How to Store Enough Food for 6 Months When You Only Have Room for 1 Month


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Store Enough Food InfographicMany of us who live in rural parts of the country in large houses tend to overlook what it must be like for people who are concerned about emergency preparedness but they live in a small apartment. Our perspective when it comes to prepping is quite different than theirs.

I believe that it’s important for everyone to do what they can to prepare for emergencies. That being said, we all have different circumstances which ultimately means that we all have to develop our prepping strategies based on the specific limitations that we each might have.

Unfortunately, one of the main limitations that many people who live in smaller homes or apartments have is the lack of space. They may have the best intentions when it comes to storing food and water but they just don’t feel like they have the room to do it.

Today I’ll be sharing a few tips that might help people who are limited on space store the right types of food to last them for a longer period of time. I’ll admit that the title of this article was a bit of a teaser because I can’t say exactly how much room you have to work with but I think that by following these simple tips, you’ll be able to maximize the space that you do have. Ultimately, you should have enough food to survive on longer which is what I’m really trying to help you accomplish with this article.

Change Your Perspective When It Comes to Food Storage

If you happen to be struggling with finding ways to store food in a small space, one of the first things that you need to do is change the way you think about food storage. If you read very many websites on the subject, they might recommend storing hundreds of pounds of various food staples like rice and beans.

They probably also suggest storing hundreds of gallons of water. While I always advocate that more is better when it comes to storing food and water, simply storing “more” of the same types of foods that other people might be storing may not be the best solution for you.

Focus on Calorie Dense Foods

In the day and age that we live in, everyone is trying to cut calories so we tend to purchase foods that are low in calories in an attempt to stay fit and healthy. While I certainly agree that there is value to this and I know that I need to do a much better job of this myself, if I was in the position of having to store food with limited space, the first thing I would do is throw that strategy out the window.

Please understand that I’m not suggesting that you go out and purchase boxes and boxes full of chocolate bars simply because they’re high in calories. What I’m suggesting is that you start looking at the food that you are storing in terms of how many calories it contains in relationship to how much space it takes up.

For example, let’s compare two items that you might commonly find in someone’s food storage. For this example we’ll take a look at peanut butter and rice. Sure, rice is inexpensive and easy to store but in terms of the amount of volume that it takes up, it has far fewer calories than peanut butter.

According to the website nutritiondata.self.com, 1 cup of white rice contains 193 calories. In comparison, 1 tablespoon of Jif creamy peanut butter contains 95 calories. There are 16 tablespoons in a cup so if we’re comparing apples to apples, 1 cup of peanut butter contains 1,520 calories. Based on this example, it’s very clear that peanut butter is much more calorie rich than rice.

Now, I’m not suggesting that you go out and fill your apartment up with hundreds of jars of peanut butter. The point I’m trying to make is that if you have a limited amount of space to work with, storing foods that are more calorie dense will mean that you may be able to survive for a longer period of time on the limited supply of food that they are able to keep on hand.

Keep in mind that I’m certainly not a nutritional expert and I’m by no means providing advice on what you should include in your diet in this article. I’m simply trying to point out that if you store food items that have more calories in them, you can probably survive for a longer period of time than you can if you store foods that are very low in calories that take up a lot of space.

Since we used peanut butter in this example, let’s take a more in depth look at the nutritional facts for this particular brand. At the time that this article was written, their website had the following data on it.

Jif Peanut Butter Nutritional Facts

Serving Size – 2 tablespoons

  • Calories – 190
  • Calories from Fat – 130
  • Total Fat – 16g
  • Saturated Fat – 2.5g
  • Sodium – 135mg
  • Total Carbohydrate – 8g
  • Dietary Fiber – 2g
  • Sugars – 3g
  • Protein – 7g
  • Iron – 4%
  • Riboflavin – 2%
  • Vitamin E – 10%
  • Niacin – 20%

* percent daily values are based on a 2,000 cal diet.

White Rice Nutritional Facts

Serving Size – 1 cup

  • Calories – 193
  • Total Fat – 1g
  • Sodium – 7mg
  • Total Carbohydrate – 44g
  • Dietary Fiber – 1g
  • Protein – 4g
  • Calcium – 1%
  • Iron – 16%

* percent daily values are based on a 2,000 cal diet.

Again, please understand that only you can determine what your specific nutritional needs are but if I ever found myself in the position where I had to choose between storing boxes and boxes of my favorite kind of breakfast cereal or storing the types of food that would provide enough calories for me to survive with over a longer period of time, I’d go with the latter.

Is It All about the Calories?

I’ve been talking a lot about storing foods that are high in calories but there’s more to consider than just the amount of calories that the particular type of food might contain. For example, there’s no question that lard contains a lot of calories but I’m sure you don’t want to sit down and eat a bowl of lard for your evening meal. The goal is to choose food that is dense in calories that contains a variety of nutrients.

I’m also not saying that food items such as rice and beans should be completely ruled out but they should be supplemented with other foods that are very calorie dense. After all, eating a few tablespoons of peanut butter might provide you enough calories for a meal but your stomach is going to feel pretty empty if that’s all you have to eat.

Consider Doing Some Redecorating

If you’re struggling to find enough space for your food and water storage, I suggest that you get a little bit creative and find ways to turn your furniture into places to store food.

