Mylar 20 x 30 Food Storage Bags:
Ebay Seller $139/100
Oxy-Sorb 2000cc O2 Absorbers – Amazon $18.98/30
Ebay Seller Bulk Sales (also dessicant)
When I first started this column, I discussed the importance of putting away your own bulk food, and not just buying a cat litter bucket with a “30 day supply” in it. Without food, water and shelter you will have to leave the house after things collapse, and that’s bad. You don’t have to spend big bucks on mail order food. Survival food is just food that won’t spoil without refrigeration. Beyond that, survival food is what you make of it. And you can make it a lot cheaper than you might think.
A $40 bag of pinto beans that weighs 50 lbs. has roughly 50,000 calories in it. Compare that to a $150 or more “30 day supply” from one of these survival food companies. That was the subject of the first article, and I gave you some great ideas and links that I hope at least some of you followed. The one thing I didn’t address in that article was the prospect of using Mylar bags, rather than buckets, and I recently decided to try them. Bags are much cheaper than buckets, but they just aren’t as robust. I’ll go over the numbers and details for you, and I sincerely hope that everyone who hasn’t taken action to provision for at least a few months of no food or water begin to do that now.
And just to clarify my position, I do have some prepackaged “meal” type supplies. When the SHTF, I don’t want to deal with meal planning. Like you, I’ll be scared and scattered, wondering what is happening next, and I plan to use those heater bags that I reviewed and some prepackaged food. Within a couple weeks (if we haven’t collapsed), I hope to get into details about the benefits of packaged foods, both from the survival suppliers and some survival food you will find on the shelf at Walmart. If you have some time yourself, I would go check out the canned food isle, and look at the caloric value of things like beef stew, (Mylar) packaged soup mixes, and even Velveeta, which is in the same isle.
For this article I want to focus on Mylar bags, because I already covered buckets, including a cheap source of 6 gallon buckets. If you don’t know what Mylar food storage bags are, you have eaten food out of them for years. Mylar these days is being used in place of cans for everything from tuna (usually in that same Walmart isle) to potato chips. There is no mystery to Mylar. It has a metal layer embedded between the plastic, and that metal blocks air, light and liquid, which makes it different from regular plastic.
Mylar comes in different thicknesses, depending on the purpose and size of the bag. At some point I am going to get to “canning” using a very thick Mylar bag, but here we are talking about dry bulk food storage. The bags I purchased are apparently 4.4 mils thick, though the only site that seems to say that is Uline. This bag is 20 x 30 inches, and it is sold as both a 5 gallon and 6 gallon. The Ebay sellers seem to call them 5 gallon, because they advocate putting them inside 5 gallon buckets, apparently unaware that you can get 6 gallon buckets for the same price or cheap. And you don’t need Mylar bags inside of buckets. Modern plastic buckets are made of food grade high density poly, or HDPE, and the plastic is the most stable you can get.
Packages of 100 20 x 30 Mylar bags from Uline are $155, but I also found a deal on Amazon for 50 bags for $62.99. If you want fewer than that, or even more than that there are a number of people on Ebay selling 5, 10, and 20 packs with oxygen absorber packets for slightly higher overall cost, and even a few that sell them cheaper, as little as $100 per 100, in bulk.
You will also need at the very least oxygen absorbers, which I covered somewhat in the last food article. For these large 20 x 30 bags, the minimum I would use is the 2000cc oxygen absorber packets. If you go by 6 gallons as a volume, the actual cubic centimeters in the bag are well over 20,000, so if you figure that 10% of that space will be taken up by air when you pack loose material like beans and rice, and oxygen is roughly 21% of the atmosphere, 2000cc is well within the range of “just fine.” I have had both 6 gallon plastic buckets and these large Mylar bags suck in and look like they were vacuum packed, but you don’t need that. Nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and the other gas found in air are inert and won’t react with your food. Oxygen is the gas that destroys survival foods, and even plastic packaging. When you see “survival food” in Mylar, or even soups and other dry foods at regular supermarkets in Mylar, they don’t use use oxygen absorbers generally, because the packaging equipment is run inside a nitrogen pure environment, and no oxygen is allowed into the bags in the first place.
