Money Mondays: How to Get Free Containers for Emergency Storage

Spread the love

This post is by Bernie Carr,

If you are trying to build up your emergency food storage, you may be concerned about the costs associated with storage containers along with the food itself.  There is some expense involved, but it does not have to break your budget.  There are free or inexpensive ways to obtain emergency storage containers.

Here are a few tips:

Water Containers

You don’t have to spend a lot of money on water containers.

  • 2-liter soda bottles.  If you don’t drink soda yourself, you know many people who do.  Tell them you are working on a project and need soda bottles.  Or, collect the empty 2-liter bottles at the next office party.  There is never a shortage of them.  Wash thoroughly with soap and water, rinse and refill with tap water.  Fill a few of them only three quarters full and store them in the freezer.  You will have ice in an emergency, keeping your freezer cold longer, as well as cold water when they start melting.
  • Fruit juice and sports drinks bottles.  These containers are also food grade, sturdy and easy to obtain for free.

Alternative Use

You can also use clean, dry 2-liter soda bottles as containers for bulk foods.   You can refill them with rice, salt, sugar, oats, etc.  Soda bottles will help your bulk items last longer than if you left them in their original packaging.  Use the contents within two years and continue to rotate your supplies.

Mylar Bags

Mylar bags are recommended for storing foods such as flour, sugar, rice, etc.   I have found that many grocery items come packaged in Mylar bags such as cereals and juice boxes.  The cereal packages have a zip lock sealer.  Juice boxes are small, but can be used to repackage smaller containers such as snacks and candy.  You will need to cut them across the top, wash and dry thoroughly before reusing.  You can then follow repackaging directions found here.


Food Grade Buckets

The food grade bucket is an essential item in an apartment prepper’s storage plan because they don’t occupy a lot of space and are stackable.  You can store a lot of items in one bucket, plus they are portable, in case you ever need to throw a bunch of them in your vehicle to bug out.

A while back I posted about my my bulk food storage plans that included food grade buckets (See Items Needed for Storing Survival Food) as well as my Health Supplies Bucket.

  • Restaurants – I know a restaurant manager who said they toss out mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard and other condiment buckets.  He was happy to give me a few that were scheduled for trash pickup.  Pickle buckets would have a strong odor.  No matter how much you wash and sanitize them, the pickle smell stays on.  so you may have to decline those.
  • Supermarket bakeries and delis
  • Some places decline to give them out due to legal restrictions, or fear of someone misusing them, but a lot of places don’t mind giving them out so it doesn’t hurt to ask.
  • If you don’t know anyone in the food business, the easiest way to get some buckets is to order them online:  Emergency Essentials carries them at around $7.

Resealable buckets are versatile and can be used for many other storable items:  pet food, personal care, emergency toilet supplies, first aid supplies and many others.

When I first started stocking up on emergency foods, I stored my purchases in the original store packaging.  I found out later that it is better to repackage them for long term storage to keep moisture, pests etc out of your food items.


© Apartment Prepper 2016

For more tips on prepping on small budget, read my latest book:

Bernie's Latest Book

Spread the love


  1. For removing the pickle (or other food smell) out of food service buckets, try wetting down the entire inside with full-strength white vinegar and letting it dry, then scrubbing it down with your favorite cleaner. That’s worked for every odor I’ve tried to get off plastic. I’ve also heard storing the closed bucket with a handful of coffee grounds for a week or two will leech the smell out, but I haven’t tried it myself.

  2. Saving the containers that kitty litter is sold in provides a great water storage container.Clean them out with hot water and bleach,or vinagar and hot water will work.Fill them up with water.If you are worried about the amount to safely store go on line and buy water treatment tabs.Quit buying extra stuff/

    1. Hi glenn, Kitty litter containers are sturdy and would make good storage containers. Thanks for the comment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *