The bulk food pantry

Making use of "air space"

Humpf, the title of this post sounds like an 80’s band. LOL

We all know that saying, “a place for everything and everything in its place.”

Easier said than done for an urban homesteader’s way of life.

When you start living a more simple, self sufficient life, how is that you actually accumulate MORE stuff?  It’s a true and a simple fact.  Living a simple life is, in fact, not simple.   If you make food and goods from scratch, you need to store all those supplies  somewhere – anywhere!  Come on, folks, we all have to admit it sometime right?  Raise your hands if you got a stash of stuff just piling up with no place to put it.

Storing all the supplies is certainly a challenge on the urban homestead.   We have to use our space wisely; but we still seem to accumulate more stuff than  sometimes we really need.  Urban homesteading is not only about wisely using every available space to grow food and become more self reliant but using space wisely to store all our much need supplies that we need in this journey towards sustainability.

Organizing and maintaining an urban homestead is one of the most daunting challenges   There are  garden, food supplies, seeds, crafts,  etc., etc.

Doesn’t always work, but we find having a daily chore schedule helps keep things a bit more tidy.   If you’ve brought stuff out for soap making or sewing, keep the container nearby so you can put the stuff back from where it came. A “once around the home and grounds” – putting up, sweeping, dusting and tidying.   Because we are  a working farm, within minutes of a clean up, things can go back to being unruly; however, if everyone does his part to clean up his surroundings,  it does help.   Each member of the household here is responsible for his area of expertise.  We try to follow the golden rule and be good neighbors and citizens of this Rose City so we are very conscious of keeping our homestead tidy and clean.

What creative organizing solutions have you come up with to store all your urban homesteading supplies?

One example is where Jordanne created an otherwise unused space for storing books, yarns and other crafty items in our bedroom.

Care to share?


  1. Thy Hand says:

    What you say is true! I often think it would be lovely if in my pantry were stored only jars containing food, but no. There is also berry boxes, netting for the cherry tree, extra egg cartons, my applesauce strainer, meat grinder, the list goes on and on. The only way I can keep things in reasonable order is to periodically set aside some time to get in there (and in the other spaces) to de-clutter and re-organize. You’re absolutely right- living simply is not simple:-).

  2. elaine says:

    Once a year I like to go through all our “stuff”, whether it be kitchen, gardening, or clothing stuff, and see what we do not use. If I haven’t used it in a year, then it’s put in the “Good Will” bag. Old books go to the public library where they have book sales monthly to help them with their programs. There are many shelters that take clothes and hygene items also. There is no easy way around it. If you are running out of space, then you have to “down size” and get rid of some “stuff”. I know many people on our block can’t park their cars in the garage due to it being filled from to to bottom with boxes of “stuff”. I doubt that is a problem in any Third World country. Happy Spring cleaning!

    • GK says:

      Believe it or not Elaine it still is a major problem in developing countries like where I come from, Egypt. And we are not only talking about well-off people. I have worked in many slums of Cairo, where a family of 10 shares two rooms and would not believe the amount of ‘stuff’ that is there. I have noticed that the less money people have in Egypt, the more they ‘collect’ any thing and everything and not to re-use it but simply to feel that they ‘own’ something. I have just started my blog in order to document my personal downshifting and simplifying journey, which is to be honest very tough in my country.

  3. Molly On Money says:

    We keep our preserves on a shelf in our bedroom. We were able to clean out so much in our bedroom the shelves were almost bare. Since our home is small it only made sense to use the empty shelves for something useful. I love seeing all the wonderful colors. It reminds me summer will be back (currently snowy and 2 degrees!)

  4. Heather :) :) :) says:

    Hmm…I love your storage shelves with all the spices, flours etc. That’s awesome..and because of you, I’m on the lookout for really nice glass storage jars. I live in a two-story apartment…so space is defniitely at a premium. I have a linen closet..two actually, and I’m thinking about dedicating some of the shelves for supplies. I have a shelf in there for all my homemade cleaning supplies…ingredients and tools 🙂 🙂 It’s still a work in progress. Love and hugs from Oregon, Heather 🙂

  5. StaceyG says:

    With a growing garden, we’re on the lookout at thrift shops and family members’ basements for some extra storage options. We got a canning set (yay!) and dehydrator for Christmas, so space is running out. But for now, a lot of canned goods are at my parent’s place. And I’ve got my eye on a few things from Peddler’s Wagon, so looks like I’ll have to create even more space!

