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How much food fits in a bucket? 5-gallon Bucket

It’s handy to know how many pounds of the most common prepper foods will store in a 5-gallon pale so you can plan ahead. I hope you find this information helpful as you plan and build your emergency food supply.

A 5-Gallon Food-Grade Bucket will hold 8 to 37 Pounds of Emergency Food. The size of food affects the weight, i.e., a rice grain versus an apple slice. Bucket weight is also affected by the air space between each piece of food, moisture content, and additional packaging such as Mylar bags.  

8 to 37 pounds is a huge variation in the amount of weight a food-grade bucket will hold. I assume you Googled how many pounds of food will a bucket hold because you are planning your long-term food storage.

In the following charts, I describe how many pounds of the most common prepping foods will fit in a bucket, including cooked calories per pound and per 5-gallon bucket.

How Much Whole Grain Will Fit In a 5-Gallon Bucket?

Notice how the larger, fluffier foods with more airspace between each piece take up more space and reduce the overall weight a bucket will hold.

Food Type-Whole GrainLBS
Per 5 Gallon Bucket
Cal Per Pound
Cal Per
5-Gal Bucket
Hard Red Winter Wheat371,118
Hard White Wheat371,194
Pearled Barley (hulled)36527
3.5 c
Yellow Dent Corn/Maize/Used for making tortillas37990
Buckwheat Groats35417
Long Grain White Rice36820 4 c 29,520
Long Grain Brown Rice35864 4 c30,240
Parboiled Rice/Instant Rice36820 4 c 29,520
Rolled Oats20750 5 c15,000
Oat Bran25308
3.5 c
Bread Rye351019
Information Compliments of USA Emergency Supply and The Food and Drug Administration

How Much Flour Will Fit In A 5-Gallon Bucket?

Depending on your goals you may choose to store flour for the short-term. Whole wheat berries last up to 30 years, white flour will last a max of 5 years.

Food Type-FlourLBS
Per 5 Gallon Bucket
Cal Per Pound
Cal Per
5-Gal Bucket
Wheat Bran12375
(not cooked)
All Purpose Flour331,194
white bread
Information Compliments of USA Emergency Supply and The Food and Drug Administration

How Many Pounds of Beans Will Fit In a 5-Gallon Bucket?

Beans are a prepping superstar when it comes to long-term storage. You can get a 30-year shelf life, and when combined with rice, you get a complete protein with all the amino acids.

Food Type-Dry BeansLBS
Per 5 Gallon Bucket
Cal Per Pound
yield 6 c *
Cal Per
5-Gal Bucket
Black Turtle351,362 47,670
Black Eyed Peas/Cowpeas321,200 38,400
Garbanzo/Chick Pea331,614 53,262
Great Northern351,254 43,890
Green Split Peas331,386 45,738
Kidney331,350 44,550
Lentils351,380 48,300
Lima351,296 45,360
Mung371,278 47,286
Pink341,200 40,800
Pinto341,404 47,736
Refried201,512 30,240
Small Red341,308 44,472
Small White Navy371,842 68,154
Soy331,788 59,004
Information Compliments of USA Emergency Supply and The Food and Drug Administration

*Each Pound of beans is estimated as 2 cups or 1b of dry beans.

Dried Bean to Cooked Bean Yields

The yield you get from dried beans to cooked beans isn’t an exact science. There is no accounting for small variations in the actual size of the beans. This chart will get you in the ballpark when trying to figure out dry to cooked ratios.

Dried BeansCooked
1/3 Cup 1 c
1/2 Cup1 1/2 c
2/3 Cup2 c
1 Cup3 c
2 cups (1 lb of dried beans)6 c
Information Compliments of USA Emergency Supply, Manufacturers and The Food and Drug Administration

How food fits in a 5-gallon bucket? (Pasta)

One of my favorite comfort foods Pasta is an excellent addition to your pantry. You can cook it and combine it with just about anything to make a solid meal.

Food Type-Dry PastaLBS
Per 5 Gallon Bucket
Cal Per Pound
cup yield varies
Cal Per
5-Gal Bucket
Macaroni201576 8c31,520
Egg Noodles13 711 3c9,243
Spaghetti29 1,379 7c39,991
Information Compliments of USA Emergency Supply and The Food and Drug Administration

How much food fits in a 5 gallon bucket? (Dehydrated Fruit)

Dehydrated food takes up a lot of space in relation to its weight. If you are looking to maximize storage space carefully consider which dehydrated foods you choose to store.

