only use the packets as a back up when cooking something, I was able to just boil the jug an sip this slowly, helping to keep up fluids also.

    As you know I can not just pop to the shops very quickly and it would be a major expense for me to pop to the shops for one item, I need to either have a well planned out menu or extra stock on hand. I learnt from moving here that I needed a well stocked pantry and slowly built it up by just adding a few items to my grocery shopping each week. I can now even go with out a shop now and then.

    The containers you use in the first photo was a wonderful reminder of when I was working in a nursing home. My Aunt used to be deputy Matron and I would go with her every school holidays and help out in different areas from entertaining the patients, helping the nurses, and in the kitchen. The containers reminded me of the kitchen staff using these to store flours, sugars and even cereals in.

    I now use the Moccona Jars as storage in my pantry as it is the only coffee we drink. We always buy when it is on a super special. They seal the contents really well.

    As for the formula tins, well DD5 never used formula so I did not have the pleasure of getting any of these tins to use. I did however tell lots of customers when working in pharmacy to keep them as these made great drums for the kids, not too noisy.

    Cassandra I hope that you and your family are on the road to recovery. Stay well. I had to laugh at the part of "my Husband was so glad his crazy wife had food storage".................just goes to show you can never be too prepared

    Aly xxx

    1. Dear Aly,
      I think it is wonderful you have such a good support system there. When far from family these times can be really hard. It is so great you have good helpful friends. I know you would do the same for them too. What a big help!
      I hope you are feeling much much better.
      Like you Mum and Dad are a long distance from shops. It adds to the cost of course of travelling to get groceries and makes trips need to be well planned.Even for me the shops are only 5 mins away but it is still hopeless to run back and forth to the shops, just costs more in time, money, hassle.
      I think your pharmacy knowledge is really useful, it must come in handy often.
      Take care and dont do too much too soon. With love,

  9. Another great post on pantries and preparedness, Annabel. I like glass a lot, but apart from dried herbs, I don't use it much as my grip is bad, larger jars heavy and I have dropped and smashed jars before. I do have a lot of the plastic decor and sistema and tupperware items. It is not as attractive as glass, but I bought nearly all half price. Some of my tupperware is quite old, think mustard yellow and almond range from the 80s!! What I really want to invest in now is a food vacuum sealer. Good idea on finding food safe containers through bakeries etc.

    1. Dear Kaye, I think the vacuum sealer is a good investment. I have been watching videos and instructions on them and what they can achieve. Quite amazing.
      I do remember those tupperware containers and avocado green ones. The main thing is good seals and bug proof. I would rather spend the money on the stock!
      Thinking of you tomorrow! With love,

  10. Hi Annabel,
    I have been gathering jars and pantry containers together as we are moving house and I am unsure of what my pantry will look like when we find a new home..
    I also have some baskets that I hope to label and use too. We will take a white cupboard that presently houses my craft stashes to use as an addition pantry for the garage.
    Love the idea of recovering or painting tins and labelling them..
    Helen O

    1. Dear Helen, I hope it turns out your new home has a lovely pantry. But I know you will manage with what you end up with and make the most of it.
      I have quite a few baskets and love them. Some I have blackboard labels tied to them and they hold groups of things ie packet things, mostly.
      Moving is both exciting and daunting! I hope you find a home you just love! With love,

  11. Prior to moving here all my storage was in large jars and tins. However the shelves in my new pantry are very deep but not wide, so getting to things was difficult. Add the fact that I have arthritis in my hands I now have the dreaded plastic containers which stack well. The formula tins are great, I used mine from grandson for 10 years without any problems. Love the way you have made the tins so pretty.

    1. Dear Maggie,
      In an interview with Bob Hawke he spoke about how he got arthritis in his hands... and he would have had access to the best doctors and specialists... He was told to eat dark tinned cherries every day. And he did and it fixed his arthritis and he still eats the cherries everyday. I thought that is very interesting! I would try it should it happen to me as I would hate to not be able to crochet etc. Anyway I thought I would mention it...
      Also I used to have very difficult deep narrow cupboards. Eventually I found trays that fitted and I could slide them out toward me and access everything. It was cheap and helpful! Also baskets I could slide, like a drawer. It helped a lot!
      With thanks and thank you for commenting. Love

  12. Hi Annabel, I love your ideas, they are just lovely.

    I have a pantry full of Tupperware. Some was bought new, ove 30 years ago, well before I was married. The bulk of it has come from op shops and garage sales or been gifted to me from older friends who have been downsizing. Most of it is older than me and still going strong! And it cost just cents!