  6. grace says:

    ugh! SOOOO true!! There is nothing simple about living the simple life. Wouldn’t trade it for the world though. I have a couple of old dressers that a friend no longer needed and was going to burn. I use one for fabric and one for yarn. Come to think of it I also have a third. Who knows where it came from but, I use it for other crafting items and I use the top as a work area.

    • grace says:

      @grace, also just remembered. Growing up we had 5 kids in a small house and so space was also very limited there. I remember mom having jars of food under her bed and under some of us kids’ beds.

      • Melanie says:

        @grace, I have all my preserve jars ready to be filled under my bed waiting to be filled! glad to hear its not just me.

        • Olga says:

          Under the bed is a great Idea!-I have nothing under my bed-to even hide some of the clutter, since our pantry is getting smaller…hum.

          Thanks for sharing/;>)

  7. Konnie says:

    Finally, I read someone being honest about the dilemma of trying to simplify but in the process having to collect all the supplies required. It is a perplexing reality. Right now I have plenty of room since my house and property is spacious, but I am mindful that when we downsize, hopefully soon, I will be needed creative solutions to accomodate my homestead needs. Love your bulf food storage, it’s much more organized than mine.

  8. John says:

    Great photos of your storage areas. Yes I agree it’s difficult to manage all the pantry storage and homestead related project paraphernalia. I find myself applying ideas from a business lecture on kaizen (the Japanese manufacturing and engineering efficiency concept) and always being open to rearranging where items are stored. Storing the sugar/flour/spatulas in the same place “because they’ve always been there” doesn’t always mean they’re in the most efficient place. Constantly keeping an open mind for reinvention and innovation can lead to some gains in space, efficiencies in completing tasks, and fewer “grrrr – where is that?” moments.

  9. Dorothy says:

    Oh my! SOOOO true. Now that we’re switching to more home-canned foods, more home-baked breads and such, we have more “things” than ever stored away down in the basement! It’s such a blessing, however, to have such a problem of storing away all the things prepared in summer =)
    I plan on cleaning & organizing my canning supplies once we’ve eaten all of 2010 canned goods.

  10. Ginger says:

    This week I had lots of fun transferring all my dried medicinal herbs to quart canning jars. I have one shelf with small cracker jars and one with large cracker jars for the more bulky ones like red clover blossoms, mullein leaf, and red raspberry leaf. There is just enough space behind the herb jars to store my honey, which I also keep in quart or pint mason jars. I put everything in one cabinet with doors that close, because herbs must be kept in the dark to retain freshness. In the cabinets below that counter, I have my bee’s wax and other stuff to make ointments and encapsulate the herbs plus sprouting and micro greens supplies. The whole thing makes a fabulous, herbal apothecary space and even has a little counter for preparation. Every time I organize and cull, I feel euphoric, but I also get more and more careful about what comes in my door. Order brings so much peace.

    • Kari Pelletier says:

      @Ginger, How true Ginger, I always feel better in/about a space after it has been clean and organized, even if it’s just a kitchen drawer.

    • AlizaEss says:

      Agreed- 50 lb bags of flours, seeds, compost, chicken feed, bulk spices, and mason jars coming out the ears! Having a specific space for everything definitely helps. When the area for re-usable containers, herbs, or whatever gets full, you know it’s time to clean house. Solstices are another great time to get organized for the new season.

  11. Ruth G says:

    Being empty nesters, we currently have “space” but not always the right kind of space so we look at things and areas for how wew can use it in an alternate way. We have a very small kitchen so I have only a small amount of our food in there. Shelves my husband put up all along the garage wall adjacet to the kitchen are filled with large equipment that is essential but not used every day (Pressure Canners, Steam Juicer, Maple sugaring equipment, “V” slicer, empty canning jars and “tupperware” type containers, dutch ovens,empty one gallon glass jars, berry baskets, recycling bins, etc.) He also installed an over-head shelf that holds the large buckets we use for maple sugaring (5 gallon buckets recycled free from bakeries).

