How To Store Flour, Sugar And Rice For Survival

In addition to your garden, if you have sugar, salt, and rice, plus some chickens and a milk cow (a few beef cows or canned meats would really put you up there), you have everything that you need to survive.

The thing about sugar, salt, and rice is that you can’t really produce them yourself without a lot of acreages, ideal conditions, and a ton of work, so you need to stockpile them.

Fortunately, all three of them are relatively cheap, especially if you buy in bulk. The problem is how to store flour, sugar, and rice for the long-term. All three of these items are sensitive to moisture and well-loved by critters of all sorts, so it’s imperative that you keep them sealed in a manner that won’t allow them to be eaten or ruined by moisture.

This point was driven home to me just the other day when I opened a new bag of flour to make biscuits. It hadn’t been on the shelf for more than a few months, yet when I dumped it into the bowl, I noticed little black bugs in it. Now I’m not a picky eater by any means, but I draw the line at bug biscuits. I guess I’ve just never been that hungry.

And if I have my say, I never will be. I learned my lesson – now all of my flour, even the smaller bags, go straight into a plastic container. That’s not the only way to store any of these items though. As a matter of fact, I’ve discovered a few pretty nifty tricks that I’m going to share with you!

Check flour, sugar, and rice before you store it

This is a big deal. I say so because I’ve bought both buggy rice and flour in the past, and ended up having to throw away most of the stuff in the cabinet because they infested all of my dry goods that were either boxed or open.

It would have REALLY upset me if I’d been pouring it into my storage bin with other flour or rice because then I would have lost all of it. Since those two incidents, I’ve been really careful about checking for bugs before I even put it in my cabinets. This is a concern for beans and pasta too, so take a look at them all before you toss them on the shelves.

You can check the rice and beans at the store before you buy it  – just look for the bugs at the bottom of the bag. Flour, sugar, and pasta aren’t so easy. Pasta gets kind of a whitish, dry, brittle appearance when it’s buggy so that my help you avoid buying buggy noodles.

If you’re going to pour a bag of dry goods into a larger container, I’d highly suggest pouring it into a big bowl and checking it before just tossing it in with the rest of your batch.

Store flour, sugar, and rice in plastic buckets

5-gallon buckets rock – that’s just all there is to it. When it comes to a great survival item, they rank right up there with duct tape as far as I’m concerned, at least when we’re talking about non-portable items. The great thing about 5-gallon buckets is that you can get them for free from local restaurants and bakeries.

If they happen to smell like pickles or whatever else was stored in them, scrub them good with some soapy bleach water and rinse well. If they still smell a bit weird, put a box of baking soda or some charcoal in it, put the lid on, and let it sit overnight. It’ll smell fine the next day.

When you’re getting your buckets, make sure they’re food-grade and make sure that they have a rubber seal around the inside of the lid. Most do, but check to make sure before you store your dried goods in them. If you have trouble getting the lids off, you can actually buy a tool specifically designed to help you with that.


You can also buy gamma lids, which seal, and then part of the lid screws on and off so that you don’t have to struggle with removing the whole lid. They’re a little pricey but if you get your bucket for free, then it may be worth it to you.

Dry-Can Flour, Rice, and Sugar

This is a good method if you want to store your dry goods in smaller containers that you’ll use quickly. I wrote an article about safe dry-canning a while back that gives you specific instructions on how to do it.

Vacuum Packing

I think that vacuum packing is a great idea but, after having been raised in WV where the mice have no shame and in Florida where they’re actually armed, I’m not a huge fan of using vacuum packing as the only method of storage. We’ve written an article that gives you some great ideas to keep the mice away here.

Don’t get me wrong – it’s a great way to extend shelf-life but if you’re going to vacuum seal your dried goods, throw them in a 5-gallon bucket to keep the critters from eating through the plastic. Then you’d have the best of both worlds – small, lightweight, portable portions stored securely in one larger space that nothing will chew through.

Mylar Bags

I know that Mylar bags seem to be the direction that everybody is heading and I can’t deny that they’re a great way to store food, but the cost of them is prohibitive for me. However, if you don’t mind paying a bit more, then, by all means, jump on it. They’re certainly more secure than just vacuum sealing. As a matter of fact, they can preserve food for up to 15 years, so that’s a definite check in the bonus column. Again, I’d use the buckets to store the bags.

Barrels and Drums

Since I’m typically the “if it’s free, it’s for me” type of girl, I didn’t realize until recently that there was such a great selection of food-grade barrels and drums that came in sizes other than 5 gallons and 55 gallons. I don’t mean to sound out of the loop, but it just never occurred to me to check it out until I was looking for smaller rain barrels.

It turns out that you can buy them in just about any size in between, and they’re made for both food AND water, so you have a wide array of fairly affordable options that suit your needs no matter how much space you have or food you want to store.

Shelf Life of Flour, Sugar, and Rice

This is probably something that you haven’t given a lot of thought to, but the shelf life is pretty important when you’re talking about long-term storage. As always, practice the FIFO (First-in, first-out) method of stockpiling.

That aside, sugar and white rice (along with several other great foods discussed here) have a shelf life of literally forever as far as anyone knows, but flour and brown rice are only good for about 15 months. After that, both will start to go rancid. Though both may last longer, especially if stored in airtight containers in cool, dark environments, you’ll know if either has gone bad because they’ll smell sour.

This lends credence to the ideas of canning, or to vacuum sealing, then storing in buckets because both canning a vacuum sealing keeps out the air that facilitates spoilage.

Did I miss anything, or do you have any questions? Let me know in the comments section below!

And click on the banner below to learn how our ancestors used to store their food for survival!

Written by

Theresa Crouse is a full-time writer currently living in central Florida. She was born and raised in the hills of West Virginia, where she learned to farm, hunt, fish, and live off the land from an early age. She prefers to live off the grid as much as possible and does her best to follow the “leave nothing behind but footprints” philosophy. For fun, she enjoys shooting, kayaking, tinkering on her car and motorcycle, and just about anything else that involves water, going fast, or the outdoors.

