Let’s learn how to store bulk emergency food in buckets. Inexpensive survival food prime for bucket storage may not stay inexpensive, and it may not be available if we have food shortages. There is no doubt the prices are going up, but these foods are still the cheapest way to get prepared for any family emergency that comes down the road.
Let’s strike while the iron is hot and get to stockpiling.
Other than #10 cans, buckets used with Mylar bags and oxygen absorbers are the best way to store dry food for the most extended shelf-life.
What Type of Food Can I store In a bucket?
You can store just about any food in a bucket but focus on life-saving staples like white rice, beans, wheat, and rolled oats for long-term storage.
For long-term storage, i.e. lining a bucket with a Mylar bag and using oxygen absorbers, only store dry foods that are 10% moisture or less. This is a big deal. High moisture foods are not stored this way (oxygen-free) because they have a chance of contracting botulism food poisoning.Scott, Ready Squirrel
Check out the Ready Squirrel article, How to store Rice In 5-gallon Buckets.
17 Foods To Store In a Bucket
You can indeed store most foods in a bucket, but I guess you are here to prepare for the possibility of food shortages or some catastrophe, and you don’t want to rely solely on the grocery store should things head south. If this is so, start hoarding the 17 heavy-hitting foods listed below.
The bulk of my food stockpile is white rice, white wheat berries, and beans. If these foods are good enough for the Roman Empire, The Egyptians and Chinese Dynasties they are good enough for me. With these foods and a steady supply of fresh water my family won’t go hungry. I prep for the big event’s so I don’t adhere to the phrase “stockpile what your family eats.” If you are used to eating pre-made meals out of the freezer now is the time to change that.Scott, Ready Squirrel
#1 White Rice
Rice and Beans are the silver bullet of long-term food storage because together, they make a complete protein, are flexible, and last decades.
A 5-gallon bucket will hold 36 pounds of white rice that will keep in storage for thirty years.
#2 Beans (Dry)
Beans are an outstanding non-meat protein. Eat them on rice or with hard and soft grains.
Thirty-three pounds of dry beans fit in a 5-gallon bucket, and they store for thirty years.
Wheat berries can be cooked whole like a porridge or milled into flour to make daily survival bread. I’d start stockpiling wheat if I had beans and rice locked down.
Approximately twenty-nine pounds of wheat berries will store for 30 years
#4 Rolled Oats
The preferred food of the Scotch Highlander, a 5-gallon pale, will hold approximately 20 pounds of rolled oats for thirty years.
#5 Hard Grains
These grains will store the longest; white rice and wheat are among them.
#6 Soft Grains
Soft grains, with few exceptions, don’t last as long as hard grains. Rolled oats are the exception, with a thirty-year shelf life.
#7 Non-fat Powdered Milk
Non-fat powdered milk is excellent to store, especially if you plan on baking post-emergency. Twenty-nine pounds of powdered milk will fit in a bucket and keep for 20 years.
Whole-powdered milk or milk with fat will store for 2 to 10 years, depending on how it is packaged.
#8 Dried Eggs
Dried eggs are suitable for a shot of protein and baking, so they go well with stored wheat. Expect to fit 20 lbs of dried eggs in a bucket for a storage life of approximately 10 years.
The pulse family includes lentils and split green peas. They cook quicker than dry beans and are nutrition dense.
The standard bucket will hold 33 pounds of lentils or split peas, and they will stay good on the shelf for up to thirty years.
#10 Dry Pasta
Dry pasta is easier to make than making it from scratch with stored wheat. I keep mostly macaroni because more of it will fit in the bucket.
30 pounds of pasta will fit in a bucket.
#11 Corn Meal
Cornmeal can be used to make cornbread and all kinds of baked goods and can also use as a breading for fried meats and vegetables. This might be a better option than storing dent corn because it’s already prepared and has a similar shelf-life.
Thirty-three pounds of cornmeal will fit in a bucket, and it should store for 25 to 30 years in the pantry.
Popcorn can be popped but can also mill it into flour. I’ve never done it, but some preppers swear by it.
37 pounds of popcorn will store in a bucket for 25 to 30 years.
White bleached flour is a staple food used to make baked goods and daily bread. The flour will store 10 to 15 years if stored in buckets with Mylar and oxygen absorbers.
