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How to organize a small pantry with deep shelves.
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How to Organize a Small Pantry with Deep Shelves

Your pantry is a tiny horror show, isn’t it? Stop the madness! I’m going to share with you a little secret about what we do in our kitchen… You’ll save time, money, and you’ll basically make your pantry cook dinner for you.

I see you… hiding your pantries in shame. We both know what you got going on in there. You have expired food from five years ago… multiple bags of noodles, chips, and rice with less than a serving in them… and let’s not forget the chaos of all your boxes and bags. All torn asunder; spilling their glory in the hallowed depths of impossibly deep shelves.

Your pantry is a tiny horror show, isn’t it?

Stop the madness! I’m going to share with you a little secret about what we do in our kitchen. It’s brilliant! You’ll save time, money, and you’ll basically make your pantry cook dinner for you. Plus, I promise it doesn’t involve construction!

The following life-changing moment is brought to you by “Duh! Why didn’t I think of that!?”

Use a Whiteboard Attached to the Inside of Your Pantry Door

You’re going to get organized.
This 6″ x 11″ whiteboard from U Brands is similar to the one we use in our RV.
  1. Get a small whiteboard that has a marker clipped to it. Make sure it’s low-profile and will fit on the inside of your pantry door. This is seriously the most challenge part of the project.
  2. Get some velcro tape and stick the white board to the pantry door. When you position it, put the whiteboard in a location that you still reach it, but it’s mostly out of the way.
  3. Write down what have in your pantry. Draw a few lines so you know which shelf the item is on.

If you really want to impress the crowd, you can even organize the items. Put like items together (baking, snacks, cans, etc.) Put the items you use less frequently behind things you use more frequently. Remove unnecessary packaging around food to make it smaller and more compact. We occasionally transfer dry goods in big plastic containers to smaller zip top bags. If you’re in an RV, move your heavy items to lower shelves. This will give you a lower center of gravity when you travel.

This is the system that I’ve been using for about 3 years now. It means that I can look at the list and tell exactly what shelf, what depth, and which side to look for my items.

Why use a whiteboard attached by Velcro?

I’ve hear of a few other ideas: paint the interior of your pantry door with chalkboard paint, get/build an app for that, install a slide out pantry rig… the list goes on. So why is this solution recommended?

Renovation and technological addiction aside, hanging a whiteboard up with velcro tape is a super easy way to get the job done. Also, have you ever tried to write on a wall? It’s uncomfortable. Because the whiteboard is attached with velcro, it’s easy to pull down so you can write on it and then just stick it back up when you’re done.

Keep your pantry organized.

The hardest part about this system is just keeping with it. It’s best to write down new items as they go into the pantry and wipe them off as they get used. This is not realistic for most people. (Myself included.) I recommend you reorganize when:

  • You’re putting groceries away.
  • Anytime you’re cleaning.
  • You’ve spent the last week unable to find anything, but the pantry is packed to the brim so you know you have food. (This is the one that gets most people and it’s probably the one you’ll use more often than not.)

We do all of the above as the need arises. Which basically means we have no set schedule, but it happens at least once every other month. Every month, we do an “Eat the Pantry” week. Reorganization usually happens around then because we’re actively clearing out our food. You can usually expect to spend about a half an hour going through your food and repacking it.

Organizing a Small Pantry Sounds Like Work

Seriously? That sounds like work.

Okay. Don’t get your pantries in a bunch. You’re right. It is a lot of work. But once you work it into your domestic routine, it’s really not as bad as it seems. For your efforts a few awesome things will happen:

  • You’ll know exactly where all your goodies are in your pantry.
  • You won’t have much expired food because you’re actively cycling it.
  • Ideas for dinner or other culinary delights will magically jump out at you!
  • So much money will be saved because you’re not buying new food.
  • Your footprint will be smaller because you’re eating what you have.
  • You’ll have more room for food.
  • All snack food will chemically alter itself to be calorie free.

Okay, I made that last one up. But the rest will apply. It’s a cheap system, it doesn’t take long to implement, and it’s not hard to maintain. Plus… as promised there’s no construction involved.

Now go forth and organize your pantry!

But first, share this article!

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Valerie is the author of Tiny.Kitchen. With mouthwatering recipes and useful techniques, she combines her experience living in an RV with her professional cooking skills and love of food to address the unique concerns of those who want to make delicious meals in their tiny kitchen. Learn more »

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