My Long Term Storage Arrangements

If you didn’t know, I’m what you’d call a “prepper”.  But I find it amusing that what I grew up doing now has a trendy label. Its not like my parents were tinfoil hat wearing paranoids. Far from it. We put food up for the future because it simply made sense. You can’t grow green beans in December, so we would can them when they would grow. You can’t (legally) deer hunt in May, so we’d freeze and pressure can venison for the “off” season. And we lived so far from town that running out of something meant you’d be out of it for days, if not weeks, before we made a trip to the store.

We simply planned ahead.

In rekindling that mindset, I’ve had to adjust my methods a bit.  The sandy soil here in my area of Florida makes a root cellar almost impossible, and very improbable at best. The floor plan of this house includes a pantry, but is inadequate for anything more than storage of foods used daily. So in order to be able to store the amount of food I wanted to keep on hand, I had to come up with some options.

We have a room on the back of the house that is awkward both in space as well as door placement. We’ve opted to convert it into organized storage, since it seem to always end up storing things anyway. At least we have direction in one spot of the house! (This is a shot at me, I’m a packrat. I drive my meticulous, organized wife crazy, probably part of the reason she requires me to know how to make wine!) This room became our walk in pantry.


One of the main issues with long term storage of food is being sure to use FIFO, or “first in, first out”, or use  up the oldest foods first. Stacking a shelf 10 cans deep with no notice of expiration dates leaves you using the newer cans, and leaving that last can of green beans ending us staying on the shelf for 15 years – NOT a good idea, and its wasteful. So a shelf system that offered FIFO would be perfect. Some of the options I looked at were:

The last one is what I wanted…only I didn’t have the budget for it. What I ended up doing was buying four plastic vented shelving units from Lowes – three are 5 tier, and one is a 4 tier. Shelf depths were either 18 or 24 inches deep. We went with these because they were inexpensive, fairly rugged, and held roughly 200 pounds per shelf.They offered a flexible arrangement, and should we ever upgrade to a Shelf Reliance System,we could use them for something else.

Need more Yoders bacon!
Need more Yoders bacon!

We would adapt them to our needs by adding in a two pairs of FIFO Mini Can Trackers for our every day use cans, and simply stack flats of canned goods, as well as other long term storage items on other shelves.It takes more time to keep things organized, but like most folks, we have more time than we have money to throw at the problem. Its just easier to take the time to sort it manually than it is to buy the Shelf Reliance System. Maybe when we hit the lottery…


Home canned foods would end up on a separate shelf, usually stored in the original box that the jars came in. This keeps our products together, and since they are all processed at the same time, each box has the same “born on date”, no need to rotate anything more than the box itself.

Long Tem PrepsJuices, Sauces, Spices and Condiments

Part of the forward thinking preps for hurricane season is to store fruit juices. (Again a reference to “Happy Wife, Happy Life“.) These would be stacked with the oldest bottles in front. We purchase these only when they are on sale. One of the benefits of buying things on sale, you go to your back room when you NEED one, not the store to pay full retail. We also store beef and chicken broth on this shelf, as well as salsa. This is all kept low to minimize damage, should one break or leak.

Above that we store our condiments, ketchup, mustard, hot sauces, and Ponzu sauce. The shelf above that is the bulk spices, oils, baking mixes, and apparently a couple jars of canned rabbit.

Eventually, we ended up using one of our shelving units as our storage spot for our All- American 921 pressure canner, all of our  empty jars and other canning supplies, our appliances we used infrequently (meat grinder, KitchenAid mixer, Lodge Dutch oven etc.), and our Excalibur Dehydrator, plugged in and ready for use at all times. The setup actually works well, keeping all of our kitchen needs in one area.

Food bucketsDry Goods

We buy rice, pasta, corn, sugar (yes, all non Paleo) in bulk, break it into smaller portions, then vacuum seal it, label it, and place it in buckets. The buckets are scavenged from concession stands during my daughters’ softball seasons. The originally contained sunflower seeds, and are designed to stack securely.  Also, being square bottomed, they seem to have less wasted space. The buckets don’t offer an airtight seal, but the vacuum bags of each package does. The buckets offer stackable storage, and protection from moisture and light.

