While it’s possible someone somewhere once said, “My kitchen’s too big, too well organized, and has too much cupboard space,” it’s highly unlikely. Most of us struggle to work with kitchens that are less than ideal. Having a pantry can help in a variety of ways. If you don’t already have one or if yours needs a serious refresh, here are some pantry organization hacks to streamline your kitchen.
If you already have a pantry in or just off your kitchen, make sure you’re making the best use of the space you’ve got. Here are some suggestions for a DIY pantry makeover:
Use Shelves and Racks
Make the most of skinny shelves, tiered shelving, and under-shelf storage racks. A row of skinny shelves on the back of the pantry door, or even a shoe holder with clear plastic compartments, can hold all kinds of small items, whether it’s spice, soup, or sauce packets or small condiment jars. The inside of a door is almost always wasted space, and it’s perfect for smaller items that will otherwise get lost among the cans and bottles.
Tiered shelving will let you double or triple the amount of storage you get from your existing shelves, and there are even eco-friendly, expandable bamboo tiered shelves available now.
Under-shelf slide-on storage racks are available almost anywhere that sells housewares, including dollar stores, and installing a few will give you storage for potatoes, onions, and garlic under your existing shelves. Bonus: that will free up some space in your fridge.
Installing small tension rods on existing shelves also means you’ll be able to store bulky, awkward items you don’t use often, like platters and cookie sheets that take up a lot less space stored vertically rather than horizontally.
Create a Snack Station
Another great tip for streamlining your kitchen is to get rid of packaging and create a snack station at child height. Even if you’ve succeeded in training your family not to leave empty cereal boxes in the cupboards, the amount of storage space a family-sized box of cereal consumes is huge and never decreases until the box is disposed of.
Set up a little clothesline or use a piece of dowling as a hanging rack in an area of your pantry. Alternatively, you could invest in some larger storage boxes that will fit on your shelves and take dry goods out of their boxes. Make sure you label the cereals or the clips you use to hang them up. This works best for items that are bulky, crushable, and light, like potato chips, cereal, and crackers.
If you set up a snack station at child height in your pantry, you may succeed in keeping your kids out of the fridge and away from the stove while you’re trying to do dinner prep. The snack station can be as big or as small as you like: you can devote the entire bottom shelf to kid-friendly snacks like dried fruit, mini cookie packs, and granola bars. By creating a dedicated space in the pantry for kids, you’ll keep them from climbing the shelves to get at snacks and possibly prevent a fall, shelf collapse, or tumbling tins.
Make Use of Corners
Installing Lazy Susans in corners and investing in metal magazine racks for pantry storage is a great way to make use of corner space. No matter how small, chances are good your pantry will have four accessible corners. Install Lazy Susans in each one and you’ll be amazed how much more accessible your canned and dry goods are. There are stackable Lazy Susans available now, and if you really like to stock up when things are on sale or if you make regular Costco runs, they’ll come in handy.
Metal mesh magazine racks make great storage containers for canned goods. Their height means you can stack the tins in at least a double row. Plus, if you worry a toddler might get in the pantry and upend them, you can turn them around, so the “spine” of the magazine rack faces out and individual tins are less likely to tumble.
If you’re starting from scratch to create a DIY pantry, be creative. Pantries are basically just shelving arrangements, so anything you’ve got with shelves or racks can be transformed into a pantry. Old bookcases or nightstands can be stacked in a low-traffic kitchen area (preferably a corner). If you see an armoire bargain, especially a corner armoire, grab it. With a few extra shelves added, you’ve got the makings of a small but efficient pantry. Alternatively, you can create a pantry under your stairwell and install a glass-fronted door. Other potential spots for pantries include laundry and mud rooms and rarely used closets. If you buy in bulk, you can even create a pantry and cold storage room in your basement. While not as handy as having your pantry in or just off the kitchen, restocking your kitchen shelves can become part of your laundry routine as you flip the clothes from the washer to the dryer.