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If you’re ready to make long-term food storage part of your emergency preparedness plan, you’ll save big by storing it yourself instead of buying number ten cans or expensive packaged meals. The key is simple—buy shelf-stable goods and protect them from light, moisture, and air. Here are the best DIY food storage solutions to help you get started.

Mason Jars

Mason jars store most dry foods effectively. Legumes, grains, and pasta are top candidates, but there are few essential rules to follow:

  • After filling jars, tap them gently on a firm surface to help the contents settle. Full jars have less room for trapped air to spoil its contents.
  • Don’t stack jars. It stresses the lids and can break the seals.
  • Keep jars in a cool, dry, and dark place. Heat and light cause foods to deteriorate and lose precious nutritional value.
  • Add a desiccant or oxygen absorber pack to each jar. Both contain excess moisture and lengthen shelf-life, but oxygen absorbers also remove air, creating a better seal.

Mylar Bags

Mylar bags are perfect for any use that requires a high level of protection against oxygen, moisture, and light. These bags are made of a polyester film bonded with aluminum. They’re lightweight, cost-effective, and protect food from its biggest enemies.

To use, fill the bag and add the right size desiccant or oxygen absorber pack, and then seal the top with an iron or hair straightener. Bags with locking zippers can be heat sealed at the top for long-term storage but are easier to reseal after opening.

Mylar bags are sturdy, but not impervious to ripping and rodent damage. Thicker bags protect food better and are less likely to tear. For the best results, keep them in sealed food-grade buckets.

Plastic Bags

Plastic bags are the least effective method for storing food. They allow light to penetrate, and even the best seals deteriorate over time. As a last resort, double-bag highly shelf-stable foods like dried pasta and white rice with oxygen absorbers and store them in plastic pails.

Plastic Buckets

Food-grade plastic buckets are light- and rodent-proof. Most home-sealed pails won’t be completely airtight, but when combined with Mylar bags, make a formidable duo. Buying used buckets at local bakeries saves money, but avoid contractor-style pails from the home improvement store unless they’re certified as food-safe.

Forget overpriced prepackaged food and start your long-term food storage plan at home today with these DIY tips. Preparation matters, but it shouldn’t have to break the bank.