We have a smaller, galley style kitchen. I made an earlier post about how we added 2 Ikea Kallax shelves in to create more counter space and storage. It worked out fantastic and has been functioning well for our house. With such a small kitchen and a crazy me who loves to cook and bake so much, cupboard space is used to a maximum. We have one tall, deep cupboard meant as a pantry. That one cupboard barely functions. We also rent, which means adding pullouts in the cupboard is not really a viable option. We bought and added a cupboard when we first moved in which has acted like a second pantry. I have redone and switched storage in the cupboard over the years, based on what we most used, what my kids needed to reach and what my husband needed to find.
I had seen many posts about tupperware systems, storage containers and thought this will never work for my cupboard. Then, strolling through Costco one afternoon they had 3 packs of the big Rubbermaid storage containers that I swore would never work and I figured whatever, let’s try it! Worst case, Costco takes EVERYTHING back. A couple containers quickly turned into me pulling everything out of both pantries, a cupboard and a drawer and completely changing things. It’s been a few weeks, I have baked, cooked, the kids have made lunch and hubby has made dinner all with success! I have gotten a few texts from him asking which cupboard I moved certain items to, but otherwise with everything spaced and in clear jars and containers it has made things much more functional.
With baking a lot, I tend to buy bigger bags of sugar, flour, etc. With 2 growing kids who seem to always be hungry we buy dry goods in bigger bulk sizes too. Pulling everything out of the cupboards helped me assess what we needed big sizes of containers for and what could be put into smaller ones. Which items I needed fast access to and which could be towards the back of the cupboard. Other than the Rubbermaid containers, everything else I used I already had at home. That was the best part, completely redoing my cupboards for such minimal cost.
I utilized the Rubbermaid containers for sugars, flour, chocolate chips. I used a few for cereal, but found for the most part they were too big for the boxes we buy. I used some for pasta which was a great thing because it has prevented having 4 or 5 bags open at the same time! Rice was already stored in a smaller version of these containers, so it worked out well to upgrade the size.
I raided my Mason jar collection for breadcrumbs, cornmeal, smaller pasta bags, dried fruits, nuts, granola, seeds. I can see exactly what is in each jar, which means I didn’t need labels for everything. It also helps me see when they need to go on the the grocery list to be replenished. I did put labels on the back of jars with expiry dates because one thing I learned is that some items definitely got forgotten in my bigger bins.
I was running out of jars and still had grains to figure out. I started looking around my kitchen for ideas when my eyes saw the empty wine bottles waiting to go out to the recycling bin. Lightbulb moment! I soaked and removed the labels, then hand washed and let dry. Arborio rice, quinoa, couscous all fit in so well and pour with ease!! No bags collapsing or pouring too fast out of big jars. I WISH I had of used bottles years ago. Those are labeled and have cooking instructions on them. Everything at my fingertips. I used chalk labels so I can change things up, and fix spelling mistakes!
The bottom shelf holds all of my vinegars and oils. Big jugs, smaller bottles, infused oils, specialty ones with singular purposes, ingredients for salad dressings, marinades and even the odd deep fry need when we’re craving fish and chips. I used to have to stretch and move things grab a chair to reach my special oils and spices. Now they are so much easier to grab when I’m in the midst of dinner and need access quick.
The top shelf holds spices, sushi making items and that silver tin holds smaller baking items like small bags of chocolate chips, vanilla, honey, extracts and shortening. I still have my big spices in a bottom drawer, labeled to find easily and they have continued to work the best there.
I moved cans, ziplocs, straws and backup pantry items to my cupboard pantry.
Tope shelf has breakfast items, cereal, PB, oatmeal, etc. Second shelf has snacks towards the front, with extra cracker boxes at the back. Below that I have ziplocs, straws and a container we only use in the summer filled with popsicle making items. I have the open ziploc boxes facing forward, with back up behind them. Cans are on the bottom shelf, just incase they fall when someone is grabbing one. Everything is easy to access, store back ups and avoid having too many of one item open.
This drawer used to hold my food wrap, ziplocs, measuring cups and spoons. I always have to climb on a chair, stretch to the back of the cupboard and pull down bins to find my sprinkles, so decided to try something different and make a baking drawer. I love that I can see all my colour gels, the measuring spoons and cups fit easily and everything stays more organized. This should also help me avoid buying double of sprinkles as I found I had quite a few when I moved everything around. I put my smaller baking containers and liquid measuring cups in a small, awkward cupboard above the microwave. It’s not as deep, so I can reach everything on my tip toes. Baking soda, powder, icing sugar, cornstarch all within reach.
It’s been a month and a half since I made the big pantry switch and I can honestly say it has proven to be functional and peaceful. Being able to find everything, knowing how much is left, and keeping items front and centre when I open the door has also helped with meal planning because I know what I need to use up. My whole family can find things easier and I have less of, Mommmmm where is _______? Healthier items are at eye level and everything is more accessible. I don’t have to keep a chair or stool in the kitchen to cook dinner and I can quickly move and find everything. It was definitely worth it to try something new. So take a look, and decide is your pantry working for you, or can something new make it even more functional and peaceful?