Food Grade Storage Containers

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Food grade storage containers are all important to those who want to start a safe food storage program.

Guidelines for what types of containers are safe and how they can be used.  Long term food storage will have different requirements than short term food storage.  I’ll list some options below and give the pros and cons of each and the ideal situation for using them.  

Food Grade Storage Containers

A clarification….  

This page is about storing dry foods.  This is not about ‘canning’ in plastic.  If you are canning green beans, peaches or other fresh foods… glass mason jars is the only way to go.  Do NOT try to process in plastic containers.   

Food grade storage containers for shorter term storage

Plastic Pete Bottles

 love the idea of recycling. I do prefer glass to plastic but, so much food comes in plastic bottles that can be reused.  The plastic has its advantages of being light and portable.  No worries about breaking.  

I would not suggest using milk containers. The plastic is much thinner and will not last. Only store food in plastics that originally carried food! Do not use non-food containers. 

These work great for beans, rice, powdered milk.  Dry items that you use regularly.  

Various plastic containers filled with dry goods like pasta and beans.

Storing items in these types of plastics is only for short term storage. 

Remember any food grade storage containers need to be food safe.  If it had food in it from the store, it should be food grade.  If it came from the hardware store it likely is not food grade. 

I have read that plastic containers can be used with oxygen absorbers for long term storage. (10-20 years)  These must be PETE or PET containers. (polyethylene terephthalate).  But I have my doubts because I’ve also read that any plastic will eventually seep in air.  They are not truly airtight. 

I don’t have 20 years to test the theory so, I’ll stick to short term with these recycled containers.  I don’t want to open these containers down the road and find stale crummy food.  

However you decide to use them, these recycled bottles will need to be;

  • Washed thoroughly.
  • Dried thoroughly. So important! Moisture will ruin your food.
  • Stored in a rodent free area. Rodents will chew right through plastic. 

Plastic Buckets

Here is another area where you can use recycled plastics. Go to your local bakery or bakery section in the grocery store. Ask if they have any empty buckets. Use these again for short or mid term storage.

The lids on the buckets sometimes do not seal well. I’d not trust them for long term. But sugar, wheat, oats and other grains will store well for a year or more just fine.

Another benefit is the size. The bakery buckets I get are 3 gallon size. They are much lighter than a 5 gallon bucket. If you were needing to move them around it will be MUCH easier on your back. For my sake, I like the smaller size.

The buckets are great for a myriad of uses. Ours have hauled chicken feed, water, gravel, paint, dirt. You could store toys, or non food items as well. If you are stocking up on soaps or cleaning products they might come in handy there too.

I used to be able to get these buckets free.  But I think many people realized the value and the stores realized they might recoup a little money on them.  The last I checked our local store was asking 2 dollars a bucket.  (actually this was several years ago so even that might have changed.)  You won’t know until you ask! 

Round and square buckets of various sizes with lids.

Glass Jars

I’ll bet you can guess what I’m going to suggest here! Yep, canning jars. Quart, Gallons, Half Gallons. They all make great storage containers. 

This is a good place to use the non canning jars that you may have saved.  Recycled glass pickle or mayonnaise jars.  

There are risks to using glass containers. Mainly… they break. If there were an earthquake or if you needed to move quickly. Glass would not be very useful. But for everyday storage of dry pantry items they are handy. 

Various glass jars filled with dried and shelf stable food.

Food grade storage containers for long term storage

Foods will stay safe longer when in an oxygen free environment. If you are going to invest in the long term storage, you might as well be assured that it will be good when you need it. Be sure and take the time to package it well.

Mylar bag or Foil Pouches

For Long term bulk storage in buckets you have two options. Use the recycled buckets that I described above but add foil liner bags. The Foil bags will keep out oxygen and make the foods safe long term.

Or purchase buckets made for long term storage. Some people add a foil liner for these as well. Remember even though plastic seems oxygen proof, I read it may eventually allow oxygen to seep into your foods.

Shiny long term storage bags for food.

Thinking about Home Food Storage

The final food storage container I’d like to tell you about is the number 10 can.

They are airtight. Using oxygen absorbers will prevent bug infestation and keep your foods fresh for many years. They are also rodent proof! Small and easy to handle makes these very handy.

These are similar to a coffee can but made in such a way that you can seal them yourself at home with the correct equipment.

This is often called dry canning. Here are step by step directions on the dry canning method.

Metal cans with plastic lids on top.

More about Home Food Storage

Home Food Storage Why would I consider working on a home food storage plan? Because I love it when my family looks at me like I’m crazy… just kidding! Really there are good reasons for being prepared.

Emergency Food Supply Short and Long Term Food Storage. Trying to figure out just where you should start? When I finally got it through my head that I should plan for long term AND short term… well it saved many many brain cells. Much simpler to break things down.

Food Grade Storage Containers A discussion of the options for containers to keep it all in. Most important… it MUST be food grade.

Page last updated: 10/27/2020

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Levi Armstrong
Levi Armstrong
3 years ago

It’s good to know that I could use plastic buckets for long-term storage of sugar, wheat, oats, and other grains. My family always eats rice for our meals because of our Southeast Asian heritage. Mom is looking for food-safe storage containers for our rice grains, so I’ll suggest she uses plastic buckets. Thanks.