It happens to all of us at some point: we realize the importance of preparing for emergencies, but someone close to us doesn’t. It might be a parent, a roommate, or a spouse, but the dilemma is the same. How do you stock up on food and supplies so stealthily someone you live with (who isn’t on board with prepping) doesn’t notice?
As the title suggests, you can stock up without looking like a hoarder or nut job, or being accused of paranoia. Buying and storing preps over time will seem natural, and won’t set off any red flags or break the bank.
If your other half is not on board, you can’t very well install 8 foot high shelves in the garage unnoticed, so be creative and think outside the box! Again, what do you do? Get ninja with your storage!
Cleaning and Reorganizing
One way to stockpile and store food items ninja-style is while you are cleaning and reorganizing. Pretty much everyone has totes or boxes in closets that have not been touched in 5 years (or more). You don’t even know what is inside of them except from the label that reads “bedroom stuff” or the like. These are perfect for your ninja plan! Clean those totes out but leave the label just as it is. They make an excellent decoy not only to those who call you paranoid, but also for any potential looters.
Long-term food storage needs to be in an environment where the temps stay relatively even from season to season. If you have totes or boxes that are in a good location, empty, repack, and PUT THEM BACK! People are used to seeing that blue tote by the door in the basement. It’s likely they will not even notice it has been dusted off or moved around – or that you just packed 20 pounds of rice and beans in there. Easy, right?
When you are doing your Spring-cleaning, look around your house for unused space. The area above the door on the inside of most closets is unused space – can you put a little shelf in there for storage? Is there space under existing furniture or the headboard on your bed? Can you empty out a drawer in your dresser? What about under the stairs?
One thing we did to make room in our apartment is to move the pots and pans in the cupboards forward (making sure they are stacked to take less space) and putting cases of fruits and vegetables in the back. This makes it easier to rotate in to your normal stock, too. Taking advantage of sales and storing the food is a sort of “food insurance.” Even if nothing ever happens, you are still saving money because food bought yesterday is less expensive than food bought tomorrow!
Storage as Furniture
For those who have a budget tighter than most, you can still accomplish food storage in plain site with a little creativity. Buy a tote and fill it with food. Then, find a nice sheet or some other kind of covering to put over the tote to hide it. Add a lamp or other decoration on top and it serves as a side or end table, PLUS it lets you store food right out in the open. No one would ever know you have 20 pounds of sugar stored inside unless they remove the covering and honestly – how many people are going to do that?
On the same line of thinking, buying a few cases of #10 cans of food and putting a cloth over them will also serve as a nice end table. Are you a big shoe fan? Those boxes could be utilized to store smaller items such as new toothbrushes, floss, and toothpaste. Stacked with the rest of the shoeboxes, there wouldn’t really be a second though as to what may be inside of them, it is assumed!
There are extremes to food storage I have seen or read about. Some people store food in hollow interior doors (think macaroni and cheese) or in air ducts. Some people even peel back wood paneling and store food in their walls! I do not recommend this route – especially if you are renting. The “other half” will surely notice something like that as well.
One last area to consider is outside.
This makes some assumptions and may not work for everyone. If you have a small balcony you can also make a little ‘end table’ though temperature fluctuations could decrease the length of storage time. (Temperature fluctuations and light are enemies of long term food storage!) Is there a woodshed that can be utilized? Can you put a tote or two in a corner of the garage?
When you really start to look, you probably have more room than you first thought. You will be able to implement your ninja storage easier than expected with a little creative thinking!
Ninja-style meal planning
Many moms plan their family’s meals several days in advance. This can work to your advantage if your food storage strategy is ninja-style.
Include a couple meals in your menu planning each week or month that only use shelf-stable ingredients such as rice, beans, grains, canned foods, and seasonings. Instead of preparing those meals, set those ingredients aside in sealed mylar bags. Label the bag with the name of the ingredient, and store them in a plastic bin in a cool part of the house.
You can always use those ingredients if you must, but at the same time, you have started a nice food storage stash that no one will notice is even there.