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.
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!
39 Comments on “Organize This: Storage Solutions for a Skinny Pantry”
We also have a super narrow pantry…so frustrating! I love how you used the space and are still able to see everything easily.
Thank you so much, Heidi! I know it…this skinny pantry is definitely not my favorite, but at least I’ve been able to make some sense of it for our short time here!
Hope you’re having a good weekend!
I have a small pantry like this too! Thanks for giving me some great ideas. Have a good weekend!
You’re very welcome, Sherri! Glad you found some things that might work!
Have a good rest of the weekend!
I need to get clear storage containers. This looks so great!
I know it! Like I said, I don’t think they are 100% air tight, but I don’t really mind so much since we eat things pretty fast. They sure look good though, and that makes me pretty happy every time I open the door!
Hi Megan, I had a pantry like that in my first home and I actually liked it better than my others. I used it to store dishes and small appliances and only the food items that fit the shape such as cereal boxes. I know lots of organizing minded people prefer to transfer cereal but I live in the very dry desert where dry goods just don’t go stale like they do where I grew up. However, like you’ve shown, I kept like items together in groups: breakfast, serving dishes, dinnerware, small appliances, etc. I love your idea for the central corridor-genius!
Thanks so much for sharing! I would have never thought to use the tall cupboard for anything other than food, so thanks for such a great tip! It would really would be great for our small appliances, except that I have no other good spot for food. Appreciate you sharing an alternative solution!
Have a great Sunday,
There’s almost nothing better than a well-organised cupboard of any kind!
One thing though – when you are using the decanting into containers system, how do you manage stock rotation? That is, if you see that you are running out of, for example, rolled oats because there is only an inch or so left in the container – when you bring home the next pack surely you are going to have to store it somewhere else until you next need to use oats so that you can finish what’s left in your container before filling it up again? Thereby effectively having to have a duplicates storage area elsewhere?
Thank you for your great question, Sally! I hate having to store similar items in several different areas, so I appreciate your comment a lot!
Admittedly, I am not much of a bulk shopper. We shop once a week and stock up primarily on the foods/amounts we will eat in one week. I know we could save money by taking advantage of sales/coupons, but I don’t like having to find places for all the excess food. When we do bring something home and the previous week’s stash isn’t quite gone, we dump the clear container into a bowl, add in the new box/bag, then put the remaining portion back on top so it’s eaten first. For a few things that we do stock up or just don’t fit, we use that little cupboard above (which I meant to take a picture of!).
Hope that answers your question! Have a great rest of the weekend!
I was looking forward to discovering your pantry and I do love it. You managed to use all the defects of this pantry to create a lovely and practical way of using it to your needs ! Congrats ! As I told you we don’t have pantries in our homes in France but could we call your place a pantry, I sighed of joy when I realized I could also call the cabinet in which I put my food a pantry. Should I write in plural as I must apologize not to be able to contain my food in only one place in my kitchen which has very little cabinets. Your post give me some great ideas ! Sorry for being so long and not clear as English is not my language you know ! Have a nice week-end !
What a great project! Pantries are the worst if you don’t take the time to organize them. I recently did mine to and I love how much more functional it is and less recyclables/garbage there is, pouring everything into a container! Also how much easier it is to get breakfast & lunches ready plus now you know easily/quickly know what needs to be replenished 🙂
Lauren Baxter | Lovely Decor
started pouring foods into containers years ago…and while I hate taking the time to do it during grocery unpacking time (it just makes the whole process take longer), it sure makes a huge difference, doesn’t it?
Having this pantry organized has made a huge difference during meal prep and lunch prep…glad I did it when I did!
I really cannot imagine a small home pantry – I’m so big on snacks in the house! But you know what I’ve found helps to keep the size of it down? It’s making sure you go through your bottles and condiments and canned foods every quarter or so, for regular removals of stuff that’s expired. It’s really easy to lose track of when things stop being edible when they’re stored away!
Such a great tip! Thanks for sharing!
Great ideas, I have been doing this with glass jars, I find it keeps the food fresh, I also have the storage boxes in the fridge, works a treat. Condiments, cheese, meats etc. But lower ones you can just pull it out. At the moment my walk in pantry has been demolished making way for a new kitchen.you did well to utilize such a small space, the one thing about moving I guess is you don’t have any accumulated unnecessary items.
Thanks so much for your comment! The next place I want to create some order is in our freezer. We have a big open bin-type freezer and it’s a mess. Can’t wait to find some bins or baskets that will work well in there too!
Good luck with your reno – how fun!!
Happy New Year,
This is inspiring me to organize my non-existent pantry! We have a cupboard the same shape in our kitchen, but it had no shelves when we moved in (it’s an old cupboard). Looking at your organized pantry makes me think I need to get by butt in gear and make better use of that space by installing roll-out shelving and adding pretty containers with labels like you did. Great project!
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Where did you get the clear containers?
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What size containers did you get, trying to get some of the same. Thank you for sharing, I have one of these pantries and need to organize it!!
Do you mean what size of the white-lidded Oxo containers? I have a bunch of different sizes that I’ve picked up at Marshalls and HomeGoods…but started with this pack: http://amzn.to/2fnvCk8 I find that the 2.4 Qt is my favorite size: http://amzn.to/2e5N32I
Hope that helps!
I have a pantry the same size but only comes with three shelves ,and I’ve tried the containers!! they get ants in them and still some get in back I’m still having to pull stuff out …help
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Thank you so much for this post! We moved into a house with similar pantry after having decent walk ins at our last two homes and I have had no idea how to help make this kitchen doable. This totally gives me hope!
This is a great idea! I have a skinny but really deep pantry cabinet as well and my biggest problem is lighting! I need to see what I am looking for and this particular pantry is really dark. I have tried those pop-up/push-in lights but that not really sufficient. Do you have any lighting suggestions? Thanks so much!
OMG, thank you so much! I just moved into my first house and have one of these DEEP (22 inches) and narrow pantries that I’m trying to learn how to live with and how to best use. This was so helpful!
This. Is. Life Changing. You are some kind of a mad genius. I’ve had the same tiny/deep pantry for 2 years and tried so many things but never once thought about turning the jars to the middle. Genius.
The idea of keeping an empty channel in the middle is just what I needed for my pantry.
Now only to figure out what to do with the fact that there are too few shelves in the pantry.
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Thank you for this post! It may be a few years old now, but it’s relevant to me today as I’m trying to figure out my pantry storage situation. I like the idea of having a clear path in the middle, so smart!
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I know this is an older post, but I was so excited to find an “organize your small/narrow pantry” article that didn’t feature a pantry 2-3x the size the one I have. I think I have this exact set of cabinets!
I am so glad you found my post! This one was definitely one of our trickiest pantry’s to organize, but what I show in that post worked for our entire time living in that house! Good luck with yours!
Great ideas for me as I have struggled with this area of our kitchen for a long time! Thanks for your simple and inexpensive ideas!