Latest comments
  • Quite frankly; when ever a person desires to store ‘grain’ of any sort & regardless of where it comes from, or they live. Grains will & does contains larva of something or several somethings.. The best way to store any grain products & preventing the larva going from larva to bug/worm & for long term, is to store it in a freezer. Freezing grains also evaporates moisture in the product, just as a tray of ice cubes evaporates over time, so too will moisture in grain. Which also extends the shelf life of the product & prevents that ‘moldy smell & taste… with no need to transfer the grain/ flower from it’s original bag..

    • This was what my Mom taught me as well! Thanks for sharing.

      • Every time I buy grains such as flour, rice, cereals,pancake mix, etc., they go into the freezer for 2 or 3 days. This kills any insects already in the package and i dont have to inspect for bugs. This is done whether the items are for long term storage or not. For long term storage I vacuum seal grains in glass jars and 5 gal buckets. In addition to vacuum sealing, I put the appropriate size oxygen absorber in each jar or bucket,

        • after you freeze for a few days… howlong do you let it sit out before vaccum sealing?

          • Is it necessary to use 02 in our buckets or corn meal buckets

        • I do the same thing. I have had sugar and flour stored in either milk cartons or coffee creamer bottles with oxygen absorbers and taped the containerers tight. Have had them for 8 years and they are still good. I also put in large canning jars with oxygen absorbers and use my vaccume sealer to take the air out which also seals the lids to the jars. I do this with beans, rice, flour, sugars, and ect. So far everything has stayed good. I use one of them periodly to make sure and replace it with fresh ingredients.

      • My grandfather taught us to put bay leafs in the bottom of storage containers for all dry goods. Never had a bug in any of mine. Number of leaves depends on the size of your container.

        • I forgot to mention in my other post that I sometimes use bay leaves also.

        • Bay leafs and garlic do the job! I also store whole wheat grain and the shelf life is extended!

    • What you are NOT paying attention to is that those insects, eggs, and larvae DIE when all oxygen is removed. The best way to do that is to used dry ice (CO2) or vacuum seal with oxygen removers. Freezing will NOT allow for extra long term storage, the evaporation will eventually cause it to go stale! Besides, what happens when the power grid is down and your freezer doesn’t work?

      • In reply to rattlerjake, I believe what they where saying on the the freezer storage, is you put it in the freezer for 2-4 days, then remove and place in buckets or vacuum bags. If not I am sorry for be wrong, but it how I store rice, beans, salt, flour, sugar, and everything I store gets oxygen absorbers. I also place either in buckets, or in sealer bags then in buckets.. I double seal large items and check product monthly. Really enjoy the reads and I always get great info.. Thanks for the help.. 🙂

        • Cindi, I hope you are not putting oxygen absorbers in your sugar. If you are you are making a sugar rock. Still edible but you’ll have to break it up when you use it. I just put my sugar in bug proof jars.

        • The safest treatment I have found for heavy carbs is, first: pack your bag of rice, beans, flour or sugar in a sealable plastic bag. Then vacuum seal as small as possible and place in a five-gallon bucket and close. The lack of oxygen kills bugs and their eggs. The buck and lid foils rodents. Keeping each purchased package separate and sealed prevents transfer from one package to another.

      • Right on, Rattlerjake. I never freeze anything grains or pastas. If you freeze then you have to let the item come to room temperature before sealing or moisture may be present. You seal with moisture and compromise the item. I just vacuum seal in Foodsaver bags or jars or mylar bags with an oxygen absorber. Never met a bug that can live without oxygen..Why waste time and energy?

        • Thanks both Rattlerjake and Efzapp. I have been struggling with the freeze it things form months now, some people do some people don’t. However, when I saw and read that the Oxygen absorbers take care of the issue I was like yeah why waste the time and effort, plus I don’t have the freezer room. Also you run the risk of not knowing if all of the condensation./moisture is completely out of the product after freezing.

          Do you ever put bay leave in with the rice to repel bugs? I heard this works also?

          • Sorry that I haven’t replied sooner. Yes, I use bay leaves with my rice but not sugar or flour because I don’t want them picking up the flavor. I always have lots of bay leaves around my storage. Since I have a big bay leaf bush I have plenty of bay leaves.

      • We used to do this too. As long as the wheat was not ground, we could drop a chunk of dry ice in the 5 gallon bucket and the grain would keep indefinitely.

    • Freeze first – 24 hours minimum. Then in a SEALED Container – Before Sealing – Place a Small Candle on Top (Lit) in a Metal can – THEN SEAL it. The candle consumes ALL Oxygen and then goes out. NO BUGS Are Alive Now !

      • Another way to remove all oxygen is to place a small chunk of dry ice in the bottom of the container, and then let it “cook off”. (NOTE: this will probably not work well with glass jars, as the dry ice will make the glass extremely cold and vulnerable to breaking at the slightest impact.) As the dry ice evaporates, it gives off pure Carbon Dioxide, which is both inert and non-toxic.

        Carbon Dioxide is heavier than air, and so will sink and remain at the lower levels of the container. Then it will “push” the air ahead of it as it rises higher and higher in the container. When the small chunk has completely evaporated, the container will have no oxygen in it. (Try an experiment: see how far down into the container you can put a candle or candle lighter.)

        Then simply pour the grain, beans, or flour gently into the container through a funnel or spout, so that fills slowly. That will displace most of the carbon dioxide, and what little remains will be diffused throughout the contents, again keeping any stray oxygen pushed to the top, and out of the container.

      • Freezing will definitely keep it fresher longer but a 50 lb bag of wheat takes up a lot of space. Freeze to kill whatever then store it in a manner to keep bugs out.

    • Then you’re dependent on keeping the freezer running

      • Sorry. I see that was already answered.

  • I’ve been prepping since Y2K and so have consumed a lot of “old” food. This morning I had brown rice that I put down in 2010; it was perfectly fine.

