Simplify Your Family's Emergency Preparedness

Short-Term Food Storage Basics: Part 3 – Making Space, Rotation, & Expiration

tips to help you maximize your space, rotate &
deal with expiration dates

A valid concern with short-term food storage is where you’re going to put all of this stuff!


If you have a basement with a food storage room, you are one lucky person, and I am very very jealous.


Even if you do have an entire room to dedicate to this, you may still find some of these tips helpful, so keep reading.

Pantry Storage

TIP #1

If you have a large pantry with deep shelves, use that space!

Put multiples of the same item behind each other, allowing you to still see everything that you have in front.

TIP #2

If you have an insanely tall top shelf with lots of underutilized space, add a shelf in between the top shelf and ceiling.

TIP #3

Large Lazy Susans are a way to utilize the deep corner spaces in your pantry so things don’t get lost back there.

TIP #4

Utilize the floor for larger items (Example: 5-gallon buckets of sugar, flour, etc.)

top shelf pantry storage
lazy susan in corner of pantry
5 gallon buckets on floor of pantry

Overflow Storage

Tip #1

Unless you have a ginormous pantry, you will likely get to a point where you will need somewhere else to put your overflow.

DO NOT USE YOUR GARAGE (unless it is climate-controlled).

Tip #2

Designate ONE space in your home that will serve as your overflow area for all short-term food storage, where it will be convenient to do a quick visual inventory.

  • Basement storage room
  • Under-the-stairs closet
  • Storage closet
  • Coat closet
  • Office/Bedroom closet


short term food storage basics expiration

Tip #1 - Pay Attention Before You Buy

As your short-term food storage increases, you’ll need to start paying attention to expiration dates.


Example: If you already have 3 months’ worth of an item and want to double it so you have 6 months’ worth, you need to make sure the expiration date of what you are buying is at least 6 months out.


Bottom Line: Don’t purchase more of an item than you can go through before the expiration date.

Tip #2 - Consider Short Shelf-Life Problems

You’ll find that there are some items that you just can’t store a year’s supply of, due to shelf life.


When this happens, you’ll need to think of substitutions for that item that have a longer shelf life, or see if that item is available freeze-dried or dehydrated.


Example: I have noticed that tomato paste is something that I really need to pay attention to. I can’t say that I’ve had a ton of bulging cans in my life, but tomato paste is one of the things I have thrown away multiple times, due to a bulging can that was past its expiration date.


While the expiration dates are usually about a year out when I purchase them, I sometimes find that I have overbought, and I don’t go through them before they expire.


Enter Thrive Tomato Powder.

thrive life tomato powder pantry can
  • 25-year shelf life
  • 100% tomatoes
  • Perfect for stews, soups, sauces, casseroles, pasta sauces
  • A #10 can = 10.75 cups of powder, which makes
    • 32 cups of tomato paste or
    • 53 cups of tomato sauce or
    • 62 cups of tomato juice
  • Takes up WAY less space than cans of all that stuff!
  • Did I mention the 25-year shelf life?!

By purchasing Tomato Powder, I not only end up saving a ton of storage space, but I also don’t have to worry about checking expiration dates and throwing away expired cans. 

Bottom Line: In some instances, things that you might think of as “long-term food storage” can actually help you fill in the gaps of your short-term food storage!


You can read all about my favorite system for rotating food storage in this post.


If you are putting several of the same item in your pantry, be sure you are putting your NEWEST items in the BACK!


This can be a pain, I know, especially when you’re in a hurry to put your groceries away.


But if you don’t do this, you end up using the newest stuff first, and the old stuff never makes it out to the front. And then you’ve got wasted food.


Cans are especially a pain to rotate.

It is SO tempting to just put the cans in front when you’re unloading your groceries.

As your number of cans increases, I would highly encourage you to consider a can rotator. There are lots of DIY ones online, as well as completed ones for purchase.

I have had the can rotator mentioned above for over 10 years and love it. It is an investment, for sure, but I cannot tell you how amazing it is to be able to come home from the grocery store, hand one of my kids the bag of cans, and not have to give any instructions whatsoever. They know what to do. And I know that the cans will all be perfectly rotated. Every. Single. Time.

If you don’t have room for a free-standing system, they also have the Cansolidators that fit right into your pantry.


Space – Go on a tour of your house and notice where you could better utilize your space and designate an area specifically for food storage overflow.

Expiration – Before throwing a bunch of one item in your cart, check the expiration date and make sure you’ll go through that many of that item before the expiration date.


Rotation – Commit to taking the time when unloading your groceries, to put the newest stuff in the back.

If your budget and space allows, consider ordering your Can Rotator or Cansolidator today.


Extra Credit – Go through your pantry and toss any spoiled food.

If you feel like you’re good to go with short-term food storage, then I recommend checking out my series on long-term food storage.

Related Posts:

5 simple things you can do to get your family prepared if you don't have thousands of dollars or hundreds of hours


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