Retro 1950s Kitchen Canisters
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How To Organize Your Pantry On The Cheap

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I’m going to show you how to organize your pantry on the cheap. I’m often asked, “How can I store my food storage pantry staples when my pantry is so small?” This is my small pantry in the kitchen area, and it’s really small, like a closet. We have a small home so that’s what I got. I knew I had to do something because I couldn’t store all the main staples I use on a weekly basis to prepare meals without more shelf space.

We were fortunate to find a company in Southern Utah that would cut shelves for me when I lived there. I must say, they cut several shelves for areas throughout my house. They cost about $2.00 for each shelf. They have white laminate on particle board, and that works for me!

Red Kitchen Canisters

I bought the 2-gallon buckets with Gamma lids from Pleasant Hill Grain. The 2-gallon buckets and matching Gamma lids are harder to find so I always order them from this company. Here are the matching 2-gallon Gamma lids from Pleasant Hill Grain-Gamma Lids. They also sell the five-gallon buckets and Gamma lids you can see at the bottom of my pantry below.

You can also get the five-gallon buckets and lids locally, sometimes. It’s the 2-gallon buckets that are harder to find. I also use the OXO food storage containers for my Dutch unsweetened cocoa: OXO Good Grips POP Container.

Organize Your Pantry

Well, a couple of years ago, I showed you how to add a few shelves to your regular kitchen cupboards. By just adding a few extra shelves to your small pantry, you gain almost 50% more cupboard space, depending on how your cabinets are built. I have the pantry shown below, which used to have only five shelves. I added two more shelves to give me more space to make up for some space that was not as usable because of the height of the pantry. I’m updating this post from June 2016; I ordered more shelves to be added to my new home, and this picture below was my Southern Utah kitchen pantry.

I only have a few tall items to store in the pantry. Plus, you can only safely stack two cans high, depending on the size and weight. I have ten-foot ceilings, so the pantry is taller than a house with 8-foot walls. The door alone is 8 feet tall. I want you to know those dimensions, so you realize how I was able to add more shelving in case you need to do the same thing as part of your pantry organization.

Plan Out The Shelves Of Your Pantry

Make a list of the various items you eat daily and weekly. Then, start measuring approximately how many shelves you can add to accommodate the most common items. I measured and measured so many times that I went to a local cabinet place and had them cut the shelves. I picked up the exact size brackets that were already installed in the side walls. The holes were there, so all I had to do was consider the depth of the shelves when measuring for the shelving.

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There is something about having a pantry full of canned goods, honey, cocoa, canned soups, etc. I have large and small buckets with flour and sugar for everyday baking, and I refill them when needed. I’m lucky to have a daughter who does vinyl lettering for me to label my buckets, etc. Pantry labels can make a real difference when it comes to looking for items. I swear, I’m over the top in organizing, but I own it. Enough said.

I wish I’d had a walk-in pantry in my old house since I was doing a lot of cooking. Having the open shelving you see here was great since all the items were visible. I organized by categories with the canned goods together, the dry goods together, and the bigger bulky items on the floor due to their weight.

Pantry Storage Ideas

What Pantry Items Should I Stock?

Every fall, it’s like a clock goes off in my head to watch for the sales of cases of non-perishable foods for my food storage. All you need are a few extra cans of the food your family will eat. Remember my motto: one can at a time.

  • Baking ingredients: flour, sugar, brown sugar, powdered sugar, cocoa, oils, honey, and salt. Also include longer-life items like wheat, rice, and pasta
  • Peanut butter, jelly, and jam. I find myself buying smaller and smaller jars every year because we only have two people eating them.
  • Canned soups: my favorite is Campbell’s cream of chicken, but I also buy Cream of Mushroom, Cream of Potato, Chicken Noodle, and a few others.
  • Canned beans: kidney beans, white beans, refried beans, etc.
  • Canned enchilada sauce: I used to make it and can it. Nope, I can buy the cans cheaper for just two people.
  • Condiments: Ketchup, mayonnaise, Miracle Whip, and mustard. I have also started buying smaller jars of these things, although I also buy a few regular-size jars.
  • Canned meat: like tuna, chicken, and roast beef
  • Canned fruits: I used to preserve jars of fruit, but I no longer have the fruit trees, so the cost isn’t as justifiable.
  • Canned vegetables: I love it when my garden starts producing so many veggies, it saves on my grocery bill. I love tomatoes, squash, green beans, onions, and even potatoes.
  • Fire extinguisher

How to Organize Your Pantry on the Cheap

Organizing your pantry on a budget is doable! I have been organizing pantries for years and some of my best tips are so simple I want to share them with you!

Declutter First

Before organizing, go through your pantry and declutter items that have expired expiration dates, or are those items you no longer use. This will give you a clearer idea of what storage solutions you need to replenish.

