Storing food supplies for the cold winter months or to preserve those garden veggies can be both cost-effective and efficient. From bulk ingredients to pre-made frozen meals, breads to canned fruits and veggies, your food storage should be organized in a way that is easily accessible. From my personal experience, your love or hate for food storage relies heavily upon the way you go about organizing yourself, but if done correctly, it doesn’t have to be burdensome or tedious!
Extra freezer space is always helpful for winter food storage. Having an extra chest freezer (or two) will allow for the storage of frozen produce, meats, breads and even pre-made frozen meals. Organizing a freezer can be done in a number of different ways. For all fruits and veggies that you package and freeze yourself, be sure to correctly label the contents as well as the expiration date.
I find it helpful to store veggies and fruits in one section of my chest freezer. Keep meats organized together by type so you’ll know right where to go for any given recipe. Pre-made meals can be stacked together, organized by type or recipe. Be sure to put the oldest packages on top, while placing the newest additions on the bottom; this will help you to use everything in your freezer storage before its expiration date.
If you have multiple freezers, use the same techniques to separate your food. You may want to consider storing meat and meals in one freezer while keeping your breads, baked goods and produce in another, customized to the amounts your family requires.
There are some things to keep in mind with your freezer storage:
- Watch for freezer burn. While consuming freezer-burned food will not harm you, it doesn’t taste very good! Watch for crystallization or food that looks dried out. The best way to avoid this is to package all items in airtight containers or bags.
- Do not pack your freezer to the top. Allowing room for the air to circulate within your freezer keeps the temperatures regulated and your food fresh longer.
- Organizers will help keep your food types separated. Don’t be afraid to customize your set up as you need to! I love all of the extra labels in this example!
- Check your freezer often or install a temperature sensor to monitor the contents of your freezer. You don’t want to open your freezer one day to discover everything has thawed out!
Pantry And Shelf Organization
Pantry storage has many of the same organization rules. You’ll want to keep the oldest stuff front and center, while moving your newer shelf items toward the back, rotating as you go. Canned and jarred items can be stored in a pantry or on shelves. It’s important to remember that optimal shelf food storage should be between forty and sixty degrees Fahrenheit. Anything between sixty and seventy degrees is acceptable, but can lower the shelf life of your products.
Organization for shelf storage works well by sticking with categories, similar to freezer storage. You can arrange by types including: baking ingredients, snack foods, jarred and canned goods, pasta, etc. If you purchase your flour, sugar and other staples in bulk, it’s helpful to store smaller quantities in your pantry or cupboards while storing the larger airtight containers in a closet, cellar, or basement.
There are a lot of ways to customize your shelved food goods. Building or purchasing extra cabinet space is always a great way of expanding your storage, whether you’re adding space to your kitchen, basement, or an extra room. There are also great shelf and pantry options, with enough solutions to fit any household and any floor plan.
When planning to add storage space or shelving consider:
- Using out-of-the-box methods. In the “cabinet space” link above is pictured a spice cabinet with metal containers that attach to a magnet door. Such a unique and space-saving idea!
- Using baskets on open shelves. This works particularly well for odd-shaped items. It can be used for anything from individual-sized snack bags to those small, round baking powder containers that never seem to fit anywhere! Using this method also allows for easier content categorization.
- Storing smaller portions of your bulk ingredients in the kitchen. The larger containers can be stored somewhere out of the way, freeing up more precious shelf space!
Cellar or Basement Organization
Large quantities of storage usually require a larger area than the kitchen pantry and cabinets. Building shelves in a cellar, basement, extra room, or even a temperature-regulated garage or shed, can be a great source of space when storing your winter food stuffs.
Shelving in these areas can be simple as long as they’re sturdy. Of course, there are also complex solutions that can be purchased or built in to your storage area. Whichever route you take, follow the basic rules of storage and organization to ensure that you always know exactly what you have and where you can find it.
Food storage is a terrific idea; whether you are storing canned goods from your hard-earned garden produce or focusing on emergency preparedness, it doesn’t ever hurt to have a food supply readily available if needed. Yet this can get tricky when you have limited amounts of space. Those with no basements, small houses, or apartments simply may not have the room to dedicate large areas for winter food storage. If you, like me, fall into this category, don’t lose heart! There are still plenty of space-saving options available to us!
I love the idea of transforming a closet into a pantry! You can add shelves, drawers and baskets to an extra closet to create a pantry (or second pantry). Often times, closets have a large amount of wasted space, and this solution is perfect for efficiency as well as finding that illusive food storage area.
Alternatively, you can use or purchase furniture in which you can “hide” your storage. Benches that have cabinet space underneath are a perfect way to add seating to your limited floor plan, while creating a secret storage area for your winter foodstuffs.
Label, Date and Use!
There are so many fun and unique ways to organize your winter food storage, and your options range from simple and minimal to complex and expansive. Every family and household has different needs, so, of course, there is no right or wrong choice. No matter what method you choose, make sure that you follow the basic storage rules, including shelf life, labeling and dating your contents, and being sure to use your items prior to their expiration date. Have fun with the process of storing your supply for winter, and enjoy the fruits of your labor!
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