Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Cheap Food Insurance: My First Time Making Super Pails

I had been wanting to stock up on some basic food staples for a long time.  There are two main reasons that I had given this some thought.  First, it is cheap food insurance.  If we ever fell on hard times, then we would have some way to at least sustain ourselves for a while.  Second, it is cheaper in the long run to buy in bulk.  So, I finally rounded up the materials needed to package and store dry pinto beans and white rice.

Sam's Club (and I'm sure other retailers) sells these by the 50 lb. bag.  The price per pound comes out to be ridiculously cheap when you compare that with 1 lb. or even 10 lb. bag of the same food item.  The combination of rice and beans can sustain a person for a very long time.  The two together form what nutritionists call a "complete protein".  In other words, "meat substitute".  Although, I would argue that there is no substitute for meat!

Bags of dry food ready to be sealed.

I ordered a starter kit of metalized bags, oxygen (O2) absorbers and food grade 6 gallon plastic buckets from Emergency Essentials.

About 33 lbs. of Pinto Beans.

About 40 lbs. of Rice.
The process was pretty straight forward.  I placed the metalized bags in the buckets and then poured the contents into each bucket.  I took care to note how much by weight was in each bucket.

2000 cc oxygen absorbers.

For anything over 35 lbs. one of the 2000 cc absorbers was called for.  If it was border line, then I just threw in two for additional insurance.  Also note that when placing more than one absorber that it is recommended to ensure they are not on top of one another.  The absorbers are basically filled with metal (iron, I believe) that binds oxygen by essentially rusting at a high rate.  Note that these came in a pack of 10.  A person has to use them all at once or figure out a way to seal them up.  I've seen some folks suggest mason jars and others to re-seal them if you have a vacuum sealer.

Demonstration of technique to seal metalized bags using a flat surface and clothes iron.
I tried to work as fast as possible once I opened up the O2 absorbers so that they did not peter out prematurely.  As you can see in the above picture, I folded the edge of the metal bags over a yard stick.  This gave me a fairly flat surface with which to use the clothes iron to seal the bags.  I have a couple of tips.  First, do not use the hottest setting on a clothes iron.  It works, but is not necessary and you risk melting the bag too much.  The second tip is to push as much air out of the bag as possible before finishing off the seal.  This was my one mistake.  I was in a hurry and thought that the O2 absorbers would bind enough oxygen that the bags would shrink down.  I was only able to get one out of five lids on my buckets!  I will be remedying this in the near future by cutting off a corner large enough to toss in another couple absorbers, push the excess air out and then reseal the cut corner.  Hopefully, it will work.

Other than my one mistake, I feel this was a pretty easy endeavor.  If you are looking for a way to store bulk dry foods, then look no further than making "Super Pails".


  1. I buy my bulk stuff from Azure Standard, so that I can get it organic. You just contact them an they put you in touch with your drop coordinator. https://www.azurestandard.com/

    1. Awesome, thanks for the heads up! Shauna is always looking for healthy options.