Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Home Tour--Abbie's Food Storage

Unlike Hannah, who is extremely organized and functional in all aspects of her life, my food storage is ALL over my house. I blame it on small closets and Mountain Man's mountains (ha!) of backpacking gear, but it might have something to do with my personality too.

I have two types of food storage. I have the longer-term supply which includes: wheat, rice, oats and beans. My goal is to have enough for our family of 4 to eat for 1 year. Then I have my 3-Month supply which is a total 3 meals/day supply our family for 3 full months of our normal, daily diet. I make this distinction because the differences in the type of supply make for different types of storage styles.

For example, all of my longer-term storage can be stored, if packaged properly, for 30 or more years. My 3-month supply needs to be rotated out regularly. So I get my longer-term storage from an LDS cannery in #10 cans and foil pouches and I buy my 3-month supply from the grocery store and keep it in original packaging and/or tupperware containers. Everybody still with me? My longer-term storage is NOT rotated out on a regular basis: I buy the food, properly packaged, and stow it away and at my 30 year wedding anniversary I will start rotating the food, because that's when I started a food storage (should I enter the giveaway?). Because I'm not constantly rotating this storage, I can stick it in less than desirable locations (hard to reach and so forth). My 3-month supply is used REGULARLY. Daily, even, and so it needs to be highly accessible. The reason this works for me is that wheat, rice, oats and beans are all part of my 3-month supply TOO. So I'm still storing food I eat, but it's just in different packaging based on the type of storage it is.

Okay, now that that's out of the way, let's tour!

I'd like to say that the majority of my 3-month supply food storage is in my guest room closet. I could use some shelving in this closet, but I'm making due with what we've got. In here I have my extra condiments, my veggies and fruits, jams, extra bags of flour and wheat (for my 3-month supply!), juice, dried fruit, cereal, crackers, pasta, etc.

I use my Shelf Reliance Cansolidator for the hardest part of my 3-month supply: fruits and veggies. I prefer fresh fruit/veggies so I rarely buy canned. BUT it's a crucial part of food storage. If you don't have canned veggies and you couldn't buy/grow fresh ones, you wouldn't have a well-balanced diet in a food storage situation. So what I've been doing is buying one can of each each time I go to the grocery store. I don't even put it on my list, I just walk to the aisle EVERY time and buy one can of corn, one can of green beans, one can of fruit, one can of diced tomatoes and one can of tomato sauce. Then I bring them home and stick 'em in my cansolidator. Well, actually, my daughter does, she loves the rolling shelves.

Want your own cansolidator? Win one! Leave a comment on yesterdays post!

The side of my guest closet: That bag of wheat is part of my 3-month supply! Wheat is not just for longer-term storage. You need to incorporate it NOW into your diet so if/when the time comes to eat it, your body won't be shocked into it. Nor your taste buds. I would never store wheat for longer than a couple of months in a sack like this, for pest control reasons. But this is a cheap way of getting wheat. A sack like this only costs $5-6. Under the wheat you'll notice some boxes of beans, rice and more wheat. These are all in #10 cans for my longer-term storage. I don't need to get to these anytime soon, so they make a great "table" for my wheat.

This is the bed in my guest room. Do you see the silver things peeking out? This bed is very low, but is packed with mylar pouches of wheat, rice, beans, and oats....and spaghetti if I remember correctly!

This is my 3-month supply of beans, more or less. This is in my living room. When I need beans, I pour them out of these containers. This would not be acceptable storage for longer than a couple months.

This is my recent order from the cannery. It's waiting to go in my new buckets as part of my 3-month supply. Believe it or not, wheat can be pretty decent if given half the chance.

Behind those sacks is my treasure chest. I found it at a garage sale for $10. Someday I'll refinish it, but right now it's home to more longer-term storage in these mylar pouches.

This is my girls' closet. This is where I am building up my water supply. This is also where I store my 72 hour kits. I figure that if anything was happening (emergency wise) the first place I would go is to get my kids, it makes sense for me to have the emergency supplies and sleeping bags near them.

I like to keep my 3-month supply accessible and visible. Especially after I had a container of oatmeal "hatch" on me. It was disgusting.

And my disorganized pantry where I store the buckets. I have one for wheat, flour, sugar, and rice. I keep my basics like that in two separate containers. A smaller container (like in the picture previous) for daily use, and then the buckets to replenish my other container. It all makes sense in my head.

