7 Questions to Help You Figure Out Where to Store All That Food
by Karen Morris
Author of A Year Without the Grocery Store
About twelve years ago, my family decided to start storing food in case one of those dreaded “what ifs” happened in our lives.
You know those “what ifs.”
“What if we lose a source of income?” “What if someone is injured and can no longer work?” “What if we are sued and don’t have enough money to cover the lawsuit?” “What if prices go up so much that we can’t afford to feed our family as well as we do now?”
Yeah. Even if your “what ifs” aren’t the same as mine, I’d be willing to bet you have your own.
So those “what ifs” drove us to start amassing food. But one of the first things that went through my mind was, “We don’t have a basement! Where are we going to store food?”
Has that thought ever crossed your mind? If you’re in a bit of a panic because you don’t know where you’re going to store your stash, I’m going to provide you with seven questions that will help you uncover not-before-thought-of-spots.
I want you to take a walk through your house one room at a time. Looking at each room with new eyes, ask yourself these seven questions.
#1) Do I have anything that I can get rid of to create more room for food storage?
Well, the first and most obvious place to store food is in your kitchen. Go through your cabinets. Do you have approximately a gazillion plastic lids, but they don’t match any of your containers? Get rid of the lids and reclaim that area for food storage. Has your one gadget drawer procreated so now you have three billowing gadget drawers? Purge the items you’ve never used and are never likely to use in an emergency. Then use that space for food storage.
Do you have half a dozen cans of asparagus sitting in your pantry that your family will never eat? You probably got them on sale and you feel guilty for throwing them away, right? (GUILTY HERE!) If you don’t want to feel guilty, donate them to a local food pantry – but get rid of that food your family will refuse to eat and use that space for foods that they will eat.
But purging items, even if you’re doing this in each room, will only get you so far. So, the next questions deal with places to store your stash.
#2) Can I put my food storage UNDER something?
One of the most underutilized spaces (pun intended) is under beds! There are totes that are specifically made on rollers to slide easily under beds. This is a great place to store some of your food. And the more people you have crammed into your house, the more beds you have to put food under!
If you want to put taller items under beds, you can purchase bed risers to raise your beds off of the ground another 4-8” so the items fit under there.
A word of caution. Don’t put items underneath beds that can easily be compressed and/or break. At one point we decided to store gallons of water in shallow totes under our bed on risers. We had a good 3-4 inches of clearance between the bed and the tops of the gallons of water, but we hadn’t counted on our kids either plopping hard or repeatedly or outright jumping on our bed. We lost several gallons of water that way. Fortunately, they were at least in a tote so we didn’t soak the carpet.
While it might not work to put water under a bed, we have completely gotten rid of a box spring and used some of our five-gallon buckets in its place. Depending on whether you have round containers, rectangular, or both, you can fit anywhere from fifteen to twenty buckets under a bed. Buy an extra long dust ruffle for the bed and put a mattress on top of the buckets. No one will ever know your bed is made out of food storage!
Do you have couches that are high enough that items could be stored under them in shallow totes?
We have a table that has two shelves under it. We currently keep gallons of water on those shelves. We learned our lesson with water under the bed.
#3) Can I store items IN something?
I’ve seen ottomans which are hollow. The lid removes so you can place things into the ottoman, but no one would ever know it’s there if they didn’t realize what kind of ottoman it was.
There are coffee tables which are similar. You can store items in the coffee table if need be. I’ve even seen old travel trunks used as coffee tables. Look for them at garage sales and estate sales, and use them to store food.
We’ve even taken to putting bookcases into many of our closets in order to provide extra storage there. We also put some of those plastic sets of drawers in the sides of our closet that aren’t easy to access. This lets us use an awkward space in such a way that it’s easily accessible. That’s a double win!
#4) Can I store items OUT IN THE OPEN?
We keep our oil lamps displayed throughout the living spaces of our house. They are beautiful, decorative, and functional.
We have candles in glass containers in each of our bathrooms. They look decorative, but if the power goes out, we need to be able to see since many of our bathrooms don’t have windows. You’d never know that those pretty candles were placed there for a reason other than aesthetics.
