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Which containers can I use for food storage?

A reader asks Tess about using non-food grade containers as a method for storing food.

Hi Tess,

For food storage, can I use new, unused 5 gallon plastic paint containers found at Home Depot for long-term food storage?

Sarah W.


Hi Sarah,

I have heard of preppers using unused plastic buckets. Many preppers like to use these because they are less expensive than those plastic containers found at emergency preparedness stores. My concern is that the plastic is not food-grade and I am worried of the plastic leeching chemicals into the food if exposed to extreme temperatures. A food grade container has a #2 by the recycle symbol or the acronym ”HDPE” stamp on the bottom (HPDE stands for “high density polyethylene”).  If your container does not have this stamp, then it is not food grade. In this case, if you still plan to store food in it, you need to use a  barrier, such as a Mylar liner in the buckets to prevent the food from having direct contact to the plastic bucket. As long as you do this, then the food should be well protected.

As a side note, make sure that you thoroughly wash the plastic buckets with warm, soapy water before adding Mylar liners and the food. Also, ensure the container is completely dry. If your container has any moisture in it left, then it can ruin your food.

Some other inexpensive food storage options to store your food in are plastic soda bottles, mason/canning jars, coffee jars, peanut butter jars, juice jugs, ice cream tubs, pretzel jars, dog treats and protein powder canisters. Read more about them here.

I hope this helps.




This article was originally published at Ready Nutrition™ on January 7th, 2013

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