    Here’s how I store rice, bran, pasta, wheat etc. I buy from Walmart, one-gallon plastic jars with tight-fitting screw lids. I wash the jars in hot water. Then, I fill the jars to the top of the brim with rice or whatever. (Bang the jar four or five times on the counter to settle the contents; fill again to brim if necessary. The idea is to exclude as much air/oxygen as possible (oxygen is the culprit here – it causes stuff to age)). Finally, cover the opening tightly with “sticky paper” (i.e. “Press and Seal” or similar) with the sticky side DOWN. Pull it down around the threads on the top of the jar, then place the lid on and screw it TIGHT.

    Now you’ve got a minimum amount of oxygen in there. Now, place it in the freezer for three or four days and then, place it on the shelf in your cool, dry basement.

    • Yeah that works too. But no matter how hard you shake, pack down, or what ever; there is space between the grains, & larva will like that lone fly that is ‘dead’ all winter between the windows will come to life as soon as the sun warms it. And I’m too lazy to be washing jars, repacking, shaking, taping & all the other. As I don’t have a flood plain problem I don’t fear that if the electric goes down I have a back up generator, & the freezer won’t thaw for 3 to 5 days. Should the house burn down; I have greater problems to deal with. In a fire glass jars will crack & the product is lost anyway…

      • I have rice, flour, and sugar from the late 1990’s and it’s ALL GOOD yet! I use similar methods as The Wiseman lists in his. I store Bleached white flour in 80# size “Vittles Vaults” (Sold on eBay and pet food sites) Bleached white flour is basically inert with little to offer the diet except calories (IMPORTANT!!), and a bit of protein. I store whole wheat berries as well, and grind some in my hand operated flour mill to mix with the white flour for more nutritious bread. Sugar goes in Heavy clear plastic fruit juice bottles, with a piece of plastic over the top before the lid is screwed on. It doesn’t cake up that way. I also store rice, small pasta shapes, etc the same way. I put dehydrated veg in them as well, and keep them in my dark, cool, deep basement. Never had a problem. I use 5 gallon buckets with gamma lids for all of those items as well. NEVER had a bug issue or staleness problem. I just used up the last bucket of flour from 2002, and it baked up well. I do not leave the flour in the bags. I just pour it into the bucket, as long as it’s a food grade bucket. No mylar bags, no dry ice, no oxygen absorbers. No problems!!!

        • Hello,

          You just put the flour in a 5gal bucket seal it and it will not go bad or get bugs? Im new to this and want to understand how to store bulk with the understanding we use it frequently for cooking. If i store flour or rice in a 5 gal bucket but open it up to use the contents what would i be doing wrong in storing / opening to use the contents? Any input is appreciated.


          • Tim, if you use a “Gamma Seal” lid on the bucket, it absolutely keeps any pests out. Bigger hardware stores like Menards have them. They aren’t cheap. Up here in northern Wis I pay about $10 a lid. They used to be $6 per lid but recent happenings have raised the price dramatically. I also store anything in those buckets, in my basement that is cool and dark. Keep them from direct sunlight. Oh, you won’t need a regular bucket lid with a Gamma Seal one. The rim part gets forced onto the bucket, and then the center “hole part” gets screwed in. Look them up on You Tube or other site, to see how they go on the bucket to start, and then how they’re used. WAYYYYY more secure than a regular lid!!

          • I have been buying white flour in 25 lb sacks since 2014. I initially bought 250 lbs worth.. I left the flour in the heavy paper sacks, unopened, which I put into large ammo cans I bought on Sportsman’s Guide? Don’t recall now. I’ve been gradually using one bag and replacing the oldest bag with a new one. I am still baking with flour from 2015–and it is absolutely fine! Makes beautiful bread, can’t tell a speck of difference. I keep the cans in my basement. I also had a big box of nonfat instant milk with an expiration date of 2011. The box had been sitting open since Heaven knows when. Recently I started using it. It was fine! I used it all. So I’m of the opinion that expiration dates are very loose recommendations.

    • What about condensation from the temperature change,,,, freezer to cool basement?

      • Freezer will in short time evaporate the moisture in the grain, a frost free freezer is a better way to go. Nothing is perfect by any means with out mega bucks being spent… In the old Testament grain was ‘stored’ in warehouses, for some 7 years.. would guess the Jews & Egyptians ate more than 1 or 2 ‘bugs during time of Famine..

    • I also use oxygen absorbers, sized for the container used. Amazon sells them reasonably. Several years ago I bought 300 lbs of freshly farmed wheat from a local farmer. In this case I put all six bags in a 55 gal metal food safe barrel and placed dry ice on top. I placed the lid on firmly but not tight, the next morning tightening the lid. The dry ice displaces all the oxygen. I’m told by local experts my wheat will last indefinitely. I keep it stored in the corner of my basement shop along with all my 5 gal buckets of rice, beans, oats etc. My unheated shop unless I’m working in it never gets below freezing in the winter and never gets above 70 in the summer.

      • I am on a small budget. I get 5 lb. bags of flour and wrap them tightly with plastic, Write the date on them then put them in my freezer for 30 days. Then I bring the wrapped bags out and leave them on my counter for a day or two in order to make sure the bags are completely dry. Going from freezing to room temperature will cause condensation and I don’t want any moisture when it is stored. Finally, I pack them in a plastic container with a lid with a gasket and put absorber packets. I don’t have the money or the room to buy special stuff. I was told it takes a minimum of 2 weeks to a month to kill bugs and larvae lurking in the flour.

    • When you take it out of the freezer, the outside of the jar will form condensation. Will the inside stay dry?

    • Do u lea e rice in bags are open and pour in buckets to store long term.

  • Check out the LDS food storage in dry-packed cans, and powdered milk in cases of packets that will last 20 years. Great stuff for lowest prices. No gourmet items there, just basics, but enough to get your bulk stuff stored. For Mylar packets, I suggest keeping them in a cool place in a metal trash can with a bungee cord holding down the lid. If you have an LDS bishops storehouse near you you’re fortunate. If not you can buy online through provident, although then you will have to pay for shipping. (Don’t get the potato pearls–they only last 1.5 yrs and are salty– get the potato FLAKES, which last 30 yrs! Check out their home Storage center products form, which lists storage life for each item.

    • The truth be know the LDS is one of the best options for buying long life food, no chemicals or buckets of salt, MSG or other man made garbage.

