Introduction: Survival Food Storage - the Plastic Bottle

Picture of Survival Food Storage - the Plastic Bottle

Simple. Easy. Effective.

Why a plastic bottle? Big deal, it's food in a bottle. Here is why this is important!

True Story: I prepare for hurricane season every year. One year, my hurricane storage box flooded due to a leak in one of my gallons of water. What I found many weeks later, was a nice fermented soup of rice, beans and other dry goods. MMMMMM MMMMMMM Good!

So, a few things this simple idea does:

-Keeps food dry.

-Keeps insects out.

-Easy to carry if on the move from zombies.

-Easy to measure.

-Can be hidden (buried) for later.

-Dual purpose measuring cup and storage

Step 1: Collect Materials

Picture of Collect Materials


  • Marker
  • Measuring cup
  • Bottle w/lid
  • Dry goods

There are many different types of bottles you can use, choose one based on the size needed and how it will fit into your storage or pack. The "square" Fiji bottles stack quite nicely if space is an issue.

Step 2: Measure and Add

Picture of Measure and Add

If you require super accurate measurements, use water to mark off each bottle at the 1 cup line. Fill and mark you bottle at 1 cup intervals to the top. This will allow you to measure out your dry goods by what you need AND when empty, the bottle can also measure other goods or water.

If you are not looking for uber accurate, just use your measuring cup to measure out your dry goods at 1 cup intervals.

Step 3: How to Cook

Picture of How to Cook

Now that your goods are in the nice dry and safe container, you will need to know how to cook it later on. I hope you didn't toss the bag it came in, because you can simply tape the product information to the bottle.

Alternatively, you can simply write the ratio of goods-to-water on the side.

And there you have it, a dual purpose measuring cup and dry goods storage. So as you crawl through the swamp with mutated gophers chasing you, rest assured your food is dry.


Mr. Grumpus (author)2016-05-04

I dig it.

My Grandfather grew up during the Great Depression in Florida and did essentially the same thing with empty 1gal milk jugs. He'd keep a rotating stock of dried beans, rice, grains, and other goods as well as canned items to cover him and my Grandmother for a year or take care of the whole family in an emergency for a few months.

He wasn't a survivalist or a "prepper." Having lived through extreme economic hardships, the Pacific in WWII, and raising a family, he knew the value of repurposing everyday items and being prepared for the worst of times while still enjoying the best.

bfgair (author)2015-04-02

CAUTION!!!! DO NOT STORE BROWN RICE!!! as it WILL go rancid in a very short amount of time about a year is the limit on brown rice. White rice will keep if not exposed to air for 25 - 30 years.

silkee (author)bfgair2015-04-09

Because, my friends, white rice has very little nutritional value. I think this idea would be great to have several months worth of food and to constantly use and replenish it.

wpace (author)silkee2016-03-31

This instructable just came up again. I think it is worth mentioning that white rice has a lot of nutritional value. The fiber is gone, yes, but to say white rice has very little nutritional value is simply false. In a survival situation you will need protien and carbohydrates. White rice has both in spades. You will need to supplement to get your vitamins but due to the fact that you can store white rice for 30-40 years if done correctly and it is packed with carbs and protein it makes an excellent survival food for you hurricane box.

Not-Dead Undead (author)wpace2016-03-31

Yeah, Lots of carbs and not too bad protein.

BautistaU (author)2016-03-13

How long does the food last?

Its been a year and its still fine. By keeping it dry and low oxygen (if you put in the absorbents) dry goods can last for quite some time. I don't know the full shelf life as I usually rotate yearly or bi-yearly.

thebiggourdhead (author)2016-03-31

I use 2 liter bottles with the addition of a small oxygen absorber for long term storage.

Works great.

dsantil71 (author)2015-05-19

Mason jars wrapped with cheap cut up mouse pads. Glass is impermeable, does not off gas, the mouse pads are made of neoprene which will cushion & protect the glass, block out light & heat. The mouse pads can be rubber banded or glued to the jars. Just a thought.

ikovalchuk (author)2015-04-09

In some of the cases they sell buckwheat, rice and other grains with moth larvae! In normal life you'd just throw such food out, but if you're surviving in hurricane that's bad. So, in order to protect the stored food some people suggest adding some salt on top of the bottle, just under the cap.

silkee (author)2015-04-09

My understanding is that plastic is gas permeable, and that is what lets in long term destruction. I believe mylar is the way to go if you want longer term packaging. Buy mylar bags, include oxygen absorbers and seal with a home iron over a ridged metal doorway threshhold (makes multi seals). But as stated, you have to use all the contents at once when opened.