For example, you probably have a coffee table in front of your couch. One clever idea would be to get rid of that coffee table. Then place several 5 gallon buckets with food and/or water in them where the coffee table used to be. Then, have your local home improvement store cut a piece of plywood to your desired size and place that on top of the 5 gallon buckets. Lastly, drape a nice tablecloth over the whole thing and no one will have any idea that you have six or more buckets of food stored under your coffee table!

You could do the exact same thing with your bed but on a much larger scale. Simply replace your metal bed frame with 5 gallon buckets full of emergency supplies. Put your box spring on top of the buckets and then use an oversized bedspread or sheet that will reach all the way to the floor to conceal them. Lastly, put your mattress on top of the box spring and you’ve just given yourself a ton of space to store food and water!

Likewise, your television is probably sitting on a wooden table. You could do the exact same thing that I talked about with your coffee table and replace your TV stand with a stand that would double as a food storage hideaway.

You’re really only limited by your creativity when it comes to using this method. If you wanted to get really crazy, you could replace all kinds of furniture using this technique. Sure, there is a trade-off. You might have to sell your favorite glass coffee table at your next yard sale but I for one feel like the benefit of being able to store food and water in that space makes it well worth the sacrifice.

Do You Have Any Creative Ways to Store Food?

If you have any creative ways to store food and/or water when space is at a premium, please take a minute and share your tips by leaving a comment in the box below!

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13 Responses to “How to Store Enough Food for 6 Months When You Only Have Room for 1 Month”

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  1. Audrey says:

    One idea I have (and include in my prep plan) is to buy NF Dry Milk and Powdered Breakfast drink mixes (just mix with stored water). I look for choices with low sugar and good protein and fiber levels. If they have decent protein and fiber levels they provide good nutrition and as a result good energy levels.

    On other sites I’ve found recommendations for creating storage under your bed (in storage containers purchased or homemade). I’m lucky to have a closet where I can store E-Prep items and a limited food storage. Also buying good quality energy bars is a decent option (just keep rotating them); I have a variety of fruit based, oat based, chocolate and peanut butter.

    You can also purchase meat (in cans) and fish (salmon and tuna) in foil packets; very small.

    I also agree with the peanut butter suggestion.

    It will be easy to set aside at least the first 72 hours of an emergency. Longer term emergencies will be more of a challenge but even in a small space I think I could easily stock several weeks of food and water.

    Be creative.

    • Patty Hahne says:

      Hi Audrey,

      Thanks for your comment and insight! I also like the idea of storing dehydrated milk and drink mixes as they will still provide you with fluid intake when mixed with water but they’re not as boring as just drinking plain water.

  2. Kit Hunt Ellington says:

    Find an inside bearing wall hang two strips of shelving strip I can go like right beside your hot water tank and make shelves that go up when you don’t have space you can use the whole length of the wall from the floor to the ceiling with shelves go up

  3. kaitlyn says:

    If you want to get really creative and sneaky, create false walls and store food and water there. Have a stash of up to date seeds that can replant themselves.

  4. Evelyne Klingler says:

    These are very good ideas. I am going to share them my friends.

  5. Pauline Eby says:

    Instead of clothes in my closet, I have food and water. I also keep full totes by my bed. I keep spices out in my storage. Most cupboards only store a little food, mine are packed from top to bottom. Same as my pantry. I plan to create more storage space, but I haven’t figured out where yet.

  6. Gaye says:

    My hallway was 7’x 6′ . On both sides I framed in the wall horizonally by adding 6″ shelves, four feet up. Much like a book shelf look. Thus making room for just under 100 quart jars being stored on each side of the hallway.
    However, I then put a 4′ x 6′ stained sheet of plywood acting as a sliding door, making this hidden food. Finished projects make it like a jutted out wall, with an ornament collecting shelf on top. Topping it off with things my gr kids have made – festive project complete. Final note: I store vacuum sealed Meals in a jar on the shelves – this is a great place for these meals/jars that will last for many years.
    Hopefully if I die before these get used, my kids will remember they are there – on the other hand, the new owners will have a surprise gift when they want to remodel.

    • Patty Hahne says:

      Great idea Gaye! I love it!!

    • MARY says:

      love this idea

  7. Marie says:

    Just trying to get ppl to prepare is a chore in itself. So i do the best I can with what I have space for … I have canned all my life raising five children on a very limited income. But if a person is really commited, they will not only find the space, they will also find the funds or means to do so. Barter has worked for me, look for grocery sales , buy in bulk , & for goodness sake go hunting or fishing if possible. As far as finding a storage spot , throw out the old books or barter them , use those shelves for food storage. Buy bifold doors, simple to install & fill up those shelves with whatever you can afford . I started out with a 72 hour stock pile & as I could afford to I extened my storgae area & food. Save every food grade container you can find, fill up on water or dry goods. I also have a vac sealer for everything from medicine, first aid, beans & rice. Keep a careful inventory of all the stuff you have aquired & really pray for better times ahead !!

  8. HardestyMom01 says:

    When my family was only five members we lived in a condo for a while. The kitchen was for a much smaller family. There was a linen closet in the hallway that we turned into a food pantry. We also used the broom closet, which was the size of the linen closet as a food closet/storage too. Hopefully this can help someone.

  9. t webster says:

    I turned my Gradsons closet into a Pantry. I have him 4 days a week so I have to have a bedroom for him but He doesn’t have hang up clothes so I put 3 shelves in and I have enough room for 3-4 months of food and non food and Water storage room.

  10. FC says:

    Nice basic article with great info. Another often overlooked place is under the cabinets in the kitchen and bathrooms. Just carefully pry off the cover.

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