Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Air-tight buckets for food storage

These large white buckets are great for food storage! I've never had a "real" pantry with shelves and all that, but these buckets can be filled and stacked, keeping light, moisture, and rodents away. :)

Food storage buckets

Where to buy

You can buy these buckets new for about $5 each, but it's more economical to get them from a local deli or bakery. Some places might give them to you for free, but I paid $1 each for these. Just ask if they have any large white icing buckets with lids! :) Lids with an o-ring in the rim seal the tightest. You'll have to wash them if you get used ones, and be sure to let them air dry for a few days before filling! :)

What to put in them

I store things like spices (bought in bulk), dehydrated foods (bananas, bell peppers), rolled and quick oats (bought in 50-lb bags and put into buckets for fresh-keeping), wheat (again, bought in bulk), bags of chocolate chips (on sale), coconut (bulk, again), pasta, etc.

To participate in Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Post a kitchen tip in your blog, with a link to this post. Then come here and add your name, tip subject, and URL to this post! Links must be family friendly, as always. If you don't have a blog but would still like to share a tip, just leave a comment here with your tip! Everyone's ideas are appreciated. :) Note: Please link to your individual post, not your blog's main/front page! Thanks for participating! :)

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays Participants

5. Donna (cornbread squares)
6. Loretta @ Vegan Footprints (West African Rice and Beans)
7. The Happy Housewife ~Refried Beans
10. Kelly's Kitchen (Plastic bag alternatives)
13. Laura @ Heavenly Homemakers (How to Help Grieving Families)
15. Edi (Grapefruit Spoon Uses)
17. If Only I Had Super Powers (waffle trick)
19. Sonshine (variety of summer treats)
20. Kirstin: shopping bulk items
21. Michele (freezing chicken stock)
22. Babychaser (Smaller Portions)
23. Amber (frugal meals/groceries?)
27. Rachael @ Beans & Rice (whole grain no pain pancakes)
30. Our Red House (Lemon Curd recipe with tips)
31. Julie Stiles Mills (sometimes, I buy what I HATE - on purpose)


That is a fantastic tip. Where do you store all of the buckets?

I store the buckets on our enclosed porch, or stacked in the kitchen. They can be stored anywhere where it doesn't get too hot (unless you have a bucket of honey -- then you'd want to store it where it wouldn't get too cold!). :) And also, 5 gallon buckets of grain are very heavy, so they shouldn't be stacked more than 3 high. :)

My wife is starting a Cookie Business :Healthy Indulgence" all natural cookies with Fiber, Antioxidents and Omega 3's
She has gotten an awesome response to the taste of these cookies, she has decided , instead of selling the cookies, is to market and sell the Dough----we are trying to find a 48-64 oz bucket, due to that we will freeze the Dough, The Bucket we are looking for we wanted it, preferably with a handle and an air tight lid-(for Freezing) ----
Can you help us with this?

I love the new blog Tammy! And I'm going to be passing on your info on the buckets; my hubby and I looked long and hard for appropriate storage when we started buying food in bulk. It was hard to find what we needed then. Have a great week!
Homemaker Barbi

I love the big buckets. I need to get some more though, since I want to start purchasing more food in bulk.


My mom always did that, too! She found it was easier to keep her flour, sugar, brown sugar, oats, etc. that way than to have those little canisters on the kitchen counter and have to keep refilling them. ;) Especially when cooking for 11! She would pay a small price for them, but she really enjoyed it when I worked in the deli & bakery at the local grocery store and could bring them home for free. :) She used to tape a bay leaf onto the underside of the lid of the flour container to keep bugs at "bay". ;) I use old yogurt containers for things I want easy access to but don't want to store in a large bucket like that.
Great tip!

When I tried using icing buckets, they still smelled like icing even after washing thoroughly with detergent and bleach and drying well. Any tips?

Sprinkle baking soda in the bucket, put the lid on, and leave it for a day or two. Then wash the soda out, of course. ;) I've also heard (but never tried) that crumpled newspaper can get rid of smells, too.

The baking soda should work. I recently got something plastic at a garage sale and later realised that it smelled VERY strongly of moth balls. Sprinkling with soda and leaving for 24 hours almost completely got rid of the smell, and a second application of baking soda did the final magic! :) 

I use 5 qt. icecream pails for my bulk items. We love icecream so I just buy the 5qt pails...we eat the icecream...I wash and reuse the pails for my flour, sugar, oats, bags of choc. chips, dry milk, noodles, etc. I find the 5qt pails easier to carry than the 5# pails.

Thanks for the tip! :)


Although I have a pantry, I also use big buckets to store my bulk ingredients. It's great, except for one thing. My rice went bad in it (after quite a while of being in it), and now my brown flour has developed a smell as well. How do you avoid that problem? Do you leave your ingredients in their bag and just place it inside the bucket, or do you pour the ingredient into the bucket?

