Ever since we went to the dry-pack for the first time we've had a problem: How to store all of those boxes. We've got the space for them. but keeping the #10 cans in their six-pack cases was not working for us - too much shifting and restacking whenever we needed to find a particular item.
Surely by now you have seen these heavy-duty canned food racks from Shelf-Reliance. They look awesome. They are industrial strength with retail-style features, most notably how they allow you to rotate your food so that you're always using the oldest stuff first so you don't get stuck with a 20 year-old can of nastiness. FIFO, or "first in, first out," is the accounting term for this type of inventory management system.
There are several different setups, but the one I've had my eye on for the past couple of years is the Harvest 72" #10, denoting it's six foot height and that it stores #10 cans. In fact each unit holds 112 #10 cans. A big 'BUT' - each unit retails for $460! Yowsers! Occasionally I find a discount code for $75 off, $100 off, or free shipping. I even came really close to placing an order at one point.
I hesitated because I was considering additional details like where to put them in the garage and how many racks I would need just to store all of the cans I already had in boxes, in addition to the non-trivial price.
The only place that made sense to put the racks was in the same place I intended to build a workbench. So...
- A trip to Home Depot
- 15 2x4s
- 3 4x4s
- a bunch of 5/16" hex bolts, washers, nuts and nails
... and, viola!
My self-shelf-reliance holds 231 #10 cans (a bit more than twice as many as the Harvest 72" #10). It cost less than $100 in materials. I would have needed to buy two Harvests ($920) to equal the storage capacity I built for $100. Plus, my homebrew Harvest is more practical for me. I sized it such that it is the same height as my table saw, allowing me to use it as a workbench/outfeed table. When loaded up with food, it is also very heavy which makes for a nice sturdy work surface.
The dimensions are approximately eight feet wide by three and a half feet deep by however high to the top of my table saw. This allowed for three levels of cans, seven cans deep and eleven across (3 x 7 x 11 = 231). I had orginally envisioned four levels of cans, which would have increased capacity by 77 cans, but I decided the value of having it match the height of my table saw was worth more to me. Like the rack from Shelf Reliance, the rails on mine are slightly angled so that the cans roll to the front. Like the rack from Shelf Reliance, my system employes FIFO inventory management, with the ability to load cans from the back of the unit.
I still need to add the table surface, and there is plenty of room directly underneath the suface for drawers and a woodworking vise, which I intend to add at some point in the not-too-distant future.
Perhaps the best part is that my system holds all of my current inventory, with some capacity left unused. It is easy to see exactly how much we have of particular item, and use that information to determine the amount we still need to acquire. I take that back - the best part is that Sara actually likes it and doesn't think (not anymore, anyway) this project was a waste of time. I take that back again - the best part is that we can now walk all the way around the car when it is parked in the garage now that the boxes of food are out of the way. Ah, nevermind. I think the first one really is the best. Organization has a way of making a person feel in control of things. I won't be blindsided with surprise about what I have or don't have in my dry-pack inventory.