A Simple Pantry Makeover

I actually did this “pantry makeover”, with the help of my handsome and talented son Kell, several weeks ago…but for some reason I have been “dragging my heels” over posting it!

Kell keeps asking me, “Have you posted the pantry pics yet Mom?”, and I keep coming up with an excuse as to why I haven’t done it yet.

But the truth is…I think I’ve been a bit reticent to post them because they really aren’t anything SPECTACULAR. Well, to ME it was/is spectacular! My pantry is SOOOOOOO much nicer to look at and the functionality has improved immensely!

BUT, I have seem some pretty impressive pantry makeovers online that have involved painting, wallpaper, stenciling, new shelving, new flooring and even LIGHTING. It was pictures like these that actually INSPIRED me to finally tackle mine.

Honey and Fitz
I Like It, I Love It
The House of Smiths
Faith, Trust and Pixie Dust

So at the risk of under-inspiring some of you….here are my “BEFORE and AFTERS” for your information, inspiration…or just entertainment. :-)

OK…first of all…no comments on WHAT FOOD IS IN MY PANTRY!  This is not a social commentary on what I feed my family….this is about how I ORGANIZE what I feed my family.  If you don’t agree with some of the “food stuffs” found here….feel free to keep it to yourself. :-)

Obvious problems….no organization and TOO many boxes and bags!!!!  You can see from the middle shelf I have made weak attempts in the past to START organizing with a few clear containers…but that’s about all it amounted to.

Again….TOO TOO much packaging in the form of boxes and bags. Goal: to eliminate as many as possible and replace with baskets and clear containers.

One of my “trouble spots”…insulin pump supplies. They are always in the dreaded BOXES that take up way more space than necessary….and they are just NOT HANDY to get at when needed. (We usually have quite a bit more than this on hand…we must have been running low.)

Another annoying spot….the pasta/popcorn/marshmallows/packets of stuff area. Completely disorganized and almost impossible to find anything! Definitely in need of attention.

Boxes, boxes and more boxes (and bags).  Enough said.

I don’t think this needs explanation. It’s just a mess. :-)

I utilized our local thrift store and Walmart a great deal for this makeover.  Almost all the canisters (glass and otherwise) are from Walmart.  Their prices on such stuff are VERY reasonable. Especially when you pick up a few each time you go shopping there (which is what I did). It’s a little less painful on your wallet that way. I think all the baskets are from the thrift store. Thrift stores are terrific sources for baskets! Look for square or rectangle shaped baskets…less wasted space.  Also, don’t discount the ones with big “handles” on them.  Several of the baskets I used I simply snipped the handles off with wire cutters. Much more functional that way.

The little wire shelves also came from Walmart and were super inexpensive…but make a world of difference! They basically doubled my space for cans.
Another thing you might notice….the lack of BOXES! I did everything I could think of to get rid of the space-wasting boxes! About the only boxes that “survived” were cereal boxes….and now that I think about it…I’m going to get rid of those too. I really LOATHE boxes in the pantry!
These plastic and glass containers (most from Walmart, some from the thrift store) have been such a huge improvement!  I love being able to see exactly what I have and in what quantity. How many times have I grabbed a box of something thinking there was plenty in there for what I needed and realized….WRONG…it’s practically empty!  grrrrr…..pet peeve #39!  This way if something is getting “low” it’s obvious every time I open the pantry door.

Also…the little labels? At first I put them on merely for decorative purposes…just to give the whole makeover thing a little more credibility. :-)  But I had no idea how much I would LIKE them!  It’s so nice to be able to immediately identify what’s in the container without playing the “guess the ingredient” game!  I mean something like POPCORN is a no-brainer…but have you ever tried to figure out which container was cornstarch and which one was powdered sugar??? Yep…not so easy!!  Oh…by the way…the labels are free printables from bhg.com.

Notice the rectangular baskets on the right and bottom left. All from the thrift store. All had big handles on them that I snipped off.  The one on the far right works perfectly for corraling insulin pump supplies now that I’ve taken them out of the darn boxes! What a space waster all those cardboard culprits were!