      • do you know the website?

          go to home storage centers page, ‘find a home storage center’ is on the right hand side.

    • sells the LDS (Emergency Essentials) and Auguson Farms long term food. Both come in #10 cans and shipping is free over $35. Cost per ounce is higher than buying in bulk, but you have the assurance of long term storage. Now, having said that: I live in a small cabin and have several outbuildings. Cool and dark is at a real premium here. I have many hundreds of pounds of dry goods in vacuum packs in 5 gallon buckets. Many of these are in an outbuilding which reaches 90 deg plus during the summer. So far I have not seen any degradation, but I am not sure about the nutritional content.

      • I have a good 800-900 pounds of dry goods stored in an old horse’s box stall in the barn. Granted, this is northern Wisconsin, but everything keeps REALLY well out there.

  • I store food in 5 gallon buckets with Gamma lids. I put a lump of dry ice (frozen CO2) in the bucket and let it sublimate before tightening the lid. The CO2 is heavier than oxygen and tends to displace it.

  • I use Mylar bags and 5 gallon buckets to preserve my rice , pasta, and beans. Just before sealing the bag, (with a household iron and wooden broom handle) I add a handwarmer to the mylar bag to “suck” the extra air out of the bag before sealing bucket with regular lid. I have had no problems eating rice and beans that have been stored for 3 plus years.

    • Darrell, please provide more info about the “hand warmers” method; type, where to purchase, how it works. Thanks.

  • I’ve even had flour,sugar etc in sealed containers and still have weviels in it. I put bay leaves in the containers and it seems to keep them out. Most of mine I keep refrigerated or in the freezer but if worse comes to worse we may not hve the electricity to have those luxceries

  • I truly believe everyone should have a stock pile of food. Any thoughts on oxygen absorbers?

    • You can’t keep them out if they’re all ready in the grain. in open containers bay leaves work great, maybe like Cedar bugs don’t like the smell,oils or what not..
      Even ‘oxygen absorbers need to be ‘dried’ from time to time, using a microwave. Or so read the labels that I have read on mine. How often I assume it depends on the humidity where one lives…

      • Greg …. moisture absorbers need occasional refreshing. O2 absorbers and hand warmers contain iron powder. I would hate to see what happens in a microwave. Can somebody try it and post the results and a picture of the fire?

      • Oxygen absorbers are a one time use; they cannot be “refreshed”. You are thinking about desiccants, the little silica bags you sometimes find in new electronics, shoes, or purses. These absorb moisture. You can buy food grade desiccants which you can put in your rice, pasta, flour, etc. In I am store these items I put both a desiccant and an oxygen absorber in. Now a desiccant can be heated in a low temp oven to remove any moisture and reused. I reused the desiccant that comes in my protein powder.

    • I use oxygen absorbers in all of my 5 gal. buckets

      • Hey Mike, what size 02 absorbers do you use ie. pint, qt.gallon jars and the 5 gallon bucket never read the ratio of absorber to quantity – can you enlighten me, please.

    • Hi, We stored rice in a barrel with the rubber lined lid then we were told to put a lighted candle standing up inside it before putting the lid on.
      This absorbs the oxygen. Years later we opened it and it was fine.

  • I haven’t vacuum packed anything before, but I’m just wondering; if you vacuum packed your food, could you just use non-food grade buckets to store the vacuum packed food in? Say, the 5 gallon buckets with lids that you pick up at home depot. I would assume that the vacuum packing would keep any chemicals from the inside of the bucket from leaching into the food. Thoughts?

    • Lots of people use vacuum packing, some people think that the bag being ‘plastic’ is bad for you. I’d bet they wouldn’t turn down a meal from a ‘plastic’ vacuum packed type bag after a week or more on real short rations.. Once the food item is in a bag, makes no difference where it is stored as long as the bag isn’t torn or punctured in some fashion. & the bears, raccoons, squirrels can’t get to them

    • Home Depot and Lowe’s sell food grade buckets, too. They have regular lids and Gamma Seal lids. I have bought several buckets at Lowe’s. Their buckets are not as heavy duty as Emergency Essentials’ buckets, but I am not kicking and throwing them around. So, they should do just fine.
      Judging by how the stock goes up and down, they are selling a lot of them.

    • I store my food the same way,,, it really works,,,,,
      keep eggs for over 24 months,,,, it works ,,,,, do not wash the egg after removing it from the chicken,,,,, cover the egg with Vaseline, place it pointing in the cart,,,,, store in a cool dark place

    • Try mixing in food grade diatomaceous earth. It will kill the bugs, but not you

      • Thumbs up for Norm , I have been reading this stream of comments, and was about to add my 2 cents worth RE Diatomaceous Earth it will also absorb the moisture as well ,will not effect the food quality , I would suggest everyone do a google /online search on the benefits & uses of Diatomaceous Earth, It definatly been an Item added to your survival cache.
        To all Stay well stay safe and stay socially distance ….and still try and enjo your 4 of July , all the best from a Northern Brother.
        Bob D Canada

  • Can you increase the storage life if flour by including an unopened box of baking soda in the pocket with the flour?

    • I don’t have any idea, but after 5 to 10 plus yrs. I would think it would be time to restock, just to be on the safe side. All the ‘old’ food could be tossed to your or the neighbors pigs. Before you convert them little piglets into bacon…

    • I find that when I want to store something I use a vacuum Packer. I have used it for over 20 years and it works fine. I buy hamburger in bulk and I package it up in 1 pound as high as 2 pounds packages and I mark what it is and put a date on it. It doesn’t get freezer burnt and it lasted a very very long time. My vacuum Packer also has a adapter that goes on Mason jars and vacuum packs Mason jar and works very well. The Mason jar lid comes in two pieces, you put the seal lid on first vacuum packed it, then you put the other half that screws on. Well that’s it.

  • Great tips!! Thank you!!

  • I bought some 5 gallon heavy plastic cans with lids from Lowe’s. Will those work? They remind me of 5 gallon paint cans .

    • The buckets from Lowes do Not have a gasket. The ones from Home Depot do.