In my garage I keep non-drinking water. You know, for filling up the toilets and stuff like that. I also have some more non-drinking water storage under my kitchen sink. I fill up empty bleach bottles and dishwashing soap bottles with water, label them of course, and store them for cleaning etc. I don't have a lot of drinking water, but by golly if I need to do dishes I've got all my bases covered!

I also store my toilet paper and stuff like that in the garage. I don't keep any food in the garage because I live in the hot, humid, pest-ridden south. Looks like I'm running low on tp. Toilet paper is one thing I would NOT want to be without for 3 months. I think I'd rather live without sugar. Which is really saying something for me.

Here's my favorite part. I can't take the credit for this idea, but I'm pleased with how I adapted it to my situation. This is my living room. It never looks like this except when my children are in bed and my in-laws are coming. Anyway, it's a big long room and the only room besides bedrooms. So Mountain Man and I divided it up into a living room and office/sewing studio/playroom by putting the couch and bookcase in the middle of the room as a divider.

I pulled the couch forward a few inches from the bookcase and stacked a row of #10 cans along the length of the bookcase.

When I got to the end of the bookcase, I laid a board over the top and started again. Repeat and repeat.

When I had loaded up all my cans, I pushed the couch back so there was just enough room for the cans.

You can't even tell! It's a great storage spot right in the middle of my living room!

What's your most extreme food storage hiding space?


Anonymous said...

Thanks for explaining the difference before you long term food storage and 3 month supply!! When I was growing up my mom never had 2 seperate food storage systems. She just had the years supply so we would always rotate that. I was very confused, so thanks for clearing that up!!

Thanks for sharing your storage areas too. I always feel like I'm doing it wrong so it's good to see that others are doing it the same as me!:)

I do have a question though... My husband is about as picky as my kids are:P He WILL NOT eat canned veggies. I've talked with him about storing them before and he said he won't eat them so I don't buy them. I buy the freezer kind and we have an extra freezer in the garage that we can stock up on. Do you think this is ok? I just don't want all those cans to go to waste if we won't use them!! (Sorry to make this comment so long!!)

Audra said...

What a great show and tell! I am very impressed with all the creative places/ways you have done with your food storage- Thanks for sharing!

dogear6 said...

The hubby and I really dislike canned veggies also. I do have some in storage, but I've also bought a stash of dehydrated vegetables, I also dehydrate my own, and recently invested in a pressure canner to can my own.

My most extreme place - water in the linen closet under the extra bedding. Followed by canned goods on the bottom of each bookshelf (and I have a lot of bookshelves).

Leslie & Matt said...

Inspiring. It is so nice to see that people actually succeed at creating a place for food storage. It gives hope. haha!

BWei said...

Speaking of oatmeal hatching, I just cooked some white rice today that I had stored in a Rubbermaid type container, and it had little teeny bugs in it. But it was in Rubbermaid! How can I store for my 3-month supply if it still gets bugs even in plastic? The rice was in there for, I don't know, 5 months, and maybe the bugs were in there when I bought it, but I don't know what to do now...Any advice?

Jennifer Sharpe said...

I noticed you had some drinking water stored in old containers. Do you have to add bleach or anything to them so they are safe to drink? And how long do they last? THanks!

Unknown said...

How fun to see your house and all the nooks and crannies. :) Very creative. I have a mess of stuff right now. Our new place is smaller and I need to get more creative with all over storage. I have too much stuff. I'm with you on the TP thing!

Marisa said...

I'm a newbie to food storing. I've been stocking up w/ what's on sale & that I have coupons for. I have a great closet under my stairs that has about 20 boxes of cereal. My kids love cereal. I would like to get more canned foods, but I don't have the shelving for them.

Sharron said...

Love all your ideas for storing all this away.

I have this calling at church for the second time and when others tell me that they "don't have room for food storage", I just tell them to get it and they will find places when they get tired of tripping on it!

Here are some of the ideas I have used: http://notjustforstoring.blogspot.com/2009/09/where-in-world-is-your-food-storage.html#links --- and---- http://notjustforstoring.blogspot.com/2009/09/where-in-world-is-your-food-storage.html#links

Abs said...


My first thought is, have you tried all the different types of canned veggies? I HATE canned peas and don't even buy them--but green beans aren't that bad.

Second, dogear6's idea is awesome. Try dehydrated veggies! Just make sure you store enough water to be able to rehydrate them.

In the end though, its better to have them than not. Because if I was starving, I'd eat canned peas.

Hope that helps.

Abs said...

