How To Store Six Months of Food When You Only Have Space for One

Taylor Roatch
By Taylor Roatch November 24, 2017 10:08

How To Store Six Months of Food When You Only Have Space for One

One of the biggest issues people run into with their preparedness food storage is a lack of space. They simply don’t have enough room to keep all the food that they’ll need in the event of an emergency, leaving them feeling underprepared.

Space may seem like one of the biggest barriers to your food storage goals, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be. Whether you live in an apartment, a small house, or even a camper, there are plenty of ways you can squeeze in more food storage so that your family can be prepared if worse comes to worst.

Related: My Famine Food Storage Menu

Get Creative with the Space You Have

You may be thinking of your food storage space as a specific, traditional space that you have set aside for food storage, like a pantry or a set of shelves in the garage or basement (though I’m certainly not recommending you store foods in those places unless they’re appropriately critter proofed and climate controlled!). If you want to get serious about your food storage on a small foot-print, you might first consider thinking outside of the box a little when it comes to where you’ll store food. Here are some ideas you may not have considered for fitting in more food storage.

  • Add custom shelving to areas under stairs to provide an extra space to store food.contemporary-staircase
  • Use unusable cupboard space more effectively. We oftentimes forget about those tough-to-reach spaces like on top of the cabinets and awkward or high-up cupboards. They wind up filled with junk-drawer-esque materials because you can’t really access them easily anyways, but they’re perfect for emergency food storage.
  • Upper closet shelves are often under-utilized spaces.
  • Store food under beds, and lift them up if there’s not much room between the bottom of the bed and the under bed
  • Never ignore space inside of storage items, like baskets or luggage. Since you’re already storing those items, go ahead and stick some food storage in them.
  • Create ‘furniture’ from stored food items. Instead of traditional end or bedside tables, switch it up with a stack of canned goods topped with a piece of wood cut to size. Toss a table cloth over it and no one will ever know the difference.
  • Utility room space is great for food storage, as well, so long as your food storage isn’t creating any hazards with the appliances and house implements contained within.
  • Use organizing items like over-the-door racks and cutesy basket racks to up your food storage
  • Add shelves in cabinets so that they’re better laid out for your personal food storage. This is one time that cabinets with adjustable shelves are a life-saver!kitchen-storage-cabinets-with-doors-kitchen-storage-cabinets-with-doors-fantastic-for-home-interior-concept
  • Store water in an unused bathtub or shower. Water storage can take up A LOT of space, but it’s absolutely necessary that you have adequate water storage for your family. Use these water-proof spaces or invest in some water storage cubes that stack neatly so that it doesn’t take up more space than it must.

Related: 23 Things a Prepper Should Never Throw Away. Why?

Opt for Bulk Goods that Fit in Your Spaces

We tend to get tied down by the spaces we have to work with, so make sure you’re using them to their best advantage. While larger containers generally take up less space for the same amount of food, you’ll want to fill in spaces with smaller items.

It’s easier to fit in more food if it’s all packaged the same. Whenever possible, purchase or store food in the same size containers to make the best of limited space.

Also, be sure you’re stacking items to their benefit. Mix and match different sized and shaped goods in stacks on your pantry shelves so that you utilize as much of your available space as possible top to bottom, as well. Put items that don’t stack well into boxes so that they do, allowing you to utilize more space.

Related: 10 Long Shelf-Life Canned Foods Every Prepper Should Consider Stockpiling

Use Flexible, Non-Wasteful Storage Methods

Bags are a great way to be able to pack a little more in to a small space. Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers can be squeezed in to small spaces much easier than gigantic buckets or even #10 cans.

Another way to save some space is to pack items in vacuum sealed bags. Oftentimes, you’re paying (in space, of course) just for the way something is packed at the super-market. Vacuum bags mean that you’re not wasting space to store air.

