a "been-there" mom of six offers encouragement
to wives, young mothers, and those not so young,
and simple common-sense approaches to
the "ings" of life:
child-rearing (hints and helps), homemaking (all areas),
cooking (simple, cheap, and do-it-yourself)
making (toys and gifts), preparing (for the unexpected),
maintaining (sanity and peace in this increasingly crazy world) and more---
all aspects of making the most of making do on little---
and having fun in the process.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Keeping Track of Canned Goods---Simply and Cheaply (Naturally)

You will totally agree with the adage 
"a picture is worth a thousand words" 
      as you attempt to decipher my written instructions! 
     Since we encourage buying foods you regularly use in quantity whenever there is a good sale --- both for economy and security ---
Once you have it, where do you put it?
     Naturally it is a good idea to rotate your supply, using the oldest ones first. With traditional shelving this becomes a little bothersome since it is much quicker and easier to put the new purchases in front.
     There are very expensive racks made especially for this purpose. At Wal-Mart they sell for well over $200, and they also take up quite a lot of space.

We prefer to spend the majority of our money on the food itself!

Here is our cheap way of keeping the cans moving, with the additional bonus of storing a lot of cans in a small amount of space.

The photo and drawing insert will help you understand what I am trying to describe.
(Except the photo shows one of our larger, earlier units that has a second leveled shelf at the top. Plus, at the time, that unit was large enough that we didn't need to stack the cans in two layers--as the illustration shows.)

Getting Started

We bought two put-it-together-yourself metal storage units. (The kind where the uprights have holes every inch or so, and you screw the shelves on to them.) They are becoming harder to find but the last time I looked the super Wal-Marts were still carrying them. They are pretty easy to find at garage sales.

The two sets must be identical in the width and length of shelves. If the heights are different that isn't an issue, as you will soon see.

The units don’t have to be the heavy duty type because, even though the weight of canned goods quickly adds up, the way the cans are stored disperses this weight evenly.

We put one unit together following the manufacturer’s instructions with the following important modifications:

  • Except for the top shelf, which we installed per directions, we put all the other shelves on with the lip facing up.
  • And, except for the top and bottom shelves which we installed per instructions, we also put all other shelves on at an angle, usually two screw holes lower on one side.

We added the shelves from the second unit, all lips facing up and at the same angles. So far, we haven't found a use for the four additional uprights from the second set. Any ideas, readers?

Our unit is 59 inches tall. Each shelf measures 29 inches wide by 12 inches deep. Each shelf holds 20 regular (about 15 ounce) size cans of vegetables, soups, etc— 10 in each row, two rows deep (back row against the wall, and front row in front of that)

If you space the shelves right, there is enough room between some of the shelves where you can add a second layer of cans (see diagram).

The top and bottom shelves hold jars or boxes or miscellaneous cans.

Depending on the quantity of each item I want to keep on hand, each type of canned good fills one or both of the rows of a shelf. When you remove a can from the lower end of the slant the remaining cans will move down to fill the space.

When it is time to replenish it is easy to tell, at a glance, how many cans must be purchased to keep the inventory up.

A Trick or Two
For ease, I have two additional tricks.
1) I put identifying labels on the shelves where the cans in the back row are different than those in the front row.
2) On the soup shelves, if I have a variety of flavors in the same row, I periodically turn the “faces” of the cans up you can see the different varieties.

Any Closet Can Quickly Become A Pantry
We live in a small home that has a small walk-in closet. Three of these units line this closet’s walls, without removing the rods where clothes previously hung. Cereals, pastas, crackers, etc. fill the upper shelves above the rods. This little space holds a lot of food!

These units also work well in “regular” straight-line closets or, like the one pictured, against a wall in a storage area.

Dave made our first slanted shelving from wood. When we moved the shelves had to stay with the home so we came up with this idea.  The wood ones were nice but much more labor-intensive and expensive, and didn't work any better than the metal ones.

Challenge yourself to find ways to copy-cat expensive commercial products. It is fun! There is great satisfaction in being self-reliant. As I mentioned in an earlier post, keep your thinking cap handy at all times.

From an article previously published in Simply, Gail column in Desert Saints Magazine

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