Where do I put my food storage?
Actually, this question has two parts:
- where do I find the space to put my food storage? and
- how can I store my food so I’m able to incorporate it into my weekly menus?
There are a few things I always do when I bring food into the house:
- I always mark every package and can with the month and year I purchased it. I use a permanent marker and mark one end and the side of the package or can. (I do this because if I’m sticking the item in a bottom cupboard, I can see the dates on the top of the package. If I’m sticking it in a top cupboard, I can see the dates on the side of the package. Easy, peasy.)
- I always use the older packages or cans first. That means when I get more of something, say chicken soup, I’ll pull all the chicken soup to the front of the cupboard, and put the cans I just bought at the back. That way my storage is continually rotated so nothing expires.
Now that everything is marked with the date it was brought home, and you know that the oldest items get moved to the front and the newest are placed at the back of the cupboard, the next question, where to put it?
I bottle tomatoes, fruit, and jam, and buy cans and boxes of food. I put the bottles on the bottom shelves. Why? Because if there’s an earthquake, the bottles don’t have far to fall so they are less likely to break. That means cans and boxes go on the higher shelves.When the kitchen cupboards are full, I start putting the bottles or cans in boxes and get creative. I have a book case full of bottles of noodles, salt, cornmeal, and boxed cereal. I have a metal shelf where I put jar boxes full of fruit and vegetables. The jam is stored in the bottom of mom’s china hutch.
When I had cases full of macaroni, rice, milk, wheat, and beans in No. 10 cans, my kids didn’t have bed frames, they had beds set on boxes of food. It was a bit tricky to rotate the cans of food as we needed them, but we seemed to manage. We put one layer of boxes in the bottom of each closet with a plastic tablecloth over the tops to keep the boxes clean. If you have a basement, put the boxes on a pallet or pieces of 2X4s in order to keep them off the floor to keep moisture from seeping up and degrading the cans or boxes.
It’s best if you don’t store food in a laundry room or bathroom. The humidity encourages cans to rust. Also, the heat produced by the dryer or shower can degrade the nutritional content of your food.Speaking of heat, it’s best not to store food in a garage or on a porch where the temperature varies from hot to cold to hot.
As you bring food into your home, start incorporating it into your weekly or monthly meal plan. Store what you use and use what you store. If no one in your house eats peanut butter, don’t store peanut butter. It will spoil, you’ll throw it away, and it’s a total waste of resources; money, space, and energy to move it around.
And finally, as you use something, put it on your grocery list so you can replace it. And because you’ve created a plan to increase your food storage, you will be adding extras every time you go shopping.
I know people (okay, one person) who makes an inventory with how many of everything she has. As she uses something, she marks it off the list so she ALWAYS knows how much of what that she has. I think this is a grand idea. It would make me stark raving crazy if I tried it, but it’s a grand idea, and one you might want to consider.
At least once a year, usually some time during summer vacation when my grandchildren are here, we clean out all the cupboards and formal and informal storage areas, and I re-inventory everything.
Ta-da! Now that you know what’s in your pantry, cupboards, and freezer, and you have a plan to expand your food storage, you can get creative in finding the perfect place to store everything so it’s easily found and used in your regular diet.
In a couple days, I’ll give you some ideas on how to find the resources (money) to increase your food storage.