  • One way to discourage bugs is to put a bay leaf or two into the container once you have f it works for flour, rice, beans, sugar ad other dry goods.
    Leaves no taste as long as the stored item is kept dry.

  • I once spoke to the good people at King Arthur flour about weevils in the flour I purchased (they replaced it). No one was aware of any toxicity. Bug contaminated flour was a given in earlier times. My grandmother was taught to just sift them out before baking. When it’s all you have, you eat or you don’t. Personally I freeze all products for 24 hours, then store in bins, or leave in the freezer when there is room.

  • I vacuum seal my rice in mylar bags, then put the bags in 5-gal bucket with gamma lids. Also, when you keep smaller amounts “out” for use, I put the rice in 1/2 gallon mason jars and use a food saver vac sealer with the lid sealer attachment. It only takes a minute to re-seal the jars (Tattler reusable lids) after you open them. I do the same thing with beans and legumes.

  • With the extremely short shelf life of flour I have decided that the best way to have flour for the long term is to store wheat and have a way to grind it into flour. I have experimented with growing wheat to insure that I can replenish this supply. More experimentation is needed, it’s a lot of work with little return! Finding a way to barter for more wheat may be a better option.

    • What kind of flour grinder do you have and are you happy with it?

    • If you store whole wheat flour, it DOES go rancid quickly. I have been storing bleached white flour and the stuff from the plastic buckets (Gamma Seal lids) in my basement from 1999, is STILL good and makes good bread! Bleached white flour has nothing in it. Sure, almost empty calories, but if you want more food value, then save some wheat “berries” (unground wheat) and grind it and add some to your white flour when you go to make the bread or whatever.. I have been doing this since way before Y2K, and I am still doing fine! I buy on sale and in quantities enough to go off from for a LONG time. I have not been using oxygen absorbers, but here it often gets down to 30 degrees below zero for extended times, so I am sure that kills off anything that might be hatching in my flour. I sift it all through a mesh strainer before storing and again when using. No problems found..

      • I wonder about the food value of the flour. I have read any flour loses it after awhile. We store wheat then grind it.

  • Place a bay leaf in the jar before sealing. It will kill bugs and larva. Also oxygen absorbers are great and cheap.

    • Dried or fresh bay leafs?

      • Dried bay leaves. Fresh bay leaves would contain too much moisture.

  • I freeze my flour for a couple of days to kill any little critters then after thawing, I take brown paper bags (the kind used for your kid’s lunches) and transfer from the original flour bag (measured by measuring cup) maybe… 4 measuring cups of flour into the brown (lunch) paper bag. Then I fold the lunch bag over once (maybe twice) and then place that into a vacuum bag and then vacuum (Food Saver) and seal. The 4 cups of flour is now hard as a brick (reverts back to powdered flour upon opening the seal) with all the oxygen out. The brown paper bag is pourous enough to allow the Food Saver to vacuum out any air inside the paper bag/ flour without the flour dust gumming up the Food Saver (which can be a problem).
    On the outside of the Food saver plastic bag I will write “4 Cups All Purpose Flour and the date”. This way, come shortages I all ready have a measured amount handy.

  • Regarding sugar, it is very easy. I have had sugar in the original paper sack stored just on the shelf for over 30 yrs. We are currently using sugar that is 20 yrs. old and it is exactly the same as fresh bought. The bugs have never touched it even when they did find my Rica a Roni and Mac n Cheese. I sprinkled white sugar around an ant bed and they went around it. A little sweet candy helps when you are enduring a hungry time. Even though sugar is something we try to cut back on, those extra calories will help us get by during hard times. I have heard of sugar being used to heal cuts, but never tried it.


  • Placing dried bay leaves on your open cabinet or panty shelves helps to deter small mites and wevels for short term storage. Large containers of bay leaves at Costco or other stores make them very reasonable.

  • I am a producer of high quality sized coal that i sell in sealed 35 pound bags..I have found multiple uses of coal for survival. The coal will burn damp, water doesn’t hurt it, can weld metals with it, use as a coal water filter, produce steam and electricity and has unlimited self life. There is no fuel like an old fuel and that must be why the U S government is trying to destroy the coal industry. Please advise if you have an interest for you and your reader.

    • How can I get some of your coal and what price?

    • interested in coal

  • Most flour comes w bug eggs in it…
    Place the bag of flour in the freezer for a few days before you store it for long term, bug eggs will die-

  • I make my own beef jerky and vacuum seal it with a food saver machine.I also put an oxygen absorber pack in the bag.I wonder if this would work good with flour?

  • Have you thought about the nitrogen method of storing grain?

  • Damn good info !!
    also i get some real nice square food grade buckets with lids very regularly
    before even bothering to wash them, i set them in this Texas Sun for a couple days, the UV takes care of any prior food smells, then i take them in a wash them.
    Also, i have heard but have not tested, that you can mix Diatomaceous earth with your dry grains to prevent mold, mildew and even bugs, then it is rinsed off just before cooking. Anyone know more about this ?

    • That’s right. You can mix in DE and rinse off before using. A little trickier if you are storing wheat for flour. Also….I have some wheat stored in jars since the mid 70’s – that’s 40 year old wheat. It’s been through a lot and a lot of moves and temperature fluctuations. It’s still just like when it was stored. All I did was jar it up and freeze it for a few days. BTW. If you live in cold country, buy your grains, etc., in the winter and just keep them in a frozen area for a few days like an unheated back porch.

    • You want the Food-Grade DE, not the swimming pool filter kind. It is used in grain storage, both home & industrial size. You can wash it off, but don’t have to. Good stuff on the garden too. Sprinkled on plants, I’ve found few things it doesn’t deter or kill. Helps retain moisture in the ground.

  • Thank you
    Well thought out
    Duane Jacobs

  • for those who wish to see a youtube on nitrogen packing grains

  • The inherent problem in storing flour, rice, grits, cake mixes, pancake mixes and the like is weevils. This is because they are already inside the product when you buy it at the grocery store. Over a few-month period they grow from tiny larvae to adults. You can package them however you want, and you will still get weevils unless the container has zero oxygen. I have found that freezing the package for about two weeks before placing it into one of the recommended containers solves the problem by killing any weevils or weevil larvae present. Also, I think this must extend shelf life—I have used flour after 5 years and found it to be perfectly good. I buy 10-pound bags of flour and keep it in large ziplock bags stored in the dark, air-conditioned bonus room in my home. The ziplock bags are placed inside Rubbermaid-type “tubs” and the tub tops are sealed by placing wax paper over the top, extending out about one inch on all sides, and then affixing the lid tightly. I do the same for rice, grits, etc.
    Hope this helps.


