Bulk Rice Storage Tips to Prevent Food Waste

by Reader Contributors

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Buying rice in bulk won’t save you money if you lose it to bugs. Use these bulk rice storage tips to protect your rice and your savings.

Dear Dollar Stretcher,
Our family likes organic wild rice. We usually order it online. Since we use a lot, it makes sense for us to buy larger quantities, but I’m concerned with bugs. The least frugal thing would be to have to throw out 50 pounds of organic rice! So what’s the best way to store bulk amounts of rice?

Bulk Rice Storage Tips to Keep Bugs Out?

We asked our savvy frugal readers for their most effective bulk rice storage tips. They are pros both at bulk shopping and food storage methods that can reduce food waste. One of their solutions will surely work to keep bugs out of your rice.

Divide Rice into Smaller Amounts Instead of Storing in Bulk

Divide the rice into smaller bags that can be permanently sealed with food sealer equipment purchased from Walmart. Put the bags into a food grade storage bin. Line the bottom of the bin with a towel to absorb any moisture that may unexpectedly accumulate. Store the rice in a cool, dry place.
Lisa (via Facebook)

Use Bay Leaves for Bulk Rice Storage

As a survivor of a flour bug infestation, I have found the best way to avoid getting them is to store my rice in empty gallon-sized pretzel jugs. They are the kind used by Utz® and are made with clear, heavy duty plastic. I get mine on my local Freecycle just by asking for them. They have saved me a bundle and I have no more flour bugs. I also have bay leaves scattered on my shelves in my spice cabinet, which helps to keep them away.
Bea in NJ

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Freeze Rice First

I have had problems with bugs in my house that got into the house via some rice and bird seed we purchased. Thankfully we’ve been able to get rid of them, but since then, all of my rice and other grains get stored in the freezer. If you have a fairly big freezer, you should be able to clear out the bottom section in an upright or a corner in a chest freezer to fit a bulk sized bag. I simply take out enough for a meal or two in the morning and leave it on the counter for the day, so it’s not cold when it comes time to cook.

If you don’t have a freezer, then be sure the rice is kept in an airtight container. This may not help if the source of the bugs is the rice itself, but it will keep any other bugs out of the rice. If you live in a climate with a cold winter, to save freezer space, you could put the rice in an airtight container and put it outside in a safe place for a few days before bringing it in the house.

Store in Food-Grade Buckets

Our grocery bakery gives away the food-grade buckets with lids that are used for frosting. We call ahead so they know we are coming. I thoroughly wash and dry the buckets and then fill them up. I have a stack of them in my basement for rice, flour, sugar, homemade dishwasher soap, etc. I have a stack in the garage with bird seed, pet food, grass seed, and anything I want to keep rodent-free. I write on them with dry erase markers. Then, I can change the label when the contents change.

Bulk Rice Storage the Japanese Way

The traditional Japanese way is to store rice with a few dried hot red peppers (togarashi) to keep bugs out.
Denise in Japan

Clean, Empty Soda Bottles Work Great

I use empty two- or three-liter soda bottles for bulk storage. They are durable and approved for food. You may add an oxygen absorber for longer storage.
Elaine from PA

Freezing Is Key

You need to freeze the rice for about a week and then look for plastic food grade storage bins.

Freezing the rice is key. It does two things:

  1. It freezes and destroys any possible insect eggs.
  2. It dries out the rice.

You need to freeze it for an extended amount of time because many insects can withstand a short freeze.

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Popcorn Tins Come in Handy

We buy rice and a few other things in bulk. Rice in 25- to 50-pound bags can be a nuisance to handle and store. Our best storage for these is in those large popcorn tins we get at Christmas. They stack well. Be sure the top fits very snugly. As an extra precaution, place a plastic bag over the top of the container before putting on the lid. We have not gotten bugs in our rice.
JD in St. Louis

No More Bug Issues

When I buy bulk rice, I put it in airtight containers with bay leaves. Since I have been doing this, I haven’t had bug issues. I live in Hawaii where it seems the insects love our dry goods as much as we do, and it works for me.

Get a FoodSaver®

Get a FoodSaver®! You can seal rice, beans, pasta, etc. in half-gallon jars, and the food lasts forever, as long as the jar stays sealed. I have sealed food items from years ago, and the food is just as fresh now as when it was sealed.

A Prepper How-To

I read in a prepper’s how-to book that you can take dried rice and store it in cleaned-out two-liter soda bottles. Of course, you put the lid on the bottle. The plastic is heavy, and of course, it will prevent bugs. However, if you buy huge bulk amounts, it may take a long time to collect and fill enough bottles to hold it all!

Consider Dry Canning for Long Term Storage

I have dry canned rice in my oven. It’s very easy to do and not limited to just rice, but anything with less than 10% moisture content. I have done only rice, and I used not only quart canning jars, but also spaghetti sauce jars. They sealed perfectly and are still sealed two years later. Any that do not seal can be used first. The following websites will be useful.

Store with Salt

When living overseas, I learned to store rice by layering a few inches of rice and then a generous handful of salt. It kills the bugs and can be easily rinsed or sifted out.

Reviewed January 2022

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