Country Living Series

Monday, February 6, 2012

No room!

The thing about Prepping is it implies you have the room to store food and supplies. But such is not the case for everyone. In response to my post The Beauty of Bakery Buckets, a reader named Mrs T wrote the following:

I would love to do this but where do you store these huge buckets? I already have a full pantry from buying in bulk, no attic and only a over flowing outside storage building. Rodents and heat are horrid here in Texas. Any advice?

She has an excellent point. While I always suggest making room in one's living quarters that you might not have thought of -- under beds, extra closet shelves, that kind of thing -- or making addition room by giving unneeded possessions to charity or holding a yard sale, etc. -- clearly there's only so much you can do if your living space is small.

So, dear readers, what are your thoughts for Mrs T? Hers is not an uncommon lament, so any thoughts or advice will be appreciated by many.


  1. Our king and queen mattresses rest on buckets-an 18" bedskirt covers well. Also buckets can be stacked 2 high behind hanging clothes.

  2. We, too, live in a very small, old house with no attic storage and only a couple of closets. Thankfully we have a basement but it's not finished so what we can store down there is limited. My only advice is to not overlook storing items higher on the wall. For instance, we recently switched out a sideboard in our dining room for a hutch. This gives us shelves above the cabinet higher up the wall. We, too, already store things under the bed, etc. for more storage. Good luck!

  3. If Mrs T's pantry is overflowing because she is buying in bulk, how is she storing her food? Should some of it be stored in buckets or otherwise prepared for long term storage?
    When space is tight, I strongly suggest square buckets to better make use of the space available.
    On a related subject, does Mrs. T have a plan for what she is buying and when she expects to use it? Buying in bulk doesn't save money if it goes bad or never gets used!

  4. We are in the process of moving into an old farmhouse (110+ years)... it has no garage, no attic, and a small Michigan (dirt) basement under the room that was the original house. The one nice thing is that all the rooms that have been added on have closets, sometimes more than one. Still, this is going to be interesting. The front closet is currently storing hand tools and archery equipment. The mudroom closet is my clothes closet. The space above the kitchen cabinets is full of canning jars stacked two deep. This is about half the canning jars. We will be adding a shelf around the top of the kitchen where there are no cabinets in order to increase the storage space. We have one closet in a bedroom that has two, that will be storage, and a huge amount of unused storage space in the full bath, of all places. I think I'll add this to the list of things I should blog about myself, as we move in and figure out where to put everything...
    Xa Lynn

  5. Be creative in storing. Perhaps the smaller buckets would be good in this situation, and storing them in groups of 2-3 (or even one in each location?) I live in a large house...with no storage closets, sheds, attic, etc. I used to think I needed to store everything together, and that was my downfall. I now have bathroom tissue under my son's bed, peanutbutter under mine, a box-style coffee table that holds some different goodies, a very awkward cupboard above the fridge that holds seldom-used items...

    So try putting things here and there. But make a list, or you will be looking 80 different places to find that extra canopener you put away "somewhere" :)

  6. I blogged about how I used our kitchen knockout (a ledge that runs around two walls of our ceiling, usually used to display plants, etc) to store our mylar bagged food. I pulled all the decorations down and cut 10 inch x 10 inch openings on the top side of the knockout. I turned these into hatch-type doors by adding hinges. I was able to move (& hide) all my food storage down into the knockout. This not only keeps my food preps out of sight but I can also use the ledges for decorations again. Hope this helps.

  7. I read the following a few years ago and thought how people can be so creative:

    Someone bought a used hide-a-bed and took out the mattress and steal frame that folds out. They stored canned foods/buckets in that space and attached a hinged plywood lid over the newly created storage cavity and threw the couch cushions back in place.

    Someone stacked buckets under one of those three legged cheap plywood round tables and the table skirt hid the buckets from site.

    Someone lined buckets next to a wall, from floor to ceiling, then mounted a curtain in front of them.

    Storage in plain site.

  8. Flats of cans fit under sofas and chairs. You can buy table tops for a few dollars at Home Depot; stack buckets for the legs and cover with a tablecloth for an end table. You can get a LOT of stuff between a sofa and the wall and not notice. There is always space at the top of closets, put a shelf above the doors.

    Put the non temperature sensitive stuff (like TP) in the buckets in the outbuilding. hang the buckets from the rafters to keep the rodents out and out of the way.

    But everyone has their limits.

  9. Store things in metal cans-coffee cans with lids, or those decorative cookie and popcorn cans. One place I lived got invaded by mice every winter,and I quickly learned the value of cans. Any Goodwill has a variety of them for next to nothing. Cans can be part of a structure-like shelf supports(this is what I did). Under the bed,couch,desk-the flat metal cookie cans go great under a couch or bed. You can use plastic boxes from WalMart, but mice can chew through them..

