How Much Food Will Fit in a 5 Gallon Bucket?

I like to store some of my dried foods in food grade 5-gallon buckets.  I like this for several reasons:

  • You can get them either free or for really cheap from bakeries
  • They are easy to inventory
  • With a Mylar bag liner and lid with gaskets, they are airtight for long-term storage.
  • We use buckets with gamma lids to store products like flour and beans that we use everyday.

One 5-gallon bucket with a mylar liner will hold:

  • 35-40 lbs. of dried beans
  • 40 lbs of lentils or green peas
  • 35 lbs. white sugar or salt (you don’t want to use oxygen absorbers with sugar)
  • 26-30 lbs of spaghetti
  • 16-20 lbs of penne pasta
  • 35-37 lbs of wheat berries
  • 33-36 lbs of long grain white rice – very nice- (2) 50 lb bags fill 3 buckets
  • 30 lbs powdered milk

This leaves about 1.5 inches of headroom in the buckets when the Mylar bag is sealed with the oxygen absorbers.

Matt sent us some pictures of the new food grade buckets from Lowe’s with gasketed lids.

Thanks Matt


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12 Responses to How Much Food Will Fit in a 5 Gallon Bucket?

  1. J-Doe says:

    Thank you for the intersting article. Why should one not use O2 absorbers when packing white sugar?

  2. Matt in Oklahoma says:

    I just posted the pics, it’s Howards article. Salt and sugar do not not need oxy absorbers because they do not go bad from exposure to oxygen. They get packed just to keep them from contamination from outside substances or messed with by critters. Same with honey

  3. Tony says:

    Very interesting. I have not used 5 gallon buckets to store food so I haven’t really thought about how much of various foods a bucket would hold. I should probably get some stuff off shelves and into buckets. I also did not know that Lowe’s carries food-grade buckets. Thanks for that info.

  4. 'Mousse says:

    At the LDS dry canneries, they leave the oxypacks out of the sugar. On the occasions they forget and put the oxygen absorbers in, what they find later is that the sugar is hard as a rock. Just sealing up the sugar is sufficient protection.

  5. Jack says:

    We have never done this but would like to start. Do you use twist ties on the mylar bags inside the buckets or just fold them over? Where do the oxygen inhibitors go, inside or outside the bag? Where can I find more instructions on this? Thanking you all in advance for any help.

    • JayJay says:

      I have over 60 (5) gallon buckets of dry goods–not one absorber used.

      It’s fine after 5 years. I’m not planning on living another 25 at my age!!

  6. william says:

    where can you buy 50 lb bags of rice and beans

  7. Dusty says:

    We bought a good looking 5 lb bag of semolina flour from a local grocery store, then had a mass of seed moths come blasting out when I opened it the next day. Now everything goes straight in the 7 cu ft chest freezer for 3-5 days (this kills moths, larva & eggs) is thawed, checked outside, then is immediately put in buckets with Gama Seal lids. After 2 years, having to toss about 100+ lbs of food, and using about 30, 4 packs of pantry moth traps, they are almost all gone, but we’ll still freeze then bucket everything and keep moth traps out to monitor. The freezer prevented another moth disaster last month, we froze 3 25# grain bags, thawed 2 days, opened outside, and found one bag had a bunch of dead moths and larva in it, the other two were fine. The chest freezer paid for itself with that.

    We are set up on a 6-8 month pantry soon to be a 9-12 month, and we write the expiration date on, and rotate EVERYTHING. This works great for us with no O2 absorbers or mylar, and we replace what’s used every 2-3 months. This actually is saving a bunch on grocery bills too. I cook a lot of Asian so we buy a lot of beans, noodles, rice, spices etc at Asian groceries, great prices. We also have a ‘rustic’ outdoor kitchen with 2 rocket stoves (great for my woks & stews), Earthen oven (JAS Townsend Youtubes), 24×48″ cinder block table for coals for skillets and Dutch ovens, with room for the Lodge Sportsman’s Grill.

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