Setting Up A Food Storage Pantry
July 18, 2011 by Peggy Layton
I strongly suggest you find a place in your home or on your property somewhere — either in a basement, spare bedroom, closet, junk room, under the stairway, heated garage, out building or root cellar — and turn it into your own home grocery store and pharmacy. Somehow, get shelves in there: Build them, have them built or buy them pre-built. The room needs to be well insulated so it doesn’t freeze in the winter or overheat in the summer.
My pantry is located in the utility room next to my kitchen. I had about 2 feet of wasted space between the door and the wall, so I had two sets of rolling shelves built to fit in the space. They pull out and can be loaded from the back so the cans roll down and get rotated before their expiration date. This is where I keep the food that our family uses on a daily basis. These rolling shelves hold case goods that I purchase when the grocery stores have case lot sales and other items that we use on a regular basis. (see photo below)
My freezer is also located in this room, and I keep it stocked with the meats and frozen vegetables. I always store yeast in the freezer for making bread as well as other items like nuts, sunflower and sesame seeds, and butter. Even cheese can be kept frozen to extend its shelf life.
I call my pantry “my home grocery store.” I set it up like a well-stocked storehouse so I can shop at home. It is convenient and saves me money by eliminating impulse buying. I encourage you to set up your own home grocery store. I have covered the subject of what to store and how much to store in previous articles. It is recommended that you “store what you eat and eat what you store,” otherwise you might get sick. A crisis is not the time to change your family’s diet.
My Dehydrating, Sprouting And Baking Center
On each side of my rolling shelves, I have regular shelves on which I keep my baking items. After I dry the food, I put it in a plastic container with a tight-fitting lid and store it on the shelves in the pantry.
I like to dehydrate excess fruits and vegetables from my garden and orchard. Every year, we have an abundance of apples, pears, peaches, apricots, cherries and plums. I take the pits out, slice the fruit and place it on the dehydrating trays in my commercial dehydrator.
I even dry tomatoes, onions, cabbage, corn, peas, beans and zucchini. I really like to make zucchini chips by slicing the zucchini into thin, round slices, sprinkling Italian herbs on them and dehydrating them. We eat these chips as a fun snack.
I also sprinkle Italian herbs on slices of tomatoes and dry them. They are great to snack on or use in any recipe calling for sun-dried tomatoes
One of my favorite things to do is to dehydrate the tops of the onions we harvest. I cut them into 1-inch pieces and dry them. I crush them up and use them when I need extra flavoring for omelets, spaghetti sauce or anything else that needs onion seasoning. I store the onion tops in plastic containers.
I also like to dehydrate vegetables (such as zucchini, green and red peppers, and onions) and herbs together. I put them in the blender after they are dry and make an herbal seasoning that can be mixed with salt to make herbal seasoning salt. It is very good on all foods, and I use it like salt.
I like to make bread, so I have a wheat grinder, bread maker and tortilla maker. I also have many grains that I use to make multi-grain bread. I put the grains in gallon-sized, see-through containers so I can see what I have and can find them easily. I like to keep them in an easy-to-access location; because if I can’t find my products, I probably won’t use them. Being organized is very important and helps me rotate my food. This ultimately helps me save money because I am purchasing in bulk, storing what I eat and eating what I store.
The top shelf of my pantry was designed to hold my canning equipment, sprouting jars, roaster pan and other seasonal equipment.
My Extended Pantry
Your extended pantry should contain all the food and non-food items necessary to replenish the kitchen pantry. My extended pantry is in a well-insulated shed that my husband built on top of our root cellar. It is close to our house, so I can get to it year round. A closet under a stairway, garage or storage room would work well also for extra items. Just make sure it doesn’t freeze or overheat.
Every time I go to the grocery store, I get two of each item that I normally buy, such as ketchup, barbecue sauce, pickles, olives, cream soups, mayonnaise, salad dressing, spaghetti sauces, mixes, etc. I put one away and use the other. I keep adding more and more of a variety of items to my home grocery store. It is so nice to have food items on hand when I make meals. This saves me time, since I don’t have to run to the grocery store because I am out of something. If we did have a situation where I could not get to the grocery store for an extended period of time, I would have what I needed.
