Saturday, January 29, 2011

Maximize your Pantry

After a discussion with some neighbors about 'where I put all of my food storage' I have had quiet a few requests for friends to come and view my pantry.  It is apparently hard to believe that I can really fit that much in there.
So... this post is all about
how to maximize the space in your pantry
(according to me).


This is my kitchen:

I would say my corner pantry is the average size for those in their first home.
As you can see, cabinet space is limited, so I squeeze as much into my pantry as possible.

First, there are 3 major rules that I keep in mind:
1) Same Sized Containers
2) Everything in Boxes
3) Hidden, but accessible

Having things in the same sized containers allows you to store more.  You can easily stack up/down, side/side, front/back better if everything is the same shape and size.

When everything is kept in boxes you are able to maneuver a large amount of items at one time.  It also helps to prevent dents/damage, and keeps everything tidy and uniform, which makes proper rotation easier.

Hidden but accessible refers to the fact that not everything has to be at a fingertips grasp.  There are things in my pantry that I only use every 6 months - so I make sure those items are put in the very back, and on the bottom, if possible.

This will all make more sense as you read on.

We will be moving from the bottom up.
Most pantry floors are seriously overlooked.

I like to use poly buckets on the bottom - they are sturdy enough to allow me to stack things on top of them, and I can fit enough to have a large variety of different foods.  Everything I have in a poly bucket I have in a smaller container that is easily accessible for everyday use.  That way, the only time I have to access them is to refill my container.
 
Be sure to put the items you use the LEAST amount in the back.

I can fit a total of 12 poly buckets in my pantry, but I have a 3 drawer unit that takes up the space of 2.
Remember to fill  in all of the gaps if possible.  I have a gallon of vinegar in the very back corner, with an extra tub of shortening on top.

Tall skinny items can be placed in between the buckets (pictured: cooking spray, 5 lbs. honey).
 

I also have 2 gallons of oil that can fit on the floor as well.

And I can still access everything at this point.

The other thing to note is that my poly buckets are all the same height.  Buckets can be 2" taller and 2" shorter than the ones I have.  Like I said before, the same size allows me to stack more things on top.

On all of my poly buckets I store my bottled goods.  Leaving them in the box prevents breakage, and allows easy maneuvering.

 There is the perfect amount of space to fit 7 dozen quarts.
 
 That gallon of vinegar is stacked on top of the oil.  Behind that, Parmesan cheese is stacked on top of the cooking spray.

**If you don't can or don't have bottles, use this space for other heavy objects like bottled water, appliances  or canned goods (stacked 3 high).

On top of my quart jars I stack my 1/2 pint jars and other small canned goods.

Again, everything is in a box so I can easily move it around or pull it out to restock.

In front of all of those, I can fit a dozen pint sized jars, as well as a basket of onions and a basket of potatoes (I'll get to that picture later).
So just to recap.  On the floor alone I can fit:
- 10 poly buckets = 250+ lbs. of food
- 2 gallons of vinegar
- 2 gallons of oil
- 20 lbs. of honey
- 5 lbs. shortening
- 5 cans of cooking spray
- 5 cans Parmesan cheese
- 7 dozen quart jars (84 bottles)
- up to 3 dozen 1/2 pint jars (36 bottles)
- 3 dozen smaller canned goods (36 cans)
- 1 dozen pint jars
- 25 lbs. of potatoes
- 10 lbs. onions
- 3 drawer unit that stores all of my: jello and pudding mixes, seasoning packets, bags, drink mixes, towels/aprons, and any other miscellaneous items.

And if it seems like it is impossible to get to anything you are totally wrong.  Because everything is in a box, it takes be around 10 seconds to get to everything - unless it is the very back corner bucket, and in that case it takes me 1 minute.  The time is well worth the amount of food you can put in there.

Now on to the bottom shelf: Canned goods.
I use a plethora of boxes to keep them organized.  Leaving the front lip in place ensures that they don't get knocked off the shelf, but I remove the back lip so I can stack them all the way to the wall.

You can easily fit 7 boxes, which leaves exactly enough space in 2 different locations to fit 1 row of cans:

This will allow you to have one row for every type of canned good (25 rows).

This also helps rotate through properly.  Every time I need something, I take it from the front.  Whenever I am restocking, I put it in the back.

With a single layer, you can fit about 11 dozen cans (132), depending on the size of cans you purchase.

