How to Store Food in a Small Kitchen

We’ve all been there – you move into a new place and start organizing where things go in the kitchen. Dishes and utensils are easy but when it comes to food items it seems like most cabinets are either too deep or too tall to really be effective. So when we bought our first house a few years ago, I was excited about the promise of a new and better kitchen! Unfortunately, what I got was a 1910-meets-1964 smattering of dysfunctional cabinets and 3 lonely drawers. Even though we ended up gutting our kitchen, there still wasn’t space for such luxuries like a walk-in pantry, which meant we needed to rethink the way we store food. See what we came up with after the jump!

Not only does smart storage makes life easier, but I’ve found that when you can actually see your food, it’s easier to keep a mental inventory of what you have. For me, this results in more efficient grocery shopping and less wasted food.

Here are a few tips and tricks that I’ve learned along the way, most of which could be implemented in an existing or rental kitchen:

1. Splurge on a pull-out pantry – they don’t take up that much room, but the pull-out feature means you can see and easily access everything (ours is from IKEA).
2. Use drawers instead of cabinets – putting food in drawers keeps everything visible and makes it easier to store heavier items that would be difficult to take in and out of an upper cabinet. Drawers are also good for storing root vegetables or other food that likes dark spaces.
3. Think about how you cook and use food – instead of putting all of our food in one place, we decided to divide items into two categories: “needs to be prepared” and “ready to eat”. A centrally-located drawer in our island serves as a place for crackers, granola bars and other snacks that are easy to grab in a pinch, while things like canned goods, pasta and baking supplies go in the pantry.
4. Keep fruit on display – not only does it look nice, but keeping fruit in plain sight means you’re more likely to eat it before it goes bad. (Tip: the opposite strategy works well for things like chocolate!)
5. Use ledges for small items – very shallow shelves are great because they don’t take up much space but provide an easy spot for spices, salt, pepper, sugar and other items used on a regular basis.
6. Utilize those nooks and crannies – after we laid out our new cabinets, we had a small space leftover that became a perfect spot for wine storage.

What tips and tricks have you found for storing food in a small kitchen?

Related Posts:
How to Organize Waste in a Small Kitchen
DIY Solution for Hiding Clutter in a Small Kitchen

(Images: Lauren Zerbey)