Small Pantry & Food Cabinet Organization

Small Pantry & Food Cabinet Organization

Tips for Organizing a Small Pantry

We're continuing with Week One of the WHO Challenge.  By now, all of your kitchen drawers should be nice and tidy.  You should have already:

  1. Measured every (inside) cabinet space of your kitchen and recorded it on this handy project worksheet
  2. Emptied and scrubbed your kitchen drawers
  3. Purged/Donated unused items.
  4. Returned or relocated utensils to area(s) of the kitchen that make more sense.

If you're just joining us, click here for the Introduction, and here for Week One: Task One.  Today we are taking on the pantry and other food cabinet areas. Whoo-hoo! 

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Have you ever gone grocery shopping only to return home and realize that half of the items you bought, were already in your cabinet?  Why does that happen?  The reason is a lack of proper organization.

There are three things an organized space should allow you to do quickly and easily:

  1. Find what you need 
  2. Assess your needs and make the appropriate decisions to restock or discard items
  3. Return items to their proper place quickly when: 1) life has happened, and things have gotten messy; 2) other household members need to know where stuff goes; and 3) you get sick, and someone else has to step in for a while
  4. An organized space will take you F.A.R. (get it?) 

I saved this challenge for today, because depending on how much food you have, you may need an entire weekend to complete it.  For this challenge you will need:

  • A clear open space to spread things out
  • A box/bin for donations
  • Your favorite cleaning solution
  • Protective liner for your cabinets (optional)

Prepping Your Small Pantry for Organization

The Process: Empty, Purge, Sort, Scrub, Analyze, Return

  1. Empty the food out of ALL the cupboards even the spices and place them in your designated space.
  2. Purge anything that is expired.  Check the expiration dates on EVERY SINGLE item.  
  3. Sort and group items according to their type.  Items that have not expired but that you don't plan to use, place in the donation bin. 
  4. Scrub down all the insides of the cabinets and/or drawers with your favorite cleaning solution.
  5. Analyze your space. Give thought to the best location for things.  For example: items used most when cooking should be stored closest to the oven/stove.  Also, try to leave the cabinets closest to the sink or dishwasher available for clean dishes
  6. Return the items to the cabinets

Here is how I was able to apply these principles to  my pantry and cabinet space.  The photos below are from a previous organization challenge - long before I started blogging.  I'm so glad I kept them, so that I could share them with you. We home decor bloggers usually don't like to show you the bad stuff, but doing so every once in a while let's you know that we are not perfect.  

Tips for organizing a small pantry in an apartment or small home | | Small space organization and living

Boy was this ever a big job! I can't believe how much food had to be thrown away due to expired dates.  I didn't even need the large corner cabinet for food, once the purging was done.  This gave me much needed space for pots and pans. 

After everything was sorted, I scrubbed down the insides of my cabinets, analyzed my space, and returned the foodstuffs to the cabinets that made the most sense to house them.  Here is the end result, which we maintain to this day

Tips for organizing a small pantry in an apartment or small home | | Small space organization and living

Notice that marinades, sauces, and rubs went into one cabinet.  While baking items, condiments, and teas were stored in the other.  I used clear bins, a lazy susan, and labels separate items, and to clearly identify - and remind others (including myself) of where things should go.  

Since we don't eat a lot of prepackaged foods, these were the two easiest areas to organize. The pantry however, was all whole different ballgame.   TIP: whenever possible, remove items from their original packaging and store them in bins, squeeze bottles, or baskets.  You will be amazed at how much space you save. 

The Pantry
Like most things in my home, this is a tricky space to work with because of it's small size.  Each shelf space measures between 12 -15"H x 17.5"W x 12"D.  Needless to say, locating containers to house all my stuff was a bit of a nightmare.  We'll talk more about that in the next post, as this one is getting a bit long.  But for now, below is the before and the end result:

Tips for organizing a small pantry in an apartment or small home | | Small space organization and living
Tips for organizing a small pantry in an apartment or small home | | Small space organization and living

And there you have it!  My organized food cabinets and pantry.  In my next post, I'll outline the storage solutions I used, and will try to link as many items as I can.

In the meantime, how are you doing with the challenge of getting your home organized.  Please tell me in the comments below. | Small Space Interiors & Lifestyle blog
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Monday Musings: Small Kitchen Storage Solutions

WHO Challenge: Week One

WHO Challenge: Week One