And I LOVE these bins from Walmart. Super cheap and great for holding stuff that doesn’t really “fit” anywhere else. Things like trash bags, crackers, etc. (that have been taken out of their boxes. Sorry, I’m starting to sound like a broken record! lol)
The wire bin on the bottom left was another thrift store find and helps contain the myriad of chip bags. The middle bin is one like the 3 white ones above…just covered with a plastic garbage bag and is used as a can collector. When this little bin gets full…one of my boys will take it out into the garage crush them with the wall-mounted can crusher and transfer them to a much bigger box.  Yeah…we drink too much soda…but hey…at least we’re recycling! ;-)

Well, there you have it….my “less than spectacular” (but not too shabby) pantry makeover. As usual, it’s my hope someone will find something that will be of value.

And once again I would like to thank my “assistant” Kell for all his hard work on this project!  He actually did all the “dirty work” (taking everything off the shelves, putting in the new shelf liners, etc.), and I got to do the more fun “organizing” part. I think there might be a new cell phone, that he’s been wanting forEVER, in his future. ;-)


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  1. Anonymous says

    I know you said this wasn't a social commentary on the contents of your pantry, but…

    We have the same food in my pantry. Except we don't have Dr. Pepper, and we have a giant box of Goldfish and a giant box of fruit snacks. That's pretty much the only difference. :)


  2. Lauren says

    Looks great! Our pantry has pretty deep, wire shelves, and those little half shelves would be great for the shorter things, but I'm sure they wouldn't work with wire shelves without falling through. Seen anything that might work as a substitute? I have one double lazy susan, but since it's round, I'm wasting a bunch of corner space…

    Another idea for pantries that aren't well lit is rope light around the inside of the door frame if there's room. We did that & tied it into an outlet on the other side of one of the walls, and it made all the difference! (along with replacing the plain wooden shelves w/ wire ones bc of aforementioned depth issue. :)

    • Pat says

      You could place a piece of thin board (such as luan board) on top of the wire shelf where you want to place the little half shelves. This would prevent the little shelves from falling through. Maybe even some thick cardboard might work.

    • Moira says

      Have you tried the stackable wire shelves? I don’t know what else to call them. Rather than having 4 individual legs, each side has what amounts to connected legs so they can connect or lock onto the top of one another. I have some hanging from the wire shelves in my closet. My description stinks, sorry.

  3. Elizabeth says

    I think that is a great makeover and shows that you don't have to have a fancy space to be organized. It's all about being practical and doing what works for you and your family. Great idea about going to the thrift store for containers!

  4. C.A.K. says

    great work, now I wish I had a pantry to reorganize, sadly my house only has regular kitchen cabinets….

  5. caseylynne says

    I love it. i am definitely going to have to reorganize my pantry. it is a cluttered mess. thank you for the inspiration.

  6. Jenny says

    Looks good Jillee! I really need to start labeling stuff. Took out a bag of pizza dough to thaw the other day. Waited all day to cook it, only to find out that it was actually cookie dough!

  7. Andrea says

    Love the makeover. And I actually find it more inspiring than the really pretty ones. They are lovely to look at but never gunna happen. Your gives bang for the buck and is something I can accomplish.

  8. Anna-LifeFoodFamilyLove says

    I love the make over! I am going to try to find somewhere to put a "pantry" in my home. Using the cookie jar for the grab-and-go snacks is so clever.

  9. Carol aka Big Mama says

    I love it! You should have posted it long ago MOM! ;) I especially love bins! I use bins in that totally wasted space in the under counter cabinets that are in the corner of the kitchen. I found a rubbermaid/sterlite bin that just barely fits in the double door cabinets on either side of my sink. One bin goes in with rarely used stuff you *need* (and then you push it into the back corner under the counter top) and the second bin goes right inside the doors with everyday stuff. You have to completely take the first bin out to get anything out of the second bin but it beats the heck out of taking 30 random things out and sitting them on the floor to just get ONE thing out of the back corner!