Storing large amounts of food neatly? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 21 Old 09-12-2010, 05:50 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Tips?

We buy in bulk on sale, and it's not unheard of for us to have a years worth or better of a single item. We have at least 9 months worth of food on hand at any given time, which is non-negotiable for us.

How do you store that much food neatly? Our house has very little storage, we've converted the hall closets into pantries but they are full and we're running out of places to put things. I have more in a closet in a spare bedroom/storage room with big totes in the bottom full of pouch items and Jello.

Too hot here to store in Garage, kitchen is TINY with no storage.

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#2 of 21 Old 09-12-2010, 06:14 AM
 
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Is it possible at all to not buy for a while till you use more of the stored food up?

Sounds like the food is taking over your house!

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#3 of 21 Old 09-12-2010, 06:49 AM
 
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We store food too. When things are good prices we stock up. Dh would like to get to a point where we have a years worth in the house.

We do have a large pantry in the kitchen which holds a fair bit but most of our extras go in the basement. Our basement is barely more than a dugout so anything that is not in cans or jars goes into rubbermaid bins or food grade buckets. It's not ideal 'cause it can be a job to bring things up & down (it's a ladder to get down there) but it is working out ok for us.

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#4 of 21 Old 09-12-2010, 11:22 AM
 
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I grew up with cans of wheat under my bed So, when we were stockpiling, stuff went under all the beds.
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#5 of 21 Old 09-12-2010, 12:34 PM
 
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We have a nice big basement... I keep grains/beans/etc in big 5 gallon glass ball 'creative' jars - 25#s of beans/rice/wheat/etc fit in them perfectly Otherstuff gets stacked on home-made shelves in the same basement. Honestly though, if I was doing it again, I'd just go wtih 5 gallon buckets w/ gama seal lids... the ball jars are nice, but they're glass and if you break them or the lid they're worthless. Ball *WILL NOT!!* sell replacement parts :mad
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#6 of 21 Old 09-13-2010, 02:26 PM
 
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Under the bed.
Behind the headboard.
Behind the dresser.
Under the bottom drawer of the dresser.
Backs/corners of bottom cabinets.
Tops of cabinets in baskets and decorative tins.
Inside old sofa bed (remove the mattress/mechanism and put plywood under the cushions),
Inside trunks for coffee/end tables.

We are going to remove our bed frames/box springs and build a platform high enough for our out season/size clothes to fit in large tubs under the bed. You could put food in tubs and slide it under a platform. This will increase our storage by a lot.
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#7 of 21 Old 09-13-2010, 03:29 PM
 
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just a curiosity question ... why store so much food at one point in time?

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#8 of 21 Old 09-13-2010, 09:29 PM - Thread Starter
 
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just a curiosity question ... why store so much food at one point in time?
For us, it's food security. At several points in the last 7 years we've had to live off the stockpile due to no income coming in at all.

I grew up poor, and still am, and like to keep lots of the basic needs items around to ensure that no matter what happens we can eat well and get buy.

I also coupon shop, so if it's free it comes home with me. I buy in bulk when it's cheap enough / free, so often it's a lot of items coming home. We do use it all and rotate it well, so it works for us.

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#9 of 21 Old 09-13-2010, 11:30 PM
 
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What period of time do you keep the food for? I thought that many foods do not keep for that long. Maybe it depends on the climate, I know that here in our humid weather we could not keep things for too long. Even canned food as about a year now on the best before date printed on it.

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#10 of 21 Old 09-13-2010, 11:49 PM - Thread Starter
 
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What period of time do you keep the food for? I thought that many foods do not keep for that long. Maybe it depends on the climate, I know that here in our humid weather we could not keep things for too long. Even canned food as about a year now on the best before date printed on it.
The date printed really is just a guideline - 99.9999% of foods are good past the date. There may be some quality issues {crackers go a bit stale, etc} but they can be eaten.

I've kept things close to 3 years before that were canned. Over 2 years for boxed goods.

I do keep my house cool {70's} and store in dark pantries to help it last longer.

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#11 of 21 Old 09-14-2010, 01:21 AM
 
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We live in humid Ohio and have no problems storing stuff long-term... beans/rice/grains/etc all store perfectly fine for YEARS if kept dry. The trick though is to be constantly eating what you have stored, and restocking it - eat what you store, store what you eat. So like, I buy pinto beans by the 25# bag from my co-op. I *ALWAYS* have at LEAST 25#s of pintos, and usually closer to 30-40#s, and sometimes ~50 or so pounds. As soon as I run through one 25# bag I buy another - and I have two bags at all times. Ditto for most of my other staples - wheat, rice, black bens, lentils, etc. Pasta I buy whenever its on sale several pounds worth which means I have a constant stock pile...

