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13 Do’s and Don’ts of Food Storage



food storage

In most of my writing to you, I have been pretty adamant about the need for proper food and water storage but after looking through past articles I feel I have been pretty lax on just exactly how and where you need to store these items.

Unless you live in a 6000 square foot house with your own personal bunker, you probably don’t want to have sacks of grain or hundreds of cans of food lying out in the open.

The trouble is, in order to have enough food and water to withstand a prolonged disaster you need a ton of space and the ability to organize that space to still be completely functional.

Your average pantry will only hold so much in it and still be considered functional. Because of this, you may need to get a bit creative when it comes to food storage.

Check out some of the suggestions below:

Take a quick walk through of your home and make note of any dead space.  Dead space is any area of your home which has no functional use.   Some of the more common dead spaces include:

    1. In your food pantry – Sounds pretty simple right? Unfortunately most pantries are no longer just for food storage. Many people have taken to storing nonfood items in them such as unused pots and pans, large kitchen gadgets, crock pots, paper supplies and more.  These items can always be stored somewhere else that food shouldn’t be stored (like in a garage or shed). Clear out everything except food from your kitchen pantry.Your first goal of a food storage program is to fill up your everyday kitchen pantry and make sure that you rotate out any old food before you dig in to the newly bought canned goods.Make it weekly task to go through the kitchen pantry to insure that anything nearing expiration is in the front of your pantry.  Whatever is nearing expiration should be included in your dinner tonight.
    1. Under beds – this is a nice dark and cool space.   Under beds are perfect for #10 cans.   Buy a bed frame which can be elevated just a bit to accommodate boxes containing #10 cans. Depending on your particular bed, you can purchase a set of bed risers that for less than $10.00 will give you an additional 6 inches or more of vertical space under your bed.
    2. Speaking of beds, if you have a large headboard you can pull out your bed from the wall just far enough to store a few 5 gallon buckets of food or stack up some more #10 cans if you are short on space.  Stack food up to the height of the headboard, then cover it with some extra pillows or blankets to hide the food and make the space more presentable.
    3. Closets floor space – the space on the floor under need the coats and linens. There is often a few feet of vertical space above a closet shelf.  You can stack boxes fairly high above the shelf or even install a secondary shelf to hold more.  Before you put anything up for storage, be sure that you test the shelf to make sure it can support what you plan on placing on it.
    4. Under bathroom sinks – often the space is unused or cluttered with items that would be better suited elsewhere.  Make sure any food stored under a sink is in water proof containers, just in case you spring a leak.
    5. Behind your couch – most couches tend to have a slight incline in their backs to help make them more comfortable to sit on. This results in several inches of dead space at the bottom of the couch that can readily be used if your couch sits against a wall.If your couch is in the middle of a room, you can store bags of rice, sugar or anything flat can be stored in under bed storage containers that will slide right under your couch.

There are an amazing amount of places that can be re-purposed to store your food and gear neatly and efficiently out of the way, without sacrificing your ability to get to them when you need them.

There are also quite a few places that should NEVER be used to store food like:

  1. The attic.  The summer heat in the attic will likely cause any stored food to go bad. Depending on your location the attic may not even be a safe place in the winter.
  2. Crawl space.  Crawl spaces often get way too hot in the summer and susceptible to rodents.
  3. Garage- Follows the same rule as the attic and crawl space. To get the longest life out of your food stores they need to be kept at the lowest possible controlled temperature.
  4. Do not bury food.   The moisture will eventually compromise the container.  Rodents or pets may dig them up and eat them before you can.  Or worse  you will lose track of the location. How many squirrels do you think remember where they bury all of their acorns?
  1. Sheds and barns – Gets too hot in the summer not secure against rodents and other pests. Also may be a prime target for people that are hungrier than you after a disaster.
  2. Near fuels and other chemicals.   This can be dangerous as the fuel can ignite and burn your food supply. Also many foods will pick up the smell and taste of the chemicals they are stored near; this is not pleasant or safe.
  3. At the Grocery store – Never fail to have food storage before a disaster strikes.  Relying on the grocery store to supply you is just plain stupid. Any time a a large storm approaches or anything else happens that scares people you can expect that grocery stores will be stripped bare within hours and it could be days or weeks before they are restocked.

When it comes to storing your food, don’t take chances. You can live for quite a while without food but you will be a whole lot more comfortable if you aren’t forced to miss a meal because you didn’t store it correctly.

Want to know more? Check out these related articles from our site:

10 Food Storage Solutions for the Urban Prepper

Food Storage | Guidelines For Stocking Your Pantry

6 Threats to Your Food Storage Cache

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  1. Jon Hiester

    November 29, 2012 at 7:32 PM

    I have a set of twin beds in my loft. I took a set of 2×10 and made new side boards for the beds. I then added plywood bottom and tops. This gave me room for a lot of #10 size cans. With the addition of full size quilts you cannot tell them from regular beds. Everything I have stored in them is at least 25 year shelf life.

    • Joe

      November 29, 2012 at 7:46 PM

      Great idea Jon! Just make sure you warn some one if you have company over. That wouldn’t be a fun surprise

    • Mariowen

      December 13, 2012 at 1:10 PM

      Twin beds easily convert into captain’s beds, which is essentially what you made of yours. I use under the bed storage on all beds in the house, but your idea is better. It can be concealed. Have you thought about using some thin batting and stapling a nice matching or contrasting fabric over the boards? It makes it look like it was part of the design of the bed. Just put the mattress on the top board and you are ready to go. You have given me some great inspiration. Why take up space with box springs? Get a good, thick mattress and you are ready for more storage.

  2. John Laningham

    November 30, 2012 at 4:14 PM

    I have two extra bedrooms. They aren’t big bedrooms but they are huge pantrys.

  3. Leigh Ann

    November 30, 2012 at 8:34 PM

    Shelf Reliance has an awesome under the bed food rotation rack. This is perfect for apartments and vacation homes that dont have a lot of storage space!

  4. jv

    January 27, 2014 at 11:49 AM

    I want to store some wheat and oats grains long term. Buy the grains and then place into an air proof container. I have read various articles but would like your thoughts all this type of long term storage.


    JV Miller

  5. Pingback: 12 Dos and Don'ts of Food Storage / BePrepared

  6. Mary K

    October 6, 2017 at 3:41 PM

    All the places you suggest to store food are bad ideas. Food should be stored in a cool, 50-60 degrees, dry place. This means in a basement with a dehumidifier. Food stored in your upper floors will lose their vitamin value in a year or two.

  7. Pingback: A Guide To Ancient Grains For Homesteaders | Homesteading Today

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