10 gallon food storage bins

A Great Way To Store Food

A Way To Store Food

There are some advantages of using plastic storage bins for some of your food storage.
Here are a few of them…


One way to store food is to use plastic storage bins. Although there are costs involved, the advantages may make it worthwhile to store some of your food in bins.

For some food it does not make the best sense to use bins, but for others it may be helpful. For example, long term storage of grains, legumes, and other similar commodities makes good sense to utilize sealed Mylar in 5-gallon pails; whereas other items like canned foods or other processed foods might be convenient stored in bins.

The advantages of bins include the following…

There are nearly unlimited choices of shapes, sizes, stack-ability, strength, colors, and lid styles; and they are widely available. Bins are ‘ready to go’, as in, grab-and-go (if you have to). They can be labeled, organized, and neatly stacked.



The variety of shapes allow you to customize and utilize your space according to your needs. For example, there are shallow bins that will slide underneath a bed, enabling you to take advantage of that space for storage. While most bins are rectangular in shape, the dimensions do vary. The storage bin itself helps protect the food from moisture, critters, and the environment.


The volume of space within the bin itself (how big, how deep, etc.) again allows you to customize. Don’t forget that the larger it is, the heavier it will be when filled! This is particularly important when considering the weight of canned foods.


Not all bins stack the same way. Some are not meant to stack, although most are designed with that in mind. Some designs will tend to slide around more than others while others are more secure when stacked. Some stack such that the force of the weight from the bin on top will push down entirely on the lid, well inside the sidewalls of the supporting bin (not so good for heavy stacking). Whereas others are designed such that the bottom of the upper bin meets the lower bin at or near the sidewalls, which provides more support and less sag.


Most ordinary plastic storage bins that are commonplace in the retail market seem to be inferior in strength (too thin, flimsy). I would spend extra and buy heavy duty, non-flimsy bins. Bear in mind that the plastic WILL deteriorate fairly quickly if left out in the sun for long periods of time. The UV rays will make the plastic brittle and it will crack or shatter eventually. I’ve experienced this (with a fairly cheap bin) which took about one year outside in the sun until it broke from handling. Buy Heavy Duty.


You might choose opaque bins (non-see-through) or you might prefer see-through clear bins. It may be advantageous to see what’s inside through the clear plastic, while it also allows ‘anyone’ to see inside (which may not be your desire). It depends on your preferences and where they’re stored I suppose. Adhering a label on the outside is VERY helpful.


Not all lids are created equal. Many in fact are cheap. These should also be durable and heavy duty to help support the weight of stacking bins. I also like the bin style with handles that snap up and over the lids. They’re more secure.

In summary, while plastic storage bins may cost more than other methods of containment (5-gallon bucket, cardboard boxes, etc.) they do have their place in an overall food storage plan for some items (or items other than food).

I would be curious to hear your stories, preferences, alternatives, or suggestions as to what you use for storage containment for some of your items…

Of the many varieties of plastic storage bins, I probably use these two the most for some of my preps and other such things. Pretty strong and stack well…

Sterilite 30-Quart Ultra, 6-Pack

Sterilite 70 Quart Ultra, 4 pack


  1. Temperature should also be considered. I have had stacked totes that cracked in freezing temps and collapsed in high temps. If you store your totes in an environment that is not temperature controlled look for a harder more ridid plastic container.

      1. I have a bunch of those plastic storage bins, but they keep cracking on the bottom, even when nothing is stacked on top. They are in my basement which keeps a pretty constant 50 degrees summer and winter. I think you have to put them on top of something, rather than setting them directly on the concrete floor.

        Even when they contain nothing heavy (such as clothing or paper products) they keep cracking. Sometimes there is a big hole and often I can’t even find the missing piece. I have pets so I don’t have mice and I keep spraying for bugs. I can’t figure out why they don’t last.

    1. Since the article is specifically about storing food, it might be good to remember that storing food in temperatures that would cause the plastic to collapse would also degrade the shelf life and quality of the foods you store. Just a thought….

  2. We store ours in the basement. When we had a leak from the bathroom above, the containers protected the contents from getting all grubby. We have also seen signs of mice all over the containers but they never breached the containers. Definitely a worth while investment.

  3. You can also re-use a plastic bin for a lot more different things when it’s empty, compared to cardboard boxes. After the food inside has been eaten, use the bin for washing clothes, harvesting fresh food, storing tinder, etc.