WHY do I store food? Well.. for one thing, we live 7+ miles from the closest (crappy!) grocery store. And I absolutely *DESPISE* running out of something while making dinner - because its a minimum of 30 minute round-trip to go get it. And that sucks. Especially when its 5:20 and dinner needs to be ready in 20 minutes!!

For another, you just never know when a big snowstorm or ice storm or tornado or who knows whats going to whip through and us be stuck down here for a week or two, or DH looses his job and us be w/o money for food for an extended period of time. Or some sort of (true!) pandemic flu or something comes up and we just choose to stay home. Yk? Theres just a million and one reasons, IMO, to have a decent stock pile of food to live off of. We have enough that we could easily go 3 or 4 months w/o leaving and not be starving. Might not be all that interesting after the first month or so, but we could do it!!
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#12 of 21 Old 09-14-2010, 12:57 PM
 
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i store food, just not for quite that length of time. my main reasons are that i like to buy in bulk when things are on sale, we buy meat direct from the farmer and thus in large quantities, and we garden so we have lots of veggies in the freezer.

we have recently moved to an old, large home with an unfinished basement. it would be ideal to store packaged food there, just wondering how you keep the critters away? store everything in plastic containers?

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#13 of 21 Old 09-14-2010, 04:33 PM
 
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We are fortunate to have a basement now, but in our last house we had a long, long hallway. The hallway was my least favorite part of the house until I put it work for us. I installed long, long shelves down the length of the hall. The shelves were 8 inches deep and didn't take up too much space. The shelves were perfect for storing food, household good, etc. It was on the north side of the house, so naturally dark and cooler than the rest of the house.


I think you have to work with what you have. Take a look around and there might be a odd corner that could have a cabinet or a wall that could support some shelving. Any dead space that doesn't see much use?

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#14 of 21 Old 09-15-2010, 12:29 PM
 
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We only keep food in the pantry and refridgerator. While I like the idea of stockpiling food-it reminds me of hoarding and my grandmother. She grew up in the depression & had cans of food all over her room & closet.

It just seems odd to store food under your bed. I would make a designated area for food storage (basement, closet, etc.) and keep it limited to that area only. Once it is full, you need to either eat or donate before you purchase more.

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#15 of 21 Old 09-15-2010, 04:57 PM
 
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We have an odd little room off of our kitchen and there is a large cutout in the floor where the basement steps are. It's hard to describe but with the steps it leaves very little usable space. There was a section just wide enough for some industiral shelving and that's what we use for food storage and for small appliances and canning supplies. Our small chest freezer is also out there.

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#16 of 21 Old 09-16-2010, 09:48 PM
 
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So far as under-bed food storage:

I have a full sized bed, and have 4 6-gallon buckets holding up a piece of plywood, and my bed goes on that. Most of my food grade buckets (from a bakery for free or nearly free) are slightly smaller 3-5 gallon buckets slide easily in and out from under the bed this way, since I use them more often.
In the 6 gallon buckets I store wheat berries and white rice, sealed in mylar with oxygen absorbers. Maybe once every two years I switch one out, but it isn't necessary even that often.
In the 3-5 gallon buckets I keep all manner of things. Some of them sealed in mylar, some not because they are used more often. Beans, lentils, pasta, oatmeal, steel cut oats, rice. I can keep quite a few things under there, without utilizing any under-bed storage containers. Those would be handy for canned goods.
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#17 of 21 Old 09-19-2010, 02:13 PM
 
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So far as under-bed food storage:

I have a full sized bed, and have 4 6-gallon buckets holding up a piece of plywood, and my bed goes on that. Most of my food grade buckets (from a bakery for free or nearly free) are slightly smaller 3-5 gallon buckets slide easily in and out from under the bed this way, since I use them more often.
In the 6 gallon buckets I store wheat berries and white rice, sealed in mylar with oxygen absorbers. Maybe once every two years I switch one out, but it isn't necessary even that often.
In the 3-5 gallon buckets I keep all manner of things. Some of them sealed in mylar, some not because they are used more often. Beans, lentils, pasta, oatmeal, steel cut oats, rice. I can keep quite a few things under there, without utilizing any under-bed storage containers. Those would be handy for canned goods.
This is very clever. I was going to suggest bed risers for getting more underbed storage space but this really takes the cake for ingenuity.

