Living Like Little House in the Big Woods ~ Food Storage

by Merissa on January 11, 2011

in Living Like Little House

The  Little House in the Big Woods paints a pretty picture of Ma's winter storage. Stockpiling is something that's a conerstone in the couponing foundation. Plus it just makes good sense to stock up on items when they are on sale so you don't have to purchase those same items for regular price when you really do need them! They are just right there in your stockpile waiting. Plus having a stockpile is security for if anything really happens with the economy or if something happens to a job. You have your stockpile to fall back on in those cases or in any number of cases. (For example I talked about stockpiling for winter over HERE.) In the Little House in the Big Woods it talks about Ma's food storage.

" When Butchering Time was over, there were the sausages and the headcheese, the big jars of lard and the keg of white salt pork out in the shed, and in the attic hung the smoked hams and shoulders. THe little house was fairly bursting with good food stored away for the long winter. The pantry and the shed and the cellar were full, and so was the attic."

"The attic was a lovely place to play. The large, round, colored pumpkins made beautiful chairs and tables. The red peppers and the onions dangled overhead. The hams and the venison hung in their paper wrappings, and all the bunches of dried herbs, the spicy herbs for cooking and the bitter herbs for medicine, gave the place a dusty-spicy smell. Often the wind howled outside with a cold and lonesome sound. But in the attic Laura and Mary played house with the squashes and the pumpkins, and everything was snug and cozy." ~ Little House in the Big Woods p.18 - 19

If you've ever been to the Little House in the Big Woods replica house in Pepin you know how small it is and how creative Ma must have been to be able to store all those goods in such a small space.

Small space storage can be a tricky thing. It's something you have to be creative with! I've got stuff stashed all over my house (in an organized fashion of course!) I keep batteries in those plastic pull out drawers. I keep all my food in 2 closets. I have a closet for paper goods, part of a closet for bulk health and bulk stuff and I keep the rest of the health and beauty in my little bathroom. I think one of the keys to having storage space is cleaning out what you don't need. Right now me and the hubby are working through every room in the house and cleaning out everything we don't need. I've been surprised at what I'm finding to get rid of!

Want to see how I store food and other goodies in my tiny house? I made a little video for you! FYI I know my bathroom shelves are bad but oh my the camera makes them look 10 times worse! And as usual I'm quite dorky in the video but I'm getting over it:)

If you can't see the video just go HERE.

*You can find the Gamma lids that I talk about in the video HERE. The buckets are just food grade 5 gallon buckets that you can probably get at Sam's Club or even if you ask around at your local restaurants.

Make sure you read the entire Living Like Little House series!

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{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lisa January 11, 2011 at 5:38 pm

who sells those large buckets that you use – and for buying bulk sugar, flour, rice do you purchase from a store like sams club?


2 Merissa January 11, 2011 at 5:43 pm

I’m going to add a link in the post to the buckets. I buy them through my co-op Azure Standard but you can also get them from Amazon.


3 Michelle Sines January 11, 2011 at 6:56 pm

Thank you for this article! Some days I feel like we live so simply. And your blog, especially today, says it all! My kitchen cupboards hold my dishes, pots, pans, glassware, empty jars, etc. My dining room has been converted to a pantry with plastic industrial shelving so that I have all my items at hand and in bulk when possible to stockpile.
Would like to ask what you think of Savings’ Angel, and like processes. I’ve tried to use them. However, we do so many home-made, not-processed foods & meals that I find it very time consuming and otherwise somewhat wasteful to go thru the process for maybe a coupon or two for a canned good that I might use. Rarely, do we buy canned goods. maybe a can of soup once in a while, even then, most of those are cream/condensed and not normally a coupon item.
Anyway, thanks for what you do! & thanks for the “to do” pdfs the other day! You have greatly inspired me! :O)


