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Long-Term Food Storage Containers | 2023 Guide for Smart Preppers

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Crazy weevils – get out of my long-term food storage containers! Find grains, flour, coffee, cereal, and whole wheat stores of your own making, and leave ours alone! Sound familiar?

Your family’s long-term food storage system is a vital investment, but it requires careful preparation and work. Still, it’s sure nice to know it’s there and available in case of a natural disaster or other situation that tests your ability to stay healthy and happy during turmoil.

I’ll say up-front that, at least for me, various food storage products available today exist. But many of them are geared toward profit generation rather than enhancing the purchaser’s survival capacity.

I skipped those.

The best long-term food storage containers are practical, proven, and tremendously doable for anyone who wants to be ready for emergencies. That’s what prepping is all about. And there’s no room for lackluster choices.

So, with a true prepper’s spirit, I offer you my four top recommendations for long-term food storage containers. Today, we’ll look at how they work, their benefits and drawbacks, and some helpful food storage tips.

In ten minutes, you’ll know more about long-term food storage options than most of the world. Are you prepped for this fun, educative experience?

If so – then let’s proceed.

Fast Facts About Long-Term Food Storage

Before we jump into the best types of long-term food storage containing products, let’s consider what we need to store the food before getting carried away.

Well, we store food to keep it from spoiling and to prevent it from being affected by:

  • Humidity (moisture)
  • Exposure to light
  • Excessive heat
  • Animals
  • Oxygen
  • Bugs

Nobody likes food that’s spoiled or infested with bugs.

Dang weevils!

small pantry food storage with glass food jars cereals jams pasta rice and canned food
Here are some of our favorite long-term food storage containers. Glass jars, Mylar bags (with vacuum sealers), food-grade buckets, and polyethylene bottles. These four containers are all we need to keep our survival food safe. They help protect food from moisture, oxygen, and pests. Glass jars are likely our favorite food storage container. But – the other food storage containers also have advantages. Let’s discuss some of them. Shall we?

Choosing the Best Foods for Long-Term Storage

Some foods lend themselves better to storage than others. For example, dry staples store better than a fresh slice of cheesecake. Pretty obvious, eh? But why is it so obvious?

It’s basically because of the moisture content. Dried grains have very little, and cheesecake has a lot. More moisture in stored food means a shorter shelf life.

So, as a general rule of emergency food storage, it’s best to work with foods with 10% moisture or less. Grains, seeds, beans, dehydrated fruit, and other dry food products are excellent food supply storage options.

You can dry-store almost any low-moisture, low-sugar, low-fat, low-oil food with the four choices below. And there’s always the option to dehydrate your foods to increase their storage life expectancy. You can pick up a decent-grade food dehydrator for less than $100.

And, please, don’t forget that you can also store fresh water-rich foods – like vegetables, fruits, herbs, and even meats – by canning them, which is my favorite food preservation method. I love the entire process. And the fact that it uses glass, an inert substance with no harmful chemical components.

OK, we have the preliminary info covered, so let’s jump on to what we’re here for the four best products for long-term food storage.

Whoopee!

wooden cabinet crammed with many glass jars containing yummy and colorful foods
Food staples like canned fruits and veggies, dry grains, corn meal, lentils, beans, wheat, salt, dehydrated fruits, beef jerky, and powdered milk are some of the best foods for long-term storage. We also constantly remind our homesteading friends that canned foods like soups, beans, corn, fruit, and meat are safe indefinitely – as long as the can is in good shape. (We also read FoodSafety.gov’s Cold Food Storage Chart about frozen foods for long-term storage. It says that food frozen at zero degrees Fahrenheit is usually good indefinitely. It may lose taste – but it should be safe to eat. Good to know!)

4 Excellent Types of Containers for Long-Term Food Storage

I based my choices for the best products for storing food long-term on healthiness, versatility, and practicality. I didn’t consider pricing because they’re all relatively affordable, especially considering we use them for food safety. We’re talking about your family’s survival during emergencies. I also added PETE bottles for even the most cash-strapped among us!

To me, the four best types of food storage containers are:

  1. Glass Jars
  2. Mylar Bags
  3. Food-Grade Plastic Buckets
  4. PETE Bottles

The best container for you will be the one that meets your individual needs and requirements most effectively. Each type of container has unique advantages and disadvantages associated. So be sure to consider them before making your decision.

And, of course, nobody says you can’t use all four types, or others, in conjunction with one another. It’s your life. And you can store food however you choose. Let nothing stop you!