However, each time I restock I will double layer, so realistically I always have about 150 cans.  I don't dare to double stack everything for fear of the shelf breaking, but there are always a couple rows that are.  (And my shelves are not bowing at all).

Now that those are in I can fit those pint jars, potatoes and onions I was talking about earlier:

On to the next shelf: PASTA and SNACKS.
I love Barilla pasta, and it just so happens to come in a box, which is convenient for stacking and also refrains the noodles from breaking.
Same idea with the canned goods, I keep them in a box with rows (easy rotation), and each row is a different variety:

I can accommodate 9 rows of pasta (various sizes) on one side of the shelf this way.
Without stacking anything on top of the rows, I fit about 65 boxes/bags of noodles.  When I have Raman I usually stack those in their box on top of the other varieties.

**Egg noodles don't come in boxes, so I have those bags lined up inside of a shoebox (in the back corner).  Shoe boxes are the perfect size for bagged pasta.  

On the other half of that shelf I keep all of our snack items:
 Crackers (and other boxed items) are stacked straight against the wall and then side to side in front.
I have storage containers that stack for various types of nuts, candy, and cookies.
Multivitamins line up against the wall.  Everything is placed this way to make for better rotation - the oldest stuff goes in front so we end up eating it first.

The shelf above that is for Breakfast Items:
If you line the back wall and stack on top (not shown in pic, but just like the crackers), I can fit 12 boxes of cereal.  I also have 2 one gallon containers that fit other cereals like granola.
On the other side I can stack 6 boxes of instant oatmeal, with syrup and dehydrated hash browns in front of them.

In the back corner of that shelf I stack from floor to ceiling my cake boxes(7-8) and stuffing mixes (5).  Take from the top, restock from the bottom - again, it is all about rotating.
In front of those I stack boxes of hot chocolate mixes, hard taco shells, and any other boxed item.
To the side; spaghetti sauce.

The other half of that shelf is for spices.
I like to use the big Costco sized containers.  You can fit 20 of them into an old Raman noodle box.
I write the contents' name on the top of the lid so I can easily find what I am looking for.
 I also put things like Panko, Bread crumbs, cornflake crumbs, dehydrated onions and bell peppers in older containers to keep everything the same size.  I can fit about 36 of these of the shelf.

The top shelf is where I keep all of my #10 cans.
I reuse my old cans for things like chocolate chips, marshmallows, brown and powdered sugars, popcorn kernels, misc. grains, etc.

I have two rows that are double stacked, which means I can fit 20 #10 cans.

In the top back corner I have a box that I keep all of my 'backup' and replacement items.

This consists mostly of condiments:

Next to that are more containers of things like oats, specialty rice, and pretty much anything else that doesn't have a home:

As well as my crock pot and popcorn maker, which are hidden by garbage bags and chips most of the time.

And thats it!
Most shelves have plenty of room in front for various items like potato chips, peanut butter, honey, and other things that we go through.
Point being, having a small home is no excuse for not having food storage.
With your pantry alone, I believe you can store a 1-3 month supply of everything, with some items even up to a year supply.

With that said, here is everything I can fit into my pantry:

- 10 poly buckets = 250+ lbs. of food
- 2 gallons of vinegar
- 2 gallons of oil
- 20 lbs. of honey
- 5 lbs. shortening
- 5 cans of cooking spray
- 5 cans Parmesan cheese
- 7 dozen quart jars (84 bottles)
- 1 dozen pint jars
- up to 3 dozen 1/2 pint jars (36 bottles)
- 3 dozen smaller canned goods (36 cans)
- 12 dozen regular canned goods (144 cans)
- 25 lbs. of potatoes
- 10 lbs. onions
- 65 bags/pounds of pasta
- 12 boxes snack items (crackers/fruit snacks)
- around 10 lbs. nuts/raisins/craisins
- potato chips
- 5 lbs. peanut butter/nutella
- 5 lbs. candy
- 12 boxes cereal
- 2 gallons granola
- 6 boxes instant oatmeal
- 1 gallon dehydrated hashbrowns
- 1/2 gallon maple syrup
- 10 lbs. spaghetti sauce
- 5 boxes stuffing mix
- 7 cake/brownie mixes
- ~10 misc. boxes (taco shells)
- 36 large spice containers
- 20 count of #10 cans
- Miscellaneous condiments
- 10 lbs. of misc. grains/food
- Appliances (crockpot and popcorn maker)
- Garbage bags, other random items

I think this might go down in history as the longer post ever!

Coming soon... Maximize your Freezer!

1 comment:

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