Do you have extra blankets? Are they decorative enough for you to drape over the back of a chair? If so, you’ve found your ‘storage’ location.
I know of a blogger who gushes about how she loves her canning jars in all their amazing shapes and sizes. What about keeping quart or half gallon jars filled with colorful dried beans or dried corn out in the open? If you use new lids and put an oxygen absorber in the top of them, they are truly long-term food storage. They look decorative, and you’re storing items out in the open at the same time.
#5) Can I store items BEHIND something?
In two rooms of our house, we have chairs that sit at an angle to the wall in a corner of a given room. Those are great places to store things where people would never look.
Do you have a couch that you could pull eight inches to a foot away from the wall and put a couch-height table with shelves behind it? If it has shelves, you can use those shelves – and with your couch up against the table, no one would be the wiser. They would just think you’ve put so much thought into your house that you put a shelf behind your couch so that people have a place to put their warm mugs of coffee within arm’s reach.
#6) Can I store items in rooms I’ve not used before?
Is there a room in your house that could be called a bedroom that is not currently being occupied as a bedroom?This might be called the office, the guest room, the exercise room, or the media room. Whatever room that is, could you sacrifice it to store your preparedness items there?
What about something even more unthinkable than that? What about asking children to share a bedroom so that you use one of the rooms to store your items in? In our house, we consolidated two of our girls into one room. One thanked us because she loves sharing her room with her sister. The other thanked us because we were making sure that if something happened she would be taken care of. Not all children would be that easy going about it, but consider it as an option.
But let’s say you can’t give up a whole room. What about the closet of a room or a wall of the room? You can put shelving units in either place to store items and this way you aren’t giving up an entire room.
#7) Can I move items to a new space and take over that space for food storage?
A great example of this is your linen closet. Could you hang a hook on the back of each person’s bedroom door and put their own personal towel on the back of their door? Or, have each person store their towel and a few washcloths in their closet. Then when the linen closet is free, use it for food storage.
Do you have some new ideas now?
Finding a place to put your food storage when you don’t have a basement could seem like an insurmountable hurdle, but it’s really doable.
What unusual places have you found to stash your food?
About the Author
On Good Friday in 2011, our house in Ferguson, Missouri was hit by an F4 tornado.
Many people write about food storage from their accumulating of food storage during easy times. They have a knowledge of it but haven’t had to really live it.
I haven’t written about food storage because of our abundance, but because we’ve had to live from our food storage out of necessity. We lived through that F-4 tornado that hit our house. While the tornado didn’t completely destroy our home, we were displaced by it. Having food storage in our house allowed me to literally pack up three week’s worth of food and take it to the hotel in which the insurance company was putting us up. I didn’t have to think about food or menus or about money to eat out every meal. This knowledge gave me the freedom to focus on getting things settled with the insurance company. I had the freedom to keep my kids going and to deal with them not feeling safe. I had the freedom to run to different places to sign documents or make the different phone calls to deal with the devastation the storm wreaked on our home.
Since that time, I’ve lived through two other life-changing events. I was an eyewitness to the Ferguson riots. No matter which side of the equation you come down on, it was life-changing and eye-opening. I also lived through an armed standoff with a knife-wielding man during my family’s time at a local homeschool chess club. These taught me the importance of knowing how to react before something happens, so you get it right. You don’t have time to think things over. Each of these things taught me a new level of self-sufficiency and preparedness.
I never knew what life was going to throw at me, but my journey to self-sufficiency started with food storage and grew beyond my wildest imaginings.
Find out more about Karen Morris:
Her book: A Year Without the Grocery Store
Her website: AYearWithouttheGroceryStore.com
About the Author
Please feel free to share any information from this site in part or in full, leaving all links intact, giving credit to the author and including a link to this website and the following bio. Daisy is a coffee-swigging, gun-toting, homeschooling blogger who writes about current events, preparedness, frugality, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, The Organic Prepper. Daisy is the publisher of The Cheapskate's Guide to the Galaxy, a monthly frugality newsletter, and she curates all the most important news links on her aggregate site, PreppersDailyNews.com. She is the best-selling author of 4 books and lives in the mountains of Virginia with her two daughters and an ever-growing menagerie. You can find Daisy on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.