1. Glass Jars

storage pantry stuffed with glass jars containing delicious garden veggies fruits and pickled food
Glass jars are our favorite long-term food storage containers. They’re perfect for holding nearly any dehydrated food – like white rice, dry beans, rolled oats, and turkey jerky. They also work for jams, jellies, and pickled veggies from your summer harvest. Glass jars can even hold staple foods, like homemade soup, breakfast cereal, sugar, flour, fruit preserves, or dried herbs. Most mason jars don’t help protect your food from light. However, some glass jars have an amber tint to help stop 99% of UV rays from degrading food. (Also – always double-check your glass jars. Look for small cracks or chips. Only keep perfect jars for long-term food storage. And discard chipped or cracked jars.)

I love glass jars. Yes. Glass jar containers can break if mistreated, but my glass storage containers are thick and well-made. In most cases, you get what you pay for. I choose non-permeable glass containers because they don’t leach chemicals into my foods. (Like Bisphenol A BPA.) Nobody likes adverse health conditions due to toxicity.

Glass containers for long-term food storage come in various sizes, shapes, and colors. Colored glass is better for blocking out light, but it also costs more. But both offer an airtight seal – both types significantly reduce food oxidation and spoilage.

Of course, you can use clear glass for storing your foods in your prepper pantry. And then, either cover it up with something to block the light or double secure it inside another storage container, as the large plastic containers will look below.

I find that 1-gallon glass canning jars with metal lids are excellent for storing a wide variety of items – like cornmeal, flour, oats, pasta, and rice. They’re also perfect for storing:

  • Baby food
  • Beets
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggs
  • Kimchi
  • Sauerkraut
  • And so much more

They’re also great for buttermilk, real mayonnaise, and various sauces. And smaller glass containers are ideal for storing herbs, pepper, salt, seeds, and spices.

Keep your glass food storage containers in a chilled, dark location, like inside a closet. You can place old T-shirts or socks between them. Doing so offers protection from shifting during an earthquake or other jarring scenario.

And when you empty one of them, you can use it to increase your water supply!

It’s also quite nifty that glass food storage containers are reusable and recyclable, making them an eco-friendly choice that benefits the planet. That alone means a lot to me, knowing that I’m making a small contribution to limiting toxic emissions in the world.

Plus, there’s no way a dang weevil can chew through the thick glass!

Take that, weevils! (Steal food elsewhere!)

Wide Mouth Mason Jars with Metal Lids & Plastic Lids | 32 oz | Foukus
$24.99 ($4.16 / Count)

Mason jars are our favorite overall food storage container. They're perfect for storing sugar, grains, coffee, cereal, soups, salads, nuts, legumes, dehydrated fruits, granola, salsa, and leftover garden veggies. These mason jars have plastic and metal lids and are quart-sized. They're also wide-mouthed, so you can effortlessly fill them with fresh fruits, homemade soup, stews, et cetera. The wider mouth makes them easier to clean.

Get More Info
PAID LINK - We may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
06/13/2024 02:17 pm GMT

2. Mylar Bags & Oxygen Absorbers for Food Storage

yummy breakfast snacks tucked tightly within mylar foil pouch
We love Mylar bags as long-term food storage containers! Mylar bags are those fancy foil pouches that keep your yummy snacks and victuals safe and dry long-term. Mylar bags are often used with heat sealers and oxygen absorbers to help protect your food from oxygen, light, and moisture. Another reason we value Mylar bags is that they’re versatile in size – you can buy tiny Mylar bags small enough for a breakfast pastry or large enough to hold up to five gallons of dry food.

Mylar bags for food storage are reusable pouches made from multiple stacked aluminum and food-grade plastic layers. The plastic keeps the stored food safe from aluminum leaching. The absence of oxygen in these bags makes them the perfect long-term food storage containers for dry goods.

However, I’m still not sure about the safety of any plastic, food-grade or not. Sure, it may not contain BPA or certain other chemicals, but it still has dozens of others – and what do I know about all of those? Not much at all.

So, I use glass for storing my food whenever possible.

Anyway, back to Mylar bags. They have been around since the 1950s and will protect your emergency food storage from light and moisture.

And when used properly with oxygen absorbers, they protect food from bacterial growth and spoilage by limiting oxygen transmission over time to less than 0.01%. The absence of oxygen is crucial for successful food preservation.

As with any airtight pantry containers you purchase, go for quality. It’s good to be confident that your food storage containers and other gear got manufactured for lasting performance. Cheap, flimsy, low-quality food storage and survival gear are never worth it!

