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Bulk Food Storage During Quarantine

By Apr 28, 2020

Firstly, we at the Resource Recovery and Waste Management Division hope everyone is staying healthy and taking extra precautions to protect yourselves and our community. Please remember to wash your hands, avoid public areas, and prepare for hunkering down at home. “Social Distancing” and other precautionary measures will help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Additionally, if you’re in need of food, please visit The Foodbank of Santa Barbara County is currently hosting supplementary food distributions.

Many folks in our community and all around the US are stocking up on goods in an effort to self-quarantine. While it’s always good to be prepared, buying in bulk can lead to a different problem – unintentional food waste. Huge containers of food that are opened and not stored correctly can lead to spoilage, and throwing it away leads to wasted food and wasted money. By storing food properly, we can keep our food safe to eat throughout quarantine and make sure our money was well spent. There are also huge environmental benefits to preventing food waste, which you can read more about here.

Non-perishables are not always non-perishable, but they do last a heck of a lot longer than fresh produce or prepared meals. Non-perishables include items like beans, pasta, rice, and canned goods. Here are some common pantry goods and the best ways to store them.

Beans: Canned beans can last a few years in a cool dark place, like a pantry. Once opened, they can be stored in the fridge for up to five days, or can be frozen for three months. Freeze beans in the liquid they came in. This is best for whole beans, not refried.

Fun Fact! You can use leftover black beans in brownies. You heard that right! Here is a great recipe for when you’re craving something sweet after Taco Tuesday. 

Pasta: Dried pasta will last two years in its original packaging and in a cool, dry place. Cooked pasta doesn’t have as long of a shelf life. Store cooked pasta in the fridge for 3-5 days.

White Rice: Used by many cultures for centuries, rice is one of the oldest staple foods. Keep your uncooked white rice in an airtight container in a cool, dark place and it will last up to two years. Cooked white rice will last in the fridge for one week or can be frozen. Brown rice and other rice variations have different storage requirements. Click here for more information.

Dry Oats: Oats are a great, fibrous staple that are packed with nutrition. Oats should be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. They will last one year.

Fruits and vegetables don’t last as long as pantry goods. We recommend choosing canned or frozen options in shelter-in-place situations. But here are some super healthy options and how to store them.

Whole Citrus: Remember to get your Vitamin C! Unpeeled citrus fruits can be stored in the fridge for 3-8 weeks. They should be kept lose in a crisper drawer.

Broccoli: Did you know that broccoli is a superfood? It’s also high in Vitamin C! Broccoli can be stored in a breathable bag in a fridge drawer for up to a week. Blanch and then drain broccoli in small chunks before freezing.

Looking for a fun activity to do at home? Save seeds from produce and watch them grow! Watch this quick video on saving different kinds of seeds. We can’t guarantee that all grocery store produce seeds can be saved, but we think it’s worth a try.

Storing food safely is a great way to preserve our resources and get the most bang for the buck. Go to for more detailed information on food waste prevention. And finally, before handling any food, wash your hands!