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Monday, February 2, 2009

Small Spaces Storage Solutions

At Food Storage Made Easy, we asked our readers to come together and share their ideas for storing food in small spaces. The results were incredible! Continue reading for all the ideas we received. As promised, we created a way cute PDF for you to share with all your friends. To get the handout, click here!

We broke the house up into several different areas and will be covering each one individually. Some of these ideas will be perfect for your situation whether or not you have space. Thanks again to ALL our contributors, you’re AWESOME!

Store cans on their sides under a twin bed. Line them up in rows of their category (fruit, veggies, tuna etc…). When you purchase cans place under the left side of the bed. When you need a can for meal preparation pull it from the right side. You have a cheap rotating storage right under your kids beds!

My husband and I decided to convert one of the bedrooms into our food storage room. We took the smallest of the three, bought heavy duty shelves from Costco and ordered a Shelf Reliance storage system for our canned goods. The closet in our food storage room holds our wheat, powdered milk, and bottled water. We also raised our bed up, and have rolling totes underneath for additional storage.

You can get wide, shallow plastic bins at most department stores that have wheels on them for rollong under your bed. These are great for storing cans of food since they are about as deep as a can. You can easily pull them out for food rotation purposes as well.

Don’t forget all the wonderful storage underneath your beds! You could house cases of canned goods or extra paper goods - anything really! Lots of space, you just have to remember what is under there and keep rotating if it is anything perishable.

Also, the boxes fit perfectly under my children’s beds. That not only gives me extra storage space, but it prevents the build-up of toys and clothes and candy wrappers that otherwise get stuffed under the beds.

I have wheat boxes behind my bed headboard against the wall, in a layer under my daughter’s mattress (she doesn’t have a frame or boxspring), and under the TV (that layer is covered with a blanket). We hardly notice they’re around. I also have water stored under my bed (I used to store it under the couch – that’s a great place to store extra diapers, too).

Buy some of the heavy duty Velcro from any store. The stuff that’s about two to three inches across. Put one side on the back of a pantry, or cabinet, then attach pieces of the other side to your spices. Easy spice rack on the back of the door for almost nothing. Works even with the really big Costco spice jars. We have a couple rows of this, keeping the spices organized, and easy to use.

Inside the door of our pantry and the converted coat closet hang a pantry door shelf that hooks over the top of the door. The one in the pantry holds my 50 or more spices. The second row from the bottom holds my nonstick sprays and Crisco. The bottom shelf holds all my pancake syrups. And big bag of Krusteez.
- Maggie

Under our kitchen sink it was just our trash and a mess of plastic bags. To get that organized he took all the plastic grocery bags. We kept our small stash of dishwasher soap on the side and near it we kept our small garbage can. Then with all the left over space under there… after cleaning the space really well, my husband put our case of Tomato Soup, Spaghettios, and Progresso soups. These are cases that we do not need access to for awhile
-Maggie’s Husband

If your kitchen has a breakfast bar that is too tall for eating (approx. 46 inches) then find someone (husband, a family friend, or pay someone) to custom make shallow cupboards underneath the counter. If they are made with a wood to match your kitchen cabinets then it should be a nice useful addition to your kitchen. We are in the process of doing this.

I use Turn Table Spice Racks, to keep my spaces organized and easy to rotate. It ends up taking less space because I can pile spices all the way to the back but still have access to them. I also put my baking goods in plastic bins so I can easily take out all my ingredients at once when I bake, again it keeps things in packed away in tighter spaces and makes cooking more fun.

We put short bookshelves in our son’s closet and used them for food storage. Since his clothes were small they fit great over the top of the shelves. We also stacked boxes of #10 cans in the ends of the closets. Just make sure the boxes are labeled with what’s in them and put the things you will need to get into most often on the top or it can be a real pain to find things.

Create false bottoms in your closets! Clear everything out of the bottom of your chosen closet. Fill that space with either #10 cans or a couple of cases of canned goods. Cut a piece of plywood (or have it cut for you!) to size and place on top of the cans. Now, use your closet as you normally would!

We converted our coat closet to a little storage room (we kept the coats in our regular closet). We used boards and #10 cans to “build” shelves and it was amazing how much stuff we were able to put in there.
-Gwen and Melissa

After struggling to find places for our storage, I got the idea to convert our coat closet into a pantry. The closet wasn’t in our kitchen but had lots of space that wasn’t being utilized. Our coats and other items were moved to our bedroom closets. My husband added several shelves and removed the bar

I also repurposed a canvas sweater holder that hung in the closet for boxes of pasta, cereal and crackers in my front ‘coat’ closet - those that didn’t fit in the tiny kitchen cupboards. I converted the broom closet into a kitchen pantry (it was about 15 inches deep) with some shelf brackets and wood cut at home depot.

We converted our coat closet into another food pantry. Since this closet is not directly in the kitchen and it is carpeted we store our #10 cans, case lot sales items, and items purchased in bulk that we have a lot of. I stock my main pantry from this converted coat closet. Also the coat closet had a built in shelf above the rod so that shelf is used for unopened boxes of food like our case of 48 cans of Tuna and our 72 hours kits (grab and go kits near a door exiting the house).

I have a one year supply of fruit that I home canned. My mother had tons of milk crates from years ago, and we filled them up and now they are stacked high in my closest and under my hanging clothes. That’s where my fruit is. I have learned to put things in places that can be hidden so it doesn’t look like i have food all over my house, the kids closets are stacked high of boxes of # 10 cans

I live in a manufactured home (no basement) with a large master bathroom that has a corner “garden” tub. The side access panels are held on with velcro. I store my laundry supplies in the dead space under the tub.
-Mary Lou

What I’m planning on doing is curtaining off two feet or so along one wall of the dining room (Ikea has curtain rails you can mount on the ceiling) and putting all my food storage on shelves behind it.

