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10 Places Anyone Can Store Food

October 15, 2012 by  

10 Places Anyone Can Store Food
If you have a suitcase, then you have food storage.

One of the cornerstones of preparedness is storing food. No one argues the point of whether food is important. Maybe an argument can be found in where food is placed in the hierarchy of prepping needs, but no one will say that it does not have a place. What I have found, though, is that not too many discussions occur about where these rations will be stored.

It seems as though it is always assumed that every prepper has an extra room in the house to fill with shelves that can be neatly stacked with cans and boxes and labeled by category or a basement to do the same. I know that I, for one, have not always had these options available to me. Whether you live in a large house, a small house, an apartment or a dorm room, the need for stored food doesn’t change, resulting in the need for places to store foods wherever you may live.

Some of the places that storage food may be stored regardless of the type of dwelling you live in include:

Under the bed: There is a fair amount of space under a bed which can be used for storing food instead of lost TV remotes or slippers. What makes the space under the bed even easier to use for storage is some of the specially manufactured containers that specifically fit the dimensions of the underside of the bed. These containers slide in and out easily from under the bed and make it easy to organize your food storage. The flexibility of these containers would also allow for storage foods to easily be loaded up and taken with you in the event that an evacuation were necessary. A good substitute for these containers would be shallow cardboard boxes.

Under the coffee table: The shelf under a coffee table provides additional space for storing food. This can be a great option for someone who lives in a smaller living space like a loft. Obviously, this could be an eyesore in a main living area but can easily be disguised by covering the table with a tablecloth.

Under an end table: Storing food under an end table is essentially the same as a coffee table but on a smaller scale. This can be a useful tactic in the most size-restrictive spaces like dorm rooms or military barracks.

Make your own table: This is perhaps the perfect option for those who buy storage foods in bulk. It also happens to be the one non-standard food-storage option that I have heard of the most. Foods that are in boxes are especially well-suited for this storage idea. Make a table out of food storage by stacking two boxes of food on top of each other, centering a 2-by-2 piece of plywood on top of the boxes and cover with a tablecloth.

On the closet floor: You know that space on the floor of your closet? Yep. That space below your clothes that doesn’t really seem to be good for anything except for losing an occasional shoe. It can also be an ideal storage area. This area may be particularly ideal for storing long-term foods in No. 10 cans that you may get from companies like Mountain House.

On a closet shelf: The shelf in the top part of a bedroom closet is not always used. If there is open space or junk sitting on your closet shelf, it is space that most likely is being wasted. If shelf space is chosen to store food, always make sure that the shelf can support the weight of the items that are being stored on it. This is especially important to keep in mind when storing canned goods on shelving. Because of weight concerns, the top shelf of your closet might best serve as a storage area for foods such as pasta, instant potatoes, ramen noodles and other lightweight boxed foods.

In the linen closet: A linen closet can be another great storage area in the home, whether it is for linens or something else. When I lived in an apartment, there was a linen closet; but I did not have enough linen to make complete use of this area. In a situation such as this, excess space in a linen closet could be used to store food. Remember to always evaluate the amount of weight that you are thinking about placing on a shelf before you put it there to ensure that it will not cause the shelf to break or pose a safety risk.

Behind the couch: If the couch is up against the wall in your house, it is likely that you have at least 4 to 6 inches of space that most people would consider “dead” space. What can be done with this space depends on the individual piece of furniture; but it could allow for at least one row of soup cans, boxes of macaroni and cheese, jars of pasta sauce, etc. Essentially, the limit is the creativity of the person placing the food storage items behind the couch. If someone is really inclined toward engineering and is concerned about gaining quick access to these items, it could be possible to tie or tape these items together, which would allow them to be pulled out together without having to move the furniture.

Inside your luggage: Do you have luggage that sits empty in the closet for the greater part of the year? Most people do. This makes your empty luggage an ideal place to store items such as canned and/or dry goods while you are waiting for your next chance to relive the Spring Break trip you took with your friends in 1992.

Out in the open: OK, so I don’t mean literally just sitting out in the open. But if there is an open space in a room, there is an opportunity to use a set of cabinets or piece of furniture as a second pantry. This can look like just an ordinary piece of furniture in the home while disguising your emergency food stores.