  10. If you can afford it how about leasing a storage unit? If TSHTF go there first and retrieve everything you can.

  11. Put 3-5 buckets on the floor; cover them with a piece of plywood (round or square) and cover that with a tablecloth. They disappear like magic!

    I love the way some people use buckets to hold bed frames. Some others use buckets like blocks for shelving units, and then also store ON the shelves. Be creative! You can do it!

    I'd suggest you use RED gamma lids for really important stuff (like your 36 hr pack), orange for next of importance, and white for the rest. It will make it easier to find stuff if you're flustered - which we all will be in an initial teotwawki situation.
    Best thing is that you are doing SOMETHING to get ready!

  12. Due to rising rental costs and wanting to get out of our state's biggest city, a couple of years ago my family took my best friend up on her offer of moving in with her, since she owns her home (also, she's a disabled veteran who wanted the help & added security of housemates). But that meant squeezing the 3 of us (my husband & I, plus teenage daughter) that lived in a 3-bedroom townhouse into a 2-bedroom condo (with an insulated garage that was converted into another bedroom) that already had one occupant! We have ZERO storage space. Also there's no yard to speak of, so we can't even install an outdoor shed. We're already utilizing all the suggestions mentioned above, and every cupboard & closet is crammed full. And we're stuck here for 2 years because my best friend's in nursing school. But we sure are looking forward to moving out to an even more rural area when graduation day rolls around!

  13. We store our large buckets in the bottom of our closets, they fit nicely even stacked 2 high. I have small containers I use in the pantry then just refill as needed, it leaves me lots more space for dehydrated or canned foods. Paper products and such are in the attic where heat and moisture is not an issue. A room full of shelfs would be a dream come true but that won't be happening!! Ha

  14. Lots of great suggestions here! My wife and I live in a small, 3-bedroom, 2-bath mobile home with no garage. We found a huge area above the electric water heater that was going unused, so I turned it into a pantry with 3 shelves. There's also quite a bit of wasted space in the kitchen between the cabinets. I'm going to open that up for long-range storage. Two of our bedroom closets are pretty small, but the master bedroom closet is huge. We had a TON of clothes in it that we never wear. Most of them are going to Goodwill or will be thrown out, which will give us a bunch more room for our food storage buckets. We also have far too much junk we've saved over the years. Our daughter will get whatever she wants, the rest we'll put out for a garage sale. What doesn't sell will be thrown out. We also bought a 10'x10' metal shed. The cost was very reasonable, and it holds lots of buckets! My advice to someone who has no room for food and water storage is to look around. We all have far too much junk that we don't need, and it won't do us any good if we're starving to death.
    --Fred & Deb in AZ

  15. Here's an idea:

    Hope this helps.

  16. how many people is mrs.t. storing items for....if it was just herself and a mate, then there should really be no problem finding simple solutions to her storage problems...i agree wholeheartedl about using tins rather than plastic-especially if you are out in the country..mice will invade and will gnaw on plastic to get what is inside. some things can be safely stowed outdoors..we have three large sheds that my hubby and i divvied up between us with the third being a work shop. two have electric run to them and one is strictly for garden tools and tractor.i have things stored under the beds, in the closets, in the buffet and the china cabinet, in the sheds, on wall shelves,. i do not have 3 or 4 years worth of stuff, but enough to get us through at least 18mos while garden produces etc....prepping is not just about food and medicines is also about knowing how to do things for yourself...invest in a few books-storage is no problem...everyone has a nightstand or coffee table...meaning if the books are out they will be read and studied by many.

  17. put buckets in the bottom of your closet. Cover with plywood, use the plywood as your new closet floor.

    You really don't need that 16' of space between the bottom of your hanging shirts and the floor of the closet.

    Besides, you won't miss having to bend over to get your hoes out of the bottom of the closet.

  18. Hey, you'r in Texas. Stash it in a couple old freezers and washing machines on the front porch. No body would think of looking there. A '62 Ford on blocks would work good too.

  19. What about a vehicle? A trunk would suffice for temp tolerant items.


  20. I started my prep with Rubbermaid 10-18 gallon bins. I'd place my food in Food safe ziplock freezer bags and toss in a couple of bay leaves. After 3 years not a mouse or bug to be found, though I did have a bit of problems with rice and some bugs. DE and buckets solved that problem.
    I know I always tend to think on the horizontal rather than vertical. So go up and down for your storage rather than side to side.
    Think like a newly single person and shelves are made concrete blocks or plastic crates. A little foam and scrap material can make a nice little bench.
    Think about air you are storing. Glass canning jars can hold water until you need them to can.
    You ain't never going to impress the Jones they are foolish enough to want to play the game.... Spit yourself out, think outside of the box. I bet you will find if you don't follow the rules you get a lot more done.

