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Small Pantry: 8 Space-Saving Tips You Wish You Knew Sooner

Check out these genius small pantry organizing ideas!

Perhaps you don’t have the pantry of your dreams (a walk-in one with shelves galore and counter space sounds amazing, doesn’t it?). Maybe you have a small pantry, or you just have a cabinet where you store ingredients. In any case, either of those options is better than nothing!

Between poor lighting, cramped corners, and multiple people rummaging through contents daily, teeny-tiny pantries can be tricky to keep organized. If you’re working with a small or nearly nonexistent pantry, it can feel virtually impossible to make room for stuff, let alone keep it tidy.

Luckily, there are plenty of small pantry organizing ideas! Between innovative solutions and simple DIY projects, we’ve rounded up 8 ways to make the most of what you’ve got.

Let’s get started!

small pantry organizing ideas
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1. Contain everything

Some of the best small pantry organizing ideas are to have everything stored in containers. Even in a teeny-tiny walk-in pantry, decanting non-perishable goods is a great way to save as much space as possible.

Everything from rice and lentils to pasta and cereal, and even chips and crackers, can be stored in airtight canisters to get rid of awkward and bulky packaging. Use coordinating bins to keep snacks, including individual grab-and-go things.

Even pantry-friendly produce, such as onions and potatoes, can be sorted and stored in baskets. In addition to making the most of the space, this trick makes it easy to see and reach for anything you need.

2. Opt for a track system

No. 2 on our list of small pantry organizing ideas is having a track system in there. Whether you’re working with a bit of blank wall space or a small closet, a customizable track system is a smart strategy that will do wonders to keep goods organized.

Track systems are structures usually consisting of shelves, rods, drawers, and other storage accessories to help you keep everything tidy. You can hire a professional to install one in your pantry, or you can do it on your own if you’re handy.

Pull-out drawers and open shelves can be added and adjusted as your needs change. In order to optimize track-shelving in a teeny-tiny pantry, put ingredients into food-safe containers and invest in a turntable for condiments to organize cans.

3. Use available space

One of the best small pantry organizing ideas is to make sure you use every inch you have. When the space is at premium, it’s essential to be resourceful.

A great method would be to turn cabinet doors into extra storage with shallow shelves. Affix them to the inside, making sure there’s clearance for the door to close. You can use dowel rods to keep small items, such as condiments and spices, in their place. Also, arrange larger boxes and bags of snacks directly on the shelves of the cabinet.

When it comes to small pantry organizing ideas, vertical space is essential. In order to optimize it, especially if you’re working with a teeny-tiny pantry that lacks adjustable shelving, stack containers and cans whenever possible.

small pantry
Photo by flauma from Shutterstock

4. Squeeze in a slim pantry

The next trick will create more space, like magic! Organizing experts say that, whenever they have to do with tight spaces, they turn to a narrow pull-out cabinet. According to them, this is always a game-changer for pantry storage.

Buy standalone rolling units that correspond to the dimensions between gaps anywhere in the pantry room, or install one as part of the cabinetry if you’re looking for a camouflaged look.

Once the slim shelves are in place, line up boxes of pasta, bags of snacks, and cans of soup by category. Now, every time you’re ready to head to the grocery store, all you have to do is slide the rolling unit open and do a quick scan of inventory. Everything you have there should be clearly visible and yet stored away when not in use.

Keep reading to discover other small pantry organizing ideas!

5. Include a few floating shelves

If a pull-out pantry doesn’t provide enough space to fit your family’s needs, one of the best small pantry organizing ideas is to add some shelf storage nearby. You may need help from a professional for this one, but if this isn’t your first rodeo and you’re handy, you’ll be able to do this project on your own.

Hang several floating shelves to hold things you use often, such as tea bags or the snacks you reach for regularly. Since those will be out in the open, consider transferring the items into matching bins or jars to keep visual clutter to a minimum.

In fact, this trick can also be applied to anything you store in the pantry. Not only do airtight food containers keep things fresher longer, but they also help you maximize space, especially if you can stack them.

6. Add (more) lights

No. 6 on our list of small pantry organizing ideas isn’t something that will help you create more space, but it definitely helps you to have a better view of what’s inside. This being said, consider adding more lights to your pantry.

A well-lit space automatically looks bigger. Teeny-tiny pantries can actually be darker than larger ones, as there is less space for light to enter. Good lighting is very important in these small spaces because it helps you keep everything more organized.

If you can’t rewire the space to add an overhead light, consider hanging a battery-powered option (these ones have some of the best reviews on Amazon). Better yet, stick one on the bottom of each shelf, and you’ll really see every item you have stored there.

small pantry
Photo by Veronique Duplain from Shutterstock

7. Install pantry drawers

The next entry on our list of small pantry organizing ideas is another genius trick that will help you have a clear view of what you have there, especially those smaller items.

Deep cabinets may seem like an asset, and they do make sense as a place to store pantry goods, offering plenty of space for bulky boxes of cereal and pasta along with big bags of chips—that is, if they are one of your guilty pleasures.

However, smaller items like jars and cans undoubtedly get lost in the mix pretty easily. In order to avoid that and not end up having expired food in your pantry, install pull-out drawers either above the shelves or in lieu of them.

Roll the drawers out to have a clear view of what you have on hand without winding up with food waste or making a mess.

8. Repurpose a closet

Last but not least on our list of small pantry organizing ideas is something that requires thinking outside the box, or, better said, outside the room. For those who have a teeny-tiny pantry room, a repurposed closet is a great way to have some extra space.

While most food items belong in the kitchen, overflow can be kept off-site if necessary. So, consider giving a new life to a closet in the hallway, laundry room, mudroom, or basement if it’s temperate. Store bulk buys, such as bottles and cans, for anything you need and frequently need to replace in the main pantry.

If you liked our article on small pantry organizing ideas, you may also want to read 8 Things You Should Take Off Your Kitchen Countertop.

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