BWei--that's exactly what happened to my oats! It was in those containers on my fridge, one day it was fine and then next there were little grubby things crawling around. Gross.

I asked the exterminator about it that day (great timing for the quarterly visit) and he said that bugs get in during processing at the food manufacture plants, so the eggs are already in your boxes of food.

They aren't harmful, just gross, so he suggested to rotate food regularly, buy the latest expiration date, and you can put your rice and grains in the freezer for three days when you first get it, and that will kill the eggs and they won't ever hatch.

Sorry it happened to you too!

Abs said...

Jennifer, check out the post here http://safelygatheredin.blogspot.com/2009/05/how-tostore-water-in-plastic-bottles.html about how I store my water in recycled containers.

Deborah said...

Loved the pictures . . . after all, they ARE worth a thousand words!

I'm familiar will putting food or water behind the couch, but I hadn't thought of adding a board and repeating. Thanks for a great idea!

Deborah said...

Did you give us the same website twice? Looking at other people's ideas really motivates me and gets my brain in gear. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

As for the bugs in the rice and oats. Did you freeze or vacuum pack them or just put them in their original containers into the rubbermaid containers?

By freezing the rice, it kills the eggs of those little bugs - Food storage isn't as simple as tossing a bag into a container and walking away from it, it needs to be properly stored using O2 (oxygen absorbers), dried ice or freezing.

I've had rice and oats stored in mylar bags with O2 absorbers (I no longer do the dry ice method after a 5gal pail of rice exploded) since Y2k with NO bugs in them. I've recently opened a bucket of rice with nothing but bay leaves in them that I stored in 11/99, other then having a slight yellowing and slight bay leaf taste - NO bugs. I just placed a food grade plastic bag into it and filled it.

hope the tips help.

Anonymous said...

From dogear6:

One last comment on not liking canned vegetables - the way I rotate them is to use them for food bank donations. They do need to be donated at least six months prior to their expiration date.

I donate continuously, so this is just one of several things I include to keep my own stock rotated especially of the several foods that I would not otherwise normally eat.

Sharron said...

OOPS! Yes I did. I had a second post on where to fine free containers that were safe and would hold up. It is: http://notjustforstoring.blogspot.com/2009/09/repeat-free-containers-all-around-us.html#links

Sorry about that!

BTW Have you ever tried beans that have been stored for over five years? when I worked in the church cannery, even with soaking over night and then put canned in a retort for a very long time, they were still pretty crunchy. I try to rotate mine every couple of years.

Anonymous said...

When you are soaking old beans, add a tsp of baking soda. It softens them right up. Discard the water with the baking soda before cooking.

Anonymous said...

For using old beans I normally just grind them up before cooking and make re-fried beans with them. OR, cook them up in a pressure cooker. But beans that are over 5-8 yrs old, I normally make re-fried beans 'paste'. Add this to white rice to give it some texture and additional protein.

Becca said...

Can I ask a question on this blog? I live in Northern Cali. Can I keep my #10 cans from LDS cannery in my garage?

Becca M.

Krisi and Adam said...

Becca - I am in n ca as well and I still keep mine inside - temperature gets to warm out there. Get bed risers and store them under every bed in the house.

I loved seeing the inital post and the comments. I need a shoe rack to store extra stuff in. We have a "pantry room
" or guest bedroom that you could almost never actually sleep in! The closet is full of canned things - tomatoes, green beans and corn. I don't think I could ever eat canned peas - it's mush! I love froZen though. We have a freezer - of which I include in my 3 month supply as if we need it hopefully we will still be paying our electricity!

Again thanks for all the pictures and new ideas.

germanjules said...

"I buy the food, properly packaged, and stow it away and at my 30 year wedding anniversary"

I had a good laugh at this one...this is what I guessing I'm shooting for too...and I'm glad to hear that someone else say that #10 cans will store for a long time...

We don't eat from #10 cans and don't rotate them...and that is counterintuitive to many in the church...

Anonymous said...

I don't have much closet space since i recently placed my newest babies crib in the guest closet of my house.
My parents recently cut a hole in their drywall and have full access under their stairs for lots of long term food storage. They accessed it from the kitchen by cutting a hole out of one of the bottom cuboards. The doors just close up when they are done and nobody would ever know it was in there.

Unknown said...

When I went to my food storage guru friend's house, she gave me a tour of all of her storage spaces. She had boxes of #10 cans from the cannery stacked beside the bed as bedside tables. She had covered them with fabric, so I didn't even notice they weren't real furniture.