    • I have a stupid question- are you able to use any of these bags or are they only kept for long term storage?

      • After I remove the package of flour, rice, etc. from the freezer, I leave the original package unopened. I then let it sit at room temperature for a day, to make sure that the package is completely dry. After that, I put it into the proper-size ziplock bag and store it in the Rubbermaid-type container I described in my post. It is for long term storage.

  • All flour seems to be susceptible to weevils, I throw the bags in the freezer for 1-7 days ( depending on when I remember to get them out)prior to sealing/storing, to kill live bugs and possibly eggs that are also in the product…. Just a fact of life, but I’ve never had weevil problem since

    • For some reason God made insects & what not with the ability to go dormant in cold & when it warms they begin doing what ever they’ve been doing for centuries.. Take the lowly mosquitos, they remain ‘inert’ in permafrost since the end of the last ice age, & when it melts there are billions of mosquitoes … Keep your grain frozen, frozen harder than Chinese Arithmetic, once it is to be used use as fine of a sieve as can be found tossing the bugs>>>>

  • You can purchase flour,rice, sugar and many other food items that are packaged for long term storage at & and several other places.
    Most of them are good for between 10-25 years.Auguston Farms is the main producer of these products.Things like flour ,rice,sugar and oats com in large sealed plastic buckets and many of the other items come in #10 size metal cans.These are very good products as I have used several of them and the quality was excellent.The one thing to remember is once you open a container the long shelf life is not going to be like it was un-opened.It will be good for at least a year or longer.I have been very satisfied with everything I have purchased and the shipping is free if you spend $50.00 or more.

    • That’s true, once a product is open there should no longer be any expectation of that product lasting 15 or 20 years. And it would take me 10 of 20 years to use up a 5 gallon bucket of flour.. Even the vaulted military MRE is only kept in a storage stage up to 7 years then it’s sold to Prepers who hope it to last another 7 to 10 years.. I should think that in 10 years the long life for will last well into the next century…

      • Store that flour in vacuum sealed plastics in manageable amounts.
        Then when you need flour, open bucket, pull out a ziplok, close lid on bucket.
        None of the sealed ziploks are compromised.

      • It won’t take you 10 years when you are cooking every thing you eat.

  • If you plan to store long-term, you can purchase oxygen absorber packets. Throw one in before you can/vacuum seal/etc. You will extend your food storage by years!

  • Research Diatomaceous Earth–I sprinkle in the bottom of the bucket, pour half full, sprinkle in the middle, finish filling and sprinkle at the top.
    No bugs yet and I check often 16 (5) gallon buckets of rice.
    YES!! Sam’s Club.

    • Diatomaceous earth is getting some well deserved praise. Everyone who preps and is not familiar with it should do a little reading about it.

  • Do you have any thoughts on using the large cat litter containers for food storage, in packages, after a thorough washing?

  • I usually put my flour, rice, etc., into the freezer for 4-7 days when I first bring them home. That time in the freezer usually kills anything that might be in there (eggs, etc.). Then, I take them out of the freezer and store in airtight plastic or glass bins.

    I’m on the fence about which – I love those snap-lock plastic containers (they make some that are just the right size for a 5-pound bag of flour), but for on-the-counter use, I put supplies in those clear glass canisters with the metal lids. Those have a rubber/plastic gasket around them to keep bugs out.

  • There is nothing wrong with prepping for being self suffienct for a 1 to 2 year period. But don’t let it consume you or your family’s finances. Yes you may survive a short period of civil unrest. In the event of a total collapse of society there are over 100 hundred nuclear power plants in this country that will go off line and melt down. Ask the folks in Japan what happens when just one of these plants goes off line.

  • If you freeze grain products like flour, cereal, cake mixes, pasta and such for 3 days before you package them for storage, it kills the microscopic bug eggs that can hatch later inside the package. Thus eliminating weevils in the future. Not appetizing to find them but in worst case scenerios they can add protein to flour and not be noticeable if mixed in bread. They will rise to the top of rice or pasta if rinsed in water and then can be poured off before cooking.

    • Exactly right Marilyn. I’ve poured milk over cereal back in the 1940’s and 1950’s only to have the weevels float to the surface doing the backstroke. I skimmed most of them off and chowed down.
      An old fashion sifter is good for getting them out of flour, but I never minded the extra protein.

      • THAAANK YOU!!!! I’ve been reading all the stuff folks are doing to keep the bugs out these days all the while thinking about the old days. What would they do? Just like you’re saying, chow down with the extra protein! Them lil critters won’t eat too much! Heck is there anyone here that has ever gone camping and had to eat with a lantern nearby? Heck the knats come flying in! Just think of em’ as a little bit of pepper, prepper!

        • Freeze your flour for a week. No more weevils or any other bugs.

      • Lol! When I was a little girl I often had to eat “bad” food or I didn’t eat. I asked my mother about weevils in the flour once, and she said “It ain’t hurtin’ anything. Use it!”. I had to pull the mold off of bread, the hard, crusty pieces off of bologna and cheese, and use food with weevils in it, and I survived it. I’m guessing that if I HADN’T done those things, I might not have survived. Better food with bugs in it than no food at all. Someone mentioned the bulk foods from Walmart…Augusta Farms, I think. I order their products from Amazon in the #10 cans. Powdered butter, eggs, milk, potatoes. 15-20 year shelf life (unopened) and their products taste fantastic.

  • Another great way to help keep out the bugs is to put your bags of flour in the refrigerator for a couple of days before storing it. The freezing kills any bugs/eggs that might be in it. I’ve lost some before so now I freeze first. Works great!

