Food Storage in Tiny Homes?

Posted August 10th, 2009 by Tammy "RowdyKittens" and filed in Issue 11: Obstacles and Solutions

In a recent issue of the SLJ, we talked about food and cooking in small homes. Cooking in a tiny space hasn’t been a problem for us, but I’m worried about how we are going to store bulk food in our future tiny home. Currently, we are using a few strategies to store our bulk food, like turning our storage buckets into furniture, hiding it in cool dark places and storing it in our pantry.

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After reading Michael Pollan’s book, we decided to eat more whole food and cook meals at home. Some of our bulk food storage items include whole wheat berries, rice, beans, honey and plenty of fresh produce.

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I love having so much extra food in the house. But Logan and I continually talk about where we are going to keep our extra food when we move into our tiny house. I don’t know where it’s going to be stored in such a small space.

But, Logan doesn’t think food storage will be an issue. Some of his suggestions have included:

1. Storing food in small, visible containers to use up the bulk food quickly and to keep an eye on what food we’re storing.

2. Building a tiny food storage shed.

3. Storing food under the house in plastic buckets on pallets.

4. And digging a tiny root cellar.

I think these options will be dependent on where we decide to settle down. If we move to the ranch in the future, I’m not concerned about where to put our extra food because it can be stored in the pantry of the larger homestead house.

What do you think of these solutions? What are your creative food storage strategies?

You can learn more about about Tammy by reading her blog, RowdyKittens, or follow her on Twitter.

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9 Responses to “Food Storage in Tiny Homes?”

  1. RandyNo Gravatar says:

    Regarding creative food storage strategies, I’m not so sure storing bulk foods under your house is the best idea. Aside from the obvious problem of pests/insects, have you considered issues like mold, etc, from the humid environment. The stand-alone storage hut is actually a clever idea. I wonder if you could add shelves to the upper areas of a garden tool shed and make the shed do double-duty?

    I’m still living large at 1,600 SF (yea, for one) but I’m well into downsizing by re-purposing furniture and gifting items not regularly used. Several rooms in my home are almost empty now and I have to say not having to heat/cool/clean is nice. In my kitchen, nothing is just for looks, not that I put a lot of emphasis on that anyway. Items serve a purpose on a regular basis or they’re gone. Rather than part with antique “blue” mason jars (that belonged to my Grandmother) I got rid of counter hogging cannisters and use the mason jars to store staple items in smaller quantities. Your needs may be different but I find storage staples in smaller quantities ensures I’m maintaining a fresher stock. Other things I have done are rather than store toilet paper in a pantry, I installed a rack that attaches to the side of the toilet tank. Not only is it handy to reach (in those inopportune moments) but you can see at a glance when you need to buy more. A friend told me if I store flour, sugar, etc., in the refrigerator it will stay fresher longer. I tried it and it does seem to work. So, that freed up even more cupboard/pantry space.

    I’m well on my way to meeting my goal of downsizing into a 40 ft travel trailer equivalent within the next five years. Good luck to you with your journey towards a ‘tiny life’ as well.

  2. JodiNo Gravatar says:

    We actually did a post about this topic on our blog and had our readers submit suggestion on small spaces food storage solutions. The results were just incredible. You can check them out here http://foodstoragemadeeasy.net/2009/01/26/small-spaces-storage-solutions-results/

    Hopefully something in there might be helpful to you!

    -Jodi

  3. EdNo Gravatar says:

    I’m planning a largish building but including greenhouse, storage and workshop space outside the small (but not tiny but SLJ standards – maybe 60 m² (650 ft²)) live/work house. Part of the storage space will be a large pantry for bulk storage. There’ll also be smaller storage space within the kitchen for day-to-day use, of course. The primary purpose is to greatly reduce the number of shopping trips required per year but also to store produce from the greenhouse.

    The key point is that this pantry (and other storage space) will be outside the core conditioned space. This means that it can be kept cool easily and does not contribute to the volume which needs to be enclosed by the main house insulation.

    An idea I want to try is to cool this pantry passively by having a water radiator inside the space to act as an absorber of heat connected in a loop with another such radiator on the roof, exposed to the sky but as far as possible shielded from the sun. The loop would be set up so that when the radiator on the roof is cooler than the absorber in the pantry (e.g., during cold winter days or clear summer nights) heat would be transferred upwards whereas when the outside air is warm or the sun does get to the radiator (so it’s warmer) the convection would stop.

