One of the greatest challenges many people face when building their food storage is inadequate space. Very few people have an ideal situation to work with. No matter how small your home or apartment is, or whether you own or rent your home, a pantry is possible. It may take a little creativity and ingenuity but it is possible to create a pantry system to suit your needs.

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.
Under a bed is a great location for food storage

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.
Living and Family Rooms
  • 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.
Could there be food in this wicker storage bin?

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.
Closets are a great location for some of your food storage

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.

Use Containers

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!
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12 comments

Melinda

Melinda

Why not the garage – I just put up four shelves – large chrome ones – thanks

Gayle

Gayle

I have buckets between my couch and the wall with a laminated board on top of the buckets and plants on top of the board. Surprising how much stuff is behind the couch and other places in the house.

Laurie S.

Laurie S.

I enjoyed this article. There are a few places to store I hadn't thought of. I was also surprised to see you mention my "secret" hiding spot.. on top of cabinets!

wanderyr

wanderyr

Sorry, this post is just to get the follow-up comments emailed to me! :)

wanderyr

wanderyr

I've been slowly adding cases of #10 cans to storage, in many of the places mentioned in this outstanding article. I just finally ordered a year's supply, and it came on a pallet. I was suprised how compact everything was packed! I think I'll leave it on the pallet, and stack my existing cases on top (no extra floorspace!). My question: how many cases high can I stack, before the cans get crushed? Thanks, everyone!

Keri

Keri

I love your creative ways to store food storage. I had a friend who cleverly used fabric to cover her food storage and created coffee tables, night stands, etc with her storage. Remember to keep an active inventory as you are rotating your items. A good tool is the food storage anylizer. It is great.

Anna

Anna

I love that you described how to get organized in different areas of the home. I recently wrote a similar blog… 11 ways to get organized in 2011. Great ideas!

Nick Johnston

Nick Johnston

Use storage areas that are well ventilated, clean, dark, dry, and cool. Quality of food may also be expected to deteriorate slowly with storage because of time and temperature. A good temperature for storage of canned food is 50° F., which is almost refrigerator cool. An increase of 20° F. approximately doubles the rate of deterioration; thus, food stored at 70° F. will deteriorate twice as fast as food stored in 50° F. Since 50° might be difficult to maintain, you can store foods over a long period at 70°. Storage at 90° F. is highly undesirable, as it promotes rapid deterioration.

mamaof4

mamaof4

As I watch some of the footage of the earthquakes with entire houses collapsed, I was wondering if you have any ideas for outside food storage, so that in extreme cases as that where you can't get into the house to get your supplies, possibly a more attainable outside storage solution too. I was thinking a shed, in totes under the porch(that rubble seems like it would be easier to dig out than the main structure).

Blog Sponge

Blog Sponge

.., the space in our house is one of my problems.. with the great ideas that you have posted in here i think i can be able to so some solutions…
Pantry Rack

Red Icculus

Red Icculus

We keep a weeks worth of food, water, and ammo under the bed in 2 large tupperware containers originally intended for shoes from Wal-Mart.

These are some great ideas, especially those living in small spaces.

Terria Fleming

Terria Fleming

Some great ideas for storing food in small space homes. I know people who live in RV's and aboard boats who have food storage too, so it's certainly possible to have food storage in small homes or apartments..

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