Emergency Food Storage In Small Spaces

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August 15, 2023 / Comments (67)

Featured Food Storage

Running out of extra space for food storage? Make more room in your home with these storage tips for preppers!

RELATED: Wise Food Storage For Long-Term Survival

Prepper's Food Storage Ideas

This article was originally posted at BackdoorSurvival.com and is shared with full permission

Emergency food storage can be one of the biggest challenges of the prepper lifestyle. We know it is important to have food saved up for an SHTF scenario, but the reality is sometimes we just don't have enough room to store all of it.

Food storage facilities are especially challenging for preppers living in apartments or homes without much extra storage space.

Contributor Gaye Levy has some great, space-saving food storage ideas and has been kind enough to share them with us. Check out her ideas below, and read more of her articles over at her website BackdoorSurvival.com.

One of the more common prepper challenges is finding room for stored food and water. Lucky you if you have a large home with a basement or cellar – you have plenty of space at just the right temperature.

But the rest of us? Not so much.

Many people live in apartments, condos, mobile homes, RV’s or, in my case, a one bedroom cottage. This means we are cramped for the normal pantry and closet space let alone space for our emergency food and water.

Couple the lack of storage space with the need to be mindful of the six enemies of food storage (temperature, moisture, oxygen, light, pests, time) and the storage problem compounds exponentially.

16 Food Storage Tips for the Space Challenged Prepper

This does not have to be an impossible situation. With a bit of creativity, almost everyone can find a bit of extra space for their emergency food storage.

So with that in mind, today I would like to offer some ideas for storing food for the space challenged. I am going to do this by using my own home as an example.

In the photos below you will see the results of my walk-around assessment of usable storage space in my own home. As embarrassing as it might seem to expose my messes and disorganization for the world to see, I think it will help give you some ideas where you too can find some extra space in your own home.

1. Build Some Shelves Under the Stairwell

If you are like me, that awkward space under the stairwell is a big mess. I actually cleaned this area out before taking the photo – that is how bad it was.


If you don’t want to build shelves, consider putting some buckets along the back wall then placing a board on top. On top of this make-shift shelf, you can store #10 tins or canned and packaged foods.

This is going to be the number one makeover in my home.

2. Shelves Above the Washer and Dryer

The area above the washer and dryer is not ideal since it is prone to heat and humidity. Still, if you are diligent about rotating on an annual basis, this area is perfectly acceptable for storing some canned goods or Mylar bags filled with rice, beans or oatmeal.

In my case, I have some dead space next to the cupboard – perfect for a shelf or two.

3. Build Some Shallow Shelves Behind the Clothes in Your Closet

Most closets are far deeper than necessary for your hanging clothes.


Adding a shelf just wide enough to hold canned goods will take advantage of this extra space without compromising your clothing one bit.

4. Clear Out the Junk on the Shelf Above Your Clothes in the Closet

Talk about a waste of space. I have stored some decorative shams up on the closet shelf above my hanging clothes.

I used to keep the shams on the bed but to tell the truth, it made making the bed too much trouble so now I pull them out when a company is coming. Most certainly, these pillows can be stored in my garage where it gets really hot in the summer and really cold in the winter.

5. Shelves on the Backs of Doors

As an alternative to shelves, you can purchase some inexpensive over-the-door shoe organizers for storing canned goods or bottled water.

6. Stack Canned Goods or Jugs of Water Behind the Sofa


If your sofa is pushed up against a wall, consider moving it out a few inches and using this newfound space for food and water storage.

7. Shelves Under the Sink

As long as the food you store under the sink is well sealed, it is perfectly okay to use this space for storage. Consider a shelf just wide enough to hold soda or juice jugs filled with rice or beans—perfect.

8. Storage in the Deep Recesses of Your Cupboards

This is a storage area I had not thought of before. The backs of the very top shelves of my cupboards are areas I consider to be no man's land.

I climbed up on a step stool to peek inside, and there are cups and saucers I never use, odds and ends of glassware, and items I have dragged from home to home during my 38 years of marriage. This stuff should be thrown out or given away.

Why do I keep this stuff?

Take a look inside your own cupboards. Do you have casserole dishes you never use?

How about the “good china” only used once a year if that often? These are candidates for the garage or the garage sale.

Box them up and make room for your food storage.

RELATED: Food Storage Solutions: Buckets, Lids, And Gamma Seals

9. Storage Above the Refrigerator

Ditto the above. Mine is too high to get to daily and too deep to be practical.


At the very least, the back of the area above the refrigerator can be used to emergency food storage.

10. Storage in Decorative Baskets

This is one of my favorites. I love baskets and use them to store all sorts of things in plain sight.


I use one for my bread-making supplies, another for pet food and treats, and another as a potato bin. These are right there in my living room but no one is the wiser.

As I said, hidden in plain sight.

11. Storage Behind the Books on Your Bookshelf

If you happen to collect books, think about pulling the books out toward the edge of the shelf and storing food behind the books.

12. Storage Under the Bed

This one is easy so I am surprised more people don’t consider this option. Not only that, you can use some well-placed bricks to raise your bed and to increase the height of your under-bed storage area.

13. Storage Under the Sofa or Other Pieces of Furniture

Do not discount the shallow storage area under your sofa, chairs or other furniture. This is where I store my extra large 15” cast iron skillet (my 12” skillet calls the oven home) as well as my baking sheets, pizza peel, board games, and other items.

As you walk around your own home and inventory space, be on the lookout for things that can be moved around and stored in out-of-the-way places such as under the furniture.

