Monday, June 24, 2013

Creating a Pantry out of an Empty Closet

I have the best husband ever, hands-down.  When we moved into our new home and he suggested we convert the large closet off the kitchen into a pantry, my mind started racing with possibilities!!  I just couldn't wait to get going on that project!  Here's what we started with:

A basic, boring, dirty, but large closet.  First things first- I scrubbed the entire closet down and got busy painting.  I went with a deep chocolate/wine shade.  Normally I like sticking to basic neutrals with paint, but the closets are a fun and risk-free place to experiment with color!  After looking at different shelving options, we selected basic board shelves from Menards.  Mark installed them for me and it was love at first sight...

After the basics were finished, things got really busy around the house so I didn't have time to organize everything right away.  I just shoved it all in there...

Recently I had enough time to organize!  The first step was to empty EVERYTHING and I mean EVERYTHING from the pantry.  Here's what my kitchen looked like afterwords...

FYI:  this was before I re-did the kitchen decor.
Then I cleaned off the shelves and grouped my food into categories.  When organizing my pantry, I wanted it to look clean, simple, and organized; yet be functional as well.  This took some trial and error.  I had placed all my bins and baskets in the guest room closet when we moved in, so I first went through those and selected which ones I wanted to use.  I wanted them to match so I chose the bins I previously used in my bedroom closet (if you're trying to save money, re-purposing items in different rooms of the house can be a life saver!  I've also seen people use cardboard boxes and cover them in fabric or scrapbook paper to make them look decorative.  I did purchase a few items from Hobby Lobby to complete my pantry [all 50% off of course] but I also made use of mason jars and old spaghetti sauce jars).  After selecting my containers, I drew a diagram on notebook paper and began playing around with different ways to place everything.  When I came up with a plan I got to work putting everything away.  It didn't end up being exactly like my diagram, but it worked out just fine!

There is a high shelf (not pictured) where I store duplicate items.  We also have shelving under our basement stairs that we put extra food on (Mark is all about being prepared...and I love him for it!).  The wire shelf was something I already had (from Wal-Mart).  Yes, my spices are in alphabetical order.  I'm sure some people think that's ridiculous, but I'm here to tell you it saves SO MUCH time when need to sort through all your spices to find the one you need!  I got the chalkboard labels on Amazon as well as a chalk marker, and later found some matching ones in the $1 section at Wal-Mart-score! 

The canisters came from Wal-Mart in a set, which was much cheaper than buying them individually.  I also put my cookbooks in the pantry rather than my office for easier access and cooking inspiration.  Speaking of inspiration...I included a framed motivational picture I printed from Google (because we all need that reminder when opening our pantry door!)

There's nothing like bins full of washed fruit and veggies from the Farmer's Market (except from your own garden, which is hopefully coming soon for us).  I got these bins for 50% off at Jo Ann Fabric.
Mark found these wire shelves at Menards.  I use these for stocking healthy snacks...

and these for holding my cooking/baking supplies.  They're perfect because I don't have to reach behind items to find what I need!

Finally, I made use of the pantry door for my meal planning organization.  I bought cork boards at Hobby Lobby and decorated them with burlap ribbon (I just stapled it on...brought back memories of all those bulletin boards when I used to teach!).  Then I printed some menu planning calendars and a grocery list (on a clipboard so we can jot down items as we run out of them) that I found on Google.  You can find them both on this site.  I plan 2 weeks at a time, that's why there are 2 weekly boards.

And that's it!  I'm very happy with the outcome, it makes it much easier to see what we have so food doesn't go to waste and it also helps us stay on track with healthy eating!  Being so organized takes time up front, but it's so beneficial...just keep up with it by putting items back where you found them and take the extra 10 minutes to put groceries away in their right spots. This will save you plenty of time in the more wondering what's for dinner or where to find the ingredients!  Happy organizing!


  1. Very nice system. I just might copy it! Perfect for my front closet pantry.

    1. Thank you so much! It's been 2.5 years since this post and everything still looks pretty much the same and works very nicely for us, even now that we have a daughter and another on the way! Happy pantry organizing!

  2. I have some shelving components in the garage, and some shelves that could be customized for this. Thank you!