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Inexpensive survival food: 2 best foods for emergency stockpiling

Inexpensive survival food stored in bulk won’t break the bank and it is the best survival food you can store long-term. So what is the cheapest survival food, let’s check it out.

Inexpensive survival food for long-term emergencies and prepper-type stockpiling are bulk-dry staples like dried beans, white rice, hard wheat, rolled oats, and pasta because they are proven during times of food shortage and have decades of storage life.

There isn’t any way around it. Storing bulk staples is an excellent way to save a lot of money on your family’s food budget. Take a look at the list below to get an idea of the cheapest and the best types of food to store.

Up next, is a list of the top 14 inexpensive survival foods.

Inexpensive Survival Foods

Below are 14 excellent survival foods that are popular with preppers. These foods are inexpensive, high in nutrition, and have decades of shelf-life if stored properly. My personal Stash of emergency foods includes the cheapest food for survival, white rice, dried beans, rolled oats, pasta, and wheat. I store these foods because they are easy to find in my area. Next, l take a look at the list of the best cheap survival food.

Chart #1 Inexpensive Survival Food: Top 14

Bulk-Dried Food TypeCost 50 LBSCommon Use In CookingShelf-Life In Years
White Rice$27.99 Compliments meat, beans, and vegetables.30
Basmati or Jasmine Rice$39.99 long-grain white rice with a fruitier flavor.30
Rolled Oats$32.49Eaten as hot porridge or used in baking 30
Hard Wheat Berries$34.02Ground into flour and used in baked goods like bread. 30
Dent Corn$42.50Ground to make Masa for corn tortillas30
Pasta$26.15Good base for sauces, gravies
Pinto Beans$76.29 soups, stews, over rice 30
Kidney Beans$85.50 soups, stews, over rice 30
Navy Beans$83.27 soups, stews, over rice 30
Garbanzo Beans$53.49 hummus or combined with garden produce for salads30
Split Peas$55.98 added to soups and stews.30
Lentils$56.57porridge or added to soups and stews.30
Fat-free Freeze Dried Milk$344.99Baking
Powdered Eggs$250.00Baked goods or scrambled eggs10
The prices of bulk foods fluctuate, but they are almost always less expensive than purchasing in small quantities or pre-prepared.
For maximum shelf-life, store-packaged staples need to be repackaged into long-term storage containers like Mylar Bags, food-grade buckets with oxygen absorbers, or purchased in hermetically sealed #10 cans.

Click to learn how much food to store per person.

Next, white rice.

#1 White Rice: Top Inexpensive Food

The cheapest survival food is hands down, white rice. I use white rice as a base food because I know if there is nothing else to eat my storage pantry has hundreds of pounds of white rice that I store oxygen-free in Mylar bags and 5-gallon buckets.

White rice is cheap but it is also easy to prepare, inexpensive, provides solid nutrition, can be purchased in most locations and has a 30-year shelf-life if stored properly.

Kick white rice up a notch and add dried beans to your survival food. Together they provide the perfect protein with nine amino acids. Up next, rice and beans.

#2 Beans: Top Inexpensive Food

There is a reason half the planet depends on beans (and rice) for daily sustenance. Dry beans provide a lot of nutrition. When you eat beans with rice they provide a perfect protein with nine essential amino acids. Both beans and rice are cheap, filling, flexible, and store for up to 30 years if stored properly.

Rice and beans are cheap but there are some hidden costs you may not think about. Let’s check out the hidden costs of cheap survival food for long-term storage.

Read Ready Squirrel’s article, “Cheap Long Term Emergency Food Supply: Epic Dry Staples.”

Up next, is the hidden cost of inexpensive survival food storage containers.

Food grade bucket and Mylar bags

Inexpensive Survival Food: Storage Containers

The hidden cost of cheap survival food is repackaging survival food from store-bought packaging to airtight, food-grade containers. Store packaging won’t protect food well enough for long-term storage, and there is no way around it.

The hidden expense of inexpensive survival food is purchasing food-grade containers that create an oxygen barrier. Without these, Oxygen will reduce the life of foods by decades. The most popular containers are Mylar bags, food-grade buckets, and the addition of Oxygen Absorbers to remove Oxygen.

Next up storing inexpensive survival food in buckets.

Food-grade Buckets

Here is a list of typical food buckets and how much they cost. Keep in mind that not all buckets and lids are created equal. Some models are better made and provide a better seal.

Let’s take a look at how much buckets cost.

