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Eating Bulk Food On A Daily Basis

May 30, 2011 by  

Eating Bulk Food On A Daily Basis

At some point during your accumulation of food stores, you probably bought bulk food of some sort. We started buying 5-gallon buckets of rice, beans, oatmeal and other food a few years ago. The funny thing is we kept buying rice, beans and oatmeal in small quantities from the grocery store to eat on a daily basis.

In some cases, like oatmeal, this makes sense. In other cases, it’s cheaper to buy in bulk, so it’s kind of like jerking meat by the pound and still buying the stuff you regularly eat from 7-Eleven.

You might be different, but we were really kind of intimidated by the big buckets. Really, it was just a lot of unknowns. How do we reseal the buckets? How do we keep from losing 5 to 10 pounds to spoilage?

I realized the blunt answer is kind of like everything else with preparedness: It’s much better to have experience with these issues before an emergency than to learn it all when you are stressed.

When we opened our buckets, we discovered our local emergency-supply store uses an inner 7-gallon Mylar® bag to extend the shelf life to 20 to 30 years. (Yours may or may not have that. It would be smart to find out.)

The Crash Is Coming!The process of using food from our long-term stores is pretty straightforward. Here’s one way to do it:

1. Cut open the Mylar® bag. Make as small a hole as practical so you can easily reseal it.

2. Put a week or a month’s worth of food in a smaller container. You can use sealable plastic bags, widemouthed jars or empty plastic drink containers.

3. Burp the Mylar® bag in your plastic bucket to get the air out of it. You probably won’t need your oxygen absorber if you’re actively using the item. Of course, if you think it will take you more than a few months to use up the entire bucket, you might want to put in some oxygen absorbers. If you don’t have oxygen absorbers, you can substitute dry ice. If you don’t have dry ice, you can “float” the container with carbon dioxide from a carbon dioxide canister. I have found carbon dioxide tire inflators that are activated by a lever to be particularly good for this. Since carbon dioxide is heavier than air, it will go to the bottom of your container and push out the air. For most applications, one 12-gram carbon dioxide cartridge will be more than enough.

4. Seal your Mylar® bag. If you have a FoodSaver®, you can use it to both suck out the air and seal the Mylar® bag. If not, you can seal the Mylar® bag by pressing it between a 2-by-4 plank and a hot iron. You probably don’t want to use the same iron you use on your dress clothes. If you don’t have electricity, heat up an old-fashioned iron or piece of metal on a stovetop or in a fire. One trick you can use if you don’t have a FoodSaver® is to seal the Mylar® bag mostly closed and then suck out the remaining air with your mouth or with a pump like you would use on inflatable beds and toys. Once you have sucked out the air, finish sealing.

Gamma Seal Lid5. Close your 5-gallon bucket with a Gamma Seal® Lid. The plastic lid makes your bucket airtight. Just unscrew the lid when you want access in the future. The lids cost between $5 to $10 apiece, depending on how many you buy.

Canning is also a great option for taking bulk quantities of food and making them more manageable. One of the biggest advantages is you aren’t limited to food that comes in 5-gallon buckets. You are able to can food from anywhere — your garden, a local farmers’ market or your grocery store. Unfortunately, that is a topic that is beyond the scope of this article.

I alluded to something earlier, and it’s worth repeating. Bigger isn’t necessarily better. As an example, we can buy two-packs of oatmeal from Costco for slightly less per pound than we can buy it in bulk long-term storage containers. There are tradeoffs, of course. With bulk packaging, we have another solid bucket when we’re done, but we have to buy a Gamma Seal® Lid for it. The smaller containers from Costco are easier to store and are more portable.

That being said, don’t let the possibility of a better deal being out there stop you from taking action now. In other words, if you find yourself at a big-box store and have the option of buying something immediately or checking bulk pricing somewhere else, go ahead and get some supplies at the big-box store. You never know whether there will be a hiccup with the supply chain or if food inflation will cause the prices to go up before you have a chance to buy in bulk.

Are you an old-timer at buying foods that you use on a daily basis in bulk? Please share your hard-earned wisdom by commenting below. With the price of food going up on an almost daily basis, have you accelerated your emergency-food buying?

