Food storage – Where to find space?

Setting aside enough food for a family of four to last just a few weeks takes up a fair amount of space, let alone planning for several months. Not everyone has a huge walk-in pantry to use either.

Basements are usually good places to start, as long as they are dry. Use a dehumidifier if need be to keep moisture out of the area. Build simple shelves from 2x4s to keep things off the floor and organized. Do NOT use the cheap pressed board bookcases you find at discount stores. The shelves will warp rather quickly under the weight of canned goods.

If you have staircases in your home, do you have access underneath them? There are many different plans available online for building various types of shelving to take advantage of this often unused space.

I’ve heard of some folks who built shelves inside their walls, using the space between the studs. This isn’t a bad idea, as long as you can easily access the food stored there so you can rotate it regularly.

Most beds have a fair amount of space under them, enough room for at least a few cases of canned goods.

Check your closets and see if there is enough space along the back of them to install some shallow shelves. For canned goods, they only need to be 5″-6″ deep.

For apartment dwellers, you probably have a small storage unit of some sort in the basement. You could box up your food storage items and label the boxes “Old Clothes” or something else innocuous. Go a step further and put a couple old shirts over the top of the food in the boxes.

Remember, store what you eat and eat what you store. Rotate, rotate, rotate. The food won’t do you much good if it goes rancid or is otherwise unfit for consumption when you most need it.

Published by

Jim Cobb

Jim Cobb has been a student of survivalism and emergency preparedness for almost thirty years. As a young child, he drove his parents nuts with stockpiling supplies in the basement every time he heard there was a tornado watch in his area. Of course, being a child, those supplies consisted of his teddy bear, a few blankets and pillows, and random canned goods he grabbed from the kitchen cabinets. Later, he was the first (and likely only) child in his fifth grade class to have bought his very own copy of Life After Doomsday by Bruce Clayton. Today, he is a freelance writer whose work has been published in national magazines such as Boy’s Life and Complete Survivalist Magazine. He is a voracious reader with a keen interest in all stories with post-apocalyptic settings. He maintains the Library at the End of the World blog and is also the Content Director for He currently resides in a fortified bunker in the upper Midwest, accompanied by his lovely wife and their three adolescent Weapons of Mass Destruction. Jim's first book, Prepper's Home Defense, was published late 2012 and his second book, tentatively titled The Prepper's Complete Guide to Disaster Readiness, will be out in mid-2013, both coming from Ulysses Press.

6 thoughts on “Food storage – Where to find space?”

  1. Storage space is a huge issue for lots of people. You can make room under beds and if you have an R.V. you aren’t using you can also store your long term food in there as well. Many people have a storage shed in their yard that they keep tools and their lawn mower in, that’s another place where you might consider storing your food.

    It’s really important that you just get the food and then you will come up with all kinds of ideas of where to store it. Just get it! You don’t want to get caught unprepared.

    FEMA just purchased 1 Billion dollars of emergency preparedness food. That’s a lot of food! Why would they purchase that much and what aren’t they telling us. They need to have those contracts filled by 3/26/11 which is tomorrow. Many of the suppliers are having a hard time staying up with their orders because they are filling the government contracts first then they will get to us.

    Don’t waste time! Get in line and order you long term food, you just might need it sooner than you think.

    1. I hesitate to recommend folks store food in outbuildings like sheds or even garages due to the temperature extremes seen in many parts of the country. Most food suited for long-term storage, aside from dry goods, don’t do well with freezing or with high temps/humidity.

    1. Every little bit helps. Perhaps consider adding a few cans of this-or-that every time you hit the grocery store. You’ll be surprised how quickly it can add up.

  2. I’m not rich by any means, but I like to think that I have a decent size home. If I remember correctly (not counting the garage) we have like 2,300 sq ft. Anyway, 4 bedrooms, 2.5 bath. It’s a nice home. It’s our first.

    A few months ago, I went through this same dilemma. Where do I put all this “stuff”. I went to our walk-in closet attached to the master bedroom. On the right hand side is all my wife’s clothing, on the left hand side is mine. I looked at my clothes and I said to myself “You don’t even wear half of these clothes”! So, right then and there, it was easy. I wasn’t going to store things I didn’t even want, and “not” store things that I need. I spent a Saturday taking everything I knew I wasn’t going to wear, and also making some tough decisions on things that I kinda’ wanted, but knew I didn’t need – and by day’s end. I had reduced my closet space need down to about 10% of what it was.

    I now have an entire 12′ x 8′ foot wall with several shelves holding the things that I and my family need. Priorities…priorities…priorities. If you don’t have the space…make it. There are worse things in life than having a shelf in a hallway or toilet paper stored under the bed.

    1. Excellent! We try to go through all of our closets a couple times a year. My own rule of thumb is, if I’ve not worn it in the last 12 months, away it goes. With the kids, we pass down the stuff that is too small but still serviceable. Getting rid of stuff that isn’t being used is a great way to free up storage space in the home. I’d guess most of us probably have a ton of stuff just sitting around collecting dust and taking up valuable space.

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