Couponing in a Small Space

Many of my friends have been asking me the same question over and over.  Where do I put it?  My husband, our one year old, our 35 lb Lab/Mini Schnauzer and I live in a 1,000 foot, 2 bed, 1 bath apartment, so sometimes we have to get a little creative on where we put things!  But, it totally keeps me from being a hoarder, and organization is KEY!

Personal Care Stockpile

First, My “Linen” Closet.  As you can see… not many linens 🙂  But, our daughter’s crib sheets are kept in her room, and we limit ourselves to 2 sets of sheets… 1 on the bed, one off, and then hand towels, and kitchen linens.  The rest is where we store our personal item stockpile.

Some close ups:

All of my “cleaning” stockpile is on the top shelf, along with the actual basket of cleaning supplies, and a few full size samples of sinus products I’ve received.  On the 2nd shelf is my entire personal care stockpile.  If it won’t fit, I can’t buy it.  Just a quick note on the Precise and Thermacare patches (so as not to cause a riot) I have been in over 10 serious car accidents in my life (most of them not my fault) so I deal with CONSTANT back pain.  I know it looks like a lot, but they really are one of the few things that help, and if I were to snap another picture in a couple of months, they will all be gone (so hopefully the sale cycles quickly!).

The third and fourth shelves include everything someone would normally see in a medicine cabinet.  However, being a couponer, I don’t just have one of an item, (usually) so it’s sorted into these bins, to make it easy to find, and to keep our one bathroom neat and tidy.  The wicker basket in the back is where I toss my samples (check out my Freebie Friday post here to find out where I’m getting my samples!).  If say the Tooth”Care” bin is full (where I keep our toothbrushes, toothpaste, and floss), I  simply don’t buy anymore, even if it’s on sale for “FREE”.  It also makes it super easy to tell when I’m getting low on something!  Plus I got the bins during a B1G1 sale, for $.50 each (those sales usually happen in January, if you are interested)!! The  floor holds my paper towels (oh please, oh please, oh please, let there be another “Round Up” sale soon at Albertsons!) and excess laundry items.  Our washer and dryer are in our bathroom, so our towels, laundry soap, and open dryer sheets hang out there.

Food Stockpile

When moving from our house into a smaller apartment, I knew I couldn’t have a  6 month or a year stockpile.  However, I do still have a 3-4 month stockpile.  I keep it all in my pantry, and my husband is cool with me using 1/2 of our kitchen table for the bigger, bulky items.

(So, sometimes, when I special order a case of something, my husband thinks it’s funny to put the display together.) We usually just keep our extra cereal, and bottled water/soda on the table.

We have a 2 door pantry in our apartment.  The top part contains 4 shelves.  The top shelf is where we keep our open cereal, crackers, and baby food.  The 2nd shelf is for our snackie (snacky?) items, the 3rd shelf gets all our pasta, potatoes, and other “boxed” products.  The bottom shelf keeps all of our canned goods, pasta sauces, items like that.

The bottom portion of the pantry is the same size at the top, but we keep our pots, pans, and mixing bowls in the bottom half.  The top shelf gets all of our “condiment” type foods, bbq sauce, salad dressing, mayo, salsa, spice packets, stuff like then.  Then the last shelf gets our baking items, pancake mixes, brownie/cake mixes, frosting and extra spices.

Now, with only buying fresh produce, milk, eggs, and other perishables my family could live off what you see for at least 3-4 months.   And almost all of the items you see?  Cheap or free with coupon :).

While the system isn’t perfect, it’s what works for us!!

But I want to know: How do you store your “goods”?  What secret organizational skills have kept your stockpile from taking over every inch of your house?  Email me pictures at BeckyFabFruGal at hotmail dot com!!  I wanna see!!  (let me know if it’s okay to post them, to give others ideas on how to organize their stockpile too!!)


One of the Facebook Followers asked if I could name the bins, so here they are!!

In no Particular order (well, okay, we put the ones we use most on the top, and the ones we use least on the bottom)

  • Medical Rubs (icy hot and the like)/Lip Balms
  • Bath Salts/Massage Oil
  • Pain Relief/Acid Reducers/OTC
  • Pain Relief/Acid Reducers (this one is a double, because when we moved, I couldn’t find the first one, so had to go out and buy all new stuff… Then I found it 🙂
  • Prescriptions
  • Lotions
  • Nails/Makeup
  • Vitamins
  • Cold and Cough Relief
  • Travel Items
  • Band-aids/Ointments
  • Sun Care
  • Toothbrushes, Toothpaste, Floss
  • Cold Sores/Sinus Relief/Ear Pain


  • Jessica

    Very nice! I love to see how other people store thier stockpile! (Is that weird?..) I also live in a small appartment and you’re right, organization is key! Not only because of space and cleanlyness, but efficient stockpile building too! If you’re not organized, and know what you have on hand, it’s easy to buy more of something you’ve already got at home and don’t need!