We are not food stockpilers but I understand people have their reasons. We do buy some things in bulk and my DS hand-harvests wild rice every year (often getting hundreds of pounds in a weekend) so we typically have lots of food on hand we could eat in an emergency.

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#18 of 21 Old 09-25-2010, 12:27 AM
 
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For food security, I prefer to keep a garden of fresh food rather than stockpiling processed "food". But I do store a lot -- we have a deep freeze that is currently FULL of fresh produce from this season, from my own garden and from the farmer's market, as well as some prepared dinners like soups and curries that I made up then froze.

We have a utility room in the basement, where the well pump and water tank are, there's also a built-in tool table and lots of built-in shelves. We use those for storage of whatever can't stay outside in the shed. One whole shelf is dedicated to my canning -- homemade jams, pickles, salsas, ketchup, stewed tomatoes.

I have to say, though, that it never occurred to me to also store 'big' food items down there... like a big bag of rice, or the bag of potatoes that's currently taking up the bottom shelf of the kitchen pantry. I keep lots of large kitchen items (the 10-gallon stock pot for instance) that are only used occasionally down there, so why not big bags of rice or beans? It's brilliant! And will clear up some much-needed space in my kitchen cupboards.

As for finding more room for the OP to store her bulk buys... I'll kind of have to agree that if you have no more room to store food, then you can stop stockpiling. Maybe you want a full year, but maybe that's just not realistic.

Or maybe you can look at what you have and see if there are things that would serve the function better but in a smaller space. Like, if there are lots of crackers. Crackers aren't very nutritionally dense, aren't very filling, and take up a lot of space for little reward. They're nice to have around, but if I were faced with a situation where I had NO income and had to live of whatever I had stored up, I wouldn't be first running to the crackers. Eat the crackers now and replace them with something nutritionally dense.

Same with the Jello. It might be yummy, but it's not very healthy. In a desperate situation, I would reserve our storage space for the most sustaining food in the least space, not 'treats'. Jello is really just flavour and sugar. A great treat, but it's not going to help you survive a year of thrift. Keep a few boxes sure, for the occasional treat, but no need for a stockpile of the stuff.

And at the very least, ditch the boxes of the ones you keep. Put the envelopes straight into a bin, maybe label them with a Sharpie so you know what flavour it is. Probably save 1/3 to 1/2 the space there.

But really, if I were stockpiling for a just in case meager living scenario, I'd focus on buying up nutritious and sustaining food when it's affordable and if there's no room for it, I'd remove something less essential, less healthy, and just eat that now to make room for the better stuff.

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#19 of 21 Old 09-30-2010, 11:38 AM
 
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I agree with taking things out of their packaging and repackaging them to save space.

As someone who has had to live (mostly) off of food storage, I disagree with replacing "treat" foods. I don't eat jello, but I can't think of a cheaper, easier to prepare treat (if you like it). If you have 10 boxes of the stuff, repackaging would probably be good. But 10 boxes of jello won't stretch that far if you are living off of rice, beans, and canned veggies for 4 or 6 months.
Also, unless you eat mostly food storage foods now, you run the risk of apetite fatigue and that can be very dangerous for children.
But otherwise, I agree that most stockpiling should be focused on nutritious stuff. Especially if you might not be able to afford fresh veggies, you'll need some other nutrition.

So. If you can find the space for it, keep the jello, IMO. I stock up on chocolate bars when they go on sale in the summer. My DH loves them and they are flat and easy to stack.
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#20 of 21 Old 09-30-2010, 11:51 AM
 
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I just can't food hoard like that. My mom is a hoarder. Food stashed everywhere. All out of date, stale or moldy. I don't understand it and I can't do it, sorry. I don't see how it stays "good" to eat after a year...but thats just me.
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#21 of 21 Old 10-13-2010, 12:11 AM
 
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I think it's pretty easy to see the difference between someone with a hoarding problem and someone who has a lot of food storage. I mean, I have easily a year's worth of stored food but it isn't like I have nothing but buckets and boxes in my house with little pathways. I have neat storage that I keep organized so I can rotate the food without wasting any. It is all in cupboards, closets, and under beds.

Maybe you should research the shelf life of foods. Pretty much any nonperishable food that isn't prepackaged can easily last more than a year if stored properly.
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