  • We don’t have a basement or root cellar and at times the temperatures in our home rise above 80*F and below 65*F for a few hours a day occasionally. Basically our inhome temp range daily is approximately between 65*F – 73*F. How would this affect the length of food storage in our home in buckets and/or jars? Also, do you know how long Mylar bagged stored food will last in these conditions?

    • Mary, the best thing you can do with your storage situation is to be sure things are not where sunlight can get to them. Also, not near areas where temps vary a LOT, like in a cabinet next to the kitchen stove. If you can find a closet space that’s pretty dark when the doors are closed, that’s where you want to store things. Your home temperature range is really not all that bad! You should be ok, like that. You should get at least 2 years out of your food items.

  • Just about every bag of flour and cornmeal you buy will have bug eggs in it. The best thing to do be fire storing is to freeze for a out a week before storing. I even do this with dry beans and rice. After taking beans and rice out of freezer I put in oven at lowest setting for about 30 minutes to not only warm up but to get all moisture out of them from being cold. While still warm i put in plastic bottles. As they cool down the air contracts causing a great vacuum seal.

  • Great article, what about using 2 liter bottles for long term storage

  • For rice, beans, and whole grains, there are two potential extenders of shelf life.

    1) Put a small pellet of dry ice in the storage container, and allow it to completely evaporate before putting in your product. The dry ice is carbon dioxide: it is heavier than air, so as it evaporates (“sublime” is the proper chemistry word.), it stays at the bottom and pushes any oxygen-rich air out the top as it expands.

    Then, when you put the product in, be very careful to not lose the oxygen-free inner atmosphere. Do this by either gently lowering the smaller bags into the bottom of the container, or putting free grain into a measuring cup, lowering the cup into the bottom of the container, and pouring it out slowly.

    2) another relatively inexpensive option is to put a few oxygen absorbent packets into the grain mix as you fill the storage container. These can be purchased online in bulk. I bought a 5-gallon tub of them from “”.

  • I am trying to find reliable info on vacuum sealing glass jars. I want to store flour, rice, powdered milk… long term. Should I use oxygen absorbers in the jars, vacuum seal the jars with a food saver or both? I don’t want to worry about botulism in my flour. Thank you.

    • Hi Ashley, you will NOT get botulism from flour, grains, rice, powdered milk. I have been sealing foods of all kinds with my Food Saver jar attachment.
      It works great and unless you release the seal, the food is safe forever. That is rice, flour, powdered milk.

  • I use one-gallon and half-gallon milk jugs to store grains/sugar, etc. in. I wash them out well and rinse them well. I let them dry for several days. I put my sugar, flour, rice, cornbread mix, etc. into half of the jug, place an oxygen absorbent pack in, fill it to the top, shake it down and fill it to the top. I place a piece of Saran Wrap over the top and screw the lid back on tight. I store these in a root cellar that I constructed where the temperature stays about 65 degrees and is dark.
    I am currently using rice and flour that I stored in 1998/1999 for Y2K and it is fine.

  • Perma-guard sells diatomaceous earth (food grade) which can be packed (mixed) with your whole grains prior to sealing. It absorbs the moisture and prevents hatching of bugs. Not expensive and easy to wash off prior to use.

  • I’m just starting to prep for the predicted food shortages coming as a result of covid19. I’m a bit confused about the storing of flour, cornmeal, grits, rice, and beans. If I freeze them for a couple of weeks, I understand that I can then put them in airtight food grade buckets. I can buy those and do that, but will these buckets reseal after I open the bucket and start using the grain inside? I mean I can’t use but so much flour, cornmeal, etc in a month for a family of 3. How do I long term store grits to flour and be able to use it a little at a time?

  • I have read a lot of comments, some with really new info that is quite useful.
    When I was doing a lot if food storage I bought nitrogen packed 1 GL cans.
    I then bought a water purifier and a commercial mop bucket in case you have to wash clothes by hand. It has a squeezer like the old time washers.
    Next., I started buying up bulk rice, sugar , dried milk and 5 gal. cans of liquid detergent.
    I had the 5 gin buckets, Mylar bags so I was ready to rent a nitrogen tank, put the hose in the bottom. Since nitrogen is heavier than oxygen I slowly filled the cans.
    I also stored all kinds of beans the same way.
    No Ixygen, no problem. Kept the tank about 2 weeks and took it back. Cheap and easy

  • I’ve been freeze drying food for last 6 years. Dry stuff like sugar, flour pasta etc. are already basically freeze dried. You just put them in original package in deep freeze for 10-14 days to kill any bugs and eggs. Use appropriate size 7 mil Mylar bags with Oxygen absorber and heat seal. Oxysorber will create a vacuum as well. Be sure to mark all bags with contents with a fine point permanent Black Sharpy marker.

    Marking is so important to last long time, I switched to Avery 5286 and 5292 permanent labels and type the info on them.

    • I sometimes forget how Blessed I am. I have 65 acres here, and 2 ponds stocked well with wild rice. I harvest the rice with a canoe in the fall. I have a good size chicken flock. I garden extensively. Make maple syrup and sugar in the early spring. We hunt deer and rabbits, etc. I can up everything I can get my hands on. I have gotten 12 years out of bleached white flour poured directly into 5 gallon food grade buckets, no oxygen absorbers, etc. I store them in my cool dark basement. There’s electrical appliances here, but have kept all the old infrastructure. I have a wood burning kitchen stove, as a secondary stove, and have learned how to run it. I have a hand pump without a check valve on the well. No check valve so the pipes don’t fill with water and freeze/break in the winter. My grand’s old treadle sewing machine works better than most newer ones! This year I bought 4 extra belts for it, and a box of a gross (144) of extra needles. I am a senior and it’s getting harder but I’m still managing well.

  • I store my flour in the freezer. No issues! No tissues!

  • Don’t get 5 gallon buckets from Home Depot use Lowes instead. Lowes buckets have a better gasket to seal in lid !

    • I have been prepping for over 30 years now.. I never use those cheap lids from hardware stores; only Gamma Seal lids. Because over the years, they have been proving themselves as indispensible. They have a double seal. The one with the rim that gets put on the bucket, and the 2nd one that is on the center lid you screw into the rim. ABSOLUTELY air/water/ant/rodent proof.