While places to store food for a difficult time are limited only to your imagination and the space that you live in, there are without question places in every home where foods can be stored. Once a decision has been made as to where you plan on storing your food, make sure that it is in appropriate containers. Plastic totes are a great way to keep critters out and protect food from the elements that cause it to go bad at an accelerated pace. Don’t forget to annotate expiration dates and rotate storage foods so that you don’t end up with a cache of useless foods. Perhaps most importantly, don’t forget where you stored your food.

–Thomas Miller

Thomas Miller

lives with his wife and three sons in the Northeastern quadrant of the United States. He has completed countless hours of advanced training in both clinical and trauma medicine and is a Nationally Registered Emergency Medical Technician. Tom has also completed several courses in disaster and emergency planning/management as well as hazardous materials handler and transport certification. He graduated with honors from American Military University with an Associate of Arts in Real Estate Studies. Tom is a U.S. Army combat veteran who served with honor as a combat medic on his multiple overseas tours during the Global War on Terror. During his time in the Army, Tom became an expert in the use of several weapons (including long guns, sidearms and improvised weaponry) and obtained competence with many other weapon systems, including foreign firearms. The Army also afforded Tom the opportunity to become proficienct in the driving and operation of several different vehicles from Humvees to heavy trucks and tracked vehicles. If there happens to be any free time available, Tom can be found sharing his passion for fishing with his sons, working on a project in the wood shop, tending to the garden or trying to maintain some resemblance of physical fitness. Tom's other writings can be viewed on his blog, The Prepared Ninja, at If you are on Twitter, Tom can be followed on the handle @preparedninja.

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  • Opal the Gem

    All good suggestions. Almost everyone has an odd corner they could store a stack of supplies in. And, if you do have the extra room plan out your storage space to make the most efficient use of it.

    • ChristyK

      I found a company that makes in wall storeage. They make storeage slots that mount between the studs in your walls. You put cans in the top and take them out the bottom so they are properly rotated. They have different sizes for different size cans. (#10 cans are too big) They work super well, but are a little expensive if you are trying to do a huge number. I highly recommend them for those items that you use regularly and want to store and rotate a decent amount.

      • Tammy

        Christy, I like the idea, but when I go to that page, after the intro, the link is broken. If you know another way to access the data on the website, would you share? Thank you.

      • Tammy

        Here is a link that works: Awesome stuff. Very creative and functional use of space and storage, including the Lazy Susan that could be converted to a side table with hidden storage. NEAT! There page also includes useful information about the length of time food can be stored effectively.

      • Grammy

        Great idea. Haven’t seen the item, but it seems like this would be easily built by the do-it-yourselfer – a stop at the bottom that the cans would rest on and slats nailed to the face of the 2x4s to hold the cans in, with space enough at the bottom to pull a can out.

    • Thoms Mills

      I assume that storage is a problem and can be if you don’t want your front door kicked down. If you have a forced air heater, store food there as long as you don’t need to heat the house. A heater can not reveal boxes of food easily because of the grid front.

  • tgsherman

    Don’t forget your garage! If your garage gets below freezing then use it for items that aren’t effected like cereal, toilet paper etc. Always keep items away from heat or sunlight!

    • Tom Miller

      The garage is certainly a great place to store items like toilet paper that are not impacted by environmental factors like wide swings in temperatures. The reason that I did not mention these areas was because not everyone has access to them at their homes. However, something that everyone does have access to and could take advantage of is self storage. The downside here would be having complete access especially in the event that things were to go bad.

  • Richard D Davis

    Have i not heard that there will be eventual home inspectors to limit home storage (hoardng) of food supplies to a seven day supply. The initial crisis can be well served by the in house storage reserve.

    • Robin

      Wow, I wonder what the life expectancy of these “home inspectors” would be? I’m guessing pretty short, down here in Texas! :-)

      • texastwin827

        LOL @ Robin. Maybe not in the cities but I suspect they would be wise to leave the folks in smaller towns alone…unless they have a death wish

  • http://yahoo charlene

    we still need to know how to make the food we can a ford to buy safe and last.know how to make soap, candals and things when the elec. is one to expens, or we dont have any.also how to make clean water.

  • dan

    Make like a squirrel storing nuts for a long winter….here a little ,there a little.
    The plastic buckets (with lids) from your local bakery (today,essentials come
    prepackaged and premixed for convenience) make excellent containers and totes
    for a $ each time you get groceries.

