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Sustainable and practical ideas to organize and keep your tiny pantry cupboard organized and lookin’ good!  Lessons learned while I had to make the most of every inch of space while living in our RV with a family of 6.

One small pantry cabinet. 

Small pantry organization ideas and ideas for RV kitchen storage

That’s all I got, friends – and it has to be enough for a family of 6 living in an RV!  Sure, I store some bigger items at my moms house, but for our day to day, this tiny RV pantry gets used and abused.

Family of 6 living with a tiny pantry in an RV and giving storage solutions.

It actually took me over a month to figure this out and get a grocery shopping and storing system going, but I think I nailed it and I am excited to share what I’ve learned!

Small pantry organization ideas and ideas for RV kitchen storage

Small pantry’s can be a problem in an RV and a home, but the key is in knowing how to make the very most of whatever space you have. I want to share what products and ideas I came up with, that have helped me not only have a small pantry that looks good, but functions and maintains order no matter how many small hands sneak in.

Stacking containers for great pantry organization.

Wouldn’t you like that too?! Tell me in the comments what pantry struggles you have, and I’d love to help you brainstorm solutions!

*This post is sponsored by mDesign. My absolute favorite organization company in the world! I love their containers and solutions, and they have saved the day in our RV. I’m excited to work with them to show you many organization solutions for your home.

Be sure to check out our Tiny Bathroom Organization solutions too! Another potential trouble area in a busy home.

*Affiliate links are included in this post, at no extra cost to you. Thank you!

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1 – Use the cabinet door!

No surface is safe when you are super limited on space, and rightfully so. There are many wall mount organizers, but I love these strong adhesive clear ones. They look great and I can relocate them to our home when we move in.

Storing paper products on the cabinet door fronts

These could have stored food items, such as spreads, sauces, oils, etc., but I really needed some space for paper products. While we try to limit our paper product usage, living in an RV has been a bit of an exception. Most of this lifestyle is inconvenient, so a bit of dish washing convenience every once in awhile saves my sanity.

Storing paper products on the cabinet door fronts

Take a good look at the walls and door front surfaces in your pantry cupboards and figure out if you could make the most of that space by adding some vertical door storage options. Just make sure you have enough room inside the cupboard once you shut the door with the door mounts still on. Pre-measuring is always a good idea!

2 – Go high!

The space between your shelving can vary, but try to figure out how high you can go to use up every inch of each shelf.

Small pantry organization ideas and ideas for RV kitchen storage

These stacking metal shelf risers make it so I don’t have to stack items on top of each other, and dig around when I need something. Everything is visible and easy to grab. Shorter shelves provide a good opportunity for storing short items, but using those tall shelves to their capacity will make a big difference.

Use stacking shelf risers to organize a small pantry and make the most of all your space.

3 – Go deep!

My dream pantry will not have deep shelves, but not all of us get our dream pantry – can I get an AMEN!

This RV has really deep shelves, and that was my biggest challenge to overcome. You can imagine what happens when small items just get shoved and pushed to the back. What happens when you need those items? A big mess – that’s what happens.

Long and deep clear containers work great for deep shelves in the pantry

In order to store deep without the mess, you need some deep storage containers that can be easily pulled out. These long clear containers are the perfect solution for deep cupboards space, and they are thoughtfully designed by mDesign.

Long and deep clear containers work great for deep shelves in the pantry

Which leads me to my next point . . .

4 – Corral similar items in containers

You’ve all seen those perfectly styled pantry’s, lined up with matching baskets and labeled boxes. While the images may not always be super realistic for a busy home, there is something to be said about gathering like items together in containers. It really does help in maintaining an organized pantry!

Long and deep clear containers work great for deep shelves in the pantry

So whether you find baskets, dollar store organizers or clear containers, definitely make use of this organizing solution. It works!

You can see how I’ve arranged lunch making foods together, breakfast items, drink products, spices, snack grabs, and all other similar items together.

Stacking containers for great pantry organization.

This makes it easy to know where to put my groceries after shopping, as well as making it possible to keep my pantry organized throughout the week.

5 – Avoid stacking, but if you have to . . .

Oh, how I hate stacking and unstacking kitchen items! I’m all about efficiency, and having to move something to get to something behind or below will make me crazy in no time.

But, this can’t always be avoided, especially when you are so limited on space. When you have to stack, here are some tricks to save your sanity.

