The Logistics of Food Storage

So, you’re ready to start increasing your food storage preparedness or perhaps you’ve been on the wagon for some time.

Regardless of where you’re at along the spectrum, having food storage involves some logistical issues that need to be faced.  Just where the heck are you going to put 500 pounds of wheat?  750 gallons of water?  200 #10 cans?  There’s much that you need to consider but imaginative uses of space can help.

To begin with, no matter what, do what you can to have some food storage. I’m fortunate as I have a basement with a pantry, cupboards under the stairs and a spare bedroom. However, even if you only live in a 400 square foot apartment, you should store something. You might not be able to store a year’s worth of food but you can store a few items. Some is ALWAYS better than none.

A common location that most people will have is the space under their bed(s). This is a great location for canned goods and bags of bulk grain (lying flat). I have seen people set their box spring and mattress on top of 5 gallon buckets! Let’s explore that idea further. A typical 5 gallon bucket is just over 12” in diameter so take a look at how many you can store under a bed:

Bed Type Dimensions Buckets (hidden) Buckets (visible)
Twin 39” x 75” 18 (3 x 6 pattern) 28 (4 x 7 pattern)
Double 54” x 75” 24 (4 x 6 pattern) 35 (5 x 7 pattern)
Queen 60” x 80” 30 (5 x 6 pattern) 35 (5 x 7 pattern)
King 76” x 80” 36 (6 x 6 pattern) 49 (7 x 7 pattern)

If you’re willing to let the buckets stick out a few inches the last column shows how many additional ones you can store. If you have a bed spread or sheet to hang down to the floor then you still won’t see them.

In your living room or family room do you have a couch or loveseat placed at an angle in the corner? There will be a triangular space directly behind the furniture that can really add up. If you have the furniture evenly spaced in a right angle corner, the chart below shows the length of each wall from the corner to where it meets the furniture. I’ve also shown how many #10 cans (6” in diameter by 7” tall) you could fit in that space based on the furniture height being 40 inches:

Furniture type Wall distance #10 Cans
40” chair 28” 50 (10 x 5 high)
66” loveseat 46” 140 (28 x 5 high)
79” couch 56” 180 (36 x 5 high)

I encourage you to take a #10 can (the same as a 3 pound coffee can) for a walk around your living space. Take a look at all of the nooks and crannies and test where you can fit the can, eg. the back of the shelf of a linen or clothes closet, the space between the top of your cupboards and the ceiling, the back of the cupboard underneath the kitchen or bathroom sink.

If you have a double bed and a 40” chair in a corner you have room for up to 28 5 gallon buckets and 50 #10 cans. That’s a lot of food storage! And you haven’t done anything except utilize potentially unused space.

Any additional space that you have becomes a bonus. Do you have a blank wall in a room or hallway? Shelves and brackets are very affordable. Run shelves all the way along the wall from floor to ceiling but make sure they’re sturdy by anchoring the brackets into the wall studs.

Once you have your food storage location sorted out, in whatever space you’ve scrounged, make sure you have a method for keeping track of what you add and what you use. In my basement I have a clipboard on the wall with a list of all of the items in my storage. Whenever a member of my family goes downstairs to get something they simply tick the list showing what items was taken. The items that were ticked get added to our shopping list for the next week. Next, I take the list, log into my account and update my quantities. Below are some screen shots from my personal dashboard.

Let’s say that in a week my family uses six cans of mushrooms out of the flat of 12 that I have in storage. I hover my mouse over the item and the revision icons appear. I can add or subtract from the total or delete the item entirely.Vegetable Category - before

In this case I click the subtract icon and when the Use window appears I enter 6 into the field and click Use.

Use item window

My new total is then shown.

Vegetable Category - after

When I get home from my weekly shopping trip I take my laptop with me downstairs and add the items as I unpack and restock my shelves.

This process helps me stay organized so I always know exactly what I have stored. If my house burned down and I had to make an insurance claim I also have a list of every item that may need to be replaced. Also, by restocking my usage weekly I am constantly rotating through my storage and have fresh items on my shelf.

What are some of the logistical issues you have now or have solved? Please share your insights in the comment section.


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