Preparing dry foods for long-term storage

Rice is often a staple in a long-term food storage plan. Wheat and other grains are usually included as well. Beans, while not a grain of course, sort of fall into this same category too. The problem with almost any type of long-term dry food storage is eliminating pests both from within and without.

Quite often, there are tiny mites and other insects that can make their way into the bags of rice and such before they are sealed up at the factory. Appetizing, ain’t it? What you should do when you first bring the items home is toss them into a freezer. This will kill off any bugs and their eggs. How long should you keep the bags in the freezer? While a week is probably overkill, no pun intended, I’d rather err on the side of caution.

(Image courtesy of

After freezing, you’ll want to store the rice and such in air-tight containers if at all possible. The popular five gallon buckets you can score from bakeries and delis work well. You can either pound the original lids back on or use Gamma Seal lids, which are a lot easier to remove but cost a few bucks.

Some people take the added measure of tossing in oxygen absorbers or filling the buckets with nitrogen.

There are two main schools of thought on what to put in the buckets. On one side are the people who put “like with like,” for example putting only rice in one bucket, wheat in another, flour in a third, etc.. On the other side are those who advocate using a mix of items, usually things that will probably run low at near the same time, such as sugar, rice, flour, and beans. Use whichever method makes sense for your particular situation. Personally, I like to keep the items in their original packaging in the buckets if possible as that makes it easier to rotate the food through normal usage.

Once the buckets are filled and sealed, make sure you label them clearly with the contents as well as the date. Always use the oldest product first. Store the buckets in a cool, dry location.

Published by

Jim Cobb

Jim Cobb has been a student of survivalism and emergency preparedness for almost thirty years. As a young child, he drove his parents nuts with stockpiling supplies in the basement every time he heard there was a tornado watch in his area. Of course, being a child, those supplies consisted of his teddy bear, a few blankets and pillows, and random canned goods he grabbed from the kitchen cabinets. Later, he was the first (and likely only) child in his fifth grade class to have bought his very own copy of Life After Doomsday by Bruce Clayton. Today, he is a freelance writer whose work has been published in national magazines such as Boy’s Life and Complete Survivalist Magazine. He is a voracious reader with a keen interest in all stories with post-apocalyptic settings. He maintains the Library at the End of the World blog and is also the Content Director for He currently resides in a fortified bunker in the upper Midwest, accompanied by his lovely wife and their three adolescent Weapons of Mass Destruction. Jim's first book, Prepper's Home Defense, was published late 2012 and his second book, tentatively titled The Prepper's Complete Guide to Disaster Readiness, will be out in mid-2013, both coming from Ulysses Press.

One thought on “Preparing dry foods for long-term storage”

  1. Food storage is going to be one of the toughest issues to do. It must be done right otherwise you will lose everything or worse, get sick! Check out where they have tons of products to help with your food storage needs. Thank you for the article!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *