My Foray Into Food Storage

A regular gal learning about Food Storage, Home Cooking, Canning, Gardening, and more!

Where EXACTLY Am I Supposed To Put All This Stuff?

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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:

Dollhouse

Or this:

Japanese Sleeping Pod

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.)

Designer Food Storage End Table

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!

Harry Potter Food Storage Closet

Harry Potter Food Storage Closet from the outside.

Harry Potter Food Storage Closet

Harry Potter Food Storage Closet just past the coats. Yes, I know it’s messy! But, life is messy!

Harry Potter Food Storage Closet

Harry Potter Food Storage Closet around the bend. This closet goes underneath the landing on my staircase, so there’s quite a bit of space as you turn the “corner” after the bookcase.

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?

Many new home builders leave space between the top of kitchen cupboards and the ceiling.  In my house, I can put cans on top of my cupboards and you don't even see them!  Of course, I need a tall stool to get them down, but it's not too difficult, and it's inside my house!

Many new home builders leave space between the top of kitchen cupboards and the ceiling. In my house, I can put cans on top of my cupboards and you don’t even see them! Of course, I need a tall stool to get them down, but it’s not too difficult, and it’s inside my house!

Or in the top of your closet like this?

This is the top of my master bedroom closet. I can slip some boxes of #10 cans for easy storage without moving anything else!

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.)

I consolidated some of my kitchen appliances and serving dishes to free up a cupboard which I use to store extra items I use regularly.

I consolidated some of my kitchen appliances and serving dishes to free up a cupboard which I use to store extra items I use regularly. Right now, I also store my waterbath canner in this cupboard, but I move it around at different times depending on what I need to store. I removed it for this picture.

Are you using your vertical space as well as you can? 

I've used Tupperware (and other brand) containers to maximize the vertical space in my pantry.  I have rice, extra sugar (which is behind the four stacked containers), extra bred flour, oil, and more in this cupboard.

I’ve used Tupperware (and other brand) containers to maximize the vertical space in my pantry. I have rice, extra sugar (which is behind the four stacked containers), extra bred flour, oil, and more in this cupboard.  The tall containers on the right hand side are actually pet food containers.  They were the perfect size for this cupboard, they are food grade plastic, and they were so much cheaper and larger than I could find.  A Bed, Bath, and Beyond employee recommended them, and they are AWESOME!

Can you repackage items into different containers to take advantage of vertical space?

I use canning jars to store items in my baking cupboard.  I found some awesome 1 gallon ones which I LOVE!!

I use canning jars to store items in my baking cupboard. I found some awesome 1 gallon ones which I LOVE!!

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.

Food Storage Tetris, Anyone?

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!

Do you have any space solutions you can share with my readers?  If so, please comment below!

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Author: Laurie Nguyen

I am a happily married, stay at home mom with four sons, ages 24, 22, 18, and 14. I'm not a professional blogger, and I'm certainly not a foodie or a chef. But I like food, so I think I'm qualified to write about my own life experience with food. Want to be a little more prepared for the unexpected? Check out my Food Storage Blog, http://forayintofoodstorage.com. Have a question about Food Storage? Email me: forayintofoodstorage@gmail.com.

12 thoughts on “Where EXACTLY Am I Supposed To Put All This Stuff?

  1. One family we know has four elementary age children and lives in a small two bedroom apartment. They built a curtain along the length of one wall in their dining room and put shelving behind the curtain. Full of food.

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  2. I just found your blog while reading about family preparedness and what others are doing. I saw the Harry Potter closet-which is so cool and is really an ideal place to make a fake wall panel! we live in an apartment and storage is always one of our concerns. we do hope to relocate away from the city this year, so we pray that our plans will succeed.

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    • Thanks for reading my blog and for taking the time to comment!

      It can be very difficult to find a place for your preparedness items in an apartment, so I understand your desire to move away from the city. Good luck!

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      • We’re definitely moving so we can be more self resilient and build a home. All our lives we’ve been designing homes for a profession and I was often frustrated how we can never live in those types of homes and high rise condos. When we find our place, it will have some land and a very flexible house which we will modify to our heart’s desires (and modified to address our concerns about the world of course 😀 )

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  3. Thank you for following me and wish you best of luck on finding room for your food:)

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  4. Do you have a yard? If so, try getting some small PVC Pipes one end with a screw top and the length you need and cut the rest, then pack one PVC with food, another with Toilet paper etc… then burry it in the ground away from falling debris. if you live in the city, burry it outside of the city… Food for thought…

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  5. Laurie, just a quick note to tell you I so enjoy going back over posts in your blog. It’s very interesting and informative. HUGZ:)

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  6. Pingback: My Harry Potter Closet Under The Stairs Is Clean! For Now… | My Foray Into Food Storage

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