Saturday, March 26, 2016

Food Storage Containers I Use

This photo shows the five containers I use for my food storage, they are: 5 Gallon Buckets, #10 Cans, Quart Canning Jars, 5 Quart PVC Jugs and Gallon Mylar Bags:

Link to my container retailer sources:

5 Gallon Buckets:
They are the standard for long term food storage and what I use. They are the best way to store large amounts of dry bulk food that's highly organized, cheap and reasonably safe from critters. To date I have not had a critter chew through any of my buckets. Buy quality buckets; .090 wall thickness and FDA Compliant plastic.
[Recently, food packers have been packing in 6 and 7 gallon buckets. These are just as good as the 5 gallon except when it comes to your wire shelving shelf height spacing. They are much taller, 19.75, 7 gallon vs 14.5 inches tall for the 5 gallon and will require taller shelf spacing so if you are planning on buying the 6-7 gallon buckets in the future set the shelf spacing to accommodate the taller buckets now. Also if you plan to buy 6-7 gallon buckets for your own food storage remember they do cost more and my not be the best value for you.]

Gamma Seal Bucket Lids:
There’s no comparing the Screw On Gamma Seal Lids to the conventional snap-on, pry-off bucket lids for the shear ease of opening and removing a 1 gallon bag of food when needed and then resealing the bucket. Over time, because of the cost, I have converted all my bucket lids to the Gamma Seal lids.

1 Gallon Mylar Bags:
Because of my actual hands on experience, I no longer Mylar bag food in the single, large, 5 gallon size bag. I now use exclusively 1 gallon bags and pack 4 of them into a single 5 gallon bucket. The 1 gallon bags are perfect for refilling the 5 quart jugs I continue to use.
[Note: Some may be saying I’m wasting space in the bucket by only using 4 of the 5 gallons of space. Actually that’s not true. When filling a bucket with a large 5 gallon Mylar bag you’ll find; #1 you can’t perfectly fit the Mylar to the buckets contour and #2 you must leave several inches of open space on top the food level to have space to fold up the excess Mylar bag into so you can get the lid on. Bottom line is the most you can fit in a single bagged bucket 4.3 – 4.5 gallons.]

5 Quart PVC Jugs:
These jugs are FDA Compliant. I found this size Jug the best way to begin Dry Food Storage. In the beginning I didn't want to buy 5 gallon buckets of bulk dry food without being able to at least create and test cook recipes first. If I purchased 5 gallon buckets of a food then what if I didn't like it? I’ve just wasted that money.

The jugs allow me to store small amounts of dry bulk foods. Supermarkets carry most all of the survival dry foods in small, inexpensive amounts such as 1, 5 or 10 lb bagged quantities. The jugs also let me have a wide variety of dry food items in a small space and I can spend $5 or $6 a week building initial amounts while test cooking them along the way.

I’m also a big believer in using and cooking my bulk stored food at least on a weekly non-SHTF basis because it saves on the everyday food budget and allows practicing recipes using it. Remember, store only what you already know how to prepare and like eat. The jugs make this easy. With my jug system I have 16 varieties of dry foods stored in 16 jugs. When a jug gets emptied I simply remove a one gallon bag of fresh food from the appropriate 5 gallon bucket and refill the jug with fresh stock. The remaining gallon bags in the bucket remain sealed and fresh until needed.

#10 Cans:
In the beginning when I was new to buying and stocking #10 cans of dehydrated or freeze-dried foods for long term storage, I needed a way to sample the contents and practice preparing meals using these new foods without the risk of spoilage after the #10 can was opened.

In order to sample the contents of #10 cans they must be opened and immediately at that point the long term food life begins to degrade. There are 13 cups in a #10 can so, if you have 6 or 8 different types of food that you need to practice preparing, a lot of time may pass during this practice time and spoilage of the remaining amount is possible. I get around this problem by opening the cans and immediately transferring all the contents into four, one quart canning jars with an oxygen absorber in each jar. Now I can use one of the jars to take food from for my testing and everyday use while the rest is safely stored in an oxygen free jar to continue its long term storage.

Your probably asking, why do I use a 500cc oxygen absorber in each jar, isn’t that overkill? Yes it is, but here’s why I use that size. I prefer to keep all my preparedness items and methods as simple and uniform as possible, so I stock only one size of oxygen absorber, the 500cc size to use in all my storage containers. If I need let’s say, 1,000cc’s for my one gallon Mylar bag storage I simply use two of them, for five gallon Mylar bags I use eight of them. It does cost a few cents more this way but I find it is a small price to pay for this flexibility and almost all my storage today is in quart jars and one gallon Mylar bags.

Quart Canning Jars:
Canning jars have for years been the staple of storing food without relying on refrigeration. Their uses are almost endless such as in this case, re-packing #10 cans of dehydrated or freeze-dried foods after opening.
Tip: before adding the #10 cans of food heat the canning jars and lid to about 200f degrees. This will soften the rubber seal for a better seal.

Contents of a #10 Can:
Here’s what you can expect to see after opening and transferring the contents of a typical #10 can of food into quart canning jars. [There are 13 cups of volume in a #10 can. About 3½ quart jars filled.]

How much space are you going to need?
This will give you an idea of what you’ll have with just 3 shelving units, 36 buckets and 16 jugs of bulk dry foods along with some #10 can and qt. jars. You will probably double this amount depending on your family size.
This does not include supermarket can, boxed and pouched foods or home canned food stored else ware.
What you see here is over 250 days of 2 cup meals, 3 times a day for two people.
Or 500 days of 2 cup meals 3 times a day for one person.
The overall floor space needed is approximately 2.0 feet x 12.5 feet for just these three shelving units!

My initial 5 quart jug storage:
This is what my start of dry bulk food jug storage looked like before buckets.
All this dry food was purchased at my local supermarket, nothing purchased online. This shelving unit I bought at Target for $40 and it fit nicely in a closet. It’s a little smaller at 18 x 36 x 72 (one foot narrower than the Sam’s shelves) that I use exclusively now. If you noticed, there is a second row of jugs behind the first. Every two jugs is equal to 2½ gallons or ½ a 5 gallon bucket!


  1. this is so clear and useful an article. many thanks

    1. Deb, thanks for your kind comment. I’ve been trying to re-write some of the posts so they would be more instructional and easy to understand.

  2. Probably one of the better food storage articles I've read recently - excellent attitude about 02 absorbers - you can't use tooooo much .... but .... you need to stress the limited "open air" time available for getting those 02 absorbers sealed into the mylar bagging .... it's the #1 newbie mistake

    1. Anon, thanks. I only write about what I actually use and do for myself. As I’m sure you’ve discovered many people don’t practice what they write. A re-write about using Mylar and o2 absorbers is coming and will cover your point.

  3. and this is why we love Mike!

    your friend,

  4. Thanks Kym. By the way we have the A/C on today! He he :-)

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