If kitchens are the heart of the home, then pantries are the veins that pump life into it. If you’ve been having a busy week and haven’t had the time to go grocery shopping, you can throw something together from the pantry to have a meal that may have been an unorthodox combination of food items yet was still filling.
If you have midnight cravings, you will go forage in the pantry to satisfy your sweet (or savory) tooth. Or maybe you are having an unexpected guest, so it is time to search the pantry for some crackers to go with cheese so you can offer some light snacks.
Regardless of your situation, the pantry is a treasure chest we all visit daily to sustain and nourish not only ourselves but our loved ones.
As it is such a frequently used area, it is absolutely normal for it to get disorganized. It is difficult to take time out of your life to organize and sort through the pantry daily.
However, if you have a system in place, you won’t have to constantly sort the pantry out, as it would have a baseline of organization. In this article, we aim to give you some small pantry organization ideas to achieve an organized pantry that is easy to maintain.
Small Pantry Organization Ideas
Organizing a pantry is hard; organizing a small pantry is even harder. Therefore, you have to rely on smart space-saving ideas and a lot of creative storage space. Here are some easy ways to help you have a clutter-free and organized small pantry.
Put soon-to-expire items on the front: Sometimes, things accumulate in pantries. It happens to the best of us. Maybe you forgot you already had something at home and bought another one. Maybe your favorite chips or sauce had such a good deal that you had to get multiples. When these things happen a few times, you might find yourself in a cramped pantry and have nowhere to put all of the stuff.
The best way to start is to take all the food with close expiry dates. After all, you don’t want this stuff to go bad before you can eat them. Therefore, putting them right at the front is essential so you won’t forget about them. You can try to incorporate them into your meal planning or even plan your meals completely around them, depending on the types of items.
Declutter on a regular basis: Decluttering on a regular basis will help you get in before things get too messy. Maybe you got granola bars that you thought were the house’s favorite but ended up getting the wrong ones. Maybe you have a sibling that likes this flavor or a neighbor.
Otherwise, you can donate it to a food shelter. The point is, there is no point in hanging onto it if it will just go bad sitting there.
Some things may have already gone bad. Make sure to check the expiry dates of all items and get rid of the ones that are past their dates. Also, use your senses. If anything seems to turn into a color that it shouldn’t be or smells a little too funky, it is time to say goodbye.
Wasting food might make you feel guilty or bad, but sometimes we forget things. You can use this experience as a reminder to use all of the stuff you have put aside the step before and use them up.
Categorize based on types of items: Categorizing the items based on their type or purpose is an essential step of every organizational process. You can separate your wardrobe into sweaters, blouses, and trousers or your office supplies based on how often you use them. You can use similar tactics to organize your pantry.
Put the items used daily in a place that is easy to reach, such as cereal or snacks. Have the less often used things on upper shelves or at the back of the drawers.
You can categorize within that as well. For example, categorize baking supplies and combine dry goods such as beans, chickpeas, rice, and other grains. Having all of the snacks, breakfast items, sauces, and canned foods in separate piles will be beneficial for easily finding what you are looking for and not forgetting things in the backs of deep shelves or drawers.
Use vertical storage: Remember to use all the wall and door space for organization and storage. If your shelves go only two-thirds of the way up to the ceiling, you can install upper pantry shelving to store rarely used kitchen gadgets. The egg cooker you bought but never use doesn’t have to be easily accessible at all times.
Similarly, if you have backups of stuff like paper towels, tissues, garbage bags, or other similar nonperishable items, you can also store them on the upper shelves. You can use this area to store cleaning items too. Spare sponges, bottles of soap, window cleaners, or other stuff you didn’t have the space for in other areas can go on these shelves.
Don’t forget the door: If you aren’t already using the door as a storage space, you are missing out. Especially in a small space, having door shelves to store items such as sauces, kinds of vinegar, and oils is essential.
Moreover, you can also use this space for other items you want to have on hand, such as most-eaten snacks or seasonings you use daily.
Use shelf raisers to see the items on the back: This is a great trick to remind yourself of the things that get pushed to the back of the shelves. It is easy for things to get forgotten when they are not directly in your eyesight. Out of sight, out of mind applies to most areas of our lives.
Therefore, having tiered shelf raisers to allow you to see the items in the back is highly beneficial and can reduce overbuying and food waste.
Similarly, you can use a turntable to store items such as sauces, spices, herbs, or canned foods. They are widely available in different sizes, so you can likely find one that fits your space and needs. These small items can cause clutter and disorder if not properly organized and confined in a specific space. Therefore having them in a turntable will be a great solution.
Use similar containers: Using similar containers to put bagged items into might seem like a waste of money or something that is done for purely aesthetic purposes. However, you can clean and reuse jars that come with your groceries, such as peanut butter or pasta sauce jars, which will help reduce waste too.
Moreover, having transparent jars will help you easily identify what is in them. It will look more put-together; you won’t have loose bags of rice, chips, and other bagged items lying around the pantry. Furthermore, the contents will be better protected in jars with tightly shut lids.
Label everything: Labeling all the containers will be a huge help as it will help you differentiate between similar-looking items. For example, if you have multiple types of starches or flours, they can all look the same.
When that happens, it can be impossible to tell which is which; therefore, labeling them is essential. Not only that, after pouring them from the plastic bags into jars and containers, labels also help in keeping track of expiry dates.
Not just containers; you can also label areas. As mentioned before, having separate areas for groups of food is a great idea. You can also label those areas as a step toward future organization. Furthermore, it will ensure that family members can easily locate items and return them to their proper place afterward. You can use a label maker to make labels easily. If you don’t have one, you can use tape and paper to make your labels.
Try hanging storage: You can install hooks and use them to hang aprons, tea towels, and oven mitts. You can even have separate hooks for dirty and clean towels and rags to separate them during washing easily.
Moreover, you can use these hooks to hang reusable shopping bags or tote bags. You can hang bags to store long-lasting fruits such as apples and bananas or vegetables like potatoes and onions.
In short, you might have a small pantry, but that doesn’t mean your pantry must be hard to use and disorganized. If you are a homeowner, you can invest in long-term solutions, such as installing more shelving, hanging hooks, and door shelves.
You can use turntables, labels, and matching containers if you rent. As long as you have some time on your hands, you can remake your pantry into an area that is useful and easy to manage.
How do I get the most space out of my small pantry?
The best way to get the most space out of your pantry is to use every bit of space. Utilize the whole length of the walls for shelves; if your shelves have too much space in between them, install more shelves that are more appropriate for the food storage you need. You can use hooks to hang a bag of potatoes, onions, garlic, apple, or other similar items. In other words, leave no inch of space unused.
How do I group items in my small pantry?
You can group items based on how other they are used and based on their purpose. For example, always have the stuff you use the most right at the front for easy access. Afterward, you can group baking items as a category, oats, cereal, and other breakfast items as another. Make different categories, and consider which would be the most useful for you and your household.