Bagged items and clear containers work great for small pantry organization.

Use containers that are designed to stack, making it easy to move and replace.

Stacking containers for great pantry organization.

Find containers or shelves that lift items off of the items below. These file-like stacking containers are completely brilliant! I can put items below and above, and still easily move them out of the way to get to the items behind them.

Stacking containers for great pantry organization.

Place the items that you use more frequently in front or on top. The items that you use on occasion or that are food choices you want to limit, place them nice and tidy in the back.

Snacks from the pantry store in air tight containers

When things are this organized and contained, it is almost a joy to stack and unstack. I said “almost”. (wink).

Bagged items and clear containers work great for small pantry organization.

6 – Categorize

We’ve already talked about categorizing in bins, but have you thought about categorizing the shelves? This worked well for me in this 4 shelf pantry.

Small pantry organization ideas and ideas for RV kitchen storage

The top shelf is mainly for cooking or dinner making items. The next shelf down is more for baking, seasoning, and drink items. The next two shelves I tried to make my “lunch and snack” and “breakfast” shelves, but I had more lunch items than breakfast items, so they encroached on each other.

But again, this categorization just makes it easier for the whole family to know where things go, and to keep it that way.

7 – Ditch product packaging

I quickly learned how much space product packaging took up, when I had no space to give it! With a few exceptions, like cereal, I mostly recycle that product box or package before it even gets near the pantry.

Then the bars, crackers and other individually wrapped snacks get stored in their rightful place. It takes up so much less space!

Stacking containers for great pantry organization.

This also works great if you have air-tight sealed containers where you can empty the packages and store the dried items without the packaging. It will stay fresher for much longer and looks so much nicer.

Snacks from the pantry store in air tight containers

I also had to remove the wraps and foils from the boxes in order to fit them in this drawer, but it works really well and I didn’t have to do without.

Paper product organization

8 – Bags not boxes

Continuing on with product packaging – here is another clever trick for you! We make a lot of food from scratch and try to limit store bought items. I’ve had to compromise a lot of that lifestyle while in this temporary RV life, but I didn’t want to let go completely. This means we still needed baking and cooking supplies like spices, powders, flours, flavorings, etc.

Bagged items and clear containers work great for small pantry organization.

When we moved, I tried to fathom how to include all the things I loved from my Baking Cupboard, just to realize there was absolutely no way it was coming with us. Unless . . .

I had to downsize, but I didn’t have to do without. I did some thorough searching for a quality upright bag, and discovered these darling Mason Jar shaped zip up bags, that work perfectly!

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Bagged items and clear containers work great for small pantry organization.

I may not be able to fit boxes of baking powder, yeast, salt, chocolate chips, chia seeds, etc – but I certainly could keep them if I condensed them into bags.

They stay nice and upright and are easy to flip through and grab in the clear containers. I label them with my favorite home labeler.

This method is a game changer and is so handy! If I can’t fit the whole contents of the boxes into these bags, I store the extra at my moms. I also have a few canisters resting on top of the kitchen cabinets that hold my flours and oatmeal for baking.

Small pantry organization ideas and ideas for RV kitchen storage

But for the most part, I am not buying things in bulk like I would if I had the storage space, so that makes a huge difference.

You just buy what you have room for, and that has proved to be very nice on the budget.

9 – Consider the level of the items

No kiddo of mine is going to find my chocolate stash, because it is way up high! Take this concept and keep the items you want them to be able to help themselves to, right at their level.

If you don’t like bending or reaching, keep your most used items at your convenient level.

Family of 6 living with a tiny pantry in an RV and giving storage solutions.

My kids always make their own lunches, so most of the lunch and snack items are right at their reach.

10 – Leave empty space

This is so important! When you are organizing and planning how to use your space, leave an empty shelf or empty corner, if at all possible. While my weekly shopping is pretty much the same order from Instacart every week, I do buy different dinner items and will throw in bags of chips, boxes of cereal, and bagged popcorn every once in awhile. I need a place to put those items, which is why I left the front of this high top shelf wide open.

Bagged items and clear containers work great for small pantry organization.

Cereal gets put up there so the kids won’t touch it until our Friday special breakfast splurge, and random stuff that will get used up for making dinners that week have a place to rest.