  • Kent


    Stack 5 gal buckets and can goods against a wall…then build a false wall against it to match the ajoining ones. Also coat can goods with WD40 and bury in 5 gallon buckets. Dig up every few years to inspect. Meat, like tuna and canned checken, are ideal to bury as they have a long shelf life.

  • Hedgehog

    Do you have an RV? Keep it stocked, fueled and ready to go at all times. Rotate the food out through the house. Treat your RV like a giant mobile bug out bag.

  • Tammy

    When we moved to our new home, I had no pantry. There was a hall closet that we converted to a pantry when my husband brought home some shelving that was no longer used at work because they got a set of nice metal shelves to replace the wooden ones. Another location are book shelves. Our local small chain department store annually sells small bookcases for $9.99. Tall bookshelves with doors can allow you too keep food out of sight, but accessible. Another source is entertainment centers.
    Also, someone pointed out to use a sharpie marker to date when the product was purchased and rotate the product. Buy fresh product to replace what you use. Identify how much of what you use and how quickly you use it. (For example, I bought the same amounts of a variety of vegetables, but the green beans went completely before we scarcely touched the other vegetables. I know now to keep significantly more green beans on hand than other vegetables.) This also goes for laundry detergent and such.
    I would like to can my own vegetables (at least acidic ones, I’m not sure I’m up for pressure canning as I have a fear of the lid flying through the ceiling, so I will try to just freeze non-acidic veggies).The only thing is how to most effectively store the glass containers. I’d really rather not store them up high, even in the pantry. How have some of you overcome the issue of storing Mason jars? They are heavy and bulky to move and being glass makes them so much more likely to break than grocery store bought canned goods. Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

    • Nancy in Nebraska

      I suggest dehydration. Takes less space. Can be vacuum sealed. No breakable containers, easy to take with you if you need to bug out.

    • independant thinker

      If you purchase a new name brand pressure canner you have no worries about the lid coming off if you follow the instructions. Be sure to get a name brand one such as Mirro or Presto and there are at least one or two more good brands out there. The modern pressure canners have two or three safety measures to prevent expolsions. One possible source for a good canner is Lehmans if you cannot find a name brand localy. Mother Earth News and I think Lehmans have books on canning that covers both water bath and pressure canning. My wife and I taught ourselves to use the pressure canner since we prefer certain low acid things canned instead of frozen. As far as storage, I have a spare room that I have put metal shelves in for storage. We put the filled jars no higher than head high and most is kept chest high. We put lighter things such as empty jars, equipment, and supplies on the higher shelves.

      • Tammy

        Thank you, Independant Thinker, for your suggestions of products and storage. I prefer canned green beans to frozen, personally, so that was one of the items I’d like to can. Freezing broccoli, spinach, squashes, okra, and carrots work for us, so I don’t have to pressure can those. I do not think those vegetables, except for squash and carrots in some instances would dehydrate well. I’m sure my husband would like it if I canned some corn. I’d like to get away from store bought corn and the girls in my family could do without entirely, but it is my dh and ds’s favorite “vegetable.” ;-) You provided some suggestions that are very helpful.

      • independent thinker

        One other comment about pressure canning Tammy. If you should have an extended power outage where you will loose food in the freezer having and being able to use a pressure canner can allow you to save almost everything in the freezer even the meat.

        By the way green beans is one thing we prefer canned as well. If you do get a pressure canner try canning small tender (2″-3″) okra whole. If you like your okra fried then you take the pods and mash them flat, bread them like you would sliced okra, then fry them. Very tasty.

    • Celestia Westerheide

      Keep the original boxes the jars came in and store them in the boxes. The boxes will stack nicely. Just remember to put a rewrite-able lable on the box for the contents and date. My parents used contact paper for that.

      • Tammy

        Thank you for the suggestions, Celestia. Those are helpful ideas.

      • independant thinker

        unfortunately many jars no longer come in boxes. Most I have seen lately come shrink wrapped sitting in a cardboard bottom.

    • texastwin827

      Tammy, I just bought a dehydrator because the food is lightweight, once it’s dehydrated, which would make it easier to carry should you need to “bug out”. Of interest to me were “backpacking meals” that are made up from dehydrated foods and need only hot water to make a hot meal. While I am stockpiling various foods such as canned veggies & meats I am also keeping a good quantity of dried beans & rice (for protein & carbohydrates).

