Bulk grains are a classic preparedness storage food because they have great shelf life. Whether you're buying quinoa, rice or other gluten free grains, or stocking up on wheat berries for delicious homemade bread, buying bulk grain is a great way to save money, too.
Typically, “bulk grains” refers to whole grains that have not been cracked or ground, but sometimes companies include flours and cereals. Food prices are only likely to increase, so stocking up your pantry now makes sense.
Where to Buy Bulk Grain
Nuts.com has bulk organic grains, legumes, granola, and many other dry goods. Many of their bulk items are available in one pound bags, so you can try a small amount first.
Country Life Natural Foods has a wide variety of bulk grains. Many of their grains come in 10, 25, or 50 pound bags, so you may want to split an order with friends. They have Bronze Chief red wheat berries and Prairie Gold white wheat berries.
Use coupon code “COMMONSENSE10” at checkout to save 10% on your Country Life Natural Foods order.
Azure Standard has an 8.5% shipping charge, monthly drop offs at predetermined locations around the U.S. For orders shipped on Azure’s standard truck routes, a $5 handling fee is charged for orders under $50. They also stock fresh foods and other items.
Amazon.com does carry bulk grains, but their prices may be higher than other merchants. Compare pricing before you buy.
Web Restaurant Store caters to the food service market, but regular folks can still buy from them. Most bulk grain products come in 25 pounds bags.
You may also be able to find bulk food stores near you that carry grains and cereals. Mennonites and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints operate bulk food stores in many areas that are open to the general public. If you can find a local source you can skip shipping costs.
How to Store Bulk Grains
Grain and other dry goods keep best cool and dry, between 45 and 65 ℉, in tightly sealed containers. Keep your grains away from bright lights and heat sources.
We use Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers placed inside of 5 gallon plastic buckets. Mylar protects grains from oxygen and moisture, while the bucket protects grains from mice. Wheat berries stored this way will last up to 25 years.
You can also store bulk grains in #10 cans, or directly in plastic buckets. #10 cans provide a wheat berry shelf life up to 30 years. Even “airtight” plastic buckets allow some air in over time, but in cool, dry conditions, wheat berries in buckets may last up to 20 years.
For smaller quantities, I vacuum seal grains in five pound increments. No air = no bugs. Please do take steps to prevent infestation – it is not pleasant. I lost the first bulk grains that I ever purchased to weevils.
For storing bulk grains we recommend the following items:
- 5 Gallon Storage Round Buckets + Gamma Lids – The gamma lids are the bomb for easy opening and closing of 5 or 6 gallon round buckets
- Mylar Storage Bags – block sunlight, are airtight and work well with oxygen absorbers
- Oxygen Absorbers – add them to Mylar bags and sealed 5 or 6 gallon buckets
- Vacuum Sealer
If you plan on storing your grains in the garage or a shed, set your containers on boards so they won't be in direct contact with concrete or the ground.
Keeping the Bugs Out of Your Food Storage
Sorry, but it's true: Almost all wheat has tiny insect eggs that – if left untreated – will eventually hatch into insects that will eat you out of your food supply.
When storing bulk grain and other dried foods, you will need to keep the oxygen out to keep the insects from growing.
Store your grain in airtight containers to keep the insects out, and take steps to kill the bugs already in your grain. There are several ways to kill insect eggs.
Adding oxygen absorbers to your bulk food storage extends shelf-life, since oxygen leads to rancidity. No oxygen = no oxidation. Without oxygen, live insects, larva, and eggs will die.
Make sure to select the right size for your container.
- 1 Quart Bag – 100cc oxygen absorber
- 1 Gallon bags = 1-2 300 cc oxygen absorbers
- 2 Gallon Bag = 2-500cc oxygen absorbers or 1-1000cc oxygen absorber
- 5 gallon bags = 5-7 300cc oxygen absorbers or 1 2000cc oxygen absorber
When storing bulk grain, keeping it in your freezer will kill all the live insects. Unfortunately, it won't kill the eggs.
To get the eggs, too, freeze your wheat for 48 hours, and then leave it out at room temperature for 30 days. Then refreeze your wheat. This should kill any insects that have hatched since the last freeze.
Food grade diatomaceous earth won't hurt people or animals who ingest it, but it shreds insect bellies. They die and shrivel up, leaving nothing but a little extra protein in your bulk grain.
This is a safe, simple and organic way to get rid of bugs when storing bulk grain. Diatomaceous earth is also used in small amounts by some people as an internal parasite cleanse.
For each 5-gallon container, put in one and one fourth cup of diatomaceous earth. Then seal the container and roll it around until the dust is evenly distributed.
Be careful not to breath the dust, as it can irritate your lungs and airways.
Before storing bulk grain, first fill most of your 5-gallon container and place a section of a brown paper bag on the grain. On top of that, set one fourth of a pound of dry ice. Press the lid gently down on the container so that some of the air can escape.
When the dry ice has completely evaporated, remove the brown paper and seal the container. The carbon dioxide released from the dry ice should kill all animal life in the container.
Is bulk grain cheaper?
It is generally much less expensive to buy your grain in bulk and repack it yourself in food grade buckets. For extended storage, you want grain with a moisture content of 10% or less.
Most quality bulk food suppliers dry their grains properly for extended shelf life. (They don't want their products to go bad any more than you do.)
Freshly threshed “field grade” grain has a moisture content of 14-16%, and must be dried for longer storage.
Grinding Grain at Home
Grinding bulk grain for flour or grinding your own grits or cornmeal, requires a home grain mill.
People powered grain mills tend to be the least expensive. See “ Comparison of Manual Grain Mills” for a review of popular mill options.
Nutrimill is one of the top brands of powered grain mills. They currently have three different mills, the Classic, the Plus, and the Harvest. You can view a full comparison and review of the mills at “Nutrimill Grain Mill (Which one should I get?)“.
I've had a Nutrimill Classic for over 10 years. It has stainless steel milling heads to create flour from a wide range of grains and beans, including dent corn.
The Nutrimill Plus is a little quieter and a little more compact for storage. (The entire unit packs into the flour out put canister.) The Harvest grain mill uses milling stones, and has the most compact footprint of the three.
Stocking Up Makes Sense
I originally wrote this back in 2011 after organizing a very large bulk grain order, directly from a mill. This is a great option if you have a large group that you can pull together for a grain buy, but it's a lot of work. (We ordered over 2000 pounds of grain.)
Whole grains store better than flour (especially whole grain flour), so bulk grain is the way to go if you want to stock up. Food prices keep creeping up (and sometimes leaping up), so long term food storage can be a good investment.
- Vacuum Sealers – What You Need to Know Before You Buy
- Never Buy Bread Again – The Bread Book for Beginning Bakers
- Foods to Stock Up On – For Daily Use or Emergencies
Originally published July 2011, last updated 2021.