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5 Gallon Bucket Containers

5 Gallon buckets are a great way to bulk up your dry food storage.

This is what I consider a good alternative to dry canned goods. Instead of canning the food in #10 cans, you buy food grade buckets usually between 5 and 6 gallons and invest in gamma seal lids. Gamma seal lids sound like they're hard to find, but they're really not. Almost anywhere you can buy the buckets, you can buy the lids for them. These lids will give you an airtight seal and help food to store longer than would other wise be possible. They have the added benefit of being reusable as well. While food stored like this doesn't always last 30 years, it is possible to store dry food from 5-10 years using this system.

What makes this a good alternative to dry-packed goods, is how easy it is to do it yourself. You don't have to worry about buying your own special equipment for this. The only equipment you need is the buckets and lids and then you're good to go! You simply pour the food into the buckets and then put the lids on them. Then you're done. Store them in a cool dry place and the food will last for years.

It may also be possible to get food grade buckets from local stores at no charge. Often they use the buckets for things like frosting, fats, etc. When they're done with them they usually toss them out. I was able to talk to different bakeries and they'd call me when they were done and I'd go get them. I was never charged for them, and was able to acquire all I needed for my use. Then all I had to buy were the lids. So check with local grocers, bakeries and delis. They might be able to help you out.

Just make sure that they're considered "food grade" buckets. Be prepared also for quite a bit of scrubbing. You really need to make sure to clean them out, and since some of the food they hold can be greasy and fatty you need to really work to get them clean.

If you're not using Mylar bags with the buckets then make sure not to use any oxygen absorber packets. If you do you will actually decrease the shelf life of the food you have stored in them. Because the plastic is already somewhat porous, placing an oxygen absorber packet inside and then sealing it will actually over time create a vacuum inside that will pull oxygen into the bucket. Once air gets in, oxygen begins to react with the food and it will deteriorate. Which is exactly what you don't want to have happen; the less oxygen inside the longer the food will last.

If you don't want to store food like this yourself, then it is fairly easy to simply buy the buckets already filled from companies that specialize in food storage. This is a good alternative to doing it yourself, although it is more expensive. A plus from buying it already done is that they usually come with a Mylar lining that gives the bucket an airtight seal and the food will last quite a bit longer than it would without it.

Food grade buckets work even better when used in conjunction with Mylar bags.

Pros: Food lasts 5-10 years or longer when properly stored. It's easy to do it yourself and doesn't require specialized equipment. (Although investing in a plastic bucket opener would really save on frustration, and only costs a few dollars.) Buckets when empty can be used for other things, such as carrying and storing water. They're also very easily stacked on top of each other.

Cons: Buckets on their own are not completely airtight and so the food does need to be rotated more often than dry canned foods. A rotation schedule should be set up to insure that food stored gets used before it goes bad. Because the buckets aren't metal, it is possible for rodents to chew their way through the buckets and spoil the food inside.