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By March 29, 2012 Read More →

Getting Started in Preparedness – Finding Storage Space

I love these containers for the food I use everyday - keep them all the same size it makes it easier to maximize your space.

One of the most common excuses I hear for not prepping is “I don’t have enough space for all that,” or “I would love to store more food but my place is too small.” If you live in a small space, or if your house doesn’t have built in storage, you have to get cleaver with the space you have. I can list out a few basics here, then you should take a look around your own place and see what else you can do with the what space you have. Think outside the box.

First you have to move out of the mindset that everything has to be neatly organized, easily accessible and immediately available and you’ll discover you have a lot more space.  Put items you rarely use in the very back and items you always use up front.  It is NOT CONVENIENT to have to take things out to get to what is hiding in the back, but it is well worth the extra space.

Second when you buy boxes of canned foods leave them in the boxes. I know it’s tempting to take the cans out and stack them up, you think you are maximizing your space but boxes make it much easier to relocate a larger quantity of stuff all at once. Instead of moving 12 individual cans of dog food to get to the “not as frequently used” pinto beans – you have only one box to move. If you have to evacuate your residence for whatever reason – it will be much quicker and easier to grab larger quantities of people and/or pet food if they are all in boxes. Boxes also provide a stable platform for stacking.  Even on pantry shelves, boxes keep food from being knocked over or knocked off the shelf.

Make use of rotating can systems, like my homemade one here. I cut a little hole in the top of it that was just the size for a can - I add new cans in through the top and the older ones rotate out of the bottom. You can do two rows of Campbell soup cans because they are smaller or a single row of larger cans. They save space and keep you using the oldest cans first.

Third, maximize the storage space in your pantry. If you do have a walk in pantry – you can use the floor for storage too. Line it with water bottles, cans of food all the same height, or pop cans. You can put cardboard or plywood over that layer and add another if you’d like. I would not try double layering if you have to stand or walk on your “false floor”. Also maximize shelf space by raising them up as far as they will go if they are adjustable. Then, double or triple stack canned goods.

Stack boxed items on top of each other, instead of next to each other.  This allows room to put additional items in front or behind. Lighter items (like cereal, cracker boxes, dried soup, etc) can hang over the shelf, it’s ok because if they gets knocked down they won’t hurt anyone. Use storage containers that maximize space, especially if you buy food in bulk, for the stuff you use everyday. Don’t store bulk food in those stupid plastic bags they came home in from the store.  As soon as you get home, empty them into a storage container. On that note, the more miscellaneous sized containers you have, the harder it will be use all of your space so keep them as uniform in size as possible.

See, you can't tell there is anything back there.

Behind the couch – you can store canned goods in boxes stacked on top of each other between the back of your couch and the wall.  Just pull it away from the wall a foot or so (no one will be the wiser) and you’ll be shocked at how much you can get back there. You can stack it up till it dang near reaches the top of your couch. If there is a heat vent back there, close it as you don’t want the hot air blowing on your food.


When in reality there is ALOT back there.

Under the beds. I mean really? Shoes can go somewhere else (get a shoe rack for your bedroom door) and what of any value is actually under there anyways? Clean it all out and put canned food, or toilet paper or paper towels underneath. Some people remove their bed frames completely and place the box spring directly on a solid layer of canned food or five gallon buckets.


Inside coffee tables – (if you have one with inside storage space). Books can go on shelves – put magazines in the trash. None of your guests will get in there uninvited and once again you’d be amazed at how much you can put in there.


Small flat cans, like tuna, can be stored under furniture with a low ground clearance. Look around – you may have a set of bookshelves, an entertainment center or china cabinet with a couple inches of clearance space underneath; fill it up. Push the cans back from the front just a few inches to the back and you can’t see them at all while standing up. You can use a broom to push the cans out from the back.


Under the stairs – if you have this space in your house, use it. You can fit a good amount of food in there. Same principles as above, push infrequently used items clear to the back where you almost need to be a gymnast to get them, and more frequently used stuff towards the front. If it’s dark add a couple of cheap battery powered “Tap” lights with velcro so you can see.


In the attic – Most new(er) houses are fairly critter free, you can put overflow of paper towels or toilet paper up there. It’s dry, the heat won’t hurt them, think of it like adding extra insulation to your house. Put it in a rubbermaid tote if you want to keep the existing insulation out of it.  Look for an attic access in the tops of your closets.


Behind doors – You can store water bottles, or old pop bottles filled with sanitized water standing upright behind doors. Unless you are in the room with the door closed, no one really looks there anyways. Reused Pop bottles can also be stacked like firewood and shoved in the back of a closet floor somewhere.


On top of kitchen cabinets – most people put decorative stuff up there. Crawl up on the counter (Safely please! Have someone help you if needed). Move the decorative stuff out closer to the edge and put some canned or bottled food behind it. When viewed from below you won’t know anything else is back there.


Shelving – anywhere you can stick a shelf, do it. I know of a lady who added two set of storage shelves to her extra bedroom for food storage.  Then she installed a floor length set of window curtains over the shelves. When you walk in that room you’d swear there was a window there.


In corners – by default, it’s human nature to hide the corners in rooms. With chairs, furniture, entertainment centers, etc. Look around your room and see if you are hiding a corner – there is space back there for emergency supplies. If it’s a heavy piece of furniture then make sure the food or supplies you put back there is for “emergencies only”. If you store food in five gallon buckets – these also stack nicely in corners.


The point is to not only have extra food on hand, but to also keep it “out of sight, out of mind”. In an emergency, if food becomes scarce you aren’t going to want the whole neighborhood (that didn’t bother to think ahead) to come knocking at your door because they think you are “hoarding” food and have extra to spare. It could get out of hand very quickly, if you give it all away and leave yourself unable to survive on your own, then what was the point in preparing anyways?

If someone does happen to spot your storage just tell them that your house, apartment, condo…. has no storage space (this is very common with newer houses and apartments) and you are doing the best with what little you have. This is usually an adequate explanation for most people.


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About the Author:

Stephanie is a writer for the American Preppers Network, a small local paper and for her blog, The Home Front and was featured in Marie Claire UK in the October 2012 issue that featured women preppers. She is also the credited writer of "Emergency Bag Essentials (Swatchbook): Everything You Need to Bug Out" released in August 2014 and available on "I write articles based on my own experience with emergency preparedness, self-sufficiency, homesteading, food preservation and life around the farmstead. I grew up in a very rural area where I learned to garden, the art of canning, to hunt and fish, and to raise my own animals for food. I also spent 6 years volunteering for the local county Search and Rescue group where I learned a variety of survival skills and a little bit about law enforcement protocol. " "As a general rule of principle I do not write articles about information that I have only read - if I am writing about something it's because I have done it myself and gone to great lengths to provide you with the facts meshed with personal experience. My alter egos are as an full time mom, amateur photographer, and backpacker." Stephanie's past APN articles are featured below on several pages. To connect with her --> click on one of the many little square social media buttons below!

1 Comment on "Getting Started in Preparedness – Finding Storage Space"

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  1. Matt Cole says:

    Good ideas.