Written by Bernie Carr
I’ve been reading that experts are predicting that food prices will continue to increase in the months ahead. With supply chain disruptions, the war in Ukraine affecting wheat and fertilizer supplies across the globe, high transportation costs, the current Avian flu and other factor, it is no surprise. One way of hedging ourselves against those high prices is by buying staple foods while they are on sale, or while the prices are still reasonable and storing these foods for the long term.
I started storing foods in Mylar bags back in 2011. I’ve opened some of the bags years later and had good results.
This year, I bought more Mylar bags and oxygen absorbers to store sugar, rice, salt and other staples. I found it saves space even in small apartments as you can store the filled Mylar bags in 5-gallon buckets that stack.
- Mylar bags
- Oxygen absorbers (300 cc)
- Labels, Sharpie marker
- Bulk foods – buy what you normally use such as sugar*, salt*, flour, pasta, rice
- Clothes iron or flat iron
Instead of buying the materials separately, I purchased a set that contained Mylar bags of various sizes, 300 cc oxygen absorbers, and labels.
I already have an iron and Sharpie markers at home.
The new Mylar bags have a zip lock that makes it easier to seal the bag prior to ironing it. Some users don’t seal them with the iron and just use the zip lock, but I like to make sure the bag is really air tight as it will help make the food last for a long time.
Do you really need oxygen absorbers?
Oxygen absorbers work to extend the shelf life of food by reducing the amount of oxygen in a sealed container. This prevents insects from inhabiting your sealed food as well as prevents oxidation in food. So if you want to make your stored bulk items last longer, you will need oxygen absorbers.
There are a couple of exceptions. You do not need to add oxygen absorbers to sugar and salt, it is not necessary, as they will cause hardening.
In my current storage project, I added oxygen absorbers to rice, pasta and flour.
Because oxygen absorbers get activated as soon you open the package, you need to plan your assembly method so that they are not exposed to air for too long. The best way to do this is to pack the foods in the Mylar bags first, and once you are almost ready to seal, you open the pack of oxygen absorbers and them to the container then seal it up.
For more information about oxygen absorbers, check out my previous article.
Food storage in Mylar bags
Here are the steps I took to store food in Mylar bags:
- Set up a work area that is away from children or pets. You will need the iron (or flat iron), a towel over the surface where you will be ironing the Mylar bags.
- Make your labels. I like to include the contents, the expiration date from the original package, and the date I packed it. This way I know the original expiration date and I’ll know when I packed it when it’s time to open it.
- Open the Mylar bag and set it up for filling. I used the gallon bags.
- Fill the bag using a cup or scoop. Leave a bit of room at the top so you can seal the bag properly and iron the top edge.
- Continue filling the bags with your bulk foods.
- Once the bags are filled, you are ready to open the packet of oxygen absorbers. Try to keep them inside the plastic bag as much as possible, folding the top over to avoid activating them.
- I dropped two oxygen absorbers on opposite sides of the bag.
- Squeeze out any air, and seal the bag using the zip lock seal.
- Iron the top of the bag, then turn the bag over and iron the other side.
- Continue to the next bag.
- Label each bag with the contents and dates.
- If you have any oxygen absorbers left, repack the remaining ones in a sealed container so they’re not exposed to air. I sealed mine using a food sealer, but if don’t have one, seal it in zip type bag or Tupperware.
- Store your filled Mylar bags in sturdy containers away from heat, light, pests, and odorous chemicals. Mylar bags are excellent for keeping foods dry but they are not resistant to rodents. Rats or mice can chew thru them so you need a container where you can store your Mylar bags. I found that plastic 5-gallon buckets are great for storing them, and are stackable.
I opened up a bucket that had Mylar bags filled with pasta packed seven years ago and the pasta was as fresh as the day I packed them. Sometimes, you may be able to get free 5-gallon buckets-this article tells you how.
For a quick video on packaging food in Mylar bags and other projects I’ve been working on, visit my Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/apartmentpreppers/.
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Bernie Carr is the founder of Apartment Prepper. She has written several books including the best-selling Prepper’s Pocket Guide, Jake and Miller’s Big Adventure, The Penny-Pinching Prepper and How to Prepare for Most Emergencies on a $50 a Month Budget. Bernie’s latest e-book, FRUGAL DIY has just been released on Amazon. Her work appears in sites such as the Allstate Blog and Clark.com, as well as print magazines such as Backwoods Survival Guide and Prepper Survival Guide. She has been featured in national publications such as Fox Business and Popular Mechanics. Learn more about Bernie here.
The timing of this article was great! I am about to try this soon for the first time.
To ensure insects are killed off, I see suggestions abour putting foods like rice and flour in the freezer. Can this be done After the flour is sealed in the mylar bags? Thanks.
Hi AJ, I’d say before, as placing the bag in the freezer may cause condensation (depending on the freezer) and that will cause the flour to spoil. On the other hand, if you are already using oxygen absorbers for storing, they will prevent any insect eggs from hatching. Insects require oxygen to survive. The oxygen absorbers should remove oxygen from the Mylar bag, and the eggs will not hatch. Thanks for the comment!