Ever feel like it would be so much easier to do this “food storage thing” if you had a little more space? Somewhere to put all your food? But instead it feels like you’re living in this:
Hopefully you have a little more space than that. 🙂
But, seriously, if you want to store food (more than a couple of weeks’ worth), you need some space and a way to optimize that space.
When I first started building my food storage, I knew I needed space for it. I live in southern California which means that we do not have basements (often an ideal place to store food). Also, real estate is expensive here (as it is in a lot of places). My point is that I don’t have the luxury of a basement, root cellar, extra bedrooms, etc. While I’m not opposed to “Food Storage Furniture”, like end tables, I was hoping not to go that route. (But if you want to go that route, visit this website for a basic tutorial or this website for a designer tutorial.)
In my house, I have a “Harry Potter” closet under the stairs, and I decided to clean out all the other stuff under there and use that space. Around the same time, my third son told me he wanted that to be his bedroom. The funny thing was, he got his own room after his brother left for college, so I asked him why he would want to sleep under the stairs and give up his bedroom. He explained that he wanted BOTH spaces. He wanted to SLEEP under the stairs and keep his stuff in his bedroom. I told him he could have the “Harry Potter” bedroom, but I would use his former bedroom for my food storage. He opted to keep his bedroom, and now the majority of my food storage is under my stairs.
I’ll show you a picture, but, I’m warning you! It’s not very organized right now, so you’re going to see the real me. Behind closed doors. I hope you’ll still like me afterwards. I was seriously tempted to clean my closet before I showed it to you, but that wouldn’t truly be showing you my real life, real gal efforts, would it?
Okay, so here is the “real” me, messy closets and all!
You may be asking yourself, “Why did she show me that mess?” Well, I’ll tell ya! You don’t have to have the perfect organizational system to start storing food long term, but you do have to have somewhere to put it. And there are some important things to remember about keeping your food fresh and edible.
1. Food should be stored in a cool, dry, dark place to maximize shelf life. In other words, your garage probably doesn’t meet this criteria for long-term storage. If you have no where else to store your food, it’s back to my mantra: it’s better to store something than nothing. So, start anyway, BUT look for a longer term solution and remember that food will spoil faster when stored in hot temperatures. Generally, the cooler the room and the more ideal the conditions, the longer your food lasts.
2. Food should be easily accessible to rotate or to use in the event of an emergency. If your food is stored somewhere you can easily access, you are more likely to use it regularly (rotating it). As you use it, you buy food to replace what you used. Use the oldest food first, so your food is always fresh and within date.
3. Always store food in food grade packaging. Don’t dump your food (wheat, flour, etc.) into Home Depot orange buckets. They can be great around the house, but I don’t believe they are food grade buckets. (I’ll post more details about food grade packaging soon.)
And those are the basics. That’s it.
So, look around your house. Is there anywhere you can store some of those extra cans?
Do you have room above your kitchen cupboards, like this?
Or in the top of your closet like this?
Can you move some of those less used kitchen appliances and dishes to your garage like this to create extra storage? (Or your extra toilet paper, napkins, paper towels. Anything that can be safely stored in warm and cold temperatures.)
Are you using your vertical space as well as you can?
Can you repackage items into different containers to take advantage of vertical space?
Think of it like a big, giant Tetris game. You win when you fit the most stuff in your current storage space in a usable way.
My challenge to you is this: Think outside the box. What can you rearrange, re-purpose, or purge to create space for your food? Take action and do it! Make a little room. Buy a few extra cans of something you will eat and store it there.
Keep thinking, keep storing, and you will find solutions!