You needn’t have been prepping for long to understand the importance of storing food for long- or indefinite-term survival situations.
Once you are no longer able to dash down to the grocery store to plus-up on your weekly provisions, the pressure will really be on. Fortunately, mankind has been storing food for a very, very long time and we have it pretty much down pat in our modern era.
Unfortunately, no matter how the food is preserved, it tends to take up an awful lot of room. Pantries and cabinets quickly fill to overflowing and there is only so much room on shelves in your kitchen.
With sacks of staple, cans of vegetables and other foods besides seemingly taking over your life, where are you supposed to put them all? And preferably where are you supposed to stash all this without it getting in the way of your life?
Not to worry, today we are here with a list of ten seemingly crazy but undoubtedly effective places to store your surplus survival food stash.
Table of Contents
Above a Door
One of my favorite places to stash extra food is just above a door on shelving installed for the purpose.
Rooms that you do not occupy for rest, relaxation or gathering are perfect for this, such as bathrooms and walk-in closets, but you can get creative and even install shelving above the doors in hallways and other rooms if you want to.
The trick is to have a realistic assessment of what you’ll be able to store above a door frame based on the height of the door and the distance from the door frame to the ceiling.
You might be able to store large and bulky items such as packs of toilet paper or just a couple of rows of cans.
Both are fine, and it is only about making the best possible use of what space you have to stash your goods in a place where they are out of the way and still reasonably easy to access.
In a Closet
For most of us, we already have plenty of stuff in our closets, but dimes will get you dollars that your closet could stand some serious cleaning out and reorganization.
Considering how much stuff lives in our closets that we rarely, if ever, use but hang on to all the same it makes perfect sense to store our survival food throughout our home in various closets.
This method is even more appealing when you stop to consider that you can keep right on storing and stacking things in the closet on top of the container holding your food stuffs if you want to, assuming of course you won’t be reaching for it on the regular and it is long-lasting enough that timely rotation won’t be a pain.
For instance, you can store crates or plastic containers full of canned goods in the bottom of a closet to form a sturdy base for stacking your other possessions on or you could store a flat container full of beans, rice, or other dry goods on the small shelf that is typically at the top of a closet.
You’d be surprised how much additional storage you can muster if you make it a point to tidy up and repurpose your closets!
Under the Bed
The space beneath the average bed is another location that is where so many of our possessions go to die, as it were.
Be honest, when is the last time you pulled anything out from under your bed to actually use it? Chances are it has turned into a repository for long or oddly shaped items that won’t fit anywhere else, or a sort of dustbin for the things you don’t care to clean up or pick up off the ground.
With a flick of your foot, under the bed they go never to be seen again- at least until you move or replace your mattress!
This is a shame, because that space under the bed might as well be designed for storing the usually heavy loads of food that comprise your stash!
All you’ll need to do is place it inside short but wide plastic containers that can easily glide over your floor, particularly if you have carpet, and you can easily place, rotate and access your stash.
So long as your mattress is off the floor at all you can at least fit a single layer of cans, inside an appropriately sized container or tray, beneath your bed.
If you have a tall bed frame, or care to place your bed frame on specialty blocks designed for elevating it higher off the floor, you can fit larger trays or containers that can be stacked with two layers of cans or other goods.
Most food that is stored in cans, jars or pouches is so heavy it is possible to fit hundreds of pounds of food beneath a typical queen size bed.
Bucket storage is quickly becoming a popular way to securely stash foodstuffs among preppers.
Typical, gasketed hardware store paint buckets of the five gallon variety are durable, stackable, and can yield your food a considerable amount of environmental resistance, making them perfect for stashing food in a place where pests or variable humidity and temperature could otherwise cause concern.
The best part about these buckets is their adaptability. They are just as suited for storing food in a closet without shelves, as they are in a mudroom or exterior cellar.
They can even be repurposed as a sort of miniature root cellar by partially burying them in the ground in a shady spot, helping to keep your food cool and edible even after refrigeration or climate control is lost. You can find quite a few methods for accomplishing this right here on this website.
Perhaps the only shortcoming with bucket storage is the fact that food must be stacked within the bucket to fit, and that makes accessing food at the bottom of the bucket for any purpose a pain, and getting to food in the bottom bucket of a stack an even bigger pain.
