Firehouse Subs Pickle Buckets

Are you a prepper? If so, have you heard about the Firehouse Subs pickle buckets? If not, I’m here to give you the inside scoop! You can thank me in the comments. Just kidding, but I hope you are excited for the information in this article. 

Being a prepper, I am always looking for food grade buckets. However buying them even through Amazon can cost a small fortune for just three of them. That would be why I hadn’t purchased any yet. My budget is at cheap and free most of the time. I love being prepared, but that doesn’t mean I have an endless supply of money to throw at being a prepper either. The money tree is experiencing a drought. 

Recently I had come across someone mentioning that Firehouse Subs sells their food grade buckets for $2 each. Now that is an excellent deal! It had been on my list of things to check out, and made a stop in last week. 

Food grade buckets are important in prepping and even just food storage in general because they have a million uses. For me, I love the lids and how tight they seal. This keeps oxygen and any other contaminants out of the buckets, keeping foods safer and more secure. 

Food sealed in mylar bags can be stored anywhere and in traditional plastic buckets. However the general consensus among many preppers is to add that extra layer of protection by using food grade buckets. I agree with this because food is expensive and waste is just throwing money away. Do it right and do it right the first time around.  

These specific buckets are home to the Firehouse Subs pickles before being emptied, washed, and sold to the public. The problem here is these buckets smell like pickles! The car ride home was great because I could smell them. I love pickles, so it was a good smell. Then I got them home and opened the buckets. 

I love pickles, but oh my word. My office reeked of pickles. Nathan called it the pickle room for two straight days. He announced he was going into the pickle room when he needed something in my office. 

I washed the buckets with dish soap and even soaked them before thoroughly drying and allowing to sit out. They still smelled. I researched possible options for removing the smell so I can use them. I came across several options and picked what I thought would work best. 

Option 1

Let them sit out in the sun for a month or two and air out naturally after rinsing thoroughly with hot water. I live in Oregon where we have two seasons. August and the rainy season. Not exactly a viable option. Plus sunlight degrades plastic to cause it to become brittle and crack. I wasn’t a fan of this choice and I don’t have months to babysit buckets waiting for them to cease smelling of pickles. 

Option 2 

Baking soda and newspaper. Now this one I could work with! I have both of these easily available and it doesn’t break the bank. Fill the bucket with crumpled up newspaper and some baking soda and let it sit to absorb the smell for 1-2 weeks.

This is a very viable option in terms of availability and cost. There is a ton of availability and very little cost. I didn’t try this one personally, but it would be a good choice. If you have tried this specific method, I would love to hear your thoughts. 

Option 3

Coffee. This is the one that makes the most sense to me, and also had the shortest turnaround time for removing the smell. Think about visiting a perfume store or counter in a department store. Right next to the little paper or cardboard sample strips is usually a bowl of coffee beans. In between sampling perfumes, we smell the coffee beans to remove the previous smell, right? That is why this option made perfect sense to me, and I wanted to give this a try. 

The best option for this would be whole beans. However grounds work just fine as well. Work with what you have, and don’t spend anything extra. The only whole beans I had were from Black Rifle Coffee and a limited edition blend. I wasn’t using those just for a pickle smell! Instead I was able to find a can of cheap store brand grounds in the pantry, and that was perfect for this project. 

I didn’t measure this at all when putting them in the buckets. In all of the articles I read, there were no measurements listed in any. I went with enough to cover the bottom of each bucket. Once the buckets were sealed, I stacked them up in my office again to let them sit. 

The one big thing I did was flip them over each day. Day 1, sitting upright. Day 2, sitting upside down. Rotating this each day was helpful because I noticed the lids were the biggest source of the pickle smell. 

Once they sat for a week, I soaked them in hot water with the coffee grounds for about 4 hours, and then washed thoroughly and allowed to dry overnight. After airing out, they were good to go. There may still be a faint pickle smell, but even Nathan had to really look for it. Or sniff, I suppose. 

Tigger has inspected and approved the pickle buckets!


My favorite things about these buckets are: 

Price. At $2 per bucket, it is not breaking the bank to buy these. I will be buying more very soon too. But keep in mind that these are grabbed up quickly. It may be a toss up if they’ll have any when you go. Keep trying whenever you are in the area and have time to stop in to Firehouse Subs. I felt extremely lucky that I got three of them in one visit. 