  • you don’t throw out your flower just because it has bugs in it! That’s what a flower sifter was invented for, just to get rid of the bugs. Cooks today think the sifter is to provide a uniform volumn as you measure it, but no, it’s just to get rid of bugs. This from my grandmother who was born in 1888, and passed on this bit of knowledge to me many years ago as she taught me to cook.

  • I have a question about freezing grains to kill insects. Many insects, etc. can survive being frozen for long periods, i.e., mosquitos and no-see-ums in Alaska. Will freezing kill the insect eggs that are in the grains?

  • I bought a 25lb bag of unbleached all purpose flour 11 months ago. I pieced it out into 5 gallon Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers. The oxygen absorbers worked because it looked like a vacuum seal, all sucked in- fast forward a few months, I needed to reload my flour container in the pantry, grabbed one of my prepped flour bags- rancid. What gives? Grabbed a second bag- rancid. What did I do wrong? I’ve been trying to figure it out since, but I can’t find any answers.

    • From my understanding you needed to freeze the flour for 7 -14 days first, after that take from the freezer and let sit out for 1 day and then place in mylar bag with oxygen absorber. Hope that helps.

      The freezer kills the bugs

  • First,, everyone bear in mind that cute little tiny mice will chew their way through a 5-gallon bucket in 20 minutes or less. So that storage theory has little value long-term. It has happened to me. Second, Storage bulking up on wheat products that have very very little nutritional value is a fool’s errand. Even whole grains are not nutritious like people have been led to believe by clever Madison Avenue marketers. They are a filler only. If you’re going to store dry stuff, the legumes such as beans have much more nutritional value, like maybe times 100. Further, the common garden pea is the most protein-rich vegetable readily available and dried peas will last forever with a desiccant added to the bucket. Don’t count on the AMA to give you the straight dope on nutrition either. They have no idea what they’re talking about. If they told you the facts and nutrition that are really important, everyone would be healthy for the most part and that would shoot their bottom line right in the pants, including big Pharma. The other thing you want to store is vitamins and minerals in bulk. 20 years worth of vitamins will lose their efficacy, and if we need them for that long after cataclysm, we are screwed anyway. But five years is usually good for potency. I wouldn’t bother with one multivitamin. I would buy individual vitamins such as A, B2-B5-B6-B12, C, D especially @ 5000isu, And assorted chelated minerals. We need them as well but they should be combined with other molecules to assist metabolization. Any other supplements that float your boat would be a great idea also. During difficult times, we will survive on whatever is available but usually will not have the nutritional value the human body really requires. The supplements will keep you alive and healthy. Also, lay in a store of ivermectin. It kills almost every pathogen, can be taken orally, and is distributed as a paste to kill parasites and horses. It is also used As heartworm Prevention for dogs. I’ve been using equine ivermectin on my dogs forever at about $0.20 per dose versus the $18 the vet charges. All ivermectin is sanitary and produced under the same cleanliness and efficacy even if it isn’t labeled pharmaceutical grade. They don’t use the dirty stuff for animals. Lay in a supply folks, you’ll be glad you did at the first sign of infection because most pathogens throw up their arms and run the other way when ivermectin shows up. That’s all I’ve got for this blog.

  • one more small comment. I am not a medical doctor, I’m an engineer. I’m not acting in a medical capacity with the ivermectin advice. Any doctor will tell you never to self-medicate because it is dangerous. I agree. However, if you are prepping, you are doing it in anticipation of a crisis. If that kind of crisis looms its head, you will probably be hard-pressed to find a doctor somewhere or antibiotics needed (since they are all made in China now) so you will have a choice at that point. Infections will kill you if left untreated. Occasionally the body will save itself with T cells, but not usually. In the event that you have an infection and it is a crisis situation, i.e., societal breakdown, what choice would you make when the only two options are ivermectin or death? I believe you would choose the ivermectin. If you intend to hold onto some, Google it and read up on it. There’s plenty of information available. It’s widely used for people on the African continent where everyone walks around with a thousand parasites swimming in their bloodstream. I have personally used equine ivermectin on myself over the years with very satisfactory results. You have to be a critical thinker to get through the propaganda. I owned a horse farm, am a critical thinker, and propaganda and I are strange bedfellows. There is no substitute for being educated, and in a crisis, the things that kill the most people will be ignorance and panic.

    • Geary, I’m interested to know more about the ivermectin, please. In the past my daughter and I raised rats as pets, and I used ivermectin once when they got mites. It worked wonders. Can you inform me about dosing? How much would I give my 70lb dog? I appreciate anymore info that you can share.

  • Ro keep weavel out of dry goods use bay leaves. I get a jar of bay leaves and put about 5 in a 5 gal. container of any dry food-this works well for cereal (oatmeal, cornmeal, etc) My brother put 5 bay leaves in in cupboard loose on the shelf and got rid of all the weavel in that cupboard. This was a trick my mom learned in a church group many years ago. I have never forgotten this trick and it works every time.

  • Do you think the pioneers cared about a few bugs in their flour?? This prepping stuff can go to far. If your hungry, you’ll sift the bugs out of the flour and make great biscuts!

    • Yes! Exactly. I did it as a kid and survived. Beats going hungry.

  • Anybody have advise for storage of foods when you live in the desert south west? There are far and few houses with basements out here and damn near no place that does not get at the least 100*s in the summer time. short of going down under ground a minimum of 15-20 foot nothing stays cool.

  • If you use Gamma Seal lids, a word of caution: It is very tempting to stack the buckets directly on top of each other. This is a BAD idea. The weight of the upper buckets will eventually cause the plastic of the lower lids to fail just inside of the threaded area. The whole stack will then collapse downward. You need to place boards between each layer of buckets to distribute the weight.

  • If you store your product in a mylar bag make sure you use an oxygen absorber for the right sized bag… This will remove any O2 that is in the bag once it is sealed and removes the effects of O2 on food products. Just be sure to use the correct size O2 absorber.

  • I hear about Mylar bags and Gamma lids. Where does a person look for these items? Thank you.