11 – Don’t buy things in bulk

I said I’d share my best 10 tips, but I had to throw one more out there on repeat. If you are living tiny, buy tiny. Buy only what you have room for, which may mean a few days at a time, a week at a time, or you might be able to store some monthly bulk items. This is not only great for your budget constraining purposes, but you’ll find maintaining an orderly pantry to be much more feasible. Shove and stuff won’t even cross your mind, and you will use up everything you have.

Store paper products on the inside of the kitchen cupboard with vertical storage shelves.

A place for everything and everything in it’s place! Waste not, want not!

By the end of the week are shelves are pretty bare, but are more than ready for the new load of groceries to be organized!

Snacks from the pantry store in air tight containers

Did you find a helpful tip? Which one was most helpful? I would so love to know!

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10 best tips for small pantry organization

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For sources on the items you see in our RV, feel free to shop from this resource page I created for you.

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  1. Love the post! One of my pantry storage struggles is dealing with the cabinet that is an “awkward” shape. The back length is longer than the face of the cabinet so the cabinet side is angled and it makes it hard to store certain things. Thoughts on a way around this?

  2. I put eyehooks in a door (but any area would work even the ceiling), two at top same level about 5 inches apart. The two more aways down also level and 5 inches apart. Run a bungee each side top to bottom. Keeping it tight. Now put you paper towels under it. Works for toilet paper too.

  3. Hey Cam! These were such lovely ideas – thank you! I never thought of how to organize our future dream of long term RV trips but you’ve got my brain cooking for sure. I also needed to update some pantry storage and you and I buy similar things at Costco so your kid food ideas were genius. Just measured my shelves and counted up what I needed and did a big Amazon order. I need to remember to tag you in IG when I’m finished. Thanks for the help – I’m feeling quite ship shape now!

  4. I wanted to thank you for sharing the info on the “mason jar” storage bags. I’ve been looking for something to store dry beans in that wasn’t breakable or didn’t take up a lot of space. These bags are perfect and they can stand up! I am really impressed with the thickness of the material. They are also really cute. Being reusable and dishwasher safe if another benefit.Thanks again for another great idea.

    1. It’s comin’ along! Hope you saw my latest post on the updates of our pole barn. Slowly but surely!

  5. Fabulous post. I must reduce the product that I have in my quite small pantry. Off to reorganise!!!

  6. I love those mason canning jars containers, i need to find me some of those. Thanks Cami you have done an excellent job.

    1. They are adorable! And work so great for my small space. Hope you saw my link so you can find them.

  7. Was watching your pompom pillow video and noticed your ironing pad….been looking for one of those!
    Can you share what it is and where you got it??
    My wrinkled clothes say thanks!

  8. Great storage ideas. We are currently living in a 5th wheel and we use metal magazine holders for foil, plastic wrap and ziplock bags. Use baskets for holding misc small pantry items and stackable plastic containers for flours, sugars, etc. It is always good to have an organized system, shopping list, and being consistant on where things go – that way you always know what to buy at the store and where to put it when you get home 😀

    1. My goodness! So many great ideas! Thank you for sharing with me how you manage it all. I think the first step in maintaining it is controlling the groceries that come in. You can’t shop like you would for a home. Thanks again for stopping by!

  9. Brilliant ideas and beautiful organization! What is your solution for storing potato chip, tortilla chip type snacks?

    1. Thank you! Did you notice the empty shelf space on top, where I had a couple boxes of cereal? I make it a point to leave that open for our bags of chips, and the items I buy for our dinners that week. Having that empty space is REALLY important!

  10. Yup, this is pretty darned brilliant, Cami. Those mason jar bags are so cool and currently in my Amazon cart. Thanks for the great ideas. Makes me want to streamline our organized kitchen pantry (which I love) even more. Cheers, Ardith

  11. It is always good to see a post from you. You asked which tip I found most helpful…I would say bags not boxes. I will try this in my home. You continue to constantly inspire me!!!
    Thank you, Julie

    1. Yes, ditching boxes was the only way I could fit in those things. Otherwise I would have had to give up baking anything! I sure appreciate your comment Julie and grateful you took the time to stop by!

  12. Thank you so much! These are all great tips! My daughter is wanting to organize her pantry and I will show her yours. I’m happy things are working out for y’all! XX

  13. Can I paint the walls of our camper they have the original paper on them now? I think it is like wallpaper, Thanks

    1. Yes! You definitely can! Get yourself a good primer and the paint goes right over it. Lots and lots of people are doing it. Just make sure you remove any border wallpaper, which comes of super easy.