Long Term Food Storage Containers: Best Containers and Methods For Survival

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By Bryan Lynch •  7 min read

Food preservation is one of the most talked-about topics in the prepper community and with good reason.

Long Term Food Storage Containers

Modern supply lines today are incredibly fragile, and most people have experienced a food shortage of some degree in their life. 

Taking food preservation into your own hands is the most affordable and healthiest option for creating a long term food supply. 

But if you are new to prepping or at least to long term food storage, deciding on how to begin this process can be confusing. 

While I assure you that the task of preserving food at home is not a difficult one, the containers that food is stored in can make a big difference.

To better understand what makes a container great for storing food long term, it will be helpful to first look at the enemies of a food’s shelf life. 

What Shortens A Food’s Shelf Life 

Air, moisture, and temperature are the three main elements that deteriorate food. 

When air, moisture, and temperature are not regulated, a breeding ground for microorganisms is established and food becomes ruined. 

Only by drastically reducing, slowing down, or eliminating the growth of microorganisms can we hope to preserve food. 

How much air and moisture food are exposed to can be regulated with the type of container it is stored in.

Temperature can be dealt with by where that container is stored.

Containers should either be stored in refrigerators, freezers, or cool dry locations out of direct sunlight.  

Types of Long Term Food Storage Containers

Below is a list of the most popular and effective containers for storing food for the long haul. 

Vacuum Sealers

Vacuum sealers consist of two components. A bag that the food is placed in and a device that both removes all of the air and then seals the end of the bag. 

Depending on food and storage conditions, this method can preserve food for several months to years. 


Canning is an older and more traditional way of preserving food at home.

There are two different kinds of canning. Boiling and pressure cooking. Which one is used depends on the type of food being stored. 

Simply put, food is placed into glass jars with screw-down lids that are then cooked in a boil or pressure cooker. This process kills any microorganisms in the food, drives air out of the jar, and creates an airtight seal.

This method of food preservation is favored among people who produce much of their food through gardening, hunting, fishing, and raising livestock. 

Home canning methods generally keep foods good for about one year to a year and a half, although this depends on the food and the recipe used. 

While that shelf life is decent, canning is used more for saving excess amounts of food produced, say from a large garden, so that it can be consumed months later.

Mylar Bags 

Mylar bags are another popular choice when preserving food. They do very well in protecting food from air, moisture, and light. 

Some of these bags have resealable tops similar to sandwich bags. But a more effective means for storing food long term is to have a mylar sealer. 

These devices clamp down on the open end of the bag and physically fuse the material, further protecting the contents within. 

Often oxygen absorbers are used in conjunction with mylar bags. By placing one of these absorbers inside the bag before sealing the remaining oxygen is drastically reduced. 


Buckets are a fantastic way to store food in bulk, especially dried foods such as rice, beans, flour, salt, sugar, etc.

Buckets do well in protecting food against, water, air, and light while also providing an extremely durable container that is hard to puncture.  

When the foods are placed directly into this type of container it is best if the bucket is made from food-grade material and not any old bucket that can be picked up at the local hardware store. 

Buckets can also be used as a secondary container. Food that has been vacuumed sealed or put into mylar bags are often stored in buckets because they keep everything organized, protected, easier to store, and makes transporting food more efficient.

Containers By Food Type For Long-Term Storage

Some foods are better suited for certain types of containers and methods. Below is a brief list of the most common foods and how they are best stored.

Vacuum Sealers 

Can be used for both dry and “wet” food. Examples include:

Note: Some items like raw meat will need to be refrigerated and do best when frozen


Canning can be used to store dry goods such as beans and rice. But when it comes to most other foods they will be stored in a liquid. 

The type of food being canned will determine if the boiling or pressure cooker method should be used. 

Canning is a great way of saving:

Canning can also be used to create premixed meals or to save homemade foods such as:

Mylar Bags 

Mylar bags are best used with foods that have low water content or have been precooked and dried Examples of these are:


Buckets do well in storing dry food as well as liquids. Examples of dry foods are:

Examples of liquids that can be store in buckets are:

As mentioned earlier buckets are well suited for also storing items that have been prepackaged in smaller containers or pouches. 

Due to their size buckets do not do well in storing items that need to be refrigerated or frozen, unless of course, you have the facilities to do so. 

Open Questions About Long Term Food Storage Containers

Is packaging long term food at home more expensive than buying it?

Depending on the brands of materials and food you purchase it can be. There is an upfront cost in tools like a vacuum sealer or canning system. However, that cost pays for itself quickly, especially when packaging food in bulk. Generally speaking, packaging long term food at home is cheaper. 

Is learning to package long term food at home difficult?

Not at all! It will require your time and effort to organize all of the materials and storage but the process itself is very easy. Take it from me, if I can do it, anyone can!

Are long term food containers hard to come by?

There are an ebb and flow to the availability of all products. Some long term food containers, such as canning supplies may be seasonal. This can make them more scarce during certain parts of the year. Other considerations such as what is going on in the world or country can have an impact on supply lines. But during normal times, long term food containers are usually readily available where those products are sold.  

Wrap Up

What kind of container you choose will depend on the type of food, available storage, budget, and your time.

Hopefully, the above article helped you to decide what container is best for your long-term food storage plans. 

What are some of your favorite containers for long term food storage? Sound off in the comment section below and let us know. 

Thanks for reading and stay prepared!

Bryan Lynch

Bryan grew up in the Midwest and spent every waking moment outdoors. Learning how to hunt, fish, read the land, and be self-reliant was part of everyday life. Eventually, he combined his passions for the outdoors, emergency preparedness, and writing. His goal was to spread positive information about this field. In 2019, Bryan authored the book Swiss Army Knife Camping and Outdoor Survival Guide. His second book, Paracord Projects For Camping and Outdoor Survival, is scheduled to be released on March 2, 2021.