Start by looking for small areas around your home or apartment that can become “mini-pantries”. Food stores best when kept in a dark, cool, dry place so keep this in mind when looking for storage spaces. You also want to try and store your food at a constant temperature, so avoid areas such as the garage where the temperature can fluctuate. As you walk around your home look for areas that can be cleaned out, rearranged, or where boxes or shelves can be added to provide storage. Be creative! Don’t limit yourself to spaces normally considered cupboard space or pantry space.
Some areas to consider:
Bedrooms - closets, underneath beds, in the corner of the room, behind headboards, etc.
- Put short bookshelves in the closet. If it’s in a child’s room the clothes should fit great over the top of the shelves.
- Store cans on their sides under a twin bed. Line them up in rows of their category (fruit, veggies, meats, etc.). When you purchase cans place them under the left side of the bed. When you need a can pull from the right side. This creates a cheap rotating system right under your child’s bed!
- Purchase wide, shallow plastic bins that have wheels on them. These are great for storing food in and rolling under the bed.
- Store boxes of food behind the headboards against the wall.
- Build bookcases for books and/or toys out of boards and food storage buckets or boxes.
Kitchen - above stove, above refrigerator, under the sink, space above cabinets, etc.
- You can purchase organizers with pockets to hang over the pantry door. Store smaller pantry items such as spices and other baking products in these pockets to free up cupboard space for larger food items.
- Store cases of food that you don’t need regular access to under the kitchen sink.
- Invest in several lined baskets with lids and use the baskets to hold kitchen gadgets and items that are not used on a regular basis. If you have space above your cabinets, the baskets will look nice while freeing up cupboard space for food storage.
- Store food in the unused back spaces in corner cupboards.
- Replace your coffee table with a flat-topped chest or trunk. Use the space inside for storing food.
- Emergency kits should be placed near an exit in a closet if available. If there is room, additional items could be stored along with the emergency kit.
- Store boxes of #10 cans between the wall and the furniture. The boxes can also be stacked to form an end table. Drape a pretty cloth over them and no one will know there is food storage underneath.
Closets - bedrooms, hall, guest rooms, linen, utility, etc.
- Convert your coat closet to a mini-pantry (store the coats in a bedroom closet).
- Use buckets and boxes and boards to “build” your own shelving.
- Add an extra shelf above an existing shelf in a closet.
- Linen closets can be converted to a food pantry by moving towels and washcloths to shelves in the bathroom and sheets and blankets to bedrooms.
Also keep in mind that while you wouldn’t want to store food in the attic, garage, or shed, these places would be ideal to store nonfood supplies and equipment.
After you have created “mini-pantries” around your home it is important to know where everything is stored so you can use and rotate your food storage. Here are a few suggestions to help keep your food storage organized:
Keep Similar Items Together
For example, store canned fruit on one shelf and canned vegetables on the shelf below. Grains and beans could go in the coat closet while medicine and first aid supplies are stored in the linen closet. This is helpful for a few reasons. First, you will know right where to go when you need a certain item. Second, you will be able to see at a glance what you have and which items need to be restocked. Until you are familiar with your system it may be helpful to label each shelf to remind you what is supposed to go where.
Label, Label, Label!
Clearly label each box with the contents and date of purchase. It is also helpful to keep a master list which records where all of your food is stored throughout your house and what specific items are stored in that area.
Be sure to keep packaged food off the floor and in a sealed container to protect it from vermin. Smaller food storage items can take up more space on a shelf when you try to stack them or line them up so use plastic boxes, tubs, or containers for storing these smaller items. This is also helpful if one shelf or closet is going to contain several different kinds of items that could easily get jumbled together. You will find you can store more and keep your food and non-food items organized by utilizing smaller containers.
Remember, no matter how small your home or apartment is, or whether you own or rent your home, a pantry is possible with these creative storage solutions!