7 Clever Ways to Organize a Small Kitchen If You Don’t Have a Pantry

If you’re like me, you have a bit of organization envy when you see kitchens with big pantries. My kitchen is tiny and without a pantry, so I have to get creative when it comes to making all my kitchen supplies fit.

Is this a problem you can relate to?

If so, here is a list of some easy kitchen organization tips for storing essentials when you don’t have a pantry!

no pantry kitchen organization

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1. Decant food into stackable, compact containers.

If you don’t have a pantry, you’ll need to make the most of the cupboard space that you have – and that means effectively using the space from top to bottom.

You can do this easier by repackaging your food (think pasta, cereal, rice, beans, etc.) into stackable containers.

organized kitchen containers that stack
Kitchen containers like these help keep food fresher and also stack nicely inside cupboards.

This method helps for 2 reasons:

1 – Think about the wasted space that packaging takes up. Boxes of cereal can’t easily be stacked, and most of the box itself has dead space.

2 – When your containers are stackable, you can fit more into your cabinets.

We like these containers over on Amazon! Stock up and transform your kitchen.

Bonus: Your food stays fresher longer!

2. Use baskets and labels in existing cabinets and drawers.

Baskets help in just about every aspect of home organizing, and you probably have some free ones lying around already! Put a few baskets into your cabinets and drawers to tidy up and organize your would-be pantry items.

Not only does this cut down on the visual clutter inside cupboards, but it also makes it so more stuff fits in a smaller space. Those looser, small items (like little bags of snacks, for example) can stack on top of each other inside the baskets.

Don’t forget the labels! Put like items into the same basket and make it easy to find with some DIY label options.

3. Bring in a bookshelf.

Bring in a bookshelf to create a makeshift pantry space.
Bring in a bookshelf to create a makeshift pantry space.

Make your own makeshift pantry using a bookshelf near the kitchen, or in any accessible space of the house really. The further away, however, then it’s important to use it to store less frequently used pantry essentials.

To keep it neat and organized, be sure to implement the baskets and stackable containers mentioned above.

4. Decorate with food.

It is a kitchen, after all. If you have some nice containers full of pantry staples, why not leave some on the kitchen counters (or in your new bookshelf pantry)?

A container of beans, oats, coffee or nuts can easily be considered decor – especially in a small kitchen without a pantry.

decorate with jars of food
Decorate with jars of food on the counter.

5. Buy a slide-out pantry for dead space beside the fridge.

Don’t let that gap go to waste collecting dust bunnies and kitchen crumbs. You can purchase narrow slide-out pantry shelves to fill that dead space beside the fridge!

narrow slide out pantry shelves
Fill the void with these narrow slide-out pantry shelves. 1 – Get on Amazon; 2 – Get on Amazon.

6. Utilize kitchen carts.

Kitchen carts are perfect for storing extra pantry items in a small kitchen because they come on wheels! When not in use, they can be rolled away and stored in a corner or closet out of the way.

You can organize your kitchen carts in multiple ways. We like the idea of putting frequently used items in the cart (like spices and cooking utensils) and making it a habit to pull it into the kitchen when cooking dinner.

7. Invest in better organizers.

While we promote using as many free types of organizing containers as possible, there are times when investing in certain organizers makes sense.

If you lack a pantry, you may find purchasing really long baskets that are the same depth as your cabinets useful. These can fill the space all the way to the back of the cabinets, but also make it easy to slide out and access what you need something from the back without much hassle or constant rearranging.

Stackable organizers, like ones specially for canned food or beverages, also help out a lot!

kitchen organizers for the pantry
1 – Get on Amazon; 2 – Get on Amazon

Extra Tips: What to Avoid with No Pantry Kitchen Organization

  • Be cautious about using the top of the fridge for extra pantry storage. Fridges release heat, which could affect the goods sitting on top. Having too much stuff on top can also make the fridge need to work harder, and that can affect your energy bill!
  • Also, avoid storing things directly on top of a microwave. If your microwave takes up precious counter space, it’s advised to use a microwave shelf to create extra storage space.

How are you organizing your small kitchen with no pantry?


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Welcome. I’m Sarah!


I’m the creator of Decluttering School (formerly known as Early Bird Mom), lover of organized spaces, encourager to women and mom to four boys. Click here to read more!

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