Planned menus can eliminate the panic feeling you get when you know you should store food and you don’t know where to begin. I have included a chart in my book, Food Storage 101. Where do I begin? for planning menus for two weeks. It asks you to list every ingredient to make sure you have each item on hand.
If you plan your food storage program out carefully, you can avoid impulse or panic buying, which will save you a lot of money and grief. Anticipate your needs for a three-month period of time. Buy bulk foods in larger quantities and store them in plastic food-grade buckets that have airtight lids. See my previous articles, Dehydrated Food: What To Store And How Much To Store and How To Store Bulk Foods.
My Long-Term Food Storage
My long-term food storage area is in my basement. I store six large cases of toilet paper and various other paper products like paper plates, cups, paper towels, plastic utensils etc.
I also store large quantities of dehydrated vegetables, fruit, mixes, sauces, rice, soup mixes, powdered milk and baking items in a cool, dry place away from sunlight and in a place that stays a constant temperature of around 40-60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Hot or cold fluctuations in temperatures can destroy the nutritive value of the food and shorten its shelf life. A well-insulated basement or cold storage area, garage or shed is ideal. I realize that some people don’t have a basement; that’s why it is so important to plan a space that can stay cooler than the rest of the house.
Buckets Of Wheat, Rice, Beans, Pastas, And Sprouting Seeds
I keep all my bulk foods in buckets. All my mixes, grains, beans, pastas, sprouting seeds, e-Foods, prepackaged meals, baking items, sauces and gravy mixes go in buckets as well. This keeps mice from getting to the food and any other critters that can burrow through packages.
I label my buckets with what is in them and the date they were purchased. When I run out of rice, beans, wheat, etc. in my pantry, I get another bucket from the basement to replace it. I know what I have and how much is there so it can be rotated and replaced. It’s a good idea to keep an inventory sheet with what you have on hand and how long it takes to use it up.
I have been storing packaged meals called eFoods. They are ideal for long-term food storage because they are packaged in Mylar® pouches that serve four people. Everything is in the pouch except water. Just add water and cook the food for 15 minutes, and it’s done. The meals are delicious, and the company will let you try samples of the meals before you buy. Just pay $9.95 for shipping and you get three meals that serve four people. I find them very delicious and easy to make. That is what you need in a crisis situation. I don’t just save them for a rainy day; I make the e-foods for meals when I am in a hurry, in the mountains, camping, hiking or feeding a crowd. I have decided that premade meals are the best food storage you can buy. They are fast, easy and convenient. You don’t waste food that way. This company has a program through which you can get one box of food per month. They call it “auto-shipment,” and it’s great! All you need is 10 minutes to set it up, and your food storage will be on auto-ship. Each month, you get a box of food delivered to your home. Go to the website, click on take the Freedom Tour, sign up for the free food and enjoy. Check it out at www.peggylayton.efoodsglobal.com
Water is king. It is actually more important than food. Without good, clean, potable water, you won’t be able to eat the dehydrated food you are storing.
I keep water in several locations. I have a 185-gallon water storage tank that sits in the corner of my camping-equipment room. It needs to be located in an area that won’t freeze or overheat. The ideal temperature to store water in is room temperature or below (65-45 degrees Fahrenheit).
If water heats up in plastic containers, it will leach the plastic into the water and can be harmful to your health. Do not leave bottled water in a vehicle in the heat of the sun for the same reason.
I also keep smaller 5-gallon containers filled with water and ready to grab if needed.
Any food-grade plastic container can be used to store water in. The bottles that apple, cranberry or grape juices come in are ideal for water storage. Never use milk jugs because they are made to break down after about six months, and they will start to collapse and leak.
I use ION (stabilized oxygen) water treatment in my water tank and containers. It kills all bacteria and keeps the water safe for five years. One 2-ounce bottle will treat 110 gallons of water.
The goal is to acquire a three-month, well-rounded stock of food, water, medical supplies, non-food items, sanitation items, warm clothing, fuel, lighting, shelter and anything necessary for survival, so you will be prepared for any situation. Keep these items in a place where they can be easily found if needed
This information came from my books Food Storage 101. Where do I begin? And Emergency Food Storage and Survival Handbook. For more information about the products mentioned in this article, such as ION water treatment, 185-gallon water storage tanks, eFoods long-term dehydrated food storage, as well as the books I have written, go to my website.