The storage containers you use for long-term food storage matter when it comes to the shelf-life of dry staples. . This article covers a list of premium containers and the tools you need to store massive amounts of dry staple foods like white rice, wheat, dry beans, rolled oats, and pasta for decades.
What are the best storage containers for long-term food storage?
The best storage containers for long-term food preservation are #10 cans and a combination of plastic food-grade buckets, lids, Mylar bags, and oxygen absorbers. Together, buckets and Mylar bags protect food from light, oxygen, moisture, and insects. The only other food storage containers that offer this level of protection are #10 cans.
My definition of long-term storage is storing dry staples for decades of shelf-life. White rice, wheat, beans, dry pasta, and rolled oats will store up to 30 years when properly packaged.
Let’s take a look at the specific containers I suggest to get you started building a rock-solid supply of emergency food.
Disclaimer: If you purchase anything from the links in this article, Ready Squirrel gets a cut of Amazon’s profit for beans and bullets.
Mylar Bags 5-Gallon Heavy Duty: PackFresh USA
Mylar bags are made from a space-age product that acts as true oxygen, moisture, and light barrier. Other than #10 aluminum cans, they are the only storage container that protects food from these food destroyers.
Mylar bags are susceptible to physical damage, rodents, and nibbling insects. I suggest you use them with buckets or a plastic bin.
These PackFreshUSA Mylar bags are super heavy-duty. At 7 mil in thickness, you are getting a lot more protection for your food storage than you will get from the typical five mil bags. This kit includes (10) 2000cc and (10) 500cc Oxygen-absorbers.
Up your food storage game by reading Ready Squirrel’s Mylar Bags For Food Storage: Beginners Guide
Mylar Bags: One Gallon PackFresh USA
One-gallon Mylar bags are excellent for storing the extra beans and rice that won’t fit into the 5-gallon buckets of food you are repackaging for long-term storage.
I use the 1-gallon bags for overflow from the buckets of food I’m storing, and they can also be cut down to hold smaller amounts of food if necessary. For maximum protection, store Mylar bags in a lidded plastic bin.
I also like to use 1-gallon Mylar bags to store ammo. It’s an excellent way to get bulk ammo down to manageable amounts you can take to the range or store in bug-out kits.
These Packfresh bags are strong with increased puncture protection and improved durability. They increase long-term oxygen and moisture resistance and provide a Superior oxygen barrier for 100 years of protection.
2000cc Oxygen Absorber Packs
2000cc oxygen absorbers are typically used when storing food in 5-gallon buckets, but there are many sizes to choose from. I stick with 1000cc or 2000cc absorbers for 5-gallon Mylar bags and 500 cc absorbers for 1-gallon Mylar bags.
You can use several containers and absorber size combinations if the total absorption is enough for that food type and container size.
See the chart below for container size, food type, and ccs of oxygen absorption needed for max shelf-life.
Chart #1Oxygen Absorption Needed By Container Size
More Dense/Less Air
Less Dense/More Air
|Food Storage Pails||#Of Each Size Absorber||# Of Each Size Absorber|
|20″ x 30″ Mylar Bags (4.25, 5, and 6 gallons)|
*Used to line food-grade bucket(s)
|19″ x 28″ Mylar Bags(4.25, 5, and 6 gallons)|
*Used to line food-grade bucket(s)
|14″ x 20″ Mylar Bags (2.0 gallons)||100cc: 10|
|10″ x 14″ Mylar Bags(1 gallon)||100cc: 3-4|
|2 Quart Mylar Bags (1/2 gallon)||100cc: 1-2|
|1Quart Mylar Bags||100cc: 1|
|Ball or Canning Jars|
|1-quart Ball Jar||100cc||200cc|
|1-gallon Ball Jar||400cc||600cc|
*Warning: dry foods should be stored at 10% moisture or less to avoid botulism food poisoning.
5 Gallon White Bucket & Lid – Set of 6
Food-grade buckets are ideal for Mylar bags when used for long-term food storage.
Imagine Mylar bags are going into battle fighting the elements of food storage for up to thirty years. The buckets and lids act as battle-ready armor.
Avoid using just a bucket for the max shelf-life if you store any food susceptible to oxidation.