Whole wheat flour isn’t stored oxygen-free because it is high in oil and goes rancid within 18 months. The ground wheat berry makes whole wheat flour and keeps it for 30 years.
The protective coating on the wheat kernel protects it until it is crushed or milled. The wheat berries have a longer storage life than whole wheat flour and bleached flour for the long storage life.
37 pounds of flour will fit in a bucket.
#14 White Sugar
Sugar is good for bartering, food preservation, and fermenting. You can put it straight into the bucket and put a lid on it. There is no need to use Mylar bags or oxygen absorbers.
30 pounds of sugar will fit in a bucket, and it lasts forever.
Excellent for barter and food preservation, salt is one of the few foods that doesn’t oxidize, so Mylar and Oxygen absorbers are unnecessary for storage.
50 pounds of salt will fit in a 5-gallon bucket, and it lasts indefinitely. (forever)
#16 Potato Flakes
Potato flakes are excellent as a thickening agent or to cut palet fatigue when you can’t eat one more rice bowl.
20 pounds of potato flakes will store up to 20 years in a 5-gallon bucket.
#17 Dent Corn
You say dent corn. I say field corn. Whatever it’s called, dent corn is used as a grain by grinding it into cornmeal.
I don’t have dent corn, but If I lived in Iowa, I’d look into storing it. Field corn is used to make MASA flour for corn tortillas, an excellent staple.
37 pounds of corn fit in a 5-gallon bucket, and it will keep for 30 years.
Read the Ready Squirrel article, What foods can I store in a 5-gallon bucket?
How do I store foods in a bucket?
Storing food in a bucket is so easy it’s almost criminal. Buckets are the best storage container for the “do it yourselfer” because many long-lived foods can be stored quickly. This packaging technique gives you a massive shelf-life on emergency foods, but it’s also relatively inexpensive.
Repackaging dry staples into buckets is the same for foods with less than 10% moisture. The only difference is some require more Oxygen absorption than others.
- Food-grade bucket
- Bucket lid
- 18″x24″ Mylar Bag
- Oxygen Absorber(s)
- Permanent Marker
- Household Iron
#1 Get the Food
Get a bulk bag of rice, beans, wheat, or other food less than 10% in moisture.
#2 Mylar Bag
Line a 5-gallon food-grade bucket with a 5mil or higher Mylar bag.
Pour the food into the Mylar bag 2″ below the lip of the bucket
#4 Oxygen Absorber(s)
Place 2000 to 2500 cc worth of oxygen absorber into the Mylar bag
#5 Seal Bag
Seal the bag with a clothes iron on the hottest setting by folding the bag over a piece of scrap wood or a cardboard box
#6 Label Food
Using a permanent marker, write the type of food and date outside the Mylar bag or bucket.
#7 Cheap Lid
Place a cheap lid on the bucket and stack buckets no more than 3 high
#8 Store Bucket
Store your buckets in a cool, dry location. Avoid storing in a space that isn’t climate-controlled. Avoid storing food in garages and outdoor sheds.
#8 Optional-Gamma Lid
Gamma lids are handy, but they aren’t necessary.
Why store food in buckets?
We store staple foods in buckets because food lasts 20 to 30-plus years, it also kills bugs in the food, and you don’t have to rotate the food for years.
Let’s look at why we use buckets, Mylar, and oxygen absorbers together for the perfect food storage solution.
Oxygen and moisture are big-time enemies of food. Mylar bags are actual Oxygen and moisture barrier. Once the food is sealed in the bag, neither moisture nor Oxygen can get in the bag.
Buckets are tough and protect Mylar from damage that could expose food to Oxygen. The plastic buckets are made from is permeable to Oxygen, so it gets inside the bucket and can oxidize the food. Without the Mylar bag and Oxygen absorbers, most food will deteriorate quicker.
Try to use Food-grade buckets because they are a useful tool in a survival or emergency situation. They are food-safe and can be used to haul water, or to ferment and pickle vegetables and fruit. It is true that you can use a clean-non food grade bucket to store food if they are lined with a Mylar bag.Scott ,Ready Squirrel
Learn how to store food in buckets. Check out the Ready Squirrel video of Scott storing wheat.