Kitchen Tips

How to Make the Most of Your Small Pantry

They say good things come in small packages. So what about small pantries? Absolutely! As long as you’re organized.

Whatever size of pantry you have, it never seems to be enough, does it? With bags, boxes, cans and bottles galore, finding a space for everything you need to store is only half the challenge. The other half is storing things in such a way that you can still find them without having the lot of it come crashing down on your head.

I like nothing better than a good challenge and while it might seem easier said than done, in fact, there are some fairly easy ways to help you get organized and stay that way.

How to Make the Most of Your Small Pantry - Simple tips to organize this vital space and keep it that way!

© pantry image via Shutterstock

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Bins or baskets for loose items

Think boxes of granola bars, bags of cookies, crackers, and the like. If each one is grouped in a separate bin or basket, with a label, they’re much easier to pull off the shelf when needed. Ditch the outer box packaging and store them loose.

High shelves can also accommodate under shelf hanging baskets for little things like soup or sauce packets. Easily found and easily stored.

If you don’t like the idea of a loose basket and you have enough depth on the shelf, you can install pull out racks, which work on runners. This allows you to easily view what’s in the rack, all the way to the back of the shelf.

Make use of the back of the door

The back of the pantry door is often unused space. How about some wire racks or over the door hooked racks? These are excellent for smaller jars and spices. Nothing too heavy but things you use a lot of.

Another option is to use a shoe organizer! Just label each pocket and then place whatever box, spice or seasoning packets you need to keep handy.

Food storage containers are practical for dry goods

Pasta, rice, flour, popcorn, cereals… all things that can be placed in clear containers to make it easy to find them. If you have very shallow shelving, mason jars are a great option. For deeper shelving, consider square plastic food containers; just make sure the bases are all about the same size so that they can be stacked easily, without danger of toppling. Shelves with a lot of height are a great spot for vertical containers: ideal for keeping the cereal that each member of the family loves (because of course, everyone loves a different one, don’t they?)

This storage technique is ideal for any and all dry goods that often come in non-resealable and not very practical packaging. Make sure to use labels if the containers aren’t clear, so no one is confused about what is in each container.

Double duty items

When storage space is at a premium, sometimes it’s useful to make your containers and utensils serve double duty. Like what?

  • How about using your cake stand that only comes out a couple of times a year as an additional shelf level for spices?
  • Or perhaps your extra loaf pans could be turned into extra ‘baskets’ for little items and bottles.

A wall with no purpose

If there is a wall that can’t support shelves, put up a pegboard. Then you can hang  utensils, colanders, graters and whatever other cooking tools you have but don’t want in a drawer.

Another use for a bare wall is to glue a sheet of stainless steel to it and then get little magnetized containers to put spices in – instant spice rack!

Bottom line? Keep organized

Here is a list of other ways you can keep your pantry organized:

  • Put expiry dates on a sticky note on or underneath containers, if applicable (or date purchased if there is a risk of something going off). This will help you to not only not overbuy something even if it’s on sale, but also to remove anything that’s past expiry.
  • Put the snacks for the kids at a level they can reach, organized into baskets or bins. This way, they won’t go rifling through everything, making a mess and disorganizing your spotless pantry. This is particularly useful if someone in your home has allergies: you can ensure that their snacks are separated, labeled with their name.
  • Label shelves for where you want high use items placed so that you can always be sure where it is and others can be sure where to place things when unpacking groceries.
  • Store the things you use the least up high, keep the must haves at eye, chest and waist level and the kids things and heavy items, down low.
  • Chalkboard labels make it easy to change things up on your containers – plus like they look cool!
  • If you have particularly deep shelves, use stair-step shelf inserts so that you can see things at the back without moving things around too much.

Despite being a functional space more than anything else, there’s no reason why it can’t be attractive! A light coat of paint or a bold wallpaper print, matching baskets with chalkboard labels, even a funky light fixture: whatever it takes to make it a pleasant space too.

Do you have any other small pantry tips or tricks to add?

Stacie Vaughan

Stacie is the mom of two girls and lives in Ontario, Canada. She enjoys cooking/baking, photography, reading, DIY and is fueled by lots of coffee!

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