Use What You Have

Repurpose items you already own for use in storage. Mason jars, shoe boxes, and even old baskets can work wonders with smaller items.

Read More of My Articles  58 Frugal Kitchen and Pantry Items You Need

DIY Solutions

Get creative with do-it-yourself storage solutions. For example, you can make shelf risers using old cardboard boxes, small bricks, or tension rods to create extra shelving.

Utilize Vertical Space

Install shelves or racks on your pantry door to maximize vertical storage. You can also hang baskets or hooks for items like spices or kitchen tools.

Group Similar Items

Keep like items together to make them easier to find. Use bins or baskets to group snacks, canned goods, baking supplies, etc.

Label Everything

Labeling containers and shelves not only helps you find items quickly but also keeps your pantry organized in the long run. You can use simple paper and tape for labels or invest in a label maker if you have the budget.

Repurpose Household Items

Look around your house for items you can repurpose for pantry organization. Things like egg cartons for holding small items, magazine holders for storing cans, or even a hanging shoe organizer for snacks can work well.

Shop Secondhand

Check out thrift stores, garage sales, or online marketplaces for affordable storage solutions. You can often find baskets, bins, and other organizational tools at a fraction of the cost.

Optimize Space

Make use of every inch of space in your pantry. Consider adding stackable shelves, Lazy Susan spinning racks for corners, or hanging baskets from the ceiling to maximize storage capacity. Above my kitchen sink on the island in our kitchen we’ll have a hanging rack where I’ll hang most of my pots and pans. It saves on shelf space and makes for easy access when needed for meal prep. We also plan to hang some of the larger utensils we use to stir, ladle, and serve foods for the family or larger groups.

Kitchen counters often are gathering places for non-food items like kitchen appliances, candy bowls, and plain old clutter. If you have some extra room in your pantry, consider storing the small appliances, napkin holders, and large serving trays.

Maintenance

Once your pantry is organized, make it a habit to regularly maintain it. Take a few minutes each week to tidy up and put items back where they belong to prevent clutter from building up again. If you find items you don’t use as often, you may want to put them in drawers out of sight.

How can I organize my pantry without spending a lot of money?

You can organize your pantry inexpensively by decluttering, repurposing items you already own, using DIY storage solutions, and shopping for affordable organizing tools at thrift stores or online marketplaces.

What are some cheap storage solutions for a pantry?

Cheap storage solutions for a pantry include using mason jars, repurposing shoeboxes or cardboard boxes, installing tension rods for extra shelving, utilizing hanging baskets for lighter items, installing hooks for your aprons, and making shelf risers from old boxes.

How can I add more space in a small pantry on a budget?

To maximize a small pantry space on a budget, use vertical storage options like door racks or hanging organizers, group similar items together, use clear containers for visibility, and declutter regularly to free up space.

More Tips

Final Word

With a bit of creativity and resourcefulness, you can organize your pantry on a budget without breaking the bank! I love taking the time to organize any pantry on the cheap. If you have any tips, I’d love to hear all about them! May God Bless this World, Linda

Copyright Images: Retro 1950s Kitchen Canisters AdobeStock_9835922 By Robynmac, Red Kitchen Canisters AdobeStock_345197775 By Kristin

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8 Comments

  1. Love your pantry, Linda! I have the same space problem in mine. How did you mount the shelves? I can’t tell in the picture. Thanks!

    1. Hi Kay, the sides of the walls inside the cabinet have drilled holes where you can place those silver brackets in four places and rest the shelves on them. If you don’t have those you can always put a 1-inch by 2-inch strip of wood all the way around on three sides and rest the shelf on it life a closet. Does that make sense? Linda

      1. We’re renting right now so I ‘ll have to look into how to install the shelves without too many nail holes. I love how your system utilizes all that wasted space! Thanks!

  2. I love this. I don’t have a huge pantry but it’s big enough to hold lots of items. I love these tips so I can utilize all the space.

  3. About what foods to store, I love having cream of….. soups to make quick casseroles! Just a hint: If you want or need organic/gluten free soups of that type, I recommend the Pacific Organic and Gluten free Cream of Mushroom or Cream of Chicken soups by Pacific Brand. We buy them often when Vitacost.com has them on sale for 20% off for all foods, or even when Pacific Brand is on sale. Sometimes, you can even find a 30% off coupon! Pacific brand also makes cream of celery and cream of cauliflower, but those are a bit harder to find. IF memory serves, I may have found those latter two on Amazon.com. Not long ago, I even found an entire case of 12 cans on Subscribe and Save for something like $26-$27!! Best to all you “clean” eaters!

    1. Hi Jess, great reminder on these organic soups. I just looked and a case on Amazon of 12 cans is $39.00. I will have to watch for these to go on sale, thank you my sweet friend. Linda

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