How to prepare your family to survive and thrive in todays uncertain world

Food Storage Buckets

There’s a number of different kinds of food storage buckets that you can use for your long and short term food storage pantry.  I’ve talked about it before, but I’ve gotten enough emails about it lately that I figure I should go over some of the options.

Four Gallon Square Bucket

My all-round favorite bucket for food storage is the square four gallon bucket.  It contains almost as much as a standard five gallon bucket, but the math just works out better square-footage wise.

This is one of the reasons why they’re so popular for major food service manufacturers.  Warehouse space is at a premium.  Of course for most of us our food storage space is too.

Since the buckets are square and not round, there’s significantly less dead space between them and they stack into a very tight and stable cube.  I haven’t ever done the math to see how much space you end up saving, but it’s a reasonable amount.

I also like the fact that four gallons is a sweet spot for most bulk items.  I’ve found that when we pick up bulk staples from the LDS cannery or a food service store the standard 25 lb bag fits perfectly into a four gallon bucket with just a bit of room to spare.

The only staple I’ve found that doesn’t fit that bill is oatmeal, since it’s so light.  But that’s ok, I can live with that…

So like I said, the four gallon buckets are my definite favorite.  I had a great source of them before I moved, so now I’ll need to find another source now that we’re clear across the state.  I hate buying them new off the Internet, they’re ridiculously expensive.

Five or Six Gallon Round Bucket

I’m lumping the five and six gallon round buckets together here.  They’re functionally similar, and just vary by the one gallon of holding capacity.

These are the buckets you get at the hardware store.  Oddly enough, many of them are food safe even though they’re not sold for food storage purposes.

These are my second choice for food storage buckets.  I don’t like the dead space they have when stacked densely together.  But if I couldn’t find four gallon square buckets, I’d use these instead.

One definite benefit for the round buckets over the square buckets is that you can get gamma seal lids for them.  If you aren’t familiar with gamma seal lids, they are special lids for round buckets that let you easily open and close the bucket while maintaining an air tight seal.  They’re great for when you are in and out of a bucket reasonably often.

55 Gallon Drums

If you don’t plan on moving them, and aren’t all that concerned about bugs, 55 gallon drums make a good solution for massive bulk storage of things like wheat, beans, and other dried staples.

It doesn’t matter too terribly much if you use open top HDPE plastic drums, metal drums with liners, or even the cellulose walled drums.  These drums are great options if you don’t want to mess around with lots of buckets.

Even a full drum can be moved with a hand truck or dolly, so you can relocate them if need be.  Still awfully heavy though.  A full 55 gallon drum of wheat will weigh roughly 350 lbs.

We don’t use any of these for food storage … only water.  But you could definitely do it if you were so inclined.  One suggestion I have if you DO use these is to segregate your food.

Pack them into separate bags, whether mylar or even simple ziplock bags.  This will keep water out and it will also prevent mass infestation if you have a few live bugs or eggs in there.  Better to lose 10 lbs of wheat to weevils than lose the entire 350 lbs in the drum.

Wrapping Up

So there you have it … Three great options for food storage containers.  Like I said, the four gallon square is my favorite, but any of these would work great.

What’s your favorite?

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2 Responses to Food Storage Buckets

  1. I think it is worth mentioning that even non-food grade buckets can be used for food storage. Supposedly (feel free to correct me on this) if the food is sealed in a mylar bag the quality of the plastic bucket does not matter. The plastic will not leach through the mylar.

    I have also read on several sites that putting food in a bucket than dropping in the O2 absorbers will cause a vaccuum that can cause the bucket to crack and therefore will not be not good for long term storage. You must have the food and O2 absorbers sealed in a mylar bag, inside the bucket.

    • It doesn’t even have to be a mylar bag, it can be a simple plastic ziplock or something.

      That said, food grade buckets are everywhere, so I tend to be ‘better safe than sorry’ if you will…