How to Store Your Stockpile

Basics

  • Rotate by expiration date: When lining up products, put the ones with the soonest expiration date near the front and the farthest away dates in the back.
    • Tip: Write expiration/ use by date on the front of the items with a marker for easier reference.
  • Keep it close: When possible, keep parts of your stockpile close to where you use it. Keep toothpaste, toothbrushes, feminine products, toilet paper, and shampoo in the bathroom, food products in and around the kitchen, etc. That way, when you run out of an item, a replacement is within easy reach.
  • Ideally, keep your stockpile in a cool, dry area. If you cannot, look below for how to deal with special circumstances.

Locations

Not everyone has a climate controlled garage, a large walk-in pantry and a multitude of cabinets. Check out below for ideas:

Small Spaces
If you’re low on extra space, consider these locations:
  • Under beds & cribs (in locking totes for the latter)
  • Below sinks
  • Shelving above the washer & dryer
  • Under tables & desks
  • Storage cubes in tall bookshelves
  • Porch or balcony
  • Garage
  • In suitcases
  • Tall dressers
  • Over-the-Door hanging shoe organizers
    • These are great for small items like hair ties, unopened razors, trial size items, and fingernail polish
  • Small set of drawers for couch or bedside table
  • Peg board/ hooks
    • Great for anything that hangs– packages of batteries, razors, cough drops, pens, cotton swabs, etc.
  • Hang a chain from the ceiling and clip on bagged products (chips, dry soup mixes, crackers, dried fruit, nuts, cookies, etc).
  • Linen, coat, and bedroom closets

Space-Saving Tips

  • Buy concentrated detergents and cleaning supplies
  • Take products out of cardboard boxes to pack more items into limited spaces
  • Use a trunk as a coffee table and small set of drawers for couch or bedside table
Shelving
Having or installing shelving in the areas mentioned is a great way to optimize your stockpile space.
  • Build Your Own
    • Materials that work well: PCP tubing, wood, milk crates, or even cardboard (see this post for how one of our readers, Meghan, did hers)
  • Purchasing
    • Second hand: Craigslist, garage/ moving sales, thrift stores
    • Home improvement stores: pair with coupons found in change of address packs at the Post Office.
    • Online: sites like RetailMeNot.com have a lot of current Internet codes for coupons and promos on their website that you can apply to online orders from thousands of sites.

Climate Consideration

Cold
In cold climates, storing food in a garage can be difficult because of the damaging effects of freezing.  Several recommendations to help when storing your food in cold areas are:
  • Food items should not be allowed to freeze.  Freezing can cause cans to bulge, which can cause the seam to fail.  This can lead to food-borne illness. Whenever possible, avoid storing foods where the temperatures will reach below freezing.
  • Freezing can also have adverse effects on liquids such as detergent and toothpaste.  Keep liquids out of the cold as well.
    • If possible, store the above products in areas underground, such as a basement or root cellar.
  • If a basement is unavailable, try insulating the products as much as possible.  Wrap them in newspaper or blankets for storage.
    • Tip: For extra insulation, you can create a small ‘room’ out of straw bales- floor and walls made from straw around the items, and a sheet of plywood covered by more straw on top.
  • Luckily, most canned goods are packed in a solution of salt or sugar, which lowers their actual freezing point.
  • Foods that are dehydrated or freeze-dried will actually last longer in the cold since there is no water in them to freeze.
  • Stockpile things such as paper towels, plastic cups and utensils, razors, floss, and toothbrushes in locations that may freeze.
Hot/Humid
Hot temperatures (above 85 degrees Fahrenheit) cause foods to spoil and some liquids to congeal.  Long term storage can lose as much as 80% of its shelf life in hot weather.  To save money, here are some tips to beat the heat:
  • If at all possible, always keep food indoors where it is cool and dry.
  • If food must be stored in a hot place, try making a homemade cooler.  Using two terracotta or clay pots of different sizes, you can keep some things cool.  Place the smaller pot inside the larger one, and fill the area in between with sand. Keep the sand wet, and cover the pots with a damp towel.  This will keep the contents quite a bit cooler than the surrounding air.
  • If your garage is too humid to store food, you can either buy a dehumidifier or build your own.  To do this, take 5 gallon buckets and fill them with rock salt.  This will suck most of the moisture out of the air. The rock salt can then be dehydrated and reused.
  • Another method of keeping out humid air is to seal the cans, either in a layer of wax (bought in the craft section of stores and melted in a double boiler) or to cover in a clear coating of Rustoleum(™) or similar product.
  • Direct sunlight is detrimental to foods.  It can super-heat the packaging and cause damage.  Keep your stockpile out of direct sunlight.
Rodents/ Bugs
If your planned storage area has pest issues, try these suggestions:
  • Always store foods off the ground on shelves whenever possible.  Not only will it keep things out of the reach of nibbling mice, but off of surfaces like concrete that can potentially leach harmful chemicals into packaging.
    • Tip: Keep fabric softener sheets near your stockpile.  Bugs and rodents detest the smell.
  • If you have serious problems with critters, try storing edibles in food-grade plastic buckets with metalized liners.  The buckets will keep out the bugs, and the liners will help odors from attracting mice and rats.  If you also place oxygen absorber packs in the buckets, it will extend their shelf life as a bonus!

What are some of your stockpiling storing hints & recommendations? What works best for you and your climate? We want to know, so comment below! :)