Small Pantry Organization (Updated)
It's possible to love your smaller pantry AND keep it organized
I hear it often… “my pantry is small” but to be honest I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes our pantries can be so big that items are easily lost. Endless digging until you finally just give up and buy it again. Having a smaller pantry does bring certain challenges but if you look at the space for what it is, it can actually be a great thing.
With any smaller space, we have to make smart choices about what to keep and what to let go of. In a bigger pantry, there is no limit to the amount of stuff you can keep in it. Unfortunately, this can lead you down the path to overbuying (food and product) and eventually just throwing things away.
How can I maximize my pantry space?
The biggest trick with a smaller space is to use the vertical space. Typically, smaller pantries are tall but skinny, however, they usually allow a good amount of space in between each shelf. Don’t be afraid of white space. Oh how I love some good white space.
When I was planning out this pantry I knew it was important that I utilized every inch of it. However, I’m only referring to the visual inches. Putting things in corners just to fill up space doesn't make sense. I wanted the space to simply focus on what’s easily going to be seen.
Whether our space is large or small we inevitably feel the need to fill it up. There couldn’t possibly be an empty shelf… or maybe there could be? An empty shelf may not be the answer for you but a little empty space in between surely could.
How do you organize snacks in the pantry?
The quickest way to organize snacks in your pantry is to sort the product you have into similar categories. Example: Granola bars, kid snacks, fruit snacks, breakfast bars, treats, and healthy snacks. Once you have the categories nailed down you can begin your snack bin search.
Which organizing bins are best for the pantry?
This answer depends on the space and the look you are wanting to achieve. There’s such a great mix of products available that can check all your boxes. Bamboo and glass, clear bins all the way, linen and plastic, a healthy mix of your favorites. Deciding on your individual style will help narrow down your options.
When I began the product search for this pantry, I immediately gravitated to my regulars. Typical pantry products that are an easy fix. They were familiar and I’ve used them before. However, iDesign (formerly InterDesign) has opened up a new world to my organizing. They have some of the most innovated products and I’m constantly being inspired to think outside the box.
When I saw these stack binz I knew that combined with snacks it was a winning combination. Who doesn’t love a good vending machine? See it now? The style for this space would be “clear organizing bins all the way.”
Avoid this snack bin organizing mistake
Pantries always have multiple snack options and not just for the kids, adults too. Although the snacks are abundant, the ability to see them all may not be. I’ve been guilty of this as well, sometimes you just want to throw them in a big bin and call it a day. This feels good in the moment but probably won't last. In my opinion, it's a big mistake to have a massive bin for snacks. If its deep and the items are not somewhat standing tall they are soon to be lost. BUT it's easy (and I need easy), well this is where clutter and overbuying groceries begins. Groceries come in, dump the boxes in the bin, call it a day. What about the snacks that are now at the bottom? Those become the goodies organizers find that are well past being safely consumed. Well past…
Consider this idea when organizing your snacks
Another great way to store snacks is in a turntable. They look great, are easy to refill, and are just a spin away from another snack option. Similar to this…
As much as I love turntables, it's important to consider the size. In a smaller pantry, a turntable that is up to 12 inches in diameter can take up a lot of useable space and may not be the best choice. Choose products for each space keeping in mind that they are not all created equally.
It's one of the things I love most about organizing. I’m constantly being challenged to find new ways of displaying the same things. It can be tricky at times but always fun!
My goal for this space was to find products that fill-in the vertical space, but also kept the items separated. These transparent stackers checked all the boxes. Having a designated space in your pantry where each member can easily find their own favorites makes snack dealing a whole lot easier.
Think outside the box
You know it’s funny, whenever I see a product and the image of how it's being used, I think, “Yeah that’s a great use of that product, but how can I use it differently?” I love a good challenge. No, I really LOVE a challenge… Got any fun ones? I’m game!;)
Displaying the basic food staples
Food staples are those items in your pantry that you always have and will continue to purchase. Unlike snacks, they will probably require a little more space to store them. These are items such as chips, pasta, oatmeal packages, food pouches, everyday-every grocery list items. I don’t typically consider chips snacks. Do you? My kids would disagree with me, they would eat chips all day long if I let them. There’s not a pantry I’ve organized that hasn’t had chips, NOT A ONE. I’m such a chip fan. My go-to combination is guacamole, salsa, and lime Siete chips… oh man, yum. Has anyone tried this deliciousness? It’s AMAZING. Excuse me while I take a snack break. 😋
Alright, back to the pantry. So again thinking about the vertical space I knew that I would need a great solution that would hide the height between the shelves and these baskets did not disappoint. I would’ve loved to use them to their full potential and stack them (so awesome) but the space didn’t allow for it. Instead, I just lined them up so they looked the part.
My personal organizing style is based a lot on symmetry. It’s so important to me that everything looks cohesive and functions in the same way.
I let my clients know that I’m not just an organizer (that is not a slam). It’s just important to me that I leave every space both functional and beautiful. These two things in combination are so helpful for clients being able to maintain it and truly wanting to maintain it. Organizing is not about perfection, there is no such thing. But honestly, it doesn’t take me more than a few extra minutes to make sure things are lined up and turned the same way. It's a bit of a pet peeve when items are upside down. Not much more time but certainly a little extra care. The little details don’t have to be maintained for the space to be both functional and beautiful but when I reveal the final look it brings me so much bliss to show it this way.
In the spirit of not making this post crazy long, I will speed it up.
More of my organizing product favorites
ClickClack is amazing. I love their unique style of containers, and they are awesome for decanting.
Although a divided turntable wasn’t right for this space, a single-tier turntable worked great. I love using these for oils, sauces, nut butters, and smaller stackable items. An iDesign turntable is guaranteed to add more function to any space.
These iDesign mini scoops are the best. You would think I recommend using scoops for ease of removing the food. While this is true... it’s not the main reason. Kid hands can be a bit unclean and no one wants that type of transfer. You need a scoop, I need a scoop, we all need a scoop! I lost count of how many of these I use in my own home. Maybe a hundred! 😜
How to tackle and organize your own pantry
If you are staring down a smaller pantry I hope you are feeling inspired to tackle it. Take a step back and imagine what it could be not what it currently is.
- Empty it out and start with a blank slate.
- Declutter, toss, and donate.
- Organize into categories.
- Don’t fight the space, make it work for you.
- Don’t keep items stocked you don’t love and use, make room for the ones you do.
- Don’t be afraid to think outside the box.
- Use all the vertical space.
- Save up for the containers you really love.
- Take those few extra minutes of care to really bring your space from chaotic to bliss.
If you love THIS look and would like it in your own home… I’ve included a list. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases with no cost to you. Thanks for supporting me!
- iDesign Classico Stackable Basket (satin)
- iDesign Medium Scoops
- iDesign Linus Turntable (11 inch)
- iDesign Linus Stack Binz (medium)
- ClickClack Cube Storage Containers
- iDesign Linus Divided Turntable