The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Volume to weight - container question

SulaBlue's picture

Volume to weight - container question

I blame this board, of course, for the fact that I am now reconsidering my purchasing practices. The number of trips I'm having to make to the store to get more flour are starting to get annoying and I need to consider larger storage containers. This, of course, will also necessitate rearranging my kitchen - no small undertaking. I live in an apartment and, unfortunately, they saw fit to put in half-shelves in all the lower cabinets, so I don't have the full depth of my cabinets to work with.

The 40qt commercial bulk container available at The Container Store -almost- but not-quite fits in my cabinets. Unfortunately, the next step down is an 18qt, which also looks like it's about the right diameter to fit. The question is, how much flour would an 18qt container hold? There's four cups (roughly) to a quart - but I believe that's for liquid measure. Flour of course is very compact, so may be equivalent? If there's roughly 4.25-4.5oz per cup of flour, would that be about 19-20 pounds of flour, then?

I'm not sure how much I can save by ordering bread and rye flour by mere 10 pound bags, but at least I'd not have to make so many trips to the store.


My husband suggested getting the biggest container and storing them in the bathtub that we never use. Just draw the curtain closed and hide them. Oh, the mockery, even as he consumes the fruit of my labor!

Ddraig's picture

I'll take a pass at this one.

KA sell a flour container designed to hold 5lb of their flour, and it's 5" X 6" X 8.5". I assume that means that 5lbs of KA flour fits into 255 cubic inches.

One US quart = 57.75 cubic inches.

40 US quarts = 2,310 cubic inches.

2,310 cubic inches / 255 cubic inches per 5lb bag = 9.06 5lb bags.

So, it looks like a 40 US qt container holds about 45.3 lbs of flour. 18 US quarts would be about 20.4 lbs.

Your estimate was EXCELLENT!!

SulaBlue's picture

You can't really buy 20# bags, usually 5, 10, 25, and 50# :)

Just out of curiosity - how (and where) are those of you buying 50# bags storing the stuff!? I've only lived one place that I can think off where I would have had the space to store that in the kitchen. I had a roomate who worked in a restaurant and he had his kitchen custom-designed to have a full walk-in pantry that was bigger than the closet in my bedroom. The irony was that he never cooked.

Jeff Whatley's picture
Jeff Whatley

I usuially buy  my flour in 50# bags and almost always get three 50# bags (150 lb. total), one each of all purpose, bread, and high gluten, all King Arthur.  I have found an inexpensive ($39) container that is perfect for flour storage.  Is only about 8-inches wide, 20-inches high and has an airtight lid. The nice thning about it is that it is on rollers and its thin profile allows it to be stored is a small space.  As I say, I have 3 of these in my kitchen and they are so inconspicious that nobody ever notices them.  With their nice IBM blue color, they look like small trash cans.  When I need 5 pounds of flour, I just roll out the container that I need.  If anyone is interested, let me know and I will provide ordering data.


bcroce's picture

Jeff, where did you buy this container? It sounds like the one I am looking for. Thanks for any info, Bev.

Jeff Whatley's picture
Jeff Whatley


I bought them from a mail-order outift called Fresh Finds.  You can find them on the web at  It's mostly cheap stuff, but a few of thie items are well designed and really work well for the price.  I believe you will be pleased with this item.



asfolks's picture

I found the same container at my local pet supply megamart for the same cost, no shipping. They are made of food grade plastic and sold as a method of storing dog food. They work great.

Ddraig's picture

Do you have a basement or garage? Our solution to past bulk storage was to get a new, clean trash container/barrel. We were storing rice, but I'm guessing the idea is the same. A tight fitting lid will keep freeloaders like mice and children out. Children don't typically gnaw through the container, but I've know people to get metal ones to foil mice.

We just put the rice (in it's original sacks) inside a large plasitc bag, in the lidded can. Seemes to work fine, and we haven't had any moisture problems.

SulaBlue's picture

Alas, I live in an apartment. Granted, it's an apartment that's nicer than some houses I've lived in - but they always skimp on the kitchen space and put in those silly half-shelves in the cabinets in apartments. If I didn't want my deposit back I'd just knock it out.

malisa's picture

I store my flour in one of those 5 gallon buckets (= 20 quarts).  I find one 25 pound bag of bread flour fits into one 5 gallon bucket.  I purchased the food grade bucket at Home Depot.  I also use these buckets to store rice.

If you get the 18 quart, you can probablt store most of a 25 pound bag and put the rest into a smaller container.  I keep smaller quantities in large Snapware containers.

pattycakes's picture

But do you have room anywhere for another freezer or refrigerator? That's where I store bulk flour. Somebody please tell me if it's wrong to store flour under refrigeration.


Paddyscake's picture

under refrigeration is fine, in the freezer all the better, especially for whole wheat.

Depending on your climate (i.e. humid muggy vs dry & cool) will make alot of difference.

It certainly won't hurt the flour, but "green wise", for a 5-10 bag of flour and a weekly baker, it probably isn't neccesary.


PeteInAz's picture

I have a seven gallon (28 quart) plastic container that holds most of a fifty pound bag of flour. I have to pack the flour down, but it does fit. I think I have two to three pounds left over.

dwcoleman's picture

I have two Ikea glass containers, each one will store 5 lbs of flour.  I reload them usually once or twice a week from 50 lb bags nearby.

I typically buy 200-300 lbs of a flour when I'm running low, and I'll use that much up within 4-5 months, even quicker now that I'm baking Thursday nights for delivery Friday morning.