Food Type-Dehydrated FruitLBS
Per 5 Gallon Bucket
Calories Per 1 lb Cal Per
5-Gal Bucket
Applesauce (sweetened)163064,896
Apple Slices81,1449,152
Sliced Banana Chips112,35425,894
Information Compliments of USA Emergency Supply and The Food and Drug Administration

how much dog food fits in a 5 gallon bucket?

A 5-gallon food-grade bucket will hold 21 lbs of Dog food or dry kibble if filled just below the rim of the bucket. Various dog food brands and the kibble size will affect how many pounds the bucket will hold. This bucket was filled and weighed with IAMS Lamb and Rice

How Much Does a 5-Gallon Bucket Weight?

An Empty food-grade bucket weighs 1/2 pound to 1 lb., 15 oz., depending on the manufacturer. Walmart Food-grade buckets weigh 1/2 lb with the lid. Heavy-duty contractor-grade buckets with a lid weigh 2 lbs.

How Many Cubic Feet Are In a 5-Gallon Bucket?

A 5-gallon food-grade bucket equals .98 cubic feet of food storage

What Size Container Will Hold 25 lbs of Flour?

A food-grade 5-gallon bucket will hold 25 lbs of flour and then some. 33 lbs of All-purpose flour will fit in a 5-gallon pale.

How much rice fits in a 5 gallon bucket?

A 5-Gallon Food Grade Bucket will hold 36 pounds of long-grain white rice.

How Much Does a 5 Gallon Bucket Weigh Filled With Water?

A Five-gallon bucket will hold 41.7 lbs of water. If the bucket weighs 2 lbs, you are looking at a 43.7-pound bucket when filled with water.

Can You Store Food In 5 Gallon Buckets?

You can store food in 5-gallon buckets but the buckets should be made from food-grade plastic for direct food contact. If non-food grade buckets are used, they should be lined with Mylar bags as a chemical barrier. Non-food grade buckets have chemicals that should not come in contact with food.

As a side note, it’s a good idea to use Mylar bags in all of your 5-gallon food storage buckets. Mylar is an excellent Oxygen barrier but is easily damaged. 5-gallon buckets don’t keep the best seal, but they are super tough and protect the Mylar bags from getting damaged.

What Kind of Food Can I Store In 5-Gallon Bucket?

For Long-term Storage and Emergency Food preparedness, there probably isn’t a better method of storing food than a 5-Gallon Food-grade bucket lined with a sealed Mylar Bag and Oxygen absorbers. Oxygen oxidizes food and reduces shelf-life by decades. Here are 9 foods commonly stored in 5-gallon Buckets.

  1. Dry Beans
  2. Rice
  3. Wheat Berries/Whole Wheat
  4. Hard and Soft Grains
  5. Rolled Oats
  6. Flour
  7. Whole Dried Corn/Dent Corn/Maize for tortillas
  8. Dehydrated Foods
  9. Pasta/ Spaghetti, Macaroni

Safety Tip On Moisture Content

Food stored in an Oxygen-free environment should have a moisture content of 10% or less. Foods with higher moisture levels are prone to bacterial growth and deadly botulism.

What is a Gamma Seal Lid For Buckets?

Gamma lids are convenient when using a bucket to store food you are currently eating out of or using as a tool or equipment container. Gamma lids are much more expensive than regular lids, so preppers don’t’ normally use them on most of their food buckets.

A Gamma Seal Lid is an aftermarket lid for a 5-gallon bucket. The cover comes in two parts, an outer ring of plastic with a seal and an inner cap that screws into the outer ring. An excellent choice for buckets you regularly access because you don’t have to remove the outer ring.

Tip: If you are using Gamma lids for long-term food storage, you should still consider using sealed Mylar bags as buckets are not an optimum Oxygen barrier.


This USDA document is an excellent resource. Nutritive Value of Food, United States Department of Agriculture, Ag Research Service, Home and Garden Bulletin Number 72, Susan E Gebhardt and Robin G. Thomas PDF

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