  • Christina

    You are so orgainized with the bins…great idea!

  • Alexis

    Just have to say I love the display! So funny.

    • Becky

      My honey is such a crackup :)… I’m just glad he only pulled out the top, the actual display sits on the ground, but still puts the food within arms reach… it’s REALLY tall!!

  • Susan

    Becky, your space is beeeaaauuutiful!! So clean and organized. I’m envious. If you ever want to earn a little extra money, you can come organize my pantry and linen closet. They’re about the same size but not nearly as pretty.

    The display — funny! I’ve never bought a whole case of anything, and therefore had no idea that those cardboard displays came with the cases.

    • Becky

      Thanks Susan!! But it took all morning to get it ready to photograph, and I’m not so sure I want to do it again 🙂 Now I just have to keep it that neat and tidy!

  • Brittany

    I notice on your personal care shelf you have a lot of the John Freida shampoos. Did you get those at Target or somewhere else?

    • Becky

      I got them ALL over the place… Last September/October there was a $3/1coupon (several of them I believe), and just about everywhere had it where it was less than $.25 a bottle after RR/ Ups+, etc… So I STOCKED up!! I went to every Rite Aid in Boise and Meridian, about 10 different Walgreens, etc over the course of 2 months (so I didn’t clear shelves… I was QUEEN of the Rain Check)… it was insane, but I’m good on Shampoo and Conditioner for a while 🙂

      • Kari

        That is funny! I started couponing last June and in July / August Wags had a RR for them and I got many free or for .50 . I really liked what it did to my hair (after a baby i had lost so much hair that this stuff ROCKED the strength and the growing was great) so I bought a bunch and then again in the fall as you said and by going to 3 stores thru the week (most on the last day of the sale) I have over 20 now. I also have a BUNCH of Pantene that RA paid me to take home and I give that freely to friends but I keep the JF for myself! Last sale at RA a couple of months ago I picked up JF SMOOTHE / Straight? products and I love them too when I want straight hair I use them! I love John Freida and guess what? i wouldn’t have EVER tried it without a coupon!
        Sometimes I forget to buy stuff for my “boys” my husband and our 11 year old don’t care for the fancy stuff… hahah

  • Carolyn

    This was my fear when I started couponing too!! My boyfriend and I live in a 900 square foot house with 2 mastiffs, 2 cats, and a gerbil!! 2 bedrooms 1 bath and can’t put anything out in my laundry room due to mice lol so we were figuring this out as well. I re-arranged our furniture to make like a little office in the back corner so nobody can see it. I put up shelves that go right along our backwall. I have used every inch of the shelves and nobody even knows. I also have a shelve right next to our table and the best thing I can say is get cheap fabric that matches your decor of your house and put it in front of the shelves so nobody can see what’s in it. People don’t ever ask and it hides all of our goodies 🙂 Good luck to anybody else trying to cramp everything in a tight space 🙂 I wouldn’t buy cheap shelves I would go to garage sales and buy nice wooden ones that way you can count on them being sturdy!! 🙂

    • With those cats you shouldn’t have any mice 🙂 Great idea on the shelves and the fabric to tuck it all away!!! I love reading other ideas on how to hide their stash. Great job!

  • Tonia

    I’m currently storing TP under our bed and the top shelf of our walk in closet is full of boxed items such as cereal (which we eat a LOT of in this family), boxed pasta, cake mixes, granola bars, as well as personal care items. When you are short on space you have to get creative! Our last home had the tiniest kitchen with very little storage space, so I had to make do with linen closets too!

  • Rachel

    We live in a good-sized home, but my stockpile has still wound up all over the place. My best spot? Chips and crackers in grocery bags on the floor of our closet, hidden behind my row of hanging clothes. My husband thinks this is hilarious, but given our penchant for salty snacks, this has seriously kept us from tearing through them in a matter of days. Out of sight, out of mind! 🙂

