Living in an apartment is great for me. I actually prefer living in smaller spaces. Especially being only two people. Who needs all that space of a house? Not me. The problem with renting though is that I can’t change the layout of my small space. Unfortunately, the layout of my apartment is not the greatest. On top of not having enough storage space, the kitchen is fairly small. Thus giving me the challenge of having very limited space to store kitchen supplies and finding myself with one tiny cabinet as a pantry. It took me a while to find solutions for dealing with the trouble that situation caused. Troubles such as taking 5 minutes to find something at the back of the cabinet, not seeing what I have, buying doubles and so much more. After the many, many ways I tried to organize without any success, I found a system that works! It works for me and I hope it will work for you too.
Take Everything Out!
You might be surprised by the amount of expired food you have. I sure was when helping my family and friends organize their kitchen! So many unnecessary products, double products, expired food, dried food, etc. When you’re not organized, you can’t see everything you have. When you can’t see it, you don’t use it and then it goes to waste.
Working with a small pantry can be very challenging since not everything is laid out in front of you.
So the first step is to take EVERYTHING OUT! Go through all of your food and get rid of anything that is expired or you don’t think you’ll ever use. And yes, it might be hard to admit to yourself that you’ll never use that super-out-of-your-comfort-zone ingredient that you bought a year ago, but you have to! So say goodbye and continue on.
My favorite part. Separate your products into related categories. Canned food, salty snacks, health bars, dried beans, pastas, rice, etc. Group items of similar purpose. For example, I grouped nut butters with granola, maple, agave and health bars. These made sense personally, they serve a similar purpose for me. Pasta and rice are also together because they are both sides. I group those items since I don’t have a lot of space and can put them in a shared box which I’ll explain more about in the next few steps.
Assess Quantities and Content
I wish I could get these beautiful containers from Ikea but the small space makes it harder to use for some purposes. Knowing exactly what you use regularly and what quantities will help you determine how it’s best to store. For example, I use small containers for hemp seeds, chia seeds etc. On the other hand, I don’t take pasta out of it’s box to store in its own container. I like trying different kinds of pasta and having a few different containers for pasta would not work for me. I also choose not to store beans, lentils, dry fruits and similar products in sturdy containers because I simply don’t have the space. I usually get them in the bulk section and since They are in a bag, It saves me space to just keep them like that. I keep them in the wire box and to prevent not seeing them being an issue, I keep an inventory list. Stuff like rice and popcorn I place in their own containers for easy use.
Place Less Used Products At The Back
Using the depth of a space can really make a difference. Using it smartly though is the tricky part. As I said, if it’s in the back and you forget about it, it might spoil. My solution was to place things that I don’t use as much and items that use for refills, such as sugar.
Think of the products that you don’t use as much and place them neatly in the back in a way they are still visible if you move the boxes from the next step. I chose sugar, instant noodles, less used sauces, flour (I don’t bake too much), extra pasta and dry beans. Another method I use is having a list which I’ll explain more about in the next steps.
Use Wire Or Clear Baskets & Containers
Not only I chose a tiny space for the pantry, but it’s also the lowest cupboard and it’s dark wood. To solve all these problems I got these beautiful rose gold decorated wire baskets from Target. They allow me to see everything I have and also take it out and search without having to bend over for more than a second. If I have to reach something in the back, it’s super simple to just pull the basket out instead of dropping each individual item that is on my way.
Use More Spaces
Some products are considered pantry but I use them a few times a day so I chose other more convenient spaces for them. I have two small cabinets that are probably meant for these uses anyway.
The right cabinet performs as a coffee and tea station. The left one is for spices. Since they are teeny tiny I had to get creative. I used a plain acrylic box I had for a long time to store spices, so I can easily take it out and find the right one without making a mess. For the other cabinet, I used a small acrylic box for the coffee pods. When we got the Nespresso machine I was so excited I searched Amazon for an hour to find the perfect pods device. Finally, I realized nothing will fit! But then I also realized I don’t need a fancy product for coffee pods! Lol. I was happy with the box I already had. The rest of the pods are stored at the back of the pantry and I refill the box once every week or two.
Shop The Bulk Section
Buying bulk allows you to be in control of the quantity you actually need. That way you won’t have leftovers with no place to store them! Unexpected items won’t have to find their place in your super organized pantry. And a very nice bonus is that most bulk items are cheaper than their packaged counterparts.
Have An Inventory List
Having a lot of food crammed into a tiny space will definitely make you forget what you have. My mom literally had EVERY spice at least twice. Some she had three of the same. That’s a waste of money, space, and food that will probably go bad at one point or another. Keeping a list of the things you have in the back or extra’s will help next time you go grocery shopping. Instead of looking for every single item you can take a look at your list and quickly know what you need and what you don’t.
If you laminate it you can use it forever 😉
Choose Products That Work For Your Space
Obviously, not all products will fit everyone, so it’s time to get creative. There are so many wonderful products that can be of use for you which wasn’t for me.
This gorgeous way of organizing spices can be super efficient for some people. Having a bunch of spices bottles in different sizes can cause a mess. Using the same bottle can save space. I don’t have enough room, but if you do, I think this is an amazing way to store spices! I also love this spice rack from the container store.
Every time you take a can, a new one rolls your way, and you never lose anything! This cool rack will help you to keep track of what you have very easily.
Some last tips:
- Don’t worry about beautiful.
Worry about function. After all, this is the entire point of being organized. Sure, it’s fun to look at a beautiful cabinet but if it gets messy in a short time, it’s not worth it. So don’t worry if your pantry is not Instagram worthy.
- Set a time for the project.
This will help you with the fear of having to deal with the mess. Set a certain time you’re willing to invest in this project right now and try to finish it by that time.
- Plan in advance.
If you stick to my steps, after decluttering the pantry, you should have a plan on how you want things to be organized. If you need to get containers, hold off the rest of the steps until you have all the supplies you need.
- Make a budget.
Don’t run wild and get every container and basket in sight. With your plan in mind, choose the best fitting products and see if they fit your budget first. Alternative options always exist and organizing shouldn’t be expensive.
- Have fun while organizing.
This task shouldn’t be a boring chore! I listed my favorite 8 ways I use in order to have fun while organizing and cleaning. You can read them here and start enjoying!
Looking for more projects to organize in your home? Try my steps to deal with a small space wardrobe!
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Did you enjoy my ideas for a tiny pantry? Did you find any new ideas you didn’t think of before? I would love to hear your opinion and other solutions you might have I need to try as well!