  4. The larger ones can hold six one gallon jugs of water on the bottom. A layer of wood or heavy cardboard gives you a shelf for sealed food items. If the gallon water container leaks, the spill in contained and the sealed food is safely above the water.

  5. We used Rubbermaid one, but we have to be careful of the wheight we put into because even if they are heavy duty, they break or change form. We loose domestic products that we put into and breaks that way, because of the changing form. So, it’s best for light stuff, but not more.

    1. I’ve used Rubbermaid Roughneck totes for over fifteen years, for a variety of purposes, and they are all still in great shape. They are sooooo much better than the Sterilite ones I’ve tried, which tend to have lids not stay on when moving a heavy box. These are worth every penny. I’ve had water leak into my storage area, but the tubs kept everything safe. I wouldn’t store canned food in them, but I do store boxed food (crackers, cereal, etc.) in them, to help keep out critters. They are not entirely animal-proof, but they do an amazingly good job of keeping bug and rodents out. I’ve used them through at least five moves, and I’ve only ever had one bend/crumple because of heavier items on top, and that was in a storage room, stacked about 8-9 high. Some of them are filled with lots of heavy items (Christmas dishes and such), but it’s not a problem. I usually store them about four or five high.

        1. K rousseau,
          It’s not a problem to store canned foods in the big totes; looking back at my comment, I see that it sounds like I’m implying that, but I wasn’t meaning to. There are a few reasons I don’t do it, though. For one, I don’t worry about critters getting into the canned food the way I do dry food, so it’s not necessary. The second reason is that the tubs would be very heavy, and if they’re stacked on top of each other and I’m getting into them regularly, it would be a pain. The third reason is that I think it is a lot harder to keep food organized in a first-in, first-out basis when it’s a lot of cans in a tub. For me, it’s much better to keep them on shelves. But then, I have a space I’ve been able to dedicate to that. Not everyone does.

  6. Since we have a small family, I break down my bulk storage into smaller packages and vacuum seal with a Foodsaver. I store the packages in the bins and label them appropriately. Since we rotate and use what we store, I can grab a couple of pounds of beans or rice from the bin as needed without exposing the rest and then have to reseal a large mylar bag.

    1. Great concept Kimigee! We also vacuum seal in smaller portions. We also put some types of products into a mylar bag, add an oxygen absorber, fold the top of the mylar bag, and then seal it in a vacuum bag. Vacuum bags are wonderful, we even use then for non-food storage items we wish to protect.

    2. Exactly! It’s smart to pre-plan for the unexpected event that you would have to leave your shelter unexpectedly. Having small packages of food which can be quickly packed in to a tote, along with other important things is very smart.

  7. It’s likely that the vast majority of people who suspect something fairly significant is likely to occur, are planning on sheltering in place. However, that game can get changed quickly due to unforeseen circumstances.

    The Plastic tote is an ideal way to pack a lot of stuff quickly and get it into your vehicle and “bug out”. You should have at least a couple of them handy and ready!

  8. I use the Rubbermaid type bins too, I keep some in the garage, and I sealed them with clear silicon. Just run a bead along the edge where the lid will press against it (with some, you also have to full in some holes under the handles), then stack something heavy enough on top of it for a day or so, for the silicon to dry and give you a good seal.

  9. I think this is a great idea, and I will probably try it myself. Those underused areas under the beds especially. I did ask our rodent control guy if mice can chew through plastic bins and he said YES. I think I’ll use bins for a mix of cans and bagged things sealed in jars. All cans=too heavy.

  10. I am new to the whole idea of being a prepper, the government has raised my level from concerned citizen to alarmed. Can anyone tell me a possible link to Storing food and expiration issues. I have seen several post that mention rotation, just wonder what stores the longest and exactly what they mean by rotation. Thanks.

    1. I’m glad that you have decided to start prepping! Good for you! There is no one place to simply get all the answers.

      You can search this blog, and others, as well as simply searching the internet with your questions. It’s a way of life that will become more natural to you as you go along.

      Food storage, what to store, how long it will last, how to store it, are all issues with multiple considerations.

      My simple initial advice is to research, then diversify. Utilize several methods and a variety of foods. Canned foods are a simple start as they will last for a number of years.

      Research ‘shelf life’, and you may be surprised what you learn. Many foods will last longer than what it says on the can or package.

      Canned food Shelf Life Studies

      Temperature Versus Food Storage Shelf Life

    2. Congratulations on starting to prep! My first advice to a newbie is don’t get feeling over-whelmed or discouraged. You’ll make mistakes, but keep at it.