    I've been saving Moccona jars for a while and this week I used them for the pickled onions I'm making to go in the Christmas hampers. They look rather nice, have a great seal and again, were given to me (we don't drink coffee in fancy jars).

    Another friend saves Five Brothers pasta sauce jars for me (they are a lovely shape), I've tried to get her to MOO her pasta sauce but she prefers to buy it and is happy to pass the jars on so I benefit.

    You may remember me mentioning the toothbrushes I bought while I was in Adelaide. Well I needed a container to store them neatly in the bathroom cupboard. What to do? While tidying the pantry on Monday I discovered a cocoa container that was almost empty so I tipped the contents into the new packet, washed the container, peeled the labels off and it is the perfect toothbrush holder. They're neatly contained in the cupboard, looking good.

    Be creative, think outside the square (or round or oval :) ) and use your imagination, as you have done, and you'll always have a container you can use.

    And I love the little bit of bling on those tins - very swish!

    1. Dear Cath, Thank you! I am amazed at what you can find in op shops even expensive and fantastic containers. And also at what people throw out!
      The jars your friend gives you is very handy. I love getting lots the same size and shape as then they look nice as a set or even lined up full of jam. I am trying to build up my jar collection for summer. I have quite a few but I am hoping to have plenty of fruit to use this summer so being positive I am collecting jars and bottles like crazy.
      The bling was left over from soap wrapping projects!
      Many thanks Cath, love

  13. Dear Annabel,

    You create the most lovely and useful household d├ęcor. The coffee jars are amazing. I have not seen coffee in jars here. That is such a wonderful way to obtain useable jars that have a great seal and are pretty.

    Have a blessed week.
    Love and hugs,

    1. Dear Glenda, This is really interesting! If coffee is not in jars there I would bet this means sooner or later they will cut the cost of jars here and put it into packets! I never thought of this! Many things are in jars and big sized things even giant jars of pickles are are in very nice big jars. I never ever thought you might not have them.
      Well I just think wow that could mean sooner or later they will go to packets here also...
      They are so useful and you only have to know someone using the right brand... and you have a supply.
      Many thanks Glenda!

  14. You never cease to amaze me Annabel. What a fancy way to decorate such a simple tin. They look fantastic!

    Mum delivered some of those coffee jars( about a dozen in various sizes) to me recently from the op shop where she volunteers. She is going to get me some more if they come in. I haven't got around to decorate or use them yet, they are sitting at home waiting for me...maybe next week I will get to them :)

    I use all sorts of containers in my pantry, things like jars, tins, large gravy containers that are given to me from my sister in law who owns a deli. I need to recover them, but they are great for storing excess flour etc. I will have to take some pictures when I get home.

    I liked the idea Wendy mentioned at the workshop to keep the pantry just for storing food. Find a home elsewhere for anything that is not food. This I must do! Having a large pantry, it is so easy to fill it with "stuff" other than food. Another job for when I get home.

    Thank you for such a lovely post.

    It seems I have more time to read blogs etc when I am away from home lol!


    1. Dear Tania,
      Thank you! I just learned that in the US they do not have these jars... that coffee comes in packets. You know what that means... sooner or later they will cut costs here and jars will come to an end. We always follow!
      So collect away! How handy your Mum gave you these.
      Tania this year I also took a lot of non food out of the pantry.... it took a while. It sure created a lot of space. Then I thought I really didnt have so much food as I had thought. I found somewhere else for paper products and a laundry cupboard plus a bathroom cupboard and the cellar. But even the shed... I sent some stuff out there as it would be fine. It did make a big difference.
      I hope you are having a great break. I saw the sunset pic you posted. Lovely!
      With love,

  15. I have jar envy over those coffee jars! Coffee in the USA comes in bags and plastic containers that do not have great sealing lids. I check thrift shops for jars every time I visit one. A few years ago I got a dozen half gallon jars for 50 cents each. Those have been in heavy use ever since. I have only broken jars when using them for storage in the freezer. It is so easy for them to go sliding and crash on the concrete garage floor.