Mylar bags are typically available in 1-gallon and 5-gallon container sizes, and almost all brands have oxygen absorbers. The best Mylar pouches are:

  • Puncture-resistant
  • Tear-resistant
  • Light-tight
  • Airtight

It’s good to note that oxygen absorbers remove oxygen, not air, which comprises nitrogen (N2), oxygen (O2), argon (Ar), and gaseous compounds, including carbon dioxide (CO2). Vacuum packaging your Mylar bags after placing your O2 absorber inside is smart.

Also, be aware that Mylar bags are not rodent-proof. It’s wise to store them inside another container, like a sterile metal garbage can or plastic bucket. And placing Mylar bags inside cardboard boxes makes them easily stackable. Plus adds another layer of protection.

1-Gallon Mylar Bag Bundle | 75 Count | Wallaby
$45.99 ($0.61 / Count)

Wallaby is one of the most reliable brands for heat-sealable Mylar bags. These bags lock oxygen and light out from your food supplies. And this kit includes 75 Mylar bags, 80 oxygen absorber packs, plus 80 sticker labels for easy identification. The bags hold one gallon and can help preserve sugar, flour, rice, dehydrated fruits, veggies, plus other dried foods.

Get More Info
PAID LINK - We may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
06/13/2024 04:56 am GMT

3. Food-Grade Plastic Buckets

food grade plastic containers stuffed with colorful and yummy pasta grains and snacks
Food-grade buckets and plastic food boxes are potentially excellent long-term food storage containers. But there are a few rules you must follow! First, always double-check to ensure you’re using food-grade storage plastic. Food-grade plastics shouldn’t transfer toxic chemicals into your food. Another issue we’ve had with plastic containers is accidentally chucking them in the dishwasher. We always advise washing any food-grade buckets or plastic containers by hand. Don’t risk warping them in the dishwasher – which will render them useless for long-term food storage.

While I don’t prefer any plastic container used to store food, I cannot deny the practicality, versatility, and cost-effectiveness of food-grade plastic buckets.

Keeping most products in their original packaging inside plastic storage buckets is clever. These multiple layers add extra protection from moisture, air, and light. And also annoying food storage pests – like weevils! (And their fiendish colleagues.)

Of course, no type of storage container can stop your food from having insects inside the original packaging. But leaving these foods in their initial container can help prevent existing insect infestation from spreading.

A quality plastic five-gallon bucket with an effective gasket seal is an excellent option for long-term storage, particularly for bulk food items – like large bags of:

  • Dehydrated foods
  • Dry cereal
  • Flour
  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Sugar

Plastic food storage containers are available in various sizes and shapes, and you can reuse them many times over many years. However, they are not flawless oxygen barriers. So it’s intelligent to purchase some oxygen absorbers separately to enhance your long-term storage effectiveness.

As I stated, I prefer glass, a completely inert substance, because there’s no chance it will permeate into my foods. Plastic does, even though it may do so surprisingly slowly.

It’s also wise to be careful about storing your foods in plastic buckets used to store other foods previously. For instance, you don’t want to hold your dried wheat grain or other dry products in a plastic bucket that had previously stored pickled eggs!

If you use plastic buckets for long-term food storage? Then place them off the floor. Doing so allows total surface air circulation on the outside to prevent moisture buildup.

And if you’re stacking them, don’t stack them too high, and keep the heaviest buckets at the bottom of the stacks. And, of course, keep them out of direct light, or place a light-blocking cover over them.

5 gallon Food Grade White Plastic Bucket with Handle & Lid - Set of 6
$55.99 $40.99
  • Set of 6 - 5 Gallons in Volume - Food Grade HDPE Plastic
  • 90 Mils Thickness (.09 inches) - All Purpose - Heavy Duty
  • Metal Handle with Plastic Grip
  • Lid Included
Amazon
We may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
06/13/2024 08:51 pm GMT

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4. Polyethylene Terephthalate (PETE) Bottles

healthy and colorful fruit and vegetable smoothies in food grade plastic bottles
PETE or PET bottles aren’t topping our list for long-term food storage containers anytime soon. We’d almost always choose glass jars, Mylar bags, or food-grade buckets instead. But polyethylene terephthalate isn’t bad and is surprisingly prominent in food retail. Popular food items from the grocery store, like salad dressing, peanut butter, fruit juice, coffee, and iced tea, come in polyethylene terephthalate bottles. Check out this handy food-grade plastics guide from Utah State University for more information about safe food-grade plastics.

I don’t recommend plastic bottles for drinking from, storing food in, or anything else. However, one and two-liter plastic bottles are everywhere, and they’re free. Plus, they get made with plastic resins that are said to be safe. But I’m not entirely convinced of that. Research says otherwise.