  21. As someone who is also dealing with serious space restraints (and who is already applying many of these ideas), I can say the one thing that probably helped us the most is customized shelving size. My husband built shelving in our tiny pantry in alternating sizes customized to canning jars, #10 cans and a few other items we stock a lot of. There's space beneath the shelves for double stacked super pails or Rubbermaid bins, and we use every inch of the space.

    I am also a strong advocate of using all available vertical space. Our closets have bins on the floor and shelves over the clothing bars that are full to the ceiling. (If you're short like me, make sure you include a sturdy step-stool in your preps so you can access all your stored stuff!)

    As a side note, I would recommend against the suggestion listed above about getting a storage unit. There is no guarantee that we will have warning, working vehicles or open roads in an emergency. Even if you could get out to your things, there's the possibility of them being confiscated. Stick to what you can hope to control!

  22. Mrs. T didn't mention what the outbuildings was "over flowing," with at the moment. If it is items that are necessary, are they stored on shelving that utilizes all verticle space within the building?

    We have found that the best storage, for our money, is the heavy duty shelving from Sam's club. My husband can adjust the shelves to whatever we plan to store on a particular unit. It is amazing how many jars of canned goods, spices, etc... can be stored vertically on one of these shelves. Each unit comes with heavy duty shelf liners so smaller items are not a problem.

    Verticle space is one that is most often overlooked when prepping. If storage needs to be kept in view, and the chrome shelving is offensive, cloth shower curtains or draperies can be fitted around the top shelf (on shower curtain hooks) to hide the contents and give depth and decoration to any room.

    Another way to store grains and seeds, without using buckets, is by vacuum packing the items. Large plastic storage containers (rectangle) with a lid can be purchased at Walmart fairly inexpensively. By placing the vacuum sealed bags in the rectangle containers smaller amounts of product can be obtained and rotated for use without opening a large bucket. This is especially handy for those with disabilities, people who have muscle problems, or the very elderly.

    The vacuum bags are a cost, however, that not everyone is able to work around. One has to weigh their own personal situation as to whether it is more beneficial to handle smaller amounts of foods, rather than a large bucket.

    My husband can lift the buckets; I can't. The smaller packages work good for my situation. We combine both smaller packages and the larger buckets in our storage. If he isn't here and I need some wheat to grind, I can easily access the three pound vacuum sealed bag of grain out of the plastic container. When he is home he can fill my grain bucket in the pantry.

  23. WOW, my own "post" on Rural Revolution! I'm giddy!

    Ok, to explain our situation better---
    I bulk buy food for a month or more (Costco) for a family of 5 and 2 great danes. Hubby has built out my laundry room in shelves and added a chest freezer next to our stacked washer/dryer. He just built me a large bulk storage shelve/extra stuff from the kitchen (my canning stuff, crock pot, ect) prep area on top.

    My house has 8 ft ceilings, micro closets and bedrooms, and no coat/storage closets. Under beds areas are used for extra clothes that don't fit in closet.

    My out building is 6x8 and used for lawn equipment, our bikes, and camping gear. It will have to be replaced as our freak winters last yr and yr before the snow and ice fall crushed the walls and it is not structurally sound.

    I'm trying to sell off stuff to make room just to BREATH. I think everyone is decrapifying their house because I can't even give stuff away on the free online groups and the local GW is over flowing! I could get some buckets/canned good under my bed but otherwise it would sit out in public view. I do not want people coming in and seeing our food stash and knowingly make us a target for robbery.

    I do not have a garage. I can't store anything outside that is not locked up in storage for this is a high crime rate very poor small town. I drive a SUV and we use every inch of it being that 3 of my 5 are 6ft to 6'9 and the other 2 aren't far off so no storing anything in it.

    I am loving all these ideas! I plan to use the area under our bed for storage. I'll try to get pics up on my blog of my pantry/laundry room and maybe someone can point out any extra room I can use.

    We are very new to bulk storage beyond once a month shopping. This is the first year in 15 yrs of marriage that we are actually sticking to a budget to try and do our remodeling DEBT FREE. Hopefully we will be MORTGAGE FREE in the next 3-4 yrs! Our goal is to be debt free (we already are minus the mortgage!), rent this house out and move to the country into a smaller but better laid out home on land with farm animals. God willing we will make it happen!

  24. At the risk of tooting my own horn I wrote about this awhile back The biggest single thing is probably organization followed closely by prioritization. If you come at it from the angle of 'I am going to fit x amount of stuff in this place' the results are often very different than 'I would kinda like to fit some stuff but don't want to move anything from where it is now'.

  25. "...decrapifying..."

    Now THAT term is something I can use! Thanks! :D

    Jeff - Tucson