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.
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.
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’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.
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!
10 IDEAS FOR SMALL PANTRY ORGANIZATION THAT YOU CAN MAINTAIN
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Use containers that are designed to stack, making it easy to move and replace.
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.
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.
When things are this organized and contained, it is almost a joy to stack and unstack. I said “almost”. (wink).
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Did you find a helpful tip? Which one was most helpful? I would so love to know!
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Discover more about our RV adventures in the following posts:
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- Our 9 Super Practical, Healthy and Easy Camping Breakfast Ideas