Peggy Layton

a home economist and licensed nutritionist, holds a B.S. in Home Economics Education with a minor in Food Science and Nutrition from Brigham Young University. Peggy lives in Manti, Utah with her husband Scott. Together they have raised seven children. Peggy owns and operates two businesses: One called "The Therapy Center", where she is a licensed massage therapist and hypnotherapist, and the other an online cookbook and preparedness products business. She is nationally known for publishing a series of seven books on the subject of food storage and also lectures and teaches seminars about preparedness and using food storage products. Peggy practices what she preaches, has no debt, grows a huge garden, lives off the land, raises chickens, bottles and dehydrates food and has time left over to operate her businesses. To check out Peggy's cookbooks and self sufficiency products go to her website To get a free sample of three different storable meals that have a 15-year shelf life go here.

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  • Vietnam Vet.

    Dave do you have any business conections as you have given me an Idea for a new product. If you are a friend of Glen Beck’s maybe he could get me in contact with Jon Huntsman who would be an excellent to produce this product.

    Thank You

  • Bill Johnson

    Bulk food storage is an extension of the once per month food purchase most old soldiers are aware of. Water is a whole different story. Don’t save tons of purified water. Instead, purchase or make solar stills and stock liquid chlorine bleach for purification. Water purified in a solar still is great. The still weighs very little and can be used for a long time. The limitations are quantity and water source.

    • Albino.

      Bleach or sodium hypochlorite has a shelf life.

      I would recommend Sodium dichloroisocyanurate as it’s in powder form and can be purchased from any store that sells pools supplies. 1 teaspoon per 100 gallons.

      • Art J

        I suggest two drops of essentisl oil of lemon per quart of water to purify any water. Works very well with no chance of harm to our bodies. I reccommend only Young Living brand as it is the only oil to look alive under the microscope. You may use the #125598 as who told you about the company if you wish to purchase.

      • granny mae


        This is a very good suggestion. I never thought about it but will certainly do it. Thanks.

  • Lostwages

    Great write up David. I package both my bulk food purchases and smaller size package purchases into smaller serving sizes and place them in the containers. This way I can take out what I need without exposing the rest of the supply to the open air. Also for smaller, off the store shelf stuff like instant potatoes I cut out the instructions on the box and drop them in the bucket. I then mark each bucket with the date, the product name and the Best if used by date. I still place oxygen absorbers in the buckets and change them when I open the buckets to take out what I need. Not dealing with bucket storage, but something I found at the Dollar Store (the only west coast suppler) is HT milk in quart box containers. This milk is Heat Treated and has a 9 month shelf life without being refrigerated. I keep 24 quarts on hand and rotate them to the refrigerator for use as the dates get closer. I wrote the manufacturer and they claim the milk is good after the use by date, but the color will start to change and the taste is not as good. I’ve found it to be a great product and if things got bad, I would still have milk for some time after without needing to keep it cold! It is a dollar a quart, so it’s a little more costly, but it makes me feel better knowing it’s on the shelf if I need it. I also have 45 pounds of dry milk. If I had to start mixing my milk, I can make it taste better by mixing it half and half with the HT milk.

    • fmalek

      I have started to buy food in bulk, I could use some coaching as far as where to buy the bulk food and what is the best way to maintain them usable for long time, where I can obtain the oxygen absorbers and so on.

      Thanks for any advise.

