Part of our food preparedness is ensuring that we have sufficient food on hand. In our old house we had large storage areas for our food, which allowed us to build up a considerable stockpile. In our new home, this has not been the case. While our kitchen does have large amounts of cupboards, they have been built so that their top shelf is around three meters off the ground. This means that we need a ladder to reach the items placed there. It is not really convenient to keep a ladder handy, so Kitty has persuaded me to do some renovations and build a new pantry.
We were using a lovely glass display cabinet for the bulk of our (non-high cupboard) food storage in the kitchen, yet this was limited in space and appeared out of place. The plan was to move the cupboard out, and build a shelf system in the newly emptied space. I considered how I would approach this for several weeks… we couldn’t afford expensive materials, I wanted to make it strong and solid enough to hold dozens of cans of foods, and I wanted it to not look bad. After a while, it struck me, I could use the very high doors from the kitchen cupboards as the shelves! They were made of very strong wood, they were exactly the right size (give or take 5mm), and we owned enough to make a set of six shelves (as we had 6 cupboard doors). I could use some of the material I salvaged from my work on building the studio apartment as the structural part of the shelves, and I owned most of the tools I needed.
We spent a couple of hours emptying the old cupboard and moving it out of the way, then I set about pulling off the kitchen cupboard doors. After a little plane to remove a couple of millimeters from the first door, and some quick saw work on the wooden beams, I set about attempting to attach the shelf to the wall. I had a very large amount of trouble with this, as the wall appears to have bricks within. I had to run down to the hardware store and buy a masonry drill bit in order to secure the wood to the wall. After a lot of hard work, and 30 minutes of trying, I finally completed my first shelf. In all, with the cutting and other work (including the trip to the store), it took around 2 hours to get the first one up.
I took a rest for the remainder of the day and the next morning I began again. I had no trouble with the second shelf, but the third one was a problem. I had worn the masonry drill bit into a useless nub. I had to once more hit the hardware store, but this time I bought some spare items. Once home, I continued on my work, managing to take 15 minutes to get the last shelf up. I checked each shelf, and they are all straight, solid enough to hold my weight, and they don’t look to bad. They also turned out to be inexpensive to make, I spent around $30 on materials (tools that I can use for future work).
With the shelves complete, Kitty is happy and I feel pretty good about it. We can now see all the food we have, and easily work out what we need to buy. This is an opportune moment to have this done, as since moving to the new house, we have been witling away at our previously adequate food stockpiles. We have been making a huge effort to try to get free of our debts, and in order to cut our grocery bills, we have been digging a little too deeply into our storage. A recent stock take showed that we have enough food for a fortnight, which is much less then we would prefer. Now we can plan better and make smart purchases to ensure that we have a higher degree of food security.
I am not a professional builder… Apart from some wood work classes in high school, I was never taught these skills. If I can do this, I am sure that any of you can do much better then I.