If you take just a little bit of extra care in planning your layout and rotation schedule it won’t be that big of a deal.
Some folks mistakenly believe that you cannot store food in an unfinished basement for whatever reason, but this is definitely not the case!
Assuming that your basement has block or poured concrete walls, a solid floor and is generally weather tight it is a perfect place to stash all of the food that would otherwise be bursting out of every nook and cranny in the rest of your home.
Even better, since your basement is very likely cooler than the rest of your house this could actually make it the ideal place to stash your food.
Now, it is true that some basements have more problems with moisture and the rest of your home, but this is likely not a deal breaker unless the walls sweat like crazy, and you notice mold forming everywhere.
All you’ll need to do is keep your stored food off the walls and up off the ground, and you shouldn’t have any issues.
The easiest solution for basement food storage is to simply install heavy duty freestanding shelving or racks, more on that later, but some folks still prefer to use wall-mounted shelves.
Either will do the job, but make sure you think ahead before your storage solution is installed if you are planning on finishing the basement one day; you wouldn’t want to pay for shelving twice if you don’t have to.
In an RV or Trailer
I know lots of preppers that have an RV or trailer on their property either as a recreational fun mobile or as a just-in-case kind of tool.
As it turns out, both can be used for supplementary storage when they are not being used for their intended purpose. You can definitely fit plenty of food in either if you don’t mind having it out of your home.
Trailers and RVs both have the advantage of being pretty well pest-proof so long as they are in good repair, and generally out of sight and out of mind. RVs in particular have built-in storage solutions like cabinets, drawers and other cubby holes for the purpose.
The biggest problem with using either as a storage solution for your survival food stash is controlling the temperature. The interior of a trailer or RV will be subjected to significant swings and ambient temperature, hot and cold, depending on the climate.
This creates challenges for storing certain kinds of food that are particularly temperature sensitive, and every kind of food will expire more quickly when subjected to high temperatures.
You aren’t off the hook if you live in a cold region, either, because foods with a significant liquid content could freeze and burst their containers if you aren’t careful.
You will also have to be very diligent about rotating food kept outside the home because it is so easy to forget about it.
Despite these drawbacks, a trailer or RV could make the perfect place to store your survival food surplus.
In the Laundry Room
It is criminal how often I see the laundry room neglected as a location with ample extra storage for survival goods, particularly food.
Many laundry rooms have shelves over the washer and dryer arrangement already, and aside from a few bottles of detergent and fabric softener and perhaps a box of dryer sheets there is precious little that must be stored on the shelves to actually do the laundry.
This means you can easily get a little more usable storage space with no changes required.
You also shouldn’t be afraid to install additional shelving in the laundry room with the intended purpose of stashing your food there, almost like a secondary pantry.
Think about it, the laundry room is not a location that you inhabit regularly or for very long at all, and guests generally won’t be entering the laundry room whatsoever when visiting.
This means you won’t have to worry about your stashed food being an eyesore or raising the eyebrows of your guests.
The only quirks of storing food in the laundry room, if you want to call them that, is that you should be cautious to put a lip or other security device on any shelving that you have placed cans and jars of food on; the vibration of the heavy machines going on and on for hours could, conceivably, walk your goods are right off the edge of the shelf.
Also, not for nothing, a running dryer will raise the temperature of the room a couple of degrees, typically, so any goods you plan on storing that require cool storage should not be kept in a laundry room if you can avoid it.
In a Vent
If you are really pressed for space inside your home you could consider stashing some of your food inside one of the vents. Considering it is flat, out of the way and reasonably accessible there is no reason why you shouldn’t unless you pack the event so full of goods that the air can no longer circulate around it.
The best way to do this is to stack or load your goodies into a low container or even on a piece of plastic or cardboard that can easily slide along the vent.
Particularly for long-term disaster preparation, this is one location that is unlikely to be discovered by people that ransack your house looking for supplies.
As you might expect, the food inside will be subjected to a considerable amount of moving air and sustained temperature, hot or cold, so make sure that the food is packaged accordingly or you store it in a container that will provide it some protection.
Underground in a Cache
If you are really serious about keeping your food available for a seriously rainy day you should consider burying it in a hidden, underground cache for the purpose.
This presents many technical challenges, not the least of which is that you must place the food in a container which is completely impervious to the intrusion of moisture and pests.