In one house (we were owners so we could cut into the wall) there was a space under the stairwell and we cut an opening in there and put a door so we could store things there. It was quite small, but functional. We’ve always looked around at wherever we were living for available space.

The laundry/utility room often has extra space above the washer and dryer that can be used. Even if you don’t want to put food there, it works for storing toilet paper, dish soap, shampoos, etc.

We took sheets of 2 inch blueboard and made a 4×10 food storage room at the end of our very small living room. Made a door out of duct tape/blueboard.

You can put organizers under your sink that are adjustable and can fit around all the pipes. It’s a great way to have shelves under that awkward space. I also put racks directly on the cupboards to hold different kinds of plastic wrap, aluminum foil etc.

Sofa Youtube:
This is an amazing idea that we received multiple times, it’s about creating a shelving system that acts as a table behind a sofa. It’s so neat!
-Ruth, Mary Lou, Linda

These are things my mom did, she put wheat in buckets, using one on both sides she would put a piece of cut plywood across it and make a shelf. We got to put contact paper of our choice on the wood and the bucket to decorate or rooms with and she would stack them 2 high. They make great book shelves. Now they have such great things to decorate, you could go wild with it, maybe faux painting some to look like marble pillars? You could even use the shelves to put other food stuffs on and put a curtain or sheet in front to make a make-shift “cupboard”.

I sewed a liner for a big basket I had (like a big bag). Then I was able to put extra oatmeal boxes, crackers etc in it. I put a round table top (the kind you screw legs on) on it and used it as an end table. The bag liner hid the contents….When I moved to a bigger 1 bedroom apartment that same basket was used to store all the extra laundry detergent and dryer sheets I would stock up on at sales, soap and shampoo too - since I didn’t have a linen closet.

Knowing we needed space to store food and some casual seating, we made 18″ cubes with hinged lids. Added casters on the bottom, padded seating on top. Inside it held about 4 cases worth of canned veggies, soup, etc. We made 3 of these boxes, then made a table to store them under. On the table we used decorative items: a nice looking binder for our storage records, a pretty box that held recipes for our storage foods, another box held cards with helpful hints. A lamp and a phone rounded out the decoration s.

The food storage boxes from the church canneries (the kind that hold six #10 cans each) fit very nicely between the wall and my couches. Every piece of furniture in my living room and family room has food storage boxes behind it. I stack them about 3 boxes tall, and then extend them as long as the couch. It leaves just the perfect amount of space between the wall and the furniture — nobody would guess there was anything back there. Those boxes also can be stacked to form a table — my telephone sits on one such table. It’s just boxes with a cloth over them.

One year when we lived in an apartment my in-laws gave us a big wicker chest for Christmas. We put it in our living room and filled it with cans. We were amazed at how many cans could fit in it. We had a futon in our living room and we hid soda bottles filled with water behind the futon.

We also did the plywood table top thing, except we used two buckets of wheat for each table–they were beautiful and no one would have guessed what was under them!

I bought 2 book shelves at a garage sale - asking price $40 each, bought both for $25. They have been a great addition for storage! I have the shelves stored in my office, but when you look down the hall from our main living area you don’t see them.
-Marilyn’s daughter

I like the slender boxes that 3 - 1 gal water comes in for regular cans-the can fit nicely laying sideways (2 rows)- the box is slender to put in room and has the concept of the rotating method for the higher priced shelves

Here’s an old post from my personal site of some roller shelving I made earlier this year, designed to fit behind standard shelving. Still works amazingly well.

I use one place for one food group. Like canned meats, chili, and soup for under the bed, canned veggies on top of cupboards, and fruits under end tables with fabric draped over it. Also if your filling cabinet isn’t full, fill it up with boxed items, or put food in a crawl space or attic well sealed. Keep a detailed inventory handy so you don’t forget how much & what you have (for me it’s outta’ sight, outta’ mind). Post your list on the inside of a cupboard so it’s tucked away. Also, tape a pen or pencil on a string, or velcro (my favorite) a pen next to it. That way, when you’re in a hurry, you can mark it instead of trying to remember what you took later.

We have used the top space in closets, a drawer in a bench, under beds (even propped the beds up on blocks so the food would fit underneath), lined every closet with food and/or water. Pull a dresser or couch away from the wall a couple of feet and you can fit lots of cans or buckets behind it where they won’t be seen too easily. We put food in the mylar pouches in the rolly boxes that go under beds and in giant 55 gal metal drums in the carport (the drums sealed so the insects/rodents/critters weren’t able to get to our food. Make a table with a board on top of a couple of cases of canned goods and cover it with a cloth. I’ve stacked 2 liter pop bottles of water horizontally between my filing cabinet and the wall. I’m also okay with the fact that my house doesn’t look professionally decorated—it’s disguise the food d├ęcor!

Store some tins, pasta, rice and other non perishable food items that you use on a monthly basis, in a box/plastic crate (check expiry date is at least 12 months away)…..fill the box to the top and mark it “January 2009”. Store the box – be creative – you could even make it into a footstool, covered with some fabric and leave it next to your couch. (I moved my couch out a bit and stored the boxes behind it.) Do the same in February and March… you have three boxes – why not make them into bedside cabinet with that pretty fabric? J In the new quarter, empty the January 2009 box into your kitchen cupboards and refill the box with new purchases and mark it April 2009……you have just built up a good supply of basic food for 3 months and more importantly - rotated it……Keep going with the new purchases and rotation….until you build it up to 6 months and then 12 months.


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