Utilize Wall Space

Just because there’s no room for a full set of shelves on a wall doesn’t mean that it’s not available for food storage. Build a wall-mounted can organizer to create an extra space for canned goods. This is perfect for walls behind doors that often go ignored for their food storage potential because there’s not much space available.

This is a great way to make sure that your canned goods are appropriately rotated, as well, with the oldest foods being used up first and the newest remaining inaccessible at the top of the organizer.

Opt for Food with a Smaller Footprint

Dehydrated food takes up less space. The water has already been removed, leaving smaller footprint food that can be vacuum packed for optimal storage. Where ever it’s feasible, opt for dehydrated foods over canned goods. You can re-hydrate many foods later on if necessary.

Another way to aim for a smaller food footprint is to invest in small foods that pack a big caloric and nutritious punch. While a balanced diet is important, focusing on higher calorie foods, like whey protein, avocado powder, dried fruit, seeds, nuts, and quinoa to fill up a very limited space equals more energy that may be hard to come by for a long time after a disaster to fuel you up.

Make Sure to Store Food Properly, Even when You’re Storing Small

Even if you’re working with a small space, it’s important that you adhere to the regular rules of food storage. Make sure you keep your stores safe from weather changes and pests, and be sure that you rotate food storage so that you’re using older foods in your everyday diet and replacing them with new versions. This helps avoid food (and money!) waste.

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Taylor Roatch
By Taylor Roatch November 24, 2017 10:08
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  1. Frank November 24, 21:16

    Depending on how deep your closets are, I would consider mounting a section of pegboard to the wall back and then putting hooks or brackets to hang packaged foods. With screws, rivets or zip ties, one could attach plastic baskets or containers and store some food that way. Each bedroom occupant can help to manage the stock in their closet or they could be allowed to utilize this food.
    This could be your short term food or foods that come packaged in bags or envelopes (canned chicken, tuna, gravy mixes, croutons, etc.) with that convenient little hole at the top.
    Even small boxes or canisters (Chips, salt, raisins) that are held in place via a paracord harness, zip ties or cup-shaped containers attached to the pegboard can be stored this way as well.

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  2. Karen G November 24, 23:23

    the boxes soda come in for refridgerater use you take one out make something like that for can goods take out bottom one which is oldest buy new put in top so your always using oldest first and always rotated mat as big or small as you want start corner of pantry or cupboard mount a side board as wide apart as you need leave space at bottom to remove one can and space at top to add one can on the front of it mount a board with the holes in it get hooks hang up bags of food you have to rotate that your self

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  3. Linda S November 25, 13:43

    Be sure to store long-term items in containers you can handle. I’m a 71-yr-old woman & moving a 5 gal. bucked full of rice is no longer an option. I get 2 1/2 gal buckets from local bakeries.

    Reply to this comment
    • JJ November 25, 15:48

      I have soda bottles of rice stacked against a wall like a pyramid–light and easy to handle.
      In between a file cabinet and wall.

      Reply to this comment
  4. CRStarheart November 25, 17:57

    It is great to have lots of resources stored but unfortunately there is so much crime in many rural, off-the-grid type areas, like where I live, that they steal everything you’ve ever owned, including stored food, herbs, teas, vitamins, household, cook/bakeware, diningware, tools and every thing else you had, in order to furnish their own homes as well as sell…..
    …… Just to prevent future crimes to decent people wanting to go off the grid and who may move into dangerous predatory crime communities filled with government corruption, like where I live in NE Washington. I am in a rural area in Ferry County (very close to the Canadian Border).

    I have been targeted for ongoing surveillance burglaries, vandalism, pet torture and poisoning, including drugging and a hip fracture while unconscious/asleep this year. I’ve also been poisoned with drug, chemical or biological agent(s) which produced rare blood antibodies and an incurable disease that requires expensive IV treatments to try to put it into remission (this illness, Microscopic Polyangiitis, is known to be caused by Levamisole, a drug used to “cut” other drugs with, including 70% of the cocaine trafficked in this country)…..