Quester-59 (author)2015-04-02

House Light & Sun Light can cause all sorts of problems with your Stored Foods. Did you Know that UV light is Good for Killing off Germs found in Stored Foods or that bottle of Wheat or Oat Flour Can appear Fine one day & left in the sunlight, The next day could be full of Freshly hatched Bugs ?!

In Other words, spend some time & Spray Paint or glue Paper over the bottle to keep the sunlight out.

aattura1 (author)Quester-592015-04-03

I have heard that adding bay leaves to your flour stash will keep the weevils away. I tried doing that -- left one flour bag (inside a metal container) with no Bay leaves -- placed Bay Leaves into a second bag of flour (in a similar metal container). Bag 1 ended up with weevils -- bag 2 (with the Bay Leaves) -- none.

silkee (author)aattura12015-04-09

Weevils and moths have plagued me all my days. When you bring home your flour or grain, put them in the freezer for a week and all the insect eggs that are in them will be killed. Your grains/flour are now fairly safe... unless the dreaded things manage to lay while it is in your home !!!!

MichaelAtOz (author)2015-04-08

You could club the mutated gopher with the full bottle ;)

fred3655 (author)2015-03-31

What about displacing Oxygen with Carbon Dioxide gas, just shooting some in there? If plastic is not a true vapor lock, probably better to get clear beer or soda bottles and a capper.

marhar (author)fred36552015-04-02

I read an interesting idea in another instructable... drop a small piece of dry ice in whatever container, and when it sublimates back to a gas it will displace the other gasses.

IstvánS (author)marhar2015-04-08

Just make sure you don't seal it back up before the dry ice sublimates completely, or you'll likely have beans all over the place, and possibly lose an eye or two!

kidharris (author)marhar2015-04-03

interesting thought

Not-Dead Undead (author)fred36552015-04-05

I thought about this, but I'm not sure why it would not be a good vapor lock as someone else said. I feel like if it can hold liquids in, why not keep them out? I read that this plastic is actually a pretty good seal. Anyway, still a good idea, sure contents might matter.

kidharris (author)2015-04-03

david.lister.1671 Huh? These bottles are "purpose made resealable plastic food containers". Where did you learn this snobby rude behavior?

kidharris (author)kidharris2015-04-03


"This seems to me like trying to re-invent the wheel..."

Actually, it's more like recycling the wheel

kidharris (author)2015-04-03

I tried this once with sugar. Washed and dried a large clear juice bottle in sunlight to kill bacteria. Stored sugar in it. After a year the sugar had turned into a hard sugar cube inside the bottle. After 5 years I used the sugar and it was ok, but sugar is hard to spoil. Turns out that some plastics absorb water, and are permeable to oxygen or water vapor, either one can promote food spoilage. This rules out long term storage unless you are certain of the plastics properties. BPA free should also be a consideration. Short term camping/hiking or regular daily use is fine.

chrisnotap (author)2015-04-03

this is true, but why not repurpose instead of spending money for something you already have in plentiful amounts? Just sayin.

taur561 (author)2015-04-03

What about placing any food into a plastic bag and vacuum sealing . That is vacuuming out all the air which could sustain organic life and sealing it at the same time . Prevents damp and air getting it which could cause bacterial growth of any kind . You then pack all the vacuum product into a vermin proof box .

chrisnotap (author)taur5612015-04-03

once the vacuum bags are open, you have to use it all, with bottles it can be resealed.

david.lister.1671 (author)2015-04-02

What backward uncivilised corner of the planet do you people live in?

Don't you have purpose made resealable plastic food containers in your country?

This seems to me like trying to re-invent the wheel...

haopengyou (author)2015-04-02

You can fill the bottles with 1 cup of water, turn the bottle upside and make the 1 cup mark. that way, as you are pouring things out of the bottle you can easily see when you have poured 1 cup out.

haopengyou (author)2015-04-02

Does plastic give off gasses over time? Also, with some things, it might be helpful to paint the bottles a dark color before they are used for storage - things that are affected by light.