      • granny mae


        There are many laces to buy bulk food. Emergency Essentials carries bulk foods of all kinds and can be reached at they also carry the oxygen absorbers in a couple different sizes. Major surplus & survival also carries bulk foods and other kinds of storage foods and can be reached at Also Peggy Layton carries some forms of food storage and can be reached at There are several more out there just type in bulk storage foods and you will probably come up with more than you can think of. You can also do a lot of it at home on your own and a lot less expensive than buying packaged programs. First you will need a few things that you will use for years. You need a dehydrator, and a vacuum sealer, and a canning pressure cooker. At least a 21 qt size. This is the volume of liquid it would hold inside it, not the number of quart jars it will hold. You can pick up 5gal. buckets at Lowes or Home Depot along with the lids. The lids that contain the gasket are the best. You can get the large mylar bags for linning the buckets from Emergency Essentials. You can find corn and wheat at many farm store. You will have to look around your area. I bought mine at a feed store in another town close by. Ask for the clean corn and wheat and beans. My wheat cost me $10.00 a 50 lb bag and the wheat was about the same. My corn was not real clean so when we get ready to use it I will have my husbnd put it in a container made of screan and use the air hose to blow it around and get the dirt off it. I took the buckets and placed a mylar bag inside of the bucket, then I put in about four or five inches of grain and bounced the whole thing on the floor a few times to make it all settle down good. I threw in a large oxygen absorber and more grain till the bucket was half full, then another oxygen absorber and some more grain and then on top I placed another oxygen absorber. I left about an inor two space at the top. I folded over the top of the mylar bag and pressed it smoth on top of the grain. I laid a small smooth board wide enough to hold a iron and long enough to lay across the top of the bucket. I ran the iron over the mylar bag to within just enough space at the side to place the tube to my vacuum sealer in and I closed the bag securely to the tube then I vacuumed the whole thing for a minute or two and as I pulled the tube out of the bag my husband ran the iron over the remaining opening of the bag to finish sealing it. The iron setting was on synthetic setting. Make sure to use an iron that you will only be using on this stuff because it will no-longer be good for clothing. I suggest getting an inexpensive travel iron. They are smaller and easier to handle. You can do corn, wheat, beans, lentals, split peas , and most anything in the line of grain that you can purchase, in this way. It is a lot less expensive. A super pail of white rice is going for around $59.00 and I did mine for around $20.00. Same with wheat and corn and that included the cost of the pail. To order it from a company you will also pay shipping on it and that is very expensive. So I suggest you check them out and then decide what you want to do. With your dehydrator you can dehydrate all kinds of vegetables easily. The easiest way I have found is to buy frozen veggies on sale and bring them home and place them in the dehydrator frozen and turn it on for the number of hours your machine says. As soon as they are dry and ready remove them from the machine and place them in a seal-a-meal bag and vacuum seal them with your vacuum sealer. It is very easy. Always make sure you leave them sit for a couple minutes to an hour to make sure the seal is good. Sometimes they might get a pinhole in the bag if the food is sharp and the seal will not hold so you will have to reseal it again. In that case what I do is I take small sandwich zip bags or small freezer vbags and cut off the zip top. Place the dried veggies in this bag first and then place that bag in the seal-a-meal bag and vacuum seal and that usually takes care of the problem. Check out dehydrate2store on the internet to see how easy it is to do all kinds of things. This gal even dries apples and dries the peelings separate and then puts the peelings in a blender or food processor and powders them and uses them in with other ingred. to make teas with. Nothing gets wasted. With your pressure cooker canner you can make your own spaghetti sauce and can it, or meats when they are on special and can them. I can just about everything . I do meats and butter, and cheese, and bacon and sausage and hamburger for chili, chicken, turkey, rabbit and I have also canned fish. If you can buy it in the store in a can I can, can my own and it is cheaper. At first you will have the outlay of jars and after that you keep your jars and rings and only replace your lids. I do most everything you can imagine with these few pieces of equipment. I almost forgot, you will also need a water bath canner. I use a very large stock pot, tall enough to place a qt. jar in sitting on a bed of rings in the bottom to keep them up off the bottom of the pot so as not to break the jars from the heat. It must have a tight fitting lid and be tall enough to allow water to cover the jars by one inch. In this canner you can process tomatoes and all kinds of fruit and fruit juices. Do not use for other vegetables . Only for acid based foods. All other foods must be processed in a presure cooker canner. Get a good book for dehydrating and a Ball canning book and you will be good to go. It may sound complicated but I promise you it is simple and easy. The more you do it the easier it becomes. Learn to do this and you will never go hungry. Also you must get a wheat grinder for making flour. If you buy flour and corn meal and rice and any kind of grains and you don’t have a way to vacuum them right away put them in large ziplock bags and squeeze out the air and place in the freezer for several days to two weeks. Then take them out and place on the shelf or store in buckets or totes. The freezing fumigates the products so you won’t get weevels in them. These are several options for you so you decide and good luck.

