I have a very small kitchen with very little cupboards. I am thankful that I have a pantry, even though it too, is very small.
I’ve learned some tricks over the years to keep it organized and functional. I find organization in the kitchen is key to keeping me motivated in the kitchen, cooking for my family and feeding them healthy food.
Here are a few tips for keeping a small pantry organized:
1. Only buy what you need for the week — I don’t have the storage space for buying weeks at a time, and honestly I think it keeps life much more simple to buy what we need for the week and start fresh the next week. Obviously some food items last much longer than a week (like baking powder and cocoa) but there are other items that I just don’t need 10 bags or boxes at a time (pasta, cereal, etc.)
2. Keep like with like–always store like items with like items. I keep all my nuts together in a brown wooden box. We have a bin for pasta/rice/grains and a bin for snacks. I have a basket for all my tea items. Keeping tea in a cute basket motivates me to drink it more often. Cereal and oatmeal stay together, as they are both breakfast items.
3. Use functional storage helpers–I love kitchen carousels and mason jars. I like to be efficient in the kitchen, and jars quickly show me what is inside, and a carousels display their items with a quick spin.
4. Create extra shelving with wire organizers — because I lack drawer space, I keep my foil & plastic bags on a wire organizer. The space organizer gives is just the right height for these items, and allows me to store things underneath them.
5. Use hooks– I use hooks for my duster, broom, mop, a holder for my plastic bags, & my girls 3 lunch bags. Hooks are a GREAT way to stay organized and keep things off the floor and shelves.
6. Buy an over-the-door organizer — this is one of the best purchases I have made. It has a tea shelf, a shelf for most used baking items (baking powder, baking soda, cocoa & salt) that I can just quick grab when baking. I have a vitamin/supplement shelf. I keep my straws next to those. The very last shelf is a deep one and holds my dish cloths, again, saving a drawer.
I hope this inspires you to embrace organization even if you have a small space. Small spaces are a great motivator for staying organized, as one really doesn’t have much choice but to get creative!
Now that the kids are back in school, I am eager to continue on in my series of Minimalizing Our Home. I can’t tell you what a difference it has made in the areas I have already organized/minimalized. It has been so very easy to keep those areas clean and tidy. It motivates me to get busy and continue on in my mission of embracing the slow life. Part of living life to the fullest is eliminating that which takes up precious time, and for our family, that means anything excess that I would have to deal with.
Everything we bring into our home will need attention, whether it needs to be put away continuously, dusted or cleaned, or simply sitting there taking precious space in our home. Because of this, I have become very thoughtful about what is worthy of my time and attention, and have enjoyed getting rid of anything that does not fit in that category…hence my minimalizing series!
Back to the pantry, it is a space that really is important to keep tidy. In my pursuit of health, I need to know what I have available to feed my family, and make sure it is accessible so we will actually eat it or I will actually bake with it.
I love mason jars for this very reason. With a glance I can see what we have and how much of it we have. My kitchen is plastic free for the most part. I don’t trust what is in plastics, and mason jars are just so cute and easy for me to store and use. I keep all the lids in one big bowl, and the empty jars on one shelf. The small jars can stack which really helps with storage. I love not having nasty, stained plastic containers and lids of every color and size. I love the simplicity of mason jar lids. One bowl, very accessible.
As you can see, I use mason jars to store my dried goods. They are great for rice, nuts, seeds, coconut, & nutritional yeast. I also love using a lazy susan in my pantry for the few things that come in their own resealable bag. I also keep my peanut butter there, which I use every day so it needs to be in an easy- to- grab place.
The basket holds all my tea. I like that I can quickly grab it and have everything I need for tea.
Under my tea basket are my place mats. Again, easy to see and grab when needed.
This little shelf works great for storing my foil & wax paper, etc. I keep my extra boxes of tea underneath.
I like using containers to corral certain foods. I have 2 white tubs on this shelf. One is for pasta, the other is our snack bucket. I keep bagels and bread in between the white tubs and the brown wooden tub holds all our nuts. See the wooden clothes pin sticking out of that wooden box? This is another way I simplify my kitchen. I keep a large mason jar full of wooden clips and use them as chip clips. I like that they are all the same neutral color, and it gets rid of bright colored- plastic chip clips that are all sizes and hard to store.
This shelf holds some of my larger items. My salad spinner, rice cooker and large salad bowl. I keep clipped bags of chips in that large wooden bowl. I also keep our cereal and oatmeal on this shelf.
The very top shelf holds any paper products we have, and I have put hooks up to hang our mop, broom, dust pan, mop bucket (in corner, not seen) and a plastic bag dispenser. The wire basket holds my hand blender and potatoes when I buy them. I have a large lazy susan for small appliances up top.
We recently invested in a larger trash bin with a swivel lid. It works SO much better than this one in the picture.
This door is in our kitchen right next to our pantry. It leads to the garage and to our downstairs. Our kitchen does not have much storage space, and our pantry is small, so I bought this over-the-door organizer about a year ago. I keep hand towels & dish clothes in the bottom rack, as we only have 2 drawers in our kitchen…yep…I said 2! I will share with you in an upcoming kitchen post how I deal with that! Kids straws (Momma uses glass!) and our daily vitamins in the rack above that. Coffee & coffee filters on the next shelf. Above that are ingredients that I use often in my baking…baking powder, baking soda, salt & cocoa powder. I usually keep vanilla there, too. And again, extra tea boxes! I love tea!
While we are on the subject of baking, it is really helpful to be super purposeful about where to keep ingredients if you want baking to be a “piece of cake” so to speak. I keep my flours and sugars out on the counter, then just need to turn around and grab the rest of my dry ingredients from the door organizer in the pic above. My measuring cups and spoons are all right there. Having everything so accessible has made a BIG difference in my motivation to be more purposeful in whipping up healthy foods for my family. It makes me WANT to bake.
Recap of tips:
~Use mason jars–they are good for environment, they replace stained plastic, are see-through, and use the same lids which can be stored in one area and simplifies the kitchen.
~Use wooden clothesline clips as chip clips. They are cute, small, and can fit in a mason jar for storage. Get rid of those big, multi-colored plastic chip clips!
~Use hooks to get your mop, broom and feather duster off the floor. I have added more hooks against the pantry wall that is hidden for my girls lunch boxes. Hooks are great for using vertical space.
~Use a holder to corral plastic bags. This frees up a drawer or shelf/cupboard.
~Keep things that you use often front and center. Be thoughtful and purposeful about where you place each thing. This keeps your kitchen running efficiently and simplifies the baking/cooking process.
~Keep like with like. Pasta together, nuts together, cereal together, vitamins together, snacks together, small appliances together….I really should put all my boxes of tea together…seeing them separate in the pics above is now driving me crazy!
~If you are low in drawer space, get creative with storage. Use racks for foil, etc. Use baskets for dish towels/dish cloths.