    The loop would need to be filled with anti-freeze and there would probably need to be a drip tray under the absorber to collect any condensation which forms on it. It might also be necessary to shut off the loop in very cold weather to prevent freezing in the pantry.

    I think cooling ideas along these lines could be adapted to a number of food storage methods though it would be easier when the storage is outside the main house. The tricks, I think, are to set up systems which let heat out when it’s cool outside but not let heat in when it’s warm outside and to make sure that the contents of the pantry have enough thermal mass that it stays pretty cool even when it’s not cool outside for a while.

  4. Grant WagnerNo Gravatar says:

    Let me throw this idea out there for your tiny house. I’ll leave the immediate in kitchen storage alone, as I’m sure that isn’t nearlly that big of an issue.

    First, a tiny house needs a tiny shed! On your property, next to your rolling house, but a little wood shed. A 4×4 structor, with a 8 by 4′ roofed area next to it. The covered area can be used to store firewood if you go with a wood burning stove. The 4×4 structor can be used for tool storage, or if you’re going off grid, a house for a back up generator. Then, in the floor of that structor put a a small 4′ foot deep, 2′ x2′ root celler. To ease your back, create a 2′x2′x3′ frame, with only a panel on the bottom, and put your food in several 5 gallon plastic buckets, put them on the frame, and then use a rope and pully to lower the frame to the root celler.

    What do you think?

  5. Tammy "RowdyKittens"No Gravatar says:

    Grant – this is an awesome idea! If we move to the ranch, this would be a perfect option. Although it might work in the city too. Thank you! I apologize for the delayed response. My day job has been a little crazy lately. :) Thanks for reading the journal. We really appreciate it. :)

  6. dkzodyNo Gravatar says:

    We live in a small 70s house that does not have large rooms or large storage. I am amazed how BIG everything is when I go to the stores. No one wants to sell single size or individual size anything. It’s almost impossible to find a single roll of Viva papertowels any more. I constantly complain about these huge packages of everything. They will not fit in my tiny house, nor do I need enough of anything for a whole year.

  7. Deb C-GNo Gravatar says:

    We’ve lived in teeny places for three+ years. First a 119 sq ft redone vintage trailer, now in a slightly larger (257 sq ft) slightly newer travel trailer. The motivation for moving to a small space was concern for our environmental footprint. We are not young. I’m 63, he’s 68 and we have a large rambunctious cat. We have serious health concerns, and it’s important to us to eat local, organic and vegetarian.

    Luckily we live in a food-growing region and I am able to put up a lot of locally grown food for winter use. I dry food, as it takes so little space, and can be stored in any container which keeps moisture out. Our sons built us a 6 x 24 roofed deck, to which we added three waterproof storage cabinets. One contains tools and hardware, as you do need to maintain a home, which takes tools. My appliances, baking dishes & cases of food go in the second cabinet. In a third I store my dried food and staples bought in bulk. Less packaging and more economical to buy five pound bags of beans, oatmeal, etc and keep them in gallon glass jars given to us by a friend who works in a commercial kitchen. Next to the cabinets are three stacking baskets, two of which now contain 40 pounds of organic potatoes and the third has 20 pounds of apples fresh from the tree.

    Our kitchen has an eight cubic foot fridge with a small freezer up top, a four burner magic chef stove/oven, and a microwave, all built in. It has two sinks, and lots of fairly inaccessible storage. We also have a countertop dishwasher for those days when I can’t stay on my feet long enough to wash dishes.

    I garden and this year talked our park/campground into giving residents space for a community garden which has done very well. Great community builder and we grew lots of good food.

    Everyone needs to assess how important storing food and cooking are to them before they move into a place with 10″ of counter space and no room to store a week’s worth of food. If you eat out all the time a tiny kitchen is not a problem. If you are committed to eating a sustainable diet you may need to get creative. That 6 X 24 deck solved many problems for us.

    Life is a great adventure. :) )

  8. RandyNo Gravatar says:

    Great story Deb-CG!!! Thanks

  9. DonNo Gravatar says:

    Nice site, came across it while doing some additional research for an article.

    There are at least two vendors who sell rack to hold canned food between (in side) interior wall studs. These racks can be open to view or covered by movable panels you install when you build the wall. Made for 16 in on center, they constructed of metal so will likely last for quite some time.

    Since it seems you are in the dream stage (planning) why not plan to add these types of racks. Thinking outside of the box, so as to speak, is easier while building rather than trying to retrofit.

    Have fun, hope you can fullfill you dream soon.