4 Merissa January 11, 2011 at 7:05 pm

Michelle: I love that you turned your dining room into a pantry, that’s awesome! (I’d love to see a pic) I haven’t used Saving’s Angel but I’m not much for companies that charge you to save money. Plus you are right, many many things with coupons are processed and not good for us anyways. Personally, (and I’m not sure if I’ve talked about this before but..) I use coupons to buy things I don’t need to get things I do. Like if I can get some fruit snacks and make a little overage I will get them even though I don’t use them and I’ll use the overage on produce or something like that. I also buy in bulk ALOT. I make about 95% off the food we eat from scratch. There are things we can get with coupons though that fit into our diet like oats and chocolate chips and stuff.
One of my hopes with the blog is that I can provide info for those that coupon AND for those that don’t. I fall in-between those 2 categories so I can see the pros and cons of both;)


5 Ella McKinsey January 17, 2011 at 7:08 am

Thanks so much for showing us your storage space! Your space isn’t what I would describe as small, though. 😉 My laundry room is about the size of your first pantry, and your second pantry is about as big as my main kitchen cabinet (for both dishes and food-I don’t have a pantry). There’s no way I could store those buckets anywhere, unless we used them for seating in the living room 😉 Hooray for living in an urban area! I wouldn’t trade it for anything, but I’m glad for some of your tips which I can utilize to make my space even better. Just discovered your blog and I’m intrigued.


6 Merissa January 17, 2011 at 4:22 pm

My house isn’t too bad for just the 2 of us. I don’t actually have a laundry room, it’s the closet in the living room. And I have no pantry in my actual kitchen(the pantry I show is in the hallway by the bathroom) So I’ve had to create the space in what might have otherwise been nothing:) I’m glad you’ve discovered the blog, let me know if I can help you with anything, anytime:)


7 Ella McKinsey January 17, 2011 at 5:58 pm

It’s amazing what you can do with smaller spaces, right? Your creativity is inspiring. 🙂


8 Melissa January 20, 2011 at 11:44 am

I enjoyed watching your video, thank you for taking the time to make it and share it. I live in a house with no closets! Yes, it’s true! But I have a large basement and I’ve been making a pantry area down there. My hubby built heavy duty shelving for me a number of years ago, and I store extra dishes, canning supplies, and canned items down there. But you’ve really inspired me to do more. Love the bucket idea! I went to the Amazon link and they only have black lids, but the lovely red lids seem to be available from, and are way cheaper. I’m wondering if they are the right ones because they are half the price.


9 Merissa January 20, 2011 at 11:47 am

Melissa, that’s what I pay for the gamma lid from Azure Standard(my co-op) yes they are the right ones!


10 Melissa January 20, 2011 at 1:16 pm

Great!! I will get some. My hubby is a professional Chef. I will ask him for buckets when he gets home today ;o)


11 mxgal March 6, 2011 at 4:20 pm

My husband found 5 gallon buckets are free from our local grocery store called Ralphs. Go to the bakery dept. and ask for the frosting buckets they use for cake decorating. He got them for our earthquake storage. We are out West and have earthquake kits….just in case. We then rotate through the food before it goes beyond its expiration date. So his hobby of emergency preparedness and my hobby of stockpiling go hand in hand! Good luck….PS love the blog!


12 Sawyer @ Food Storage March 24, 2011 at 1:59 pm

Good video.


13 Roy Slater August 8, 2011 at 3:26 pm

Food storage is a great way to develop more self reliance. Emergencies happen from time to time and it’s good to know that if I’m involved in one that I will be able to feed my family.