  • Megan

    I don’t have a picture for you but I’ll do my best to explain. When my husband was in the Air Force we were on a limited budget. That meant a tiny (900 sq. ft.) apartment and the need to coupon. Creating a stockpile took some serious creativity. Our kitchen was the size of a moving box and I am a serious cook so the lack of space for both appliances and food really put a cramp in my style. We also lived in a two bedroom, one bath, and the second bedroom was like the garage we didn’t have. However, I eventually started running a daycare and so that was the play/nap room. My solution? I went to target and got a plastic coated wire cubby system and cloth bins. First I started with the cloth bins but soon they over flowed and there was more room on the shelves if I didn’t use the bins. To begin with the cubby system was 2 cubbies wide by 4 cubbies high plus the space above the top two cubbies. Then I ran out of space and laid it on its side so it was 4 wide by 2 high. I kept the messiest and heaviest items in the bottom 8 cubbies and then used a cheap table cloth we weren’t using at the time that matched our decor to cover the cubbies (use strategically placed safety pins on the underside to make corners lay nice and flat). On the top I used 4 bins to create 4 more cubbies which gave me 16 total. Right next to it we also had a 5 gallon bucket of rice which we could store something on top of if we had to and that even doubled as a chair when we put a pillow on top one time when we had family over for a bbq and ran out of chairs. Other than that all we had was a dinky pantry cupboard to store food in. It was super deep but I’m so short I couldn’t reach the back of most shelves so we only kept infrequently used appliances in the back. Then I picked up canning and had lots of canned peaches and such but no where to put them so I placed them in the drawers of an empty dresser in the storage room. It wasn’t ideal, no, but it definitely worked, wasn’t terribly unsightly, and was actually pretty convenient. It was nice too because I could compartmentalize things very easily. My husband is Korean, from Hawaii, with a Japanese mother so we had quite the over flowing of Asian food items that I liked to keep separate from our other food items to make them easy to find. The cloth bins I wasn’t using at the time I folded flat and placed on the bottom of the second set of cubbies to create a flat surface so bottles wouldn’t fall through the holes or fall over. In our laundry room we also had an incredibly high shelf that I couldn’t reach either so we placed bulk boxes of things up there and just kept one small box in an area I could reach.

  • Monica

    Becky- What would you charge to come over and organize my house? 😉

  • Kikki

    I am also in an apt., and am looking for a pantry cabinet to purchase so i can start to organize my stockpile. I’m looking for ones with deep shelves, and at least 4 shelves. If any1 has any suggestions, I’d greatly appreciate it.

    Great organization tho!…I also use bins for the smaller items and they are great!

  • Marilyn

    Thank you, Becky, for sharing your great tips. I have one to share with you. We also limit ourselves to two setsof sheets. However, someone shared the tip with me to store the second set between your mattress and box springs (you can separate the pieces to keep the bed flat). They don’t take up shelf space, and they are readily accessible to change the bed.

  • Donna

    Love the linen closet. I have one I have been cleaning all the junk out of and this would be great for my house. Thanks for all the wonderful posts.

  • Nice! Thank you Becky for posting this. I love seeing other pictures. I wish that mine was a little more organized. I try to go through them periodically to organize. The best part about organized chaos is that I’ll be looking for something and an item I forgot about will be way in the back, so its like a little gift to me to discover new things! Great idea with the bins. I have got to get me some of those 🙂

    • Susan

      Daleene, Fred Meyer’s has the clear lidded plastic totes for $1 every day regular price. The shoe-box size, similar to what Becky has pictured. I bought half a dozen earlier this year, and I’d like to get more. They are a nice size for toiletries, and so forth. Great for small cupboards and closets.

      I used to use baskets because they’re prettier, but the plastic bins are more practical. It’s so much easier to see what you have on hand with clear containers. And they stack nicely.

  • Katia

    Thank you for this post. My husband and I live in a 1 bedroom 850sq ft apartment with a more modern/open concept design. No linen closet. I’ve been trying to get ideas about how couponing can be done in a small apartment. My next task: couponing (and grocery shopping) when you don’t have a car — we live in a big city.

    • Mary S

      Just a thought, Kalia – maybe a dresser would work for storage? Then you could get something that matches the decor in your apartment and hides your goodies at the same time? You could put the toiletries in the smaller drawers, and larger items in the bigger drawers.

      Regarding couponing without a car, just do a little at a time. You may want to look into getting one of those little carts for carrying your groceries in, they really help when you have to walk or ride the bus! My sister walks everywhere, and she finally broke down and bought a scrapbooking cart, it works the same as those wire carts but is a little smaller, and it folds up for easy carrying when it’s empty…..

      Luckily you’re in a big city, so most of the stores shouldn’t be too far away from you. Good luck!

  • Mary S

    I love the idea of using the plastic shoe boxes for storing health & beauty items separately. I have no dresser, just a bookshelf in one corner of my full-wall-length closet, and the top shelf holds three of those boxes – one for panties, one for bras, and one for stockings. I just never thought of using them in my linen closet, too!

    Right now my hubby, 12 yo son, and I are gearing up to move out of an 800 sf mobile home (looking for a much larger house that we can fix up), so most of my stash is stacked in paper case boxes from Costco – my work goes thru 3-4 of them a week, so everyone saves them for me! We have a small set of shelves in the bathroom, and those shelves are currently full of shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrushes, and deoderant. I am really looking into better ways to store everything so I can keep better track of what I have on hand after we get moved.

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