Organize This: Storage Solutions for a Skinny Pantry
When we first looked at and moved into this house, my only real concern was the kitchen. Sure I wasn’t wild about all the brown, but it was more the size and amount of cabinets that had me worried. Although our kitchen in our last house was awful, we had more cabinets than we knew what to do with, and I was worried we wouldn’t have enough space in this new house. I was so pleasantly surprised once everything was unpacked and put away that we had plenty of room to store everything we needed (and more!), thanks to fewer but bigger cabinets and drawers! As the weeks/months have progressed, I have actually grown to truly love the functionality and layout in this kitchen. I now know why so many people love islands, and we actually placed things in really logical spots on the first try (we usually end up re-arranging our cupboards about 6 months in once we figure out the kitchen’s flow). Let’s dig into some storage solutions for a skinny pantry!
Until recently, my one and only headache in this kitchen was our pantry. I was bummed when I first saw it, having been pretty spoiled by our spacious (makeshift) pantry in our last home. I knew how hard these tight pantries were to organize and keep straight; and for the first few months in this house, my initial concerns proved true. The single-cabinet-width pantry with 5 movable shelves is quite deep. I was struggling with my canisters fitting right, boxes and tubs were getting buried in the back, and I felt like I was constantly digging around and emptying the cabinet every time I needed one thing…
Finally, both Greg and I had enough; and this past weekend, I gave our pantry some much-needed attention. By rearranging the shelves to work better with our canisters (and acknowledging that I had to figure out new and different ways to use what we had), we came up with some solutions that finally created some order out of our mess of a pantry.
Take a look!
One of the biggest struggles we were having was that items were getting buried. We have more depth than width, so I really couldn’t avoid placing things in front of others (which in general, I try really hard not to do). But thanks to some good storage solutions, clear labeling, and turning almost everything toward the middle, we have a solution that’s working!
I pretty much shopped our home to puzzle our storage needs together. Admittedly, that’s one of my favorite parts of moving…figuring out the best place for everything in the new home (especially when I have to find a whole new purpose for an item altogether!) Although all these bins and baskets were from our last kitchen, they held very different things…boy do I love having them out of the pile in the garage and back into use!
I found these skinny “file folder” tubs in the Target Dollar Spot last year. I grabbed them on a whim and have been amazed at how functional they have been all over the house. We used to keep in the fridge to hold various foods, but they fit so well in this pantry cabinet, allowing us to take advantage of the depth while keeping small snacks accessible. If you can’t find these in your local Target, these are similar!
I’ve had these Oxo containers for our dry goods for quite a while. I picked up a bunch at HomeGoods and also “inherited” a bunch from my Mom during the great house clean out last year. While I’m not certain they are 100% airtight, I do love their sleek, modern, and stackable design. You can read more about this dishwasher-safe, dry-erase labels on them here!
I have been getting rid of food packaging and transferring foods to clear containers for a long time. But in this tight pantry, eliminating boxes and bags has really been a huge space and sanity saver. I have now arranged the shelves to hold specific shape/height/amount of containers, so as long as I transfer whatever new foods we buy to empty containers, I can be sure everything will fit and our shelves will stay relatively orderly. When I am making my grocery list, I love that I can see in an instant if something is low…and having a designated amount of containers also ensures our food stash stays in control. While we had been using our clear canisters since moving in, labeling them all and rotating the labels toward the center of each shelf has been the biggest game-changer. Instead of stacking everything in front of each other, the center “channel” is free and I can easily see and get out whatever I need!
With the top of the pantry working pretty well, I was still struggling with our liquid bottles and canned goods getting buried low and far back on our bottom two shelves. I spent some time looking at those pull-out drawers..but geesh, are they expensive and they require being screwed into the cabinet itself (did I mention we’re only here for a year? ;)) Back to the garage I went and gave our sturdy plastic baskets from Target a try.
Sure I would love the baskets to be a touch bigger, but having the items corralled into baskets sure is keeping the shelves tidier and those items easier to see and reach. The smaller baskets will also (hopefully) force me to keep our food purchases in check. We had to throw away a TON of staple food items when we moved last Spring, and I know we’ll have to do the same this Spring too if I’m not careful. I’m trying hard to keep the number of exotic vinegars and ingredients I buy to a minimum!
Admittedly, I wasn’t so sure how this would work, but it’s working great! Because the plastic baskets are so sturdy, I am able to use them like drawers. I can pull them out to find just what I’m looking for and slide them back in with ease! If I need to, I can take the entire basket out and place it on the counter to look for/use a bunch of items at once!
To the left of the pantry are my meal planning binders, and on the outside of the pantry, I used Command Strips to hang a simple dry-erase/corkboard combo to organize our weekly meal plan and grocery list. Now when we run out of things or when I’m meal planning, literally everything I need is in one centralized location!
I honestly wasn’t sure if I was ever going to get this pantry to a place where I liked it and was satisfied with the functionality. But like most projects, all it took was an hour of my time, shopping my home, and thinking about new and creative ways to use items we already had! By eliminating packaging, corralling items into designated containers, and adjusting the shelf heights to match the containers just right, we now have a system that works and is easily maintained. Alleluia!
My Organize This series is all about (relatively) simple and quick organizing projects that make a big difference in your day-to-day life. These aren’t intended to be large organizational overhauls, but rather quick sessions you can accomplish in an afternoon or weekend! This cleaning kit project is exactly that: quick and easy enough to do today or this coming weekend! Catch up on other projects in this series by clicking on the pictures below:
I hope you all enjoyed getting a look inside our pantry, and hopefully, I gave you some motivation or ideas to try in your own kitchen with these storage solutions for a skinny pantry! I’d love to know if you have a similar pantry situation and how you have dealt with it! Are there any ideas here you think might work in your own home? Do you have any ideas I should try to make our system even better? I’d love to hear from you!
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I hope you all have a fantastic weekend! I am spending a good portion of this weekend doing some much-needed thrifting and sewing, and I really cannot wait! See you back here Monday with an update in our family room!
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