    It is very dangerous for people to move into some areas in Washington state because of the terrible organized criminal activities involved in rural areas and the victimization of unknowing people coming into these areas. There has been known people involved in drug trafficking for years and years here… and people involved in crimes and covering them up get promoted and rewarded with government jobs and into high positions, while victims like me get persecuted and harassed by law enforcement. They can steal everything valuable you own, in ongoing burglaries for years in Ferry County.
    I have to hire a house-sitter whenever I leave the house, even for very short time periods.
    Also, My Seattle high school social studies instructor and the debate team coach became an attorney in Okanogan County (next to Ferry County) and he said the drugs are even worse there than they are in Seattle.

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    • Wannabe November 25, 21:24

      Okay, I’m sorry for the trouble you experience, Sounds like you need a gun and some ammo for your first prep.

      Reply to this comment
      • CRStarheart November 25, 23:23

        I’ve found a light, yellowish powder in and around my water containers, and had hair testing done this fall, which showed positive for GHB (a date rape drug which knocks you out)…. Unfortunately the people burglarizing people here have locksmith tools and can get in easily, and then steal keys after they have entered as well. My Costco Big Horn safe was also burglarized, which I sleep in front of. I believe when they moved my body to burglarize the safe they must have fractured the head of my right femur in the right hip socket at that time. Unfortunately a gun and ammo will not help when they have drugged your water supply.

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        • preppernerd November 27, 00:11

          Are you living alone? There are probably a bunch of people suffering the way you are…maybe you can get a group of like minded people together so you can help each other out. If you are in a house on some acreage, it could help to make your house look like it has already been ravaged, so nothing left to steal. Then you stash your stuff creatively… This is a problem we may all have to face in a SHTF scenario, you are just having to face it now rather than later.

          Reply to this comment
          • CRStarheart November 27, 01:30

            Yes, I’m living alone. There aren’t very many people in this county. I know the have burgalrized two places close by, one a very elderly widow who had lots of antiques and they were coming into her house at night as well. Another older couple sold out close to me after their burglary.
            More and more people will be targeted and we haven’t even had an EMP yet, ;when things will get really bad.

            Reply to this comment
            • BillH January 20, 03:11

              Hate to say it, but you need to move away from there. You are costing yourself time and money just trying to defend yourself, and putting your life at risk.

              Reply to this comment
              • Graywolf12 October 16, 14:37

                A big dog like a Rottie, a 12 Ga shotgun, and a pocket pistol coupled with a sign “we do not call 911” helps. I would ad a small yippie dog to alert you and the big dog. My RottieX seldom barks, but when I tell people to look behind them they are usually fearful to say the least.r

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            • red October 25, 03:40

              I like dachshunds. The minis are called shotsie, little guard, in /Germany and they’ll guard the house. You know the situation in Germany, it’s deadly, but these dogs are tenacious. The brother-in-law of a friend in the Bronx brought 2 home when he was discharged from Army. Tho pups, they half-destroyed a burglar and ran him off. The police got his DNA from blood stains in the kitchen. 2 make a team. If you want them fixed, Dachshund Rescue will sell them to you, but they’re not cheap and there is a waiting list. A plus, in hard times, they’re eager to feed themselves. If you have mice or rats, tell them to get out before the dogs get them. Mine also loves to chase rabbits (we have jackrabbits). He lives for the day he’ll catch one, but I saw him, his mother and sister take rabbits in my sister’s garden; they tag-team what they hunt.

              Change the locks to bolt-types. Nothing is perfect, but a good bar over the doors and bars/grills over windows helps a lot. My prayers are with you. Niio.

              Reply to this comment
    • Red Ant October 17, 12:27

      say brother. get a gun and hide some where and when they show up, shot them. (shot to kill) if you do not do this they will just keep stealing from every one they see. they might even start to kill. so do the one thing that you might as well do, kill them. I find it sad that we have to do these kind of things, but we have to protect our self. even thru force. kill or be killed. if I could come up there and do it for you ,I would. I HATE people that feed off of the weak. HATE them….. you need to find a good hearted man that will come and help you and your friends. see if you can do that for help. I will pray for yall…..