      A great place to go to for food storage advice is the LDS site (the Mormons). They’re the “experts” in food storage. Also try to find an LDS cannery in your area. There will be plenty of people there to help you get started.

      Good luck!

  11. My husband and I have been living in a weird state for the last 5+ months that we need to be ready to leave our living space in a few minutes. We gave up our home, business and lives to care for my husbands father who became a quadriplegic 2 1/2 years ago and his mother who has Parkinson’s and diabetes. They have basically kicked us out of their lives and their home. Most of my possessions are in bags or boxes that we can grab them quickly and leave. Living this way is hard but I also know in a few short minutes that I can vacate my living space and go where ever.

    We have had things in storage in a dry climate in totes, in a wet basement, in a dry basement and in a humid storage unit. The contents are always preserved.

    I am an organization person and like to keep like things with like things. I see using this system to set up the grab and go kinds of things:
    * a kitchen tote with stuff to make an outdoor kitchen or a camp kitchen
    * a 72 hour kit for each family member
    * a car kit and tool kit for emergency stuff (oil, electrical tape, duct tape, belts, small hand tools, shovel….)
    * bulk freeze dried foods sealed in the mylar with oxygen absorbers
    * freeze dried meals in mylar bags with oxygen absorbers from Dinner is in the Jar and premixed things
    * a bathroom tote with toilet paper, wipes, sanitizer, heavy duty bags, shower bags, shower tent, towels, soap, toieltries
    * bedding tote with air mattresses, bedding, pillows, sleeping bags
    * first aid tote (even though most of my first aid is in a large back pack you could create a smaller version with an eye kit, tooth kit, nose kit, bleeding kit, medicine kit, etc.)
    * heating and cooking tote will all the things you need to start a fire for cooking and heat and things for making a cooking situation in warmer months, along with candles and lanterns

    I have thought of trying to put all these things together easily and using stackable totes makes the best sense. Thank you for this post!!!

  12. I have been slowly picking up such stackable totes as part of my being prepared efforts. They are fairly inexpensive and can hold a great deal.

  13. I store beans, rice and pasta in their original 1 pound bags from the market.

    I use a food saver , suck out all the air, place the bag of food in the bin and store it inside my house at constant 76 degrees. Dark. Cool. No oxygen.

    So far food is in perfect condition. I believe the food will store for 25 years easy. But……………I wish I used the smaller bins. Half the size of normal.

    They tend to get very heavy and stacking causes lids to bend and collapse over time.

  14. I get all the free pickle buckets I can from the restaurant that I manage. they are stackable, sturdy, and have a gasketed lid. Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers minimal cost on Amazon. I use milk crates for water or canned foods. Heavy boxes or flats for canned goods. My storage is overflowing and I have had to go up!!

    1. Illinois Mom, I agree. After trying numerous methods of storage the Gamma lid food safe 5 gallon bucket beats all other methods by far for numerous reasons. Flood protection, highly rodent-proof (highly), easy to stack & tote as extremely versatile. In it canned foods, bags or any other format can easily be stored. If we had to high-tail it out of here grabbing a handle on a bucket with each hand is a lot easier than carrying one cumbersome tote with two. And again, I especially like it that they can be sealed against moisture.

  15. Consider this: the power goes out…several seconds later, the ground under you feet shudders and you feel as much as hear a low-pitched rumble. Do you NOW try to organize and prioritize your supplies? No. Because you pack smart, you already have several storage bins pre-sorted to GET OUT FAST. Each has some water, some compact stove, some way to heat and boil, some calorie-dense foods, some form of cooking utensiles. Each bin can feed, cook, warm, and provide some light for a person for several days…what good is a hundred pounds of rice and no water, pan, or camp stove?

  16. One of the best reasons to have things in these totes is privacy! If you must store in plain sight, such as a garage, you don’t have to answer awkward questions about your stuff like you would on open shelving or 5 gallon buckets.
    Most people assume you have sports equipment, out-of-season clothing, camping gear, etc. inside. Heck, you can pack one with something like that and if anyone is nosy enough to ask about what’s in there, you can answer truthfully, “My kid’s old toys.” :)

  17. I am about to move and as I move I wanted to pack things safely so they are earthquake and disaster ready- esp. any food storage etc. I am very impressed with the comments on this site and just wanted to say WAY TO BE PREPARED and thanks for helping me know where to start. I’ve saved foods but never knowings things like shelf-life and how to keep bottles from shattering and how to keep the best foods that my picky youngest will actually eat in a disaster situation! Thank you! Thank you! I will continue to follow!

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