I buy my 2000cc absorbers from Amazon under the Oxy-Sorb name, $18.98 for 30 of them. The only thing is, they come in packs of 10 in a Foodsaver vac bag, so if you don’t have a Foodsaver to reclose the bag, get 10 buckets or bags ready, then close them all up at once. Oxygen absorbers go pretty crazy in open air and will be dead within hours. From what I have read, all of the large manufacturers of these absorbers ship in 10 packs for the 2000cc, so if you see a seller on Ebay selling 5 packs, that means that they opened them and repackaged them with a fresh “freshness tester” tab. See the pictures.
You will also need an electric heat sealer, unless you get the slightly more expensive zipper seal bags from that guy on Ebay. I prefer the heat sealer, because I have never met a zip lock that didn’t eventually fail. The sealer you need is called an impulse sealer, and the 12″ version comes with extra elements and teflon strips for under $30 on Ebay. These machines don’t have to wait to heat up. You just fill your bag, drop in your oxygen absorber, then press one side of the bag then the other. They don’t make a 20″ version, so the 12″ is the best bet for these big bags.
And yes, the bags are big, much bigger than a 6 gallon bucket and for a lot less money. I actually bought a pallet of those 6 gallon buckets from that guy on Ebay that I linked to in the first article, and that brought the cost down to about $6 a bucket, so I am used to putting 40 lbs. of beans into a bucket. The bags take 50 lbs. of beans or rice easily, with plenty of room to close the bags, and I think you could get at least another 10 lbs. in there if you wanted to fill them as full as you can. It was the same for nonfat dried milk. I was able to get 5 of those 4 lb. boxes from Walmart into one bag, and I could have gotten at least one more but I hadn’t bought one more for my test so I just closed the bag. The same was true for pasta and if you plan to do a first run of 10 bags (to match the pack of oxy absorbers), I would get extra to see how much you can get in.
Stacking these Mylar bags is a whole other story. They don’t stack well, plain and simple, so if you are going to designate a room to food storage, you will probably have to make (Illuminati) pyramids with the bags, then fill in between the peaks for what will be a disorganized mess, but a ton of food in the available space. I didn’t try this idea, because I still have buckets to fill and they stack great.
Other than the stacking though, I can’t say that I know of a reason to prefer buckets over bags. Rodents can chew and do chew right through HDPE buckets if they are vulnerable to that. The bags don’t seem to be more or less water/air tight, and I can’t say whether ten years from now thee Mylar will crumble, but my guess is no. At $1.50 or less each, I don’t see a downside to choosing Mylar bags over much more expensive buckets. My only other comment is to maybe keep some plastic tubs with lids on hand to dump the bags into as you need to open them. Bags don’t re-close easily, and they are somewhat unwieldly.
I can’t stress the importance of storing your own food, and making sure that you have access to water that doesn’t require an electricity source. It is such a mistake to think that as long as you have guns you can get anything else you need. Your neighbors don’t have any backup food either. Nobody does, and if you don’t either, don’t waste your time with “30 day supplies” from these food storage companies whose advertisements have so invaded our space. Take $500, even on a credit card, and go to Walmart. Buy cans of stews. Buy Walmart’s brand of Velveeta cheese, and canned tuna, turkey, SPAM, as well as dried beans, rice, flour, pasta, dried milk, soup mixes, drink mixes, oatmeal, cereal, and whatever else you know is going to last 10 years or more, not that you’ll store enough to last that long. Hopefully we are going to pull out of this, but the time looks to be growing short now on several fronts. Don’t leave yourself hanging out there with a stubborn assumption that everything is going to be fine. Most likely it isn’t.