      PS: we will have to kill others, so that we don’t get killed by scum like this poor man is having to deal with. don’t agree with this. try being this gentlemen. God will help you. just ask…

      Reply to this comment
    • Wild New Mexico Cowgirl February 1, 18:47

      I am so sorry for you and all the trouble you have been caused. What’s even more sad is the fact that the law enforcement is so entangled with the drug faction. There is no justice there for sure and what a shame that such rural area’s like that can’t be safe to live in when you think you have a safe haven to move into. Perhaps some day you will be able to move away to a better place. God bless you and God speed!

      Reply to this comment
      • Cspirit February 1, 19:22

        This site seems to be blocking my reply to you. So I will try to summarize it below.
        Thanks New Mexico,
        I think it is a large network of Organized Government/DHS/Contractors Surveillance Members involved with Corporate Contractors, Contract Agents, including Internet Monitoring/Software, Construction, Mining Companies and Secret Society/Masonic Drug Traffickers involved in Organized Crime Activities Targeting Citizens in NE Washington State.
        I went to Montana and had a housesitter while I was gone and the only criminal activity that I experienced was just after I pulled out onto the highway in Ferry County. I saw the headlights of a white pickup pulled off to the side of the road and sensed an uncomfortable feeling about looking at it and a short distance a little farther down the road I came up to a front end loader and tried to pass it. As I was trying to drive around it he started moving into the passing/oncoming traffic lane with his bucket just ahead of the front of my car. This is the first time that anyone has tried to run me off the road before.
        I think everyone needs to know what a terrible criminal cesspool Northeastern Washington is…
        HOPEFULLY — I will live long enough to get out of this area when I can get my health issues resolved.

        Reply to this comment
  5. Rick Fortune November 26, 16:59

    To make rotating my stores totally simple, whenever I purchase a provision, it gets a date code. I use a sharpie marker and code the year i e “17” followed by the month as 01 to 12. All you have to do is take the smallest number when using anything, and your stock rotates itself.

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  6. Carol February 6, 21:40

    Terrific information. You mention storing food in the utility room. Will the heat from the water heater or the clothes dryer affect the food? I built shelves behind my back door some time ago for storage. They are only about 5 inches or so deep, but I got quite a lot of food on them. Thanks.

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  7. Ellen Zimmermann February 13, 07:38

    Something to consider. Instead of putting the correct on your canned goods put a old date on them such as 2015 instead of 2018. Also make sure the cans have dust on them. Put some cat litter in a bag shake it up and let the dust out.

    Reply to this comment
  8. rednig July 2, 22:10

    The inner walls of your home are hollow with ready-made dividers. Fit a strong plastic bag in one (reversing the air on the vacuum works to blow up balloons, so…). I would use two bags. There are places to special order but cannot recall where. No flour, but whole-grain to keep it from degrading (oils in the germ will degrade fast). Dehydrated food, vitamins, spices, and so on. Drop in dry ice, reverse air flow in vacuum (as it melts, dry ice will expand), then seal.
    There are a great many things that repel rodents and insects. Black pepper, red pepper, and dried juice from agaves will kill them. Rodents are going to thrive after SHTF because no one will be there to stop them, and most pets, and many people, will be dead, feeding the rodents.
    But, nixmal (corn flour) can be stored on the shelf for several years. Whole mesquite beans can be stored for decades. Corn flour tends to repel rodents and so on because of lye used to make it. Mesquite, though, is sweet and must be kept high up and safe or rodents will ruin it.
    Remember, one pound of grain per adult, or two ounces of dried meat. And, hide those drums of water you have in storage or you’ll get raided for that alone. Yep, I live in AZ, but knowledgeable people in PA, NY, FL and all over will look for pure water to use, rather than muddy sludge.
    Niio. Walk in beauty.

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