Chart #2 Cost of Food-grade Buckets

Type of 5-gallon Food Grade BucketCost Per Bucket
Titan Food Storage Bucket with Gasket and Lid$7.47
Titan Food Storage Bucket Bucket Without a Lid$6.22
Lowe’s Food-Grade Bucket With Lid$4.48
Tractor Supply/ no lid$3.49
Walmart/no lid$2.96
Home Depot Leaktite/ Bucket and Lid $10.20
If you purchase buckets in bulk, you can get reduced pricing.

If you are willing to do some footwork, get free food-grade buckets from bakeries, coffee shops, small restaurants, and small businesses in your area. Make sure pre-used buckets were used to store food and not solvents, disinfectants, or other non-food-grade items. Up next, Mylar bags.

bucket and Mylar bag for inexpensive food storage

Mylar Bags

When you prepare to repackage dry foods into Mylar look for bags that are at least five mils, are made for food storage, and make sure they aren’t opaque, up next, let’s take a look at the typical Mylar bags on the market and how much they cost.

Chart #3 Cost of Mylar Bags

5 Gallon Mylar Bags 18″x 28″#ItemsMilCostCost EA
DiscountMylarBags.com 10 Pack5$25.99$2.60
DicountMylarBags.com50 Pack5$99.99$2.00
IMPAKCorporation.com50 Pack4.3$88.00$1.76
Sorbentsystems.com50 Pack7$124.95$2.50
Vacuumsealersunlimited.comTen pack5$18.99$1.89
Vacuumsealersunlimited.com150 Pack5$259.99$1.73
Packfreshusa.com10 Pack?$17.99$1.79
Packfreshusa.com50 Pack?$64.99$1.29
You can also find Mylar bags on sale on E-bay, Amazon, Walmart, and other online retailers.
Oxygen absorber inexpensive food storage

Cost of Oxygen Absorbers for For Storing Food In A 5-gallon Buckets

Depending on the type of dry food stored in 5-gallon buckets, the suggested size of the oxygen absorber is 2000cc or more. Look at the chart below to get an idea of what you will be spending on Oxygen Absorbers.

Chart #4 Cost of Oxygen Absorbers

Company2000 CCCostCost EA
Sorbent systems 10 Pack$10.20$1.02
Sorbent systems 240 Pack$102.00$.42
USAemergencysupply20 Pack$17.99$.89
USA emergency supply240 Pack$215.88$.89
Vacuum Sealers Unlimited10 Pack$8.99$.90
Vacuum Sealers Unlimited340 pack$299.99$.88

Some sellers offer free shipping if you buy larger quantities of absorbers, so keep that in mind when figuring out how much you pay per absorber.

Oxygen Absorbers Needed For Inexpensive Survival Food Storage (5-gallon bucket)

Below are the recommended number of CC Oxygen absorbers to put in a 5-gallon bucket for specific types of dry food. Pretty exciting.

Chart #5 Oxygen Absorbers for Cheap Survival Food

Absorber Size CC
Pasta and Beans/
Absorber Size CC
100cc: Use 20 Absorbers100cc: Use 30 Absorbers
500cc: Use 4 Absorbers500cc: Use 6 Absorbers
1000cc: Use 2 Absorbers1000cc: Use 3 Absorbers
2000cc: Use 1 Absorber2000cc: Use 2 Absorbers
Information Provided by USA Emergency Supply

How Much Survival Food Do I Need?

How Many Oxygen Absorbers For Storing Food In A 5-Gallon Mylar Bag?

Below are the recommended number of Oxygen absorbers to put in 18″ x 24″ Mylar bags typically used in 5-gallon buckets for storing cheap survival foods like rice, beans, and pasta.

Chart #6 Inexpensive Survival Food In Mylar Bags

Absorber Size in cc
Pasta and Beans/
Absorber Size in cc
100cc: Use 20 Absorbers100cc: Use 30 Absorbers
500cc: Use 4 Absorbers500cc: Use 6 Absorbers
1000cc: Use 2 Absorbers1000cc: Use 3 Absorbers
2000cc: Use 1 Absorber2000cc: Use 2 Absorbers
Information Provided by USA Emergency Supply

How Much Inexpensive Survival Food Will Fit in a 5-gallon Bucket?

A five-gallon bucket will hold different amounts of dry food because some foods have more air space due to shape and size. You can fit 36 pounds of tightly packed white rice in a 5-gallon bucket that will only store 20 pounds of rolled oats.

Twenty to thirty-seven pounds of dry goods or survival food will fit in a 5-gallon bucket. 18″x 24″ Mylar bags have the same storage capacity and are typically used to line five-gallon food-grade buckets.

Check out the Ready Squirrel Article, Pounds Of Food In A 5-gallon Bucket, for more comprehensive information on how much of each dry survival food will fit in a 5-gallon food bucket.


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