    Last weekend while visiting our son's family I again tried to get them to think about keeping some extra food on hand but it does not seem to do any good. They could at most eat for 2-3 days with what they keep on hand and it worries me. They are 5 hours away so I will not be able to help if there is a disaster.

    Your painted tins are lovely!

    1. Dear Lana,
      Glenda said this also about the coffee jars. I think that means sooner or later they will do the same here. Those jars must add to costs a lot. But I never even thought of it! Mostly we follow the US in things only sometimes years later.
      That motivates me to save them while we can! Many big jars are available ie with pickles and all sorts of things in them.
      It is hard with family that dont prepare. The only thing you can do is keep them informed. A lot of people dont see the signs or read the news etc so dont know about collapsing economies or the debt problems etc and dont prepare. In some ways people dont want to know... it is all too much of a pain in the neck! I think even from here in Aust the US debt ceiling issue will be up soon... I dont know if there could be a shutdown but even that could cause huge disruptions and that is just ONE thing going on!
      Thank you so much! With love,

  16. Hi, Annabel! Your tins and jars are so pretty! I like upcycled jars too. Just last week I decided to remove labels from some jars with very clean lines and then I painted the lids with chalkboard paint so I could label them (and of course I shared pictures). They fit my shelves beautifully and look very tidy. For larger storage containers I love Ball half-gallon mason jars and for bulk I have the ever-popular buckets. Our local grocery store gave me the buckets free; I just had to clean them up. But my favorite pantry storage is rows of mason jars filled with home processed tomatoes and green beans and preserves!

    1. Thank you so much! I went over to your blog hoping to see how your jars turned out! Well I got a surprise! Firstly the jars look great. Then I found a beautiful blog I will now be reading! AND you mentioned Bluebirds! Thank you so much! I posted that right onto fb. Also next week I will direct everyone to see how you did your jars. I searched for your name... but sorry I cant find your name... I will look again later.
      Thank you so much! With love Annabel.xxxx

  17. Very pretty Annabel! I love the formula cans they turned out gorgeous. Isn't it amazing how we can take everyday ordinary things and repurpose them into something beautiful?

    1. Thanks Vicky! I see we are on the same track and must be thinking the dame thoughts! (from your email!)
      That is amazing! Thank you! xxx

  18. Very pretty Annabel.

    Our last room is now painted, only the front entry and hallway to be done so we are getting ready to move our things around and bring the rest of our things over from the storage locker.

    My head is swimming with what I want to do with the kitchen area - it is small but I think it can be made to work until we do the extension and the rest of the kitchen is put in.

    I will need to revisit my storage jars and renew their labels.

    Cross your fingers that I get the shelf that my husband is using in the shed at the moment - it is a 3 tier one that fixes to the wall and will hold my jars with ease.


    1. Dear Lynette,
      You have been so busy! And the work on the house has been for a fair while now too! It must be lovely to see it all coming together and be able to have your things to arrange.
      I remember when we did our kitchen and what we went through! I hope you manage to set up your kitchen as you want it and that it works well for you. And that you get those shelves! That sounds good for your jars!
      With spring nearly here I feel like there is tons to do. We still have our range hood to properly put in but that is the last kitchen job. YAY. It is wonderful to get to the end of it!
      With love,

  19. I have some great tins that I have been hiding as they are not very nice to the eye. I never thought to paint them. Thank you for the great idea. I have a lot of Tupperware but have never paid very much for it. I purchase it from Op Shops. I have a number of glass jars that I have been labelling. I purchased the labels from a $2 shop and these are quite lovely and easily replaceable. Your posts on pantries has made me feel better about my belief in keeping mine well stocked.