      There is an abundance of info, online, for various solar projects such as making a solar oven out of an aluminum windshield shade, that will reach temps as high as 350 that I have collected the info on, as we can not assume we will have the “comforts” (electricity, etc) that we presently have.

      Think of what our ancestors did before the modern conveniences and then google “How to Make……”. Even at 67, there is much I never had to do such as bake my own breads (but I can make pies/cakes from scratch) so there is much for me to learn. Younger folks will have to learn even more than me because they have always had “ready made” items.

      I sew, so have a collection of conservative (as in “timeless”) patterns and a supply of both winter & summer fabrics. While my machine is electric, if I had to, I could sew with it, manually, and the end result would be much sturdier than a hand sewn garment & take less time to make it.

      If you want to put things “in perspective” watch the new TV show Revolution to get some idea of what life might be like, in this country. It’s definitely kind of an “eye opener”.

  • Cliffystones

    Since nobody else has mentioned it, be aware of the temperature shifts in your storage area and how they can effect the food being stored there. The “cool dry place” is always best for long-term storage, while a closet or space that gets hot during the summer can shorten the shelf life of even freeze-dried food.

    Also keep in mind that “critters” can chew through plastic, even those 5-gallon buckets!

  • jeannie

    Thanks for all your useful tips!!!!!!

  • jstrightothepoint!!!!

    That goes for me Too!!!

  • Jon

    If you do store food and supplies in boxes, or otherwise visible to any visitors, mislabel the containers. Use things like “grandma’s things”, “plumbing supplies”, “Johnny’s school pictures”, etc. That way, nosey neighbors or the food police won’t know more than they need to.

  • Tammy

    Regarding the icing containers, they work well for storing sugar, flour, and other items. I put my flour in it and then put that in the deep freeze to keep out weavels. Round things are also more difficult for mice to chew through. We also found that foot lockers store a great number of pre-packaged boxed foods to keep mice at bay. Those are nice as they can be put at the foot of a bed (obviously) in a dorm or bedroom and double as seating, while Rubbermade-style containers cannot double as seating. They are also readily portable.

    • independent thinker

      Visit resturants, fast food places, or any other place that would purchase things such as pickles, mustard, mayo, etc. in the gallon jugs. They make good bulk storage containers. I don’t know how common the glass jars are now but in the past I was able to get several and we use them to store sugar which we purchase everytime we can get it below a certain price. The plastic jars will work also but they are more difficult to de-oderize if they held something like dill pickles. Would also work for other dry items such as flour, corn meal, pasta, beans, rice, etc. You would need to double check to confirm this but i think you only need to freeze flour and such for a month to prevent bugs in it. The 30 days below freezing kills the eggs. After that you are supposed to be able to store it in the pantry until you need it. People who own their land should look into root cellaring. It won’t work for everything but certain things would store well there. There are books available on it from Mother Earth News as well as other places.

  • sue conservative

    These are fantastic ideas and information. We need more articles and information like this. I am keenly aware tough times are coming and the more prepared we are the better off we will be. It might be a case of life and death so please keep these articles coming.

    • independant thinker

      Sue there is a survival column of some type every monday on PLD. If you look it up online instead of this newsletter there are a few archived (5 weeks I think).

    • Bob Livingston

      Dear sue conservative,

      You write: “We need more articles and information like this.” Perhaps this will help.

      Best wishes,

  • Scott

    Be careful about food getting too hot. My wife had a lot of canned food under the bed in out computer room. She did not think about the heat from the computer. It all spoiled.

  • donbishop038

    Something that most people don’t know. When storing food in Plastic Buckets if you will fill the container with say flour, sugar or cereals, then put a piece of dry ice on top and cover lightly to allow the normal air to escape, the CO2 produced by the dry ice evaporating is heavier than the normal air and will replace it. The CO2 becomes a canning agent and no bugs can survive, once the block of dry ice is gone replace the airtight lid and so long as you don’t disturb it and allow air back in you have food safe for long periods of time.

  • Henry

    Also you can use the tins that cookies and popcorn come in to help keep mice and bugs out of the food. You still need to keep the food in other sealed packages.

  • MaryVan Dyke


  • Bimbam

    I would like to give tips but I would ony be helping oBama and his evil thoughts in aiding and abetting his useful morons in finding your gear.

    They monitor sites like these with money you pay them for their pensions, food, shelter and homes and then they turn around and rape you for your stuff now.

    This is why you do not want Marxism (which came from the Devil BTW) in your country.


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