7 Organizing Ideas if You Don’t Have a Pantry in Your Kitchen
Words Lisa Freedman
Don’t have the walk-in pantry of your dreams? Or even one that’s big enough for you to poke your head into? Here’s how to fake a pantry in your small kitchen and come up with plenty of space for all your shelf-stable ingredients.
If the kitchen is the heart of the home, the pantry would be, um, the pulmonary artery. Stick with us here: The pantry helps deliver many key ingredients, and it’s fairly crucial. So what do you do if you find yourself in a kitchen that doesn’t have a pantry? Not even a tiny one? Well, we’re not doctors, but we are organizing experts and it’s our professional opinion that you can make it work. You just have to be smart with the space you do have. Here’s how to organize a small kitchen without a pantry.
Get a Small Cart on Wheels
You’ve probably seen utility carts pop up on your Instagram and Pinterest feeds. The iconic utility cart is a home design favorite for a few reasons: It’s small enough to tuck away into a corner, it can hold lots of ingredients, and it can be wheeled around to meet you at your kitchen workspace. Whether you’re partial to wood or stainless steel, antique or modern, you can find utility carts in just about any size and style. Use them to store canned goods, boxed ingredients, spices and nearly any pantry item you’ve got.
Certain ingredients don’t deserve to be hidden away behind closed doors, especially when they’re stashed in, say, a good-looking POP Container. Round up the dry ingredients you reach for the most and pick a container size that makes the most sense for you. For example, the 4-qt Big Square can hold a five-pound bag of flour or sugar, the 2.2-qt Small Square is the perfect shape for spaghetti, and our 6-qt Big Square was basically made for chips or cereal. Once your containers are filled and labeled, arrange them nicely on a shelf or your kitchen counter and you’ve got an organized display that’s as useful as it is pretty.
Bags and boxes can quickly become a jumbled mess when they’re just plopped onto shelves (yes, even pantry shelves!). But add a few baskets to your kitchen shelves or cabinets, and they’ll help you keep groceries nice and neat. You can also use the baskets to sort like ingredients (cookie baking supplies in one basket, ingredients for Indian cooking in another). Then, just pull out whatever basket you need and everything will be right there within arm’s reach.
Use a Lazy Susan
We were Team Lazy Susan well before we started making them. Because, when it comes to oils, vinegars and other skinny bottles, there’s no better organizer. Just line the bottles up with the labels facing out and you’ll be able to see what you need without knocking everything else over. Of course, we are partial to our turntables, which have non-slip feet and a deep ledge to keep items where they belong.
Attach a Magnetic Spice Rack to Your Fridge
The outside of your fridge can hold so much more than souvenir magnets and cute pictures of your nephews. A few magnetic spice tins can turn the side of your fridge into a spice cabinet—or if you don’t want to decant your spices into another container, get a magnetic spice rack and use it to organize the spice jars you’ve already got.
Use Any Available Wall Space
No matter how limited your small kitchen is in actual square footage, you can almost always create extra pantry storage space out of thin air—you just have to look to your walls. Blank walls can turn into a handy space to mount an extra shelf (even a narrow shelf can fit specialty ingredients or glasses), or add a rail for hanging pots, or attach a versatile pegboard for storing cookware (a la Julia Child). Even if you don’t use the newly created storage space on your wall as a pantry, you can still use it to free up a cabinet or two, which can then be put to work holding ingredients.
Check out all of our organizing tools, and get started on creating your own DIY pantry.