The buckets are easy to open. Some food grade buckets are almost impossible to open. Like breaking into a jail cell would be easier than opening a plastic bucket. Even I could open these with minimal effort because of the lid design. 

Multiple uses. The buckets can be used for storing my food, and pet food inside as well. I have a bunch of individual freeze dried meals that came in a box or are loose that will be going in one of these buckets. I’m a stickler for organization, and this is a perfect solution! 

25 pounds of cat food fits perfectly into a bucket!

Last week I had a massive ant attack in my house. Cue the swearing here. Because they went after Tigger’s food, which was kept in a really old cat litter bucket, with a sketchy lid. It was easy for the ants to get in, and let me tell you, they did! After an emergency trip to Costco, his food is now kept in a pickle bucket. The ants aren’t getting his food again. That was a very costly mistake for me. Side note, an entire bag of cat food from Costco (25 pounds) will easily fit into the pickle bucket, and it is perfect. 

Have you used these buckets? If you have, I would love to hear about the uses you’ve found for them so I can learn more and put them to even better use around the house. 


  • Kristen

    This is really interesting. I am trying to prep more things for longtime storage and usage and never really thought about using something like the pickle buckets. (And I know what you mean about ants…argh! We seem to get some every year.)
    Pinning this for future reference for myself.

    • Doris Jean

      I have NEVER thought about using these buckets…could it be because I live in Brooklyn, NY??lol. This was definitely an informative article for me and can think of so many ways I can use these prepping buckets!

    • The Prepping Wife

      They are so perfect for pet food! I love that I can label the lid with a sharpie if needed as well, and then stack them up in my office or anywhere in the house to fit easily. It is such a wonderful and inexpensive prep and addition to my home organization.

  • Donna Fraser

    We don’t have that company in Ontario – but we DO have similar sources , including Bulk Barn , various Grocery Stores, and yes, pizza and Submarine places that all sell or even give away their food grade buckets. Myself, I prefer the farmers’ store, TSC , who sell the larger buckets for $5 each, as they are meant to last a long time. 🙂

    • The Prepping Wife

      This I didn’t know, Stephani! From everything I’ve read, they have some sort of a recycling plan in place and do not sell to the public. Good to know that is outdated information. I’ll check into my local store.

      What I like about Firehouse Subs and their buckets is the fact the $2 goes into a community fund to benefit local fire houses, so the money is reinvested in the community. That makes it worthwhile for me, because I am helping them support a great cause while adding to my preps at the same time. It is a win/win!

  • Stormi

    I learned a lot from this post! I didn’t realize food grade buckets were even a thing, much less that they’re expensive or some like Firehouse Subs sells them after use. Thanks for sharing!

    • The Prepping Wife

      Food grade buckets are very different from the standard buckets you can buy at a hardware or home improvement store. When it comes to prepping, I’m always talking about food safety, and these buckets are a wonderful addition to that!

  • Love, Auntie

    This post was fantastic! I didn’t know that about coffee beans, and that’s a great tip about flipping the container. Thanks! Love the feline star of the pictures! ha ha.

    • The Prepping Wife

      Tigger is the star in several of my posts! He’s so nosy and really loves to be involved. So I just run with it, otherwise I would spend my time trying to kick him out of my projects. He is a curious little munchkin.

      • Snehal

        I love this! We have bought so many fish food packs all at once. (From sale 🤭) I think all of the fish food will fit into this bucket. I’ll have to checkout! 😃

  • Julia

    I haven’t heard of Firehouse Subs, and had to google to find out if we have them in the area. We do! It’s not too far from where I live, but I rarely drive in that direction. I’ll check them out, but I won’t be able to visit them often.

    It’s nice to learn about the ways of getting rid of a stubborn smell. I bet these methods can be handy in many situations – not only to remove pickle smell from the Firehouse Subs Pickle Buckets.

    Thanks for sharing your wisdom and offering a practical solution for being neat and organized on a modest budget.

    All the best,

    ~ Julia

  • Alexandra

    That is pretty creative and, yes you save money. But all I could think of is how much work it is when you are already so super busy trying to keep everybody’s life on schedule in the family! I think if I filled them with the coffee beans I would actually forget about them! However, it would get rid of the smell, I suppose!