It will also make rotating the food extremely laborious and inconvenient, with many preppers choosing simply to consider a cache “burned” or expired after a certain amount of time and then digging it up to refresh and reposition it.
The choice of container is absolutely paramount in this endeavor, with one of the best and least expensive being heavy gauge PVC piping that can be sealed with PVC cement or even friction welded closed for the ultimate in security and protection.
Other specialized containers are available commercially for the purpose, or you might even be able to come up with your own. Whatever you choose, make sure you locate this cash in a place where you’ll be able to access it in any season, rain or shine.
In the Crawl Space
The crawl space beneath your home, if it has one, presents opportunities for ample food storage if you can keep the food safe from moisture, insects, rodents and other threats.
Much like burying your food stash in a survival cache the success of this operation will be completely dependent upon the shelf life of the food and placing it inside a suitably heavy-duty container, potentially with desiccant or other moisture absorbing apparatus.
With a little bit of ingenuity and prior setup, it is also possible to create a compartment or shelf in the space to keep the food up off of the ground entirely, greatly reducing the risk to the food.
However, this method naturally entails you’ll have to crawl beneath your house to access the food and that will be a major bummer when the time comes to rotate it or inspect it.
Helpful Hints for Storing Your Food Stash
Storing your survival food stash involves much more than just getting it up off the floor or off your precious counter space. Your food is a vital prep during an emergency, but especially during a long-term SHTF situation, and you want it to last as long as possible.
Accordingly, we want to store that food in such a way that will have the longest possible shelf life while making upkeep and maintenance as simple as possible.
Consult the following tips that will help you make the most of the surprising storage spaces you have picked out.
The ambient conditions in the space where your food will be stored will greatly influence the longevity of that food.
Even when you are dealing with food that has already been preserved from canning, dehydrating or any other method, temperature and humidity is almost always the enemy.
The bottom line is this: Food that is stored in cool, dark conditions will last the longest, all things being equal, while food that is stored in warm conditions, especially those that get exposure to direct sunlight, will expire the fastest.
Humidity is another matter. Food that is inside a heavy plastic or metal container won’t be affected by a little bit of ambient humidity, but sustained high humidity almost always promotes rot and a variety of other microbiological life that can destroy your food stuffs.
The only time humidity is your friend is if you are storing certain whole vegetables or fruits like you would in a root cellar. That discussion is a complex one by itself, and beyond the confines of this article.
Invest in Sturdy Shelving
Sturdy shelving is a must for storing mass quantities of food, especially heavy food contained in cans or jars. Canned fruits, veggies and meats in particular are big culprits because they contain so much moisture as water is very heavy, weighing 8.34 lbs. a gallon.
Chances are we all have a canned goods-shelf in our pantries that is sagging quite a bit compared to the others, and that’s why!
Believe it or not, I have myself witnessed and heard told several horror stories of inadequate shelving units breaking or toppling under the massive load placed on them by unwitting preppers.
Sure, it makes for a funny video on the internet but the results are anything but as damage that compromises a can or bag seal to say nothing of shattering a glass mason jar means that food is lost and your investment wasted.
You are well advised to invest in the strongest possible shelves or racks whatever location you choose for stashing your survival food supply, and accordingly make sure you invest in appropriately sturdy anchors and other mounting hardware to secure those storage solutions.
Stay on Top of Rotation
You don’t need me to tell you that rotating your stored food supplies is a mandatory chore if you want safe and tasty food to eat when you actually need it in an emergency.
Sadly, this chore is a pain in the butt, and the larger and larger your stash grows the more challenging the logistics challenge becomes. This challenge is multiplied when you are storing your food all over the place and especially in non-traditional locations.
As aggravating as it might be to have to pull out the food and access it or sort through it while it is in an out of the way and inconvenient place it must be done just the same. Fail to rotate your food supply at your own peril!
A substantial emergency food stash can quickly grow beyond the confines of your pantry and whatever spare shelving you have to use in your kitchen. Lacking a dedicated secondary pantry or root cellar you’ll have to get creative when it comes to storing the surplus.
Make use of the seven creative spots provided on this list and you’ll have plenty of storage at your fingertips.
Tom Marlowe practically grew up with a gun in his hand, and has held all kinds of jobs in the gun industry: range safety, sales, instruction and consulting, Tom has the experience to help civilian shooters figure out what will work best for them.