But if you are in a situation where you immediately require a storage container and have no other option, then yes, use a PETE bottle.

For instance, you might come across an excellent source of clean water while suffering vital dehydration during a zombie apocalypse. In that case, or something similar, then go ahead. Use a PETE bottle. Fill your bottles with haste! (But ensure to boil the water before drinking. Hopefully, the zombies do not notice.)

When using these containers for long-term food storage, wash and dry them thoroughly beforehand. Leave them out and open-lidded and upside-down for a day or two to ensure they contain no moisture.

Also, be aware that these bottles are not impermeable. They will allow a slow transfer of oxygen into the bottle over time, which can lead to bacterial growth and eventual food spoilage. Use an oxygen absorber to extend shelf life.

Plus, even a rodent with only-average chewing ability can blaze through a 2-liter bottle with relative ease, so don’t count on these bottles for critter protection.

MT Products : 8 count 1 Quart Empty PET Plastic Juice Bottles with Tamper Evident Caps
$24.49

These one-quart PET bottles are great for storing liquids on the cheap, plus they are a great size for single meals - think soup mixes, smoothie mix, and protein powder.

Get More Info
We may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
06/12/2024 12:12 pm GMT

How To Protect Long-Term Food Storage From Insects

unsightly wheat weevils invading flax seed food pantry storage
Here you see the nasty enemy of your grains, cereals, and wheat storage. The grain weevil! (There are three types of grain weevils – granary, maize, and rice. They’re all equally wicked!) These tiny and nasty critters can’t help but devastate your food storage. They eat nearly all grains, corn, seeds, pasta, legumes, peas, barley, oats, and cereals. They usually appear dark brown to red. That’s another reason we love glass jars as long-term food storage containers. Tightly sealed glass jars help keep these nasty varmints locked out. And they also protect against mice and rodents.

Nobody likes bugs in their food! When I think of weevils, all infiltrated into my emergency grain supply that I took extra care to store – it infuriates me! And it gives me the heebie-jeebies!

Side Note. Weevils are small (less than ¼-inch) herbivorous (plant-eating) beetles from the superfamily Curculionidae. And there are more than 95,000 species worldwide. They are legion. And they are hungry!

Trust me, when my wife and I first started learning about long-term food storage techniques, we made several dishearting mistakes. To say the least! We took extra care and performed every step meticulously, but we still found moths and larvae in our flour and corn!

To protect long-term food storage from insects, focus on dry ingredients, block it from light, and use clean and dry food-grade storage containers. You can also use oxygen absorbers in dry food storage containers, vacuum seal Mylar bags, and ensure that your containers have tight seals that work.

And understand that you can still end up with bugs in your stored foods even if you take every precaution and do everything perfectly.

That’s because bug eggs are already present in some foods you purchase or grow. So, conduct your due diligence when protecting your foods from insect infestations. Chances are that if you do eat some bug eggs, you won’t even know it!

My Final Thoughts About Long-Term Food Storage Containers

food storage pantry stuffed with glass jars containing preserves fruits veggies and pickled goodies
Choosing reliable long-term food storage containers is easy. But never forget rule number one. Only store food in certified food-grade containers! Food-grade materials will ensure that toxic materials don’t seep into your foods. Food-grade glass jars are our favorite overall food storage medium. But plenty of other suitable food-grade storage options exist, ideal for storing nuts, pasta, grains, sugar, flour, and more. We hope you enjoyed analyzing a handful of them – along with their pros and cons.

There are various other food storage container options besides those I reviewed here. Many homesteaders have succeeded with #10 metal coffee cans, traditional freezer bags, canned food, and little-known food storage containers.

And that’s just fine! Whatever works, works, and that’s always good.

However, for me, choices are more limited to what I know works, is versatile, and is cost-effective. Investing in long-term food storage products is relatively inexpensive, even if, like myself and my family, you only buy quality products with excellent customer reviews.

For me, glass containers with airtight, screw-on lids are best. Sure, they can get broken, but so can plastic storage bins. And Mylar bags can be ripped, torn, and chewed through. There are advantages and disadvantages to every option. But glass is inert, and I like the lack of toxicity linked to anything I store in my family’s disaster supply kit.

Thanks so much for taking the time to read along, and I hope you find our food storage container insights useful. I wish you the utmost success in all phases of your prepping and survival journey.

PS – I have forever vanquished all weevils! (NOT! But I shall fight them to the very last.)

Long-Term Food Storage Containers Resources, Works Cited, and Guides

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