Quester-59 (author)2015-04-02

I forgot one other item you might try, OXYGEN absorber Packs added to any & all Seed or Nut Items, Help prevent Rot from Humid conditions. Find these Packs at most Prep Dealers on line. As well as Homemade DIY Shops that sell Food prep Items. Good Luck.

billbillt (author)2015-04-02

Great ideas!!... Got my vote.... Only thing to me is this zombie crap has been worn out...

bzeng (author)billbillt2015-04-02

I never get tired of zombies :D

J2SARET (author)2015-04-02

Dang the great ideas are simple and so obvious in hindsight!

bd5 (author)J2SARET2015-04-02

Everything you said, I 2nd! Simple and clever! Great practical idea! One which I hope you guys never have to use, but if you do... you're ready!

Rhonda Chase Design (author)2015-04-02

Plastic is great if you're storing the containers someplace free of critters. Only glass and metal will keep rats out. They even chew through those super heavy duty storage bins. I learned that the hard way. That being said - nice convenient storage that I could even load into my dogs' packs when we have to flee zombies.

ashleyjlong (author)2015-04-02

Nice idea with a lot of practical applications. I had my earthquake kit water leak out in the back of my car. Some of these sealing suggestions people have brought up might be a good fix for that too!

chabias (author)2015-04-02

Marking the bottles is an excellent idea. For my rice, etc. I usually scan and print the cooking directions, then tape to the bottle. This would be easier, but I'd still apply tape to keep the marker from eventually wearing off. I never considered marking my water bottles. Got my vote!

j1shalack (author)2015-04-02

Great info. May I suggest covering your markings with tape, to prevent smudging or erasure from any rubbing. Square bottles do stack better and are easier to write on. I store my dry goods (that come in bags) in large plastic containers as I find it easier to portion out, buy in bulk, and protect from leakage, if the bag should get a hole.

I do have a aversion for Fiji water bottles, however.

This will explain:

andrej (author)2015-04-02

Easy, comfortable and insects-free method. I used to store a lot of rice in mineral water bottles when the rice price doubled after my country become part of EU.

baudeagle (author)2015-03-21

I saw something similar before, but they added oxygen adsorbing packets to each bottle.

spark master (author)baudeagle2015-04-02

iron filings in a semi permeable packet, good idea, (think iron filings in a homemade tea bag, or coffee filter)

Yeah, I thought about it but didn't think it was needed. Maybe that option would come into play for other goods.

spark master (author)2015-04-02

This is a great instructable. Simple doable "a la minute", with whatchagot. Peanut butter and other wide mouth jars are great as well. Peanut allergies are real, so be thoughtful of what kind of jars you use.

You can make simple one-way valve with a piece of electricians tape and a piece of plastic bag, use a simple food hand vacuum pump, (or look for the instructable for the conversion of an air pump to vacuum pump). Use real glass jars with metal lids for best results, (to work at all). If you have a seal a meal type machine with the tube attachment, you can buy a mason jar lid attachment, it allows you you to use a mason jar and remove the air w/o heat. Of course once done w/o power you can only reseal, not vacuum, but it will keep critters and water out.

The hand vacuum system DOES NOT let you avoid the heat processing/canning of food to store long term, it allows you to store dry stuff nicely.

sandra.r.lynch (author)2015-03-25

Brilliant idea!

SparkySolar (author)2015-03-24

Will not keep mice out

dflynn5 (author)2015-03-23

Truly excellent suggestion. Thanks for sharing!!!

b15h0p32123 (author)2015-03-23

Plastic is not a vapor barrier, just a warning to any preppers out there, but still a good idea for short term storage! Thank you for the Instructable it was very well presented! :)

Apature (author)2015-03-22

I would advise you dry out the content you are putting in the bottle, also clean out the bottle with antiseptics so there is no bacteria and water

sickdog74 (author)2015-03-22

So simple, yet brilliant!

kariswg1 (author)2015-03-22

Great Idea overall....How about using shrink wrap (used for packaging) to seal the bottles, or even the larger Heat Shrink tubing (used for electronics) over the caps?

About This Instructable




Bio: I am a Biologist by training, a zombie prepper in my spare time. Plus, I like to be outdoors.
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