    We use a coat closet in our hallway for home canned fruit items (fruit, syrups, jams, jellies, and juices). A big double closet in “the guest room” is the pantry for home canned veggie and meat items (Plain veggies, pickles, soups, chili,) and bulk bought dry goods (flours, beans, vinegar, grains, etc). When we lived in a smaller place we used under-bed areas for storage – fruit items under youngest sons bed, veggie items under our bed.

    A linen closet in one bedroom is now bulk bought paper storage but this has lasted for years as we have worked hard to stop using paper napkins and paper towels.

    I made a craft room in another bedroom, re-using colorful furniture from when the boys were younger to store my fabric and other supplies.

    Organization is an on-going task for me but I am getting better at it.
    Ruth in NH (where we are in the middle of a big snow storm, expecting up to 20 inches!)

  12. Kj says:

    What great ideas you all have! We are fortunate enough to live on a small farm so we have some storage space for the bigger items like dehydrators, canning supplies, etc. out in a cold room in our barn (which isn’t actually a barn, it was used in the early 1900’s as an apple storage warehouse.) For those of you that may have a little extra space and are handy with tools, or know someone who is, here is an idea that my wonderful husband made for me to store our home-canned items – a wooden filing cabinet. He used plywood and some heavy-duty drawer glides. Each drawer holds 2 cases of quarts and one drawer holds pints. It’s wonderful!
    Thank you for all of the ideas and the wonderful pictures!

  13. Lori from PA says:

    So as not to feel too guilty about accumulating equipment for the simple life, it all goes down in my journal as “infrastructure.” After all, it is the means of production.

    We are discovering new space in our garage. The long hvac boxed duct chase is getting paneling and screw-hooks in a neat row to accommodate maple sap buckets, reachable by a sash hook pole that stores neatly in a corner. Thanks to the Dervaes family for their exhortations to think vertically!

  14. Pam says:

    There’s a number of items that you only use once a year and sometimes maybe not for a couple of years. When there’s no room to spread out, you have to go up (or down like storing jars under the bed). I put odd tools like the apple corer, cherry pitter, bean stringer, etc. in a wooden box in a corner of the pantry and stack the next heaviest item, the pressure canner on that. The stainless steel stock pot goes next, the stainless steel juicer on that, the dehydrator belongs close to the top as it is the lightest and easy to damage. The very top is a basket and weird Hors d’oeuvre tray that doesn’t fit right anywhere else. If the original box is kept and used, each item stacks neatly and has support from the walls. Yeah, it’s a pain once a year but it looks pretty cool for the other eleven months.

  15. Alice says:

    Oh yes storage always a problem. We always had things under the bed mostly food things. An extra hamper in bathroom held things like the TP and maybe extra towels. As kids we each had one dresser drawer that was for all undies and socks, then other things were hung. We did not have a lot of things.
    I store all canning related stuff in the pressur canner its self. The jar lifter, tongs, the canned weight any thing that fits and is canning related.
    Stack and nest things to use the room.
    I just moved into a smaller place so I have to downsize and figure out how to use the space I have for the things I need.

  16. Karen Joyce says:

    I truly understand. Although my farm is yet very simple compared to yours, I am always so busy!
    My current task is sorting out Everything. It is sorted in order of importance~
    1) would I take it with if I had to leave home suddenly?
    2) have I used it in the last year?
    3) can I guarantee I will use it in the next year?

    The rest is going into the ‘free pile’ at work~ where much of it probably came from!
    I am planning under the bed drawers for some food storage.
    The pantry must be sorted as nothing is in order. Then inventoried and calculations made as to deficiencies.
    And the list goes on and on…

  17. nancy says:

    Do you have more photos of how your kitchen is arranged? Mine is small, limited counter space, but always looking for ideas! I did finally turn a spare bedroom closet in a food pantry. I LOVE it!!!

    • Anais says:

      @nancy: Sure! Are you on Facebook Cuz my sis posted a bunch of photos of the inside of our house (including the kitchen) on her Facebook page

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