All of this is in addition to our cupboards, and small pantry in the kitchen. This gives us plenty of room to get through a disaster, be it loss or income, hurricane, or even a small horde of mutant zombie bikers!

It’s already proven itself through two of the three :)




Looking forward,I would like to make some additional FIFO shelves. This would free up shelf space, allowing us to expand our stores a bit. I’d LOVE to have a couple cases of Yoder’s bacon, as well as  more home canned meats, fruits, and vegetables.

I’ve found a few home built shelving systems that have potential:


How To Build A Canned Food Storage

How to Build a Rotating Canned Food Shelf

Canned Food Storage


Build Your Own Can Storage Racks (Sells plans, but you can get a good idea from looking at the models)

81 Can FIFO – Bulk Can Dispenser / Organizer

Homemade Can Rotators

Emergency food storage box

How to Build a Rotating Canned Food Shelf

Food Storage Rotation Shelf Plans




  1. I have waaaay too much food and especially cans…still in cases stacked.
    I just get one from top, middle, or bottom..oldest gets used.
    On the shelfs, lined cans– one from the back, one from the middle, and one from the front …use the oldest.
    Works for me. All buckets are labeled.
    It AIN”T that hard folks..$25 for a shelf to hold 30 cans?? No way.
    That’s a lot of money for rice.

    1. It AIN”T that hard folks..$25 for a shelf to hold 30 cans?? No way.
      That’s a lot of money for rice.

      Truer words were never spoken…..

      However, I cannot put a price on keeping my wife happy, so I do what I can to keep things organized….I have a messy touch to everything I do. :(

  2. You guys have a lot of cool stuff! Those sunflower seed buckets are a good score.

    I have a walk-in pantry that is just dying to filled up. The shelves are very shallow but there is a lot floor space to stack things. Right now it partly filled with cleaning supplies and clutter. I’m dying to make my canning/prepping pantry. Tomorrow I’m actually gonna try canning for the first time. Pretty excited. :)

    1. Give me a call if you want any help or pointers. We can all the time, both water bath and pressure canning.

      I’ve thought about actually holding a canning class, the wife & I have done several private ones. Most folks don’t realize how simple it is to end up with a product that is far better than you could ever buy in the store.

  3. I’m in earthquake territory (first night in my current house had one knock over one of our moving boxes in the other room… I thout it was a raccoon running across the roof…)

    All of my home canned foods are on a shelving unit that is attached to a wall stud and also has a ‘safety railing’ that will hopefully keep them from bouncing to crash on the floor.

    Saw a review of these recently, and would love to get a bunch of the, for storage. She’s a small business owner and is supposedly working on developing one for smaller pint sized jars as well. They’re stackable. How awesome is that?

    JarBox Canning Jar Storage Container or Tote, Quart Size

    1. We have almost zero seismic activity, and I’ll take hurricanes over earthquakes ANY day!

      I just saw the Jarbox last week, and they look like a GREAT idea for earthquake prone areas…

  4. These are some great storage ideas. I take advantage of sales and stock up on items when they are on special. If I don’t have time to put things away and turn them over at that time, I set them aside, date them and then when I have time I put them away correctly. Always store your bottled items in the original boxes to keep things from breaking during natural disasters. Anchor all shelves to keep shelves from falling over. Any store bought goods that can be kept in a tray or box should remain in them to also prevent things from falling over during an earthquake.

  5. One of my neighbors has a sad story about losing a year of prepped food in his parent’s pantry when he was a teen… His sister was learning how to drive and was pulling into the garage of the house. She couldn’t remember where the brake was and she plowed through the back wall of the garage, right into the walk-in pantry with all of the previous year’s canned goods.

    The shelf wasn’t attached to the wall, and the exterior wall’s shelves fell over and broke the shelves on the opposite side of the pantry. He told me they basically lost a year of food because of the accident. That was the teaching story he used when he asked me if I had secured my shelves after I gifted them with some fresh preserves when we moved in…

    Don’t have to be in earthquake country… Having the clutz gene or a teenager could be enough of a threat!

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