14 Betty September 18, 2011 at 7:58 am

I love to see your own canned stuff- I think that is so cool! 🙂


15 Angela January 20, 2012 at 4:50 am

Wow!! I mean WOW!!! My house is little, I don’t even have that many closets & no pantry….no place for a pantry, either but I love your organization. I shampoo with baking soda & rinse my hair with apple cider vinegar. I love it & my hair loves it too. So I don’t have to stockpile shampoos & conditioner but I do need to stockpile baking soda & vinegars. I don’t use alot of chemicals to clean either mostly vinegar, lemon juice & baking soda. My husband and I don’t eat much meat so we don’t keep much in our house. So I can pretty much skip the health & beauty, the meat section & the cleaning aisle at the grocery store. I do buy some vegetarian meats & occasionally organic chicken. I don’t buy processed foods with preservatives in them. This also makes couponing a challenge, since the items I do buy rarely have coupons. But I wish I had all your closets. My towels, wash cloths, sheets, paper good, reusable shopping bags, vaccuum, toilet brush & plunger all have to fit in one small closet. I made a hanging area in the hot water tank closet for mops, brooms, etc but it barely squeezes in there. I keep my cleaning supplies under my kitchen sink. I have some shelves in my tiny laundry room that I keep my laundry soap, medicines ,1st aid (in a tote), spray cans (that can’t freeze outside, also in box) recycling box, and laundry hamper. So I am at a loss for where I will put my canning next year, since I haven’t been canning & I really want to this next season. I guess I will have to get creative but thanks for the inspiration.


16 Angie May 27, 2012 at 12:14 pm

All that home-canned goodness is a breathtakingly beautiful sight!


17 Tia June 21, 2012 at 6:29 pm

I work in a deli that has a sandwich station. The pickles we use do not come out of little jars, they come out of large food grade storage containers. What do we do with the majority of these when we’ve emptied them? We throw them in the trash, (the rest go home with me to be disbursed to friends, or if I need another). If a customer is savvy enough to ask for one, we give them one for free. You can reseal the top with a rubber mallet.
As for where to store them, you can get pretty creative. I have friends that have put a piece of plywood on top of 2 of them, and then thrown a table cloth over that, and use it as a small table. They make excellent nightstands, with a piece of cloth covering them. And yes, they can be used as small stools. You can cover the sides with remnant wall paper to match any decor and then add a round cushion on top. They are also handy step stools. And when they’re free, why not get creative? Our deli goes through about 7 buckets a week. We reuse 1. That’s 6 we could give away. What are you waiting for?


18 Dorothy Krumpos July 11, 2013 at 5:02 pm

I would like to receive your weekly meal plans. Love your blog. I am now an “older” simple living gal, but your blog reminded me of myself when I was raising my family. Keep up the good work.


19 Kimberly Harris October 7, 2013 at 3:03 pm

We planted potatoes this year, now I have the problem of storing them. No basement or cellar…any idea’s? It gets very cold here in the winter. Thanks.


20 Merissa October 7, 2013 at 3:28 pm

So you have a garage or shed that’s somewhat insulated? My parents keep theirs in their garage.


21 judy May 13, 2015 at 5:56 am

Hi as for your potatoes, try the cold storage method, but watch out for freezing. BUT there is other things you can do…. dehydrating sliced potatoes, making french fries and freezing them and also canning them. I have found a round thing from a plastic company and I am going to try making tator tots. Also, making hash browns and freezing them or dehydrating them. I also have dehydrated other vegetables,, corn, carrots, green beans and others. Hope this helps.


22 Kathleen October 19, 2015 at 10:33 am

I just found your site and I love it. The storage video says it’s gone. I would really like to see it. Thanks


23 Adrienne April 9, 2016 at 5:43 am

I grew up with the little house books and always loved them, when i found your site and you talk about “living like little house” i thought it was cute but expected the same thing i get off many other sites. Of course they have some good info mixed in with mostly ads and random facts that dont give the whole story of how to actually acheive this. But WOW i love your page, how in depth you go, it is truly informative and helpful. I have refered to your article when talking to the hubby ( hey but look little house says… ) you are truly an inspiration and i check your site on adaily basis. I just wanted to thank you for putting your beautiful life out there to inspire us! Thank you Merrissa!


24 Merissa April 9, 2016 at 9:58 am

Thank you so much for your kind comments Adrienne!


25 Janet September 24, 2016 at 12:29 pm

I know that you can ask for the 5 gallon buckets at some grocery stores. They’re given away for free. Just go to the bakery/deli section and ask for them. They just throw them away when they empty them.


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