    • The Prepping Wife

      Forgetting about them is actually not a bad thing. Lol. The longer the beans are in there, the more smell is absorbed.

  • Smita

    That’s a great deal – guess it makes up for the work required in getting the smell out! This was an interesting (and new!) topic for me – I’d never heard of/ thought of using something like this. Thanks for sharing!

  • The Sunny Side Lifestyle Co.

    I love a good bargain and this definitely qualifies! Ingenious to use a delicious household ingredient, coffee, to remove the pickle smell. Now you have a new bucket to use for whatever you may need. I wonder if using coffee grounds after they came out of the coffee maker would work too?

    • The Prepping Wife

      I haven’t tried used grounds, but other people have and they say it doesn’t work the same way. Because the coffee grounds absorb the smell, not mask it.

  • Casey

    I honestly never would have thought to use pickle buckets for anything. This is great! I especially love the idea of using it for cat food. It would take up a lot less space than having the giant bag of cat food just lying around. Great idea!


  • Melanie williams

    Haha what a great way to use a bunch of buckets. I love how this has upcycled something rather than it going into waste xx

    • The Prepping Wife

      These buckets are such an inexpensive way to store pet food! I’m recommending it to everyone I know too. Pet food is expensive, so any kind of waste is a big deal. Having an inexpensive option to save on that waste is amazing.

  • Debra Roberts

    Well, look at that!!! Genius! I can think of 100 uses for these and I love the lid looks like it’d be easy to take on and off. We have 4 Savannah cats and lots of kitty litter and this would be very manageable for emptying the bagged litter into for better stacking and ease of use too!

  • Scott J DeNicola

    I can think of many uses for these pickle barrels including storing the dog food I need for 4 dogs. They eat a lot and traditional Tupperware containers are not large enough and cost a small fortune. This is a great alternative to those expensive versions. As for the smell, my initial thought was baking soda but coffee is a really great idea. I think I could use this tip elsewhere as well.

  • Nicole Anderson | Camping for Women

    How practical and useful are these buckets? I could think of a million uses for all sorts of things that we have around our home. OK, the process you have to go through (irrespective of the preferred method) may not be that convenient, but can anyone really complain if we are talking about $2? So pleased you shared this.

  • Kelly Martin

    These buckets would be really useful for storing food and at only $2 each they’re a great bargain. I’ll have to try and find some buckets like these to use at home.

  • Norma

    It’s the first time I hear or read about the Firehouse Subs pickle buckets. They are great to keep food and to be prepared in case of an emergency.

  • daphne takahashi

    What great ideas for taking away the smell of containers! I tried to use some but the smell of previous products was so strong that i ended up not using them. I will try this ideas! Thanks for sharing!

  • Lyosha

    Looks awesome! Storing dog food is a huge issue for us, we are looking for better options. Prepping is useful too from time to time (my family can’t fully relate to prepping)

  • Stephanie S.

    Great post, and ideas for the use of these buckets. I have so many storage bins at the moment. I think this would come in handy to store pet food away in. These would definitely come in handy.

  • Ivana Mearns

    All your blog post are so interesting and informative. I had no idea firehouse subs even existed so I really enjoyed reading this article. Thanks so much for sharing.

  • Britt K

    This is a great find! I had heard about the value of food-grade buckets but couldn’t justify the cost, however, at $2/bucket, why not? We have been stocking up on pet food recently as we found that as soon as the coronavirus fears hit, it was hard to find the food that our one dog needs (due to allergies) and this looks like the PERFECT option for storing their extra food safely! Thank you!

  • Stella

    I just love it how you researched and found ways to get rid of the smell! Prepping or not, these buckets seem great to have around for protecting food. We have just moved so I don’t have a lot of extra items for storing but may do in the future.

  • Shikha Sharma

    I have read many of your blog posts and I like the way you write information. There is deep information about things in your post. So, your posts have always been enlightening for me. This post of yours is also as good as the other posts.

  • Cory Caldwell

    Hello, I just bought three buckets from Firehouse subs. I just wondered if you can use left over coffee grounds.

    • The Prepping Wife

      Great question, Cory! The answer is, yes you can. Although they made need to sit inside the bucket longer than whole beans, and may not absorb as much of the smell, you can still use them. Just be extra patient, and also make sure they are fully dried grounds, otherwise they may mold inside the bucket.

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