Two foods that can be stored in just food-grade buckets are table sugar and salt. These foods are impervious to oxygen and get hard if stored oxygen-free. Salt and sugar will store forever if kept dry, so they are great for barter items.
Plastic buckets and plastic, in general, are not an oxygen barrier and are not ideal for long-term storage or for killing bugs, eggs, or pupae in dry food. Most dry grains contain bug eggs when you get them.
HOMZ Plastic Underbed Storage Bins (60 qt)
Use plastic storage bins to protect overflow Mylar food bags from chewing rodents, insects, and rough handling. These bins are also ideal when you start running out of room. They slide under beds and remain out of sight.
These HOMZ bins aren’t the only way to get this done; they are a solid product. They provide:
- 60-quart capacity with a low profile – ideal for under-bed storage.
- Large ergonomic latches lock to secure the lid and make for a comfortable grip and handle when moving or storing.
- Exterior dimensions with Lid at widest point: 40in. x 20in. x 6. 125in.
- Interior dimensions at most narrow point: 35. 16in. x 18. 25in. x 5. 14in.
- Designed to fit 2 bins under a twin bed and 4 under a king-size bed
Panasonic Automatic Iron
I use a regular household iron on the highest setting to seal Mylar bags for food storage.
Portable Heat Sealer
A handheld impulse sealer is another option if you want to get fancy sealing Mylar bags. I have never used a desktop impulse sealer, but I imagine they would be tough to use if you are lining Food buckets with Mylar bags.
I’d stick with something portable that you can move down the bag as you seal it.
Winco Pail Opener
Consider getting a pail opener for when you need to open emergency food buckets for rotation or to check and see what kind of food is in the bucket when organizing.
I tend to use cheap food-grade buckets that are easy to open, but some heavier-duty buckets are tough to open.
Sharpy Permanent Markers
Use a permanent sharpie to label all Mylar bags and buckets with the date and type of food you are storing.
Believe me. Once you start storing bulk food, it’s pretty easy to lose track of the foods you have stored. If you forget to mark your Mylar or bucket with at least the food type, you will have to open the bag to find out what is inside.
Wusthof Come-Apart Kitchen Shears
Scissors are an excellent way to get clean cuts on industrial-sized food bags of white rice, beans, and wheat. When I’m packaging food, I’m usually doing it by myself. If you’ve ever ripped a bag of dog or cat food open and dumped it all over the floor, you know what I’m talking about.
Making a clean cut when opening food bags makes it much easier to avoid getting food all over the floor. I also use these shears to cut up meat for stir-fry.
Gamma Seal Lids
Gamma seal lids are excellent for working buckets you regularly access, such as a dry food bucket you cook from. Gammas are also super for working tool buckets or as a range bucket.
I do not suggest you put these lids on your food buckets. They are super expensive and cannot be moved to another bucket.
Instead, use these for particular purposes like vehicle bugout kits to keep tools and gear dry for storage and organization.
Gamma lids are waterproof. To place the outer ring on the bucket, use a rubber mallet to pound it onto the rim.
Ball jars are great for small food portions, ingredients you are presently using, and oxygen absorber storage.
Keep ball jars and other clear glass containers in a dark cupboard to reduce food oxidation due to light.
There are drawbacks to using Glass storage containers. They are expensive, heavy, easily broken, and allow food oxidation from light.
Besides the obvious drawbacks, storing hundreds of pounds of dry staples in glass jars would cost more than Mylar and buckets.
If you plan to repurpose jars for wet canning, I can see using them in addition to the trifecta for dry staples.
#10 cans are the best long-term food storage container, but they aren’t something most of us have the tools to package ourselves, so we have to purchase them professionally packaged.
I love #10 cans because you can get a lot of survival food you wouldn’t otherwise be able to store. Dried eggs, powdered milk, freeze-dried vegetables, and other essential emergency foods are available to round out your dry staple foods.
In my case, I purchase specialty emergency food like powdered eggs, freeze-dried fruits, vegetables, and meats in number 10 cans and then package my dry staples like beans, rice, and wheat berries. Look at the Augason Farms store link to see the foods you can purchase in #10 cans.