Brown rice won't keep as long as white rice, since it has more oils... whole wheat flour is supposed to be refrigerated or frozen after grinding, or at the very least, stored in a cool place... so is could be age + temperature + moisture + oxygen, etc... :)

Whether I put the food directly in the bucket, or leave it in bags in the bucket, depends on what I'm storing. I leave sugar in the bags in the bucket. Whole grains go directly in the bucket. Very long-term storage (1-10 years, for me) requires extra care to be sure the food stays fresh. 

Here is some great info about food storage. There is a whole lot more out there (via Google) about long-term food storage, and I plan to blog about the topic with pictures and links, soon. :) 

Hi Tammy,
Thank you for doing this. I enjoy it every week.

I also use buckets. I actually need to get some more, maybe when I'm out today, I'll be able to get some. They are so handy! I don't have a big pantry here either, so the buckets are great. I have them sitting in a corner in our family room lol :)~Tanya - mama to 5 :)

Oh, I love this---I am going to have to play next week:)


Hey Tammy,
Just found your site! I am enjoying what I have seen so far! Due to the rapidly rising prices of wheat, I have ordered many pounds in bulk from Wheat Montana. (we live in GA). I am also storing in buckets. I found someone with a business that can buy these buckets from a restaurant supply place (6 gallon) with the sealed lids. Also, when they brought our grain, I asked for the pallate. I have put all my grain that is in buckets (and other items) on top of the pallate so that moisture doesn't get in there. I keep this all in a basement. I have my emergency storage in there. My friend that owns a shop for baking items, breads, grains etc said that wheat is supposed to be stored at 55 degrees if possible. So in a basement is good (especially with our heat!). Whatever I need on a regular basis is in our garage with gamma lids on them.

Thanks for everything
Beth in GA

How can I purchase these ----does anyone have a deal on where to find these>???

Gamma Bucket Lids seem to be the premier air tight lid. You can Google "Gamma Bucket Lids" & find dozens of sources. 2 popular sources: Pleasant Hill Grain or

Again, you can get free or low cost buckets from most bakeries or even ice cream shops.

I had a quesion about space bags. I wondered about buying in bulk bags and then putting them in a space bag with an ox. absorber. And maybe putting them under beds flat. What do you think?

I don't recommend space bags for food storage. Despite the claim they are air tight, they DO LEAK AIR. Try to get the buckets for free or on the cheap from bakeries. Try Sams Club if your a member. Do not use pickle buckets, you can't get the smell out & only use Food Grade buckets used only for food storage if using used buckets.

About the space bags -- I have some that I bought for storing bedding. In my opinion they are very cheaply made and wouldn't be sufficient for long-term food storage at all. A Food Saver bag (or another thick vacuum-sealed food bag) would be much better than a Space Bag. The problem with just using a clear bag, though, is the light that gets in, which breaks down the food inside. Buckets keep out some of the light -- and Mylar bags would keep out all of the light and air -- even better! :)

Thank you for this suggestion! I just went and got a bunch for free from our bakery - and they are perfect size now that I have a family and am buying bulk to save money. I was getting really worried about my flour getting "friends". The buckets I got even have a little rubber in the lid to stay air tight. Fantastic!

I think that there are so many different ways that these buckets can be used, especially in the kitchen, and for bigger companies or restaraunts! I really like the fact that you can make them air tight so whatever you have in the bucket doesnt spoil! Great post

Great Blog. here is one awesome quote about food storage:“I know of no other way to prepare for these times of adjustment than to be certain that during times of employment, preparations are made for less prosperous times, should they occur. Start now to create a plan if you don’t already have one, or update your present plan. Watch for best buys that will fit into your year’s supply. We are not in a situation that requires panic buying, but we do need to be careful in purchasing and rotating the storage that we’re putting away"

Peanut butter jars are great short term storage containers for the refrigerator or the cupboard. One can store 2 # of carrots in a large jar, onions can be chopped or quartered, and will keep for about a week or so, longer if wrapped individually in plastic wrap. I also keep my red and green peppers in peanut butter jars. Any item that is refrigerated is easier to see and of course the fridge is dark so spoilage from light is not a problem. I I especially like it for canned fruit, tuna for sandwiches, etc. as I can see what is in the container at a glance.
Nuts, chocolate chips, and a variety of items such as this can also be stored in peanut butter jars. If you have an item that you think will dry out such as marshmallows, use plastic wrap inside the cover.

I found this tip on the internet today and would like to share it here:
This is a way to vacuum store dry grains, etc by using large popcorn
Put the rice or flour or whatever in the can. It needs to have about 6"
airspace above the product. Stick a NON-scented candle (might want
to wrap the bottom of candle in aluminum foil so it doesn't touch the grain and
catches any drips) in the middle of the grain and light the candle. While lit,
cover the can with the metal lid. The candle will go out when the oxygen
is burned up and nothing else can survive. Just let it set for a few
minutes and you can tell when the candle is extinguished by feeling the
lid. Cold means the candle is extinguished. Once this is done, you will
have a vacuum sealed, inexpensive, long term way to store your grains.
Taping the seal around the popcorn tin lid may also add to the shelf life.

i have some rice that would store nicley in these buckets i will have to pick some up

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