Food Storage Organization

A year supply of food is recommended for every household.  This may sound crazy, but it is a great tip for a variety of reasons.

  • Food storage helps children feel secure.
  • It helps you prepare for an emergency.
  • Remember the scripture “if ye are prepared, ye shall not fear” and stock up for a time when your family may have  health or financial challenges.
  • If you lost your income for a time, a year supply would be great asset to rely on.
  • It saves money, time, gas, and your energy if you buy in bulk when prices are low.
  • The average person spends $35 every time they enter a store, even if they weren’t planning on purchasing anything.  Stock up so you don’t take as many trips to the store.  Learn how to substitute food items to avoid trips to the store and thus save money.
  • Remember, if you care keep a spare.  This means if it’s something you’re family uses, then you might as well buy two to have it on hand.  Think of it as if you ARE the store.
    food storage roomRemember the 80/20 rule when building your shelves.  Always leave 20% of free air space above the storage jars and cans for easy viewing and retrieval.


Why store a Year Supply of Food?

Throughout the past there have been food shortages such as during the Great Depression and during World War II.  There have also been natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods where grocery stores were not accessible.  History has a way of repeating itself, so stock up even if it’s only 2 cans a week.  In a year you’ll have 104 cans!

Maintain and rotate your year supply so you will always have food on hand.

Food Storage Tips:

  • You’ll save money if you stock up when things are low priced.  Buy in bulk.  Buy several cases when canned food goes on sell.
  • Buy a large freezer and fill it too.  I buy 60 butters when they go on sale at Thanksgiving and it lasts us all year.  I buy many loaves of bread and flour tortillas at a time and freeze them too.
  • If you don’t have a food storage room, then you can put a twin sized bed on cinder blocks and store a year supply of food under it.  Food is more important than beauty.
  • Store canned food in a cool, dry place and not in a garage where it can freeze or get too hot.
  • Water is probably one of the most important things to store.  You should have a 3 day water supply for each member of the family.

When the Boy Scouts were doing a food drive, I was shocked because my neighbor couldn’t donate since she only had 1 can of green beans.  I was grateful I had a large supply, because I realized if there was a food shortage I would definitely need to share with my neighbor.

If there was an emergency caring communities would pool together their resources, food, and first aid knowledge for the community’s benefit.  It would be like the story Stone Soup, however I think neighbors would be more generous than the villagers were initially.

Here’s the story:

Story of Stone Soup

               Some travelers come to a village, carrying nothing more than an empty cooking pot.  Upon their arrival, the villagers are unwilling to share any of their food stores with the hungry travelers. Then the travelers fill the pot with water, drop a large stone in it, and place it over a fire.  One of the villagers becomes curious and asks what they are doing.  The travelers answer that they are making “stone soup”, which tastes wonderful, although it still needs a little bit of garnish to improve the flavor, which they are missing.  The villager does not mind parting with a few carrots to help them out, so that gets added to the soup.  More villagers inquire about the pot and the travelers again mention their stone soup has not reached its full potential yet.  The villagers give additional ingredients, until finally, a delicious and nourishing pot of soup is enjoyed by all.


Step 1:  Imagine the food storage room you desire.

How big of a room would you need to store a year supply of food?  Do you want to store your fresh garden veggies like squash, potatoes, and carrots as well?


Step 2:  Create desire to be organized.

Get motivated.  What’s your why?  Why do you want a organized food storage room?  It doesn’t matter what I think.  Take one minute to jot down why you want to an organized food storage room.


Step 3:  Assess what you have and what you need.  Assess what works with your family and what doesn’t work. 

If you google the phrase food storage calculator there are several websites that can give you a good idea of how much food you need to store for a year supply.

Write a list of what you want.

Don’t buy your year supply all at one time.

Do your research – find the best price, quality, and acquire food that your family will eat.  Add the food storage to your home over time.


Step 4:  Note down your written action plan.

Draw a sketch of your pantry, food storage room, and freezer and put the your food storage regions on paper.

Region Ideas:

  • Put all the non-food items together such as toothpaste, shampoo, toilet paper, paper towels in one region.
  • Put all the grains in one region.
  • Put all the canned fruits in one region.
  • Put all the canned veggies in one region.
  • Put all the oil, Crisco, Pam in one region.

I think you get the idea.

Step 5:  Determine the containers. 

Find containers that fill the space with “a perfect fit.”

food storage bucketsHere’s a top down view of my 2 favorite bucket storage solutions.  At the top left is my favorite long-term bucket which is a 4 gallon square bucket.  To the right are the round 5 gallon buckets with the easy-to-open Gamma lids.

Which food storage buckets should I get?

Here are the pro’s and con’s as you contrast the 4 1/4 gallon square pails and the 5 gallon round food storage buckets.  They both cost from $4.00-$7.50 when they are empty with a normal lid.  I buy my square pails from a cherry factory for .50 cents each but I have to scrub them out and they are only available occasionally.

gamma lidHere’s my 5 gallon round buckets that I use everyday for flour, sugar, oats, etc. I glued carpet to the bottom to not ruin my wood floors.

5 Gallon Round Buckets:


  • Holds more than 4 1/4 gallon pails.
  • Can store a 25 lb. bag of flour or sugar in one container.
  • Lid is secure.
  • Easy to find.


  • Heavy – sometimes hard to lift.
  • Gamma lids are expensive.  I only buy them for the buckets I get into weekly.
  • Normal lids are hard to open (you may need a bucket can opener or a prayer to get them open.)
  • Stacking seems less safe in round containers than square pails.
  • More expensive.  Gamma lids cost around $7 to $8 but it’s worth it to have some for the food storage that you get into often because they are so easy to open – just twist and they spin open.

4 1/4 Gallon Square Pails:


  • Lid is secure.
  • Waste less space because they are square.
  • Stacks well, doesn’t waste space, and the stack feels secure.
  • Not as heavy to lift.
  • Usually cheaper.


  • Holds less than 5 gallon round buckets.
  • Harder to find.

I love my 4 1/4 gallon square pails and I like the round containers.  I wish I only had 6 round buckets with Gamma lids in my pantry because I use them daily and they are the easiest to open.  I wish all the rest of my long-term storage were the 4 1/4 gallon square pails, but I already own a lot of the round buckets.  Also, the square pails have an optional flip-top lid that might be nice, but I have never tried them.  I have enjoyed the square normal lids.

Step 6:  Organize your food storage.

For example, remove everything from the food storage room.  Wash the shelves, dust, and clean the floor quickly.  Then speed sort and put back what you really want, need or use in the food storage.

#10 food storage cans#10 cans can fit 2-3 pounds of food storage, have easy open lids, and can be labeled easily.


Step 7:  Inscribe on each container.

Inscribe on the shelves or containers with a marker, a labeler, with words or pictures so everyone can put things away correctly.

Inscribing is critical!!!

The family can’t memorize where everything goes in the pantry, food storage room, and freezer.  Label.  Label.  Label.

If you have a big deep freezer – write a list of what you have and tape it to the outside of the freezer.  When you take something out, cross it off.  When you put something in, write it down and then you’ll know how many hams or packages of hamburger you really have.


Step 8:  Traits and habits will keep your food storage organized.

Keep stocking your food supply.  Rotate your food by eating the oldest food first.  If the food has expired it’s probably still safe unless the seal has broken or popped.  King Tut had wheat stored in his tomb for hundreds of years that was still good.  Many items including wheat should store well for 30 years!

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