    1. Dear Jane, Thank you! I was seeing goo strong tins everywhere but often in awful prints and designs or product advertising etc. Then I saw on pinterest a girl collected a heap and painted them all the same. This was amazing. I thought I will paint and add transfers. I have always liked tins. They keep things like biscuits fresh and crisp that I found went soft in plastic containers. Now I am on the look out for more tins to paint!
      Many thanks. Love

  20. Annabel, great post. My little grandson has stopped being breastfeed now and I have asked for some of the tins and I too am going to doll them up and make them into storage containers. Yours look lovely. And yes me too I am a huge fan of glass and I have never broken a glass storage jar either. Though last week in the space of two days my dog and ds's dog each knocked two things off the coffee table with their effusive tails and broke four things in total. grrr. but i love the dogs and would never keep them out. Normally we are on guard as they come swishing past. Glass is just the best ever thing! Fi xx

    1. Dear Fiona, Ooh a supply of tins! Really you could decorate them so many ways. I am about to paint some so I will post how they turn out. I really like them!
      It sounds like you need a little fence around your coffee table. :) I know you spoil you dogs and they have a gorgeous life!
      I hope your week is going well, I know you are busy! With love,

  21. Love the formula tins Annabel they are just beautiful.

    I can't stress enough how important it is to have a stockpile - any stockpile. If you get sick you don't want to be running up to the shops and generally other family members might not be as budget aware.

    1. Dear Wendy,
      Thank you!
      We have all had it happen or seen it happen... where someone does the shopping and goes crazy. Last year in Woolies I noticed a man with a shopping list and he looked somewhat lost and he was studying this list. I figured he was doing the shopping and his wife was sick or something like that.... Some time later I saw he was still going but he seemed to be throwing in all kinds of things as if he was having a good time! It turned out I was behind him at the checkout. He had a lot of stuff. The total came to six hundred and something dollars which the girl told him. He stood there DUMFOUNDED. You could see he was mortified and shocked. It was actually awful. He had no clue. I felt a bit sorry for him by then but goodness what happened at home I wonder!
      Really this could easily happen. It adds up fast.
      So that is a lesson on being careful on who you send! Far better to have what we need on hand! With love,

  22. Dear Annabel, I love how the tins look!! Just beautiful! I love all your jars too!! lol Years ago, coffee came in fairly sturdy metal tins. We kept them for storage in the garage. Still have them! Now, coffee comes in plastic or just bags (packets) that you empty out into other containers after opening.

    I've painted fruit and veggie cans (tins) years ago to keep pencils in. I still use one of them! And I still have one formula tin in my pantry filled with barley! lol Not fancy, like yours, though!! :)

    Thank you for a lovely post. Most of my buckets for bulk foods are from bakeries or the grocery stores. I had to clean them up good but didn't mind. And a friend, years ago, gave me a stack of big ice cream buckets (her mom worked at an ice cream parlor). They aren't huge but still great storage for things like brown sugar and powdered sugar and smaller items. I'm now making my own brown sugar but these buckets come in handy for many things! so, it never hurts to ask at the shops you visit since most get tossed in a bin or recycle bin!

    Love, Teri

    1. Dear Teri, I know you are busy preserving! So thank you for commenting amidst all of that!
      I think the air tight buckets are very good. Even with putting packet goods in them it is extra protection. I love that we can get all these things for free and recycle them!
      Wendy and Cath make their own brown sugar, only recently I learned this! How good!
      I hope you are having a great week! With love,

  23. Hi Annabel, thanks for visiting my blog and commenting on the dress I made. Your pantry jars/storage is a great idea. I love jars and tins, your pantry is lovely with the little decals on them. I have some old ones I've collected over the years that were inexpensive or free. Thanks for sharing the inspiration. ~ Abby

    1. Dear Abbie, Thankyou! Your blog is always joyful and uplifting but this was such a lovely thing anyone could do.
      The little dresses take such a small amount of material too. Another great use it up or recycling idea. many thanks,

  24. I would much prefer to use a food vacuum sealer then using glass jars. Though the jar looks too beautiful here but My Hands are not much good with Glass Jars. I keep falling them down very frequently so for people like me(who don't want pieces of glass around them from broken jars) the vacuum sealers are the best option.


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