        • granny mae

          Also don’t forget to label your products with the name of what it is and the date it was processed. Then rotate, rotate, rotate, your stock by using it. Buy and store only what you use normally. Do not get things you never use and try to store them. By the time you come to use them and then you decide you don’t like it, you will be left with a shelf full of waste ! Not Good. Store what you use and use what you store !

          • granny mae

            Another thing, cooking with home storage is in some respects just cooking from scratch the old fashioned way. When it comes to using the veggies and freeze dried meats you will have to rehydrate them. Peggy Layton has some excellent books for doing this and I recomend her books highly. Also look around and ask older family members for some of their recipes using the old timey methods, it is fun and can be very interresting. I have made a collection of family recipes from my family that goes back to the late 1800 and the dirrections are amazing. Such as lard the size of an egg ! 1-small spoon or 1 large spoon or a small tea cup or a large cup etc. You have to guess how big the egg was or whether they used a teaspoon or a serving spoon or a large mixing spoon and so on ! I love it and wouldn’t part with those recipes for anything. I did make copies and made up books for all the gals and guy’s in the family that wanted them. That was nearly everyone ! Good Christmas gift or birthday gifts.

  • tjisse

    Hello David,
    Here in Africa we can buy whole grains not requiring special packaging except for dry, cool and dark ( mostly). Small hand or electrical grain mills for milling or rolling when any grain is required. The advantages are that the nutritional values have not been compromised. Some people who live deep in the bush do this.
    Kind regards
    Zambia, Africa

  • Lostwages

    One other note on the HT milk. It is available in both whole milk and 2%. I get the whole milk, so if I was to mix it with the powered milk, I would end up with a 2% or so milk for use. If anybody has a great brine mix for smoking salmon, I would love to see it posted here. When I was in the Navy years ago we had a guy from Tennessee and his dad would send him smoked salmon that you would die for. But we could never get his dad to tell us his secret for the brine mix. Too bad, it was the best smoked salmon I’ve ever had! Thanks!

  • Termite

    Any good ideas for type of foods for long term storage, foods for a location that gets down to -30 in the winter to a high of 80 in the summer? I have a place to store out of the sun but the temperature is a factor.

    • http://N/A June

      Hi Termite,
      I have been told that if you bury an old freezer in the ground deep enough to lay a bale of hay on top it will keep at 15C or about 60F all year. This is the temperature of my in-ground basement and I have no problems storing food for years. I also do a lot of dehydrating and canning to preserve my foods. The temperatures here range from -40C to +40C. I intend to try the freezer idea as it would be good for a cache of food outside your home in the event anything destroys your home.

    • granny mae

      Dehydrated foods would be your best bet. Anything canned would freeze and then be o good. You could also keep frozen foods in the wintertime as long as they were secured from mice and any other varmit that would like to get your food. I would suggest dehydrating your food storage. You can even dry your own spaghetti sauce and such if you do it at home. If you do your own at home do not add oil to the sauce before dehydrating it. Add your oil when you use it ! Oil can make dried foods dangerous for long term storage. Even though it is packaged in a vacuum it can develope deadly toxins.

  • Scarefacesquirrel.

    Global food prices have hit dangerous levels and are rising on a monthly basis. Food may someday be more valuable than gold or silver. Many are looking into storing their personal food reserves as each day the conditions in the world seem to become more uncertain. You can help others prepare and prosper financially by becoming an Independent Business Owner with eFoods Global. This retail giant has been providing storable, packaged survival meals for the past 20 years. Now you can offer their products through your home-based business. Easy startup. Great company support. They will even pay for your customers to try 12 Free sample meals delivered to their door. You can work PT/FT… or go for unlimited potential. Visit my website at and take the short tour.. and make sure to collect your 12 Free sample meals.

  • WebLady

    Another option is Shelf Reliance’ THRIVE foods. Better selection, ORGANIC fruits and vegetables. Use the link above and save off the regular web price. We do home parties, too, so people can taste both cooked and uncooked foods. Most last 25-30 years unopened, and 2 years opened!


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