14. Fill up Those Empty Suitcases

Unless you are a business traveler, chances are you only use your luggage once or twice a year. Empty suitcases are ideal for storing food that has been packaged in Mylar or FoodSaver bags.

This works equally well for pasta, rice, cereals, and other packaged items from the grocery store.


Consider storing the individual packages of food in a large garbage bag and then stuffing the whole thing into a suitcase. That way you can simply remove the single large bag when you are ready to travel, set it aside for the duration of your trip, and then replace it when you get home.

As a bonus, if you need to evacuate, you can grab your suitcase full of food and take it with you. Pretty neat, huh?

15. Store Buckets in the Bathtub

I know people who never take a bath or do so only occasionally. This is not to say they are dirty – they simply prefer the shower.

Why not fill the bathtub with well-sealed buckets of food? You can put up a nice shower curtain and no one will be the wiser.

You could also store a bucket or two in the shower. Removing it before turning on the water is not such a big deal, after all.

By the way, the reason you want to use a bucket in the shower is so that the humidity from the bathroom does not leach into your food. That, plus the fact that is easy to just hoist the bucket and set it aside – so much easier than a bunch of separate packages or cans.

16. Build a Loft for Storage in the Garage

We built a storage loft in our garage. If you do not have a high peaked ceiling like we did, you can put a shelf around the upper perimeter of the garage instead.


This is a great place to store those little used kitchen appliances, off-season clothes, and other little used items – making room inside your home for more food.


There are some factors to keep in mind as you evaluate these hidden food storage locations in your home. The first is simply this: your stored food should be used, replaced, and rotated. This is especially true if your storage conditions are not optimal.

Let me give you an example. You live in a warm, humid climate and do not have air-conditioning.

On a hot summer day, the temperature inside your home may be 80F and the humidity may be 80%. Okay, it is what it is. Rather than fret about the diminished shelf life of your stored food, plan on using it after a year or two.

As long as you replace what you use, you are fine. Your food will still be nutritious and edible so rotate it into your day-to-day food pantry and eat it.

The other thing is your food storage is “not an inheritance for your grandchildren.” I wish I can claim credit for that statement but it belongs to Barbary Salsbury, the author of Preparedness Principles: The Complete Personal Preparedness Resource Guide for Any Emergency Situation.

I had the pleasure of meeting Barbara a couple of months ago and I was knocked to my senses by this statement.

It is okay to purchase what you need to get you through a one month or even a one-year emergency. But use your food.

Cook with it and eat it. Learn to cook your food outdoors, perhaps in a fire pit or on a rocket stove.

Try eating it cold. Learn what you like and what you will take a pass on the next time around.

But most of all, don’t think you have to hoard your food. Eat it, enjoy it, and replace it.

Want to see the original article?

Click here to read the full article on BackdoorSurvival.com

Take a walk around your house and find spaces where you can apply these great ideas. Surely there are corners where there's an accumulation of junk. Simply clean these areas and let your organization skills out.

Do these ideas help free some unused space in your home? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!


Emergency Food Storage In Small Spaces | http://survivallife.com/emergency-food-storage-small-spaces/

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on January 21, 2015, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

67 Responses to :
Emergency Food Storage In Small Spaces

  1. Mike Asimos says:

    This is great. Do you mind if I share (and credit you) some of this information in my blog?

  2. Kaytee Sumida says:

    “1. Build some shelves under the stairwell”
    Really? This is the #1 suggestion??… what stairwell?? No such thing here, nor in most “small spaces”, apts., RVs, etc. No room for #16, either– we do have shelving on the walls, but they are “full to the top”– hubby’s “grilling” and fishing stuff, Christmas stuff, fans for summer, tools….

    Of all the suggestions, this is the only one we can do, and have done: “6. Stack canned goods or jugs of water behind the sofa”. We have 4 cases of #10 cans there, stacked on their sides. Which is all that fits. Have about 2″ clearance under the “sofa”.

    Our kitchen cupboards don’t have “deep recesses”, nor is there much space behind/under clothing in closets– except the entryway coat closet, which has 5g buckets on the floor, and a couple of cases of cans on the shelf. Under the sink cupboard has cleaning supplies, aluminum foil, etc. in what little “space” there is. As for “behind books in the bookcases”– there are more books, if the books are “small”. The shelf above the refrigerator has canning supplies, and such, in it. Our bed is a platform bed– with a “dresser” underneath. The suitcases are filled with smaller suitcases/bags… and stored in the garage, where high temps are a problem. “Over the door organizers” prevent the doors from closing– and since they are hollowcores… can’t screw in anything for storing anything heavy– like a bathrobe on a hook….

    We did clear out a couple of shelves in the linen closet to use for food storage, since that is as temp controlled as possible a space (except for the refrigerator); soaps, etc. got moved to a garage cupboard, except for the ones “for immediate use” in the bathrooms.

    1. roni says:

      we can also take coolers while traveling. its a good place to store your food and stuff.

  3. keith todd says:

    you can store stuff IN the bed! I got rid of the box springs and replaced it with a box with a hinged top the same size. I am thinking I will redo the big box into several boxes that will fit the same space and have handles on the ends for easier moving.

  4. Adrienne says:

    I love your ideas on storing food! Renting versus owning your own place also adds some storage issues (on what you may or may not be allowed to add, subtract, or modify). Decluttering the kitchen cupboards is on my list for the next couple of months. The cupboard above the refridgerator – I just started using it awhile ago after being here over four years!

    I look forward to your site and reading more of your ideas.

  5. Betty says:

    Very practical ideas, thank you! I never though of using the space above my very top shelves! Thanks again for sharing! Cheers, my website

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