Eat Well, Spend Less: Limiting Food Storage

Our Eat Well, Spend Less series continues! This month we’re looking at food storage options, and I am specifically breaking down what we do as a family with a small kitchen area and virtually no extra storage space. While we do keep a well-stocked pantry and we love buying in bulk, we need to be conscious of our lack of space, too.

There are six people in our family, which means quite a few hungry mouths on a daily basis. While I’ve talked before about how we love purchasing food in bulk rather than in small, generally more expensive portions, this doesn’t mean we have the ideal, organized pantry space with glass jars stacked on meticulously organized shelves. In fact, it doesn’t mean we have a pantry at all.

Yes, I know I’ve talked about stocking my pantry on multiple occasions. However, in reality, our pantry consists of the everyday cupboards in the kitchen, which already lack in size, and the counter below them that holds my dry containers. I also have a few limited shelving areas in the garage that provide food storage overflow. By limited, I mean one decent cupboard area where I store extra grains.

Here’s the space we have in our kitchen. Hold your breath.

And that’s it. In my opinion, not too shabby, but nothing spectacular either. It is definitely lacking in the storage department, especially when you consider the lack of any pantry or linen closet and that we spend the majority of our time in the kitchen cooking three or so times a day. All those appliances? In the garage. My poor husband. Luckily, he loves to cook, too, or we’d probably be fighting over the one-car garage space.

Making it Work

Here are a few of the things we’ve adjusted and adapted about our pantry-stocking style to make the limited space work for us.

  • Make a pantry staples list. Look through your cupboards and decide what the items you always need to have on hand are. Think about different flours, spices, grains, oils and sauces that you use all the time. Those are the things that you should always have on hand and will benefit from making room to store larger, bulk-sized containers.
  • Stock up only on the items you use frequently. Similar to above, but it can include things like corn chips or your favorite dried fruits. For us, this means we purchase whole grains like quinoa in bulk and dried mangoes, but we stay away from perishable items that may not take as well to being stored in the fluctuating garage temperature or that we won’t be eating in a relatively quick period.
  • Invest in storage containers that fit your space. I love that Katie from Kitchen Stewardship uses whatever containers she comes across to hold her bulk goods. However, when working with limited space, a house with tiny or nonexistent closets and an already overflowing storage area, we needed containers that stacked and stored in that space we had. To hide the bulk goods we purchase, containers that slip into our cupboards really maximizes their potential, meaning we can stock up where it counts. (Example: 10-pound bag of organic quinoa costs the same as the 2-pound.)

These are just the methods that help us minimize clutter in our 1,100-square-foot house. There was definitely a lot of give and take when we moved to this house, as our last house had a fantastic pantry closet that we used for all of our kitchen appliances, as well as food storage.

Finding what worked in this space took a year or two of testing with plenty of successes and failures. For you, the answer may be different. How do you determine where to stock up and save and where to be less frugal and more organizationally-minded?

As always, you can check out what others are writing this week in the Eat Well, Spend Less series and how they organize cupboard space, store their bulk food purchases and more:

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  1. I’m nosy – so it is fun to see how other people organize their space. Our house has two hall closets, for some reason, so we converted one of them into a storage area for bulky items that we don’t use very often (ice cream maker, giant roasting pan etc). I also attached some storage bins for jars and cans to the back of the door – but it got too heavy and the door started dragging on the floor. Oops!

    • Silence, you. Seriously, we have one hall closet that doesn’t even have enough room to fit towels for our bathroom. Someday. Someday soon an addition will pop the roof and allow me to expand a few things. 😉

      • I have about half the cupboards you do (seriously!) and for a long time I whined about it. Now that we’re planning an addition, I’m realizing that with a small kitchen at least I know where everything is and it is exactly what I need!

        • I completely agree, Katie. Embracing the small space and figuring out what you really need makes life less complicated. Have fun with your addition!

  2. It’s fun to see where your creations come to fruition, and to see how you incorporate your need for efficiency. Impressive!

  3. I’m with Michelle, it’s fun to see into other people’s kitchen’s. I don’t have very much space either, but I’m not feeding 6 people, so I’m truly in awe of you. I can’t manage to make it all fit in my small pantry, so the excess spills over into the hallway closet.

  4. you are sooooo organized – awesome!!

  5. I love your kitchen. Love this post!

  6. Great post. It is so important to have an organized kitchen even when you have more space. Beautiful job.

  7. WOW! What a great post! Thank you! I have a very large kitchen, and new to us, so I’m still in the “switching things around” phase. The kitchen has very high ceilings (which is gorgeous) but with what I would consider very impractical space. You have given me inspiration in reorganizing it to make it work. :o) Thank you!

  8. My total condo is about 180 square feet. Feel free to see my tiny minimalist kitchen at

  9. Danielle B says:

    Wow. I look at your kitchen and think, “Man, maybe one day I’ll have that much space.” ;-D

    My kitchen is an eat-in kitchen with almost half the space in your picture. (And we have a family of five, although the littlest one is just really starting to consume a markable amount of solids!)

    Organization is key to being able to enjoy a small kitchen! I love Alton Brown’s take on kitchen gadgets- if doesn’t multi-purpose, it doesn’t belong!

    Thanks for sharing the tips!

  10. It’s nice to know there are others with a small kitchen. I redid none side of my hall closetto store kitchen items that I don’t use on a weekly basis but cannot part with. I agree with Michelle, it’s nice seeing how other people utilize their space in the kitchen. I keep telling myself that I’m going to invest in some storage bins for flour, sugar and a few other pantry items that I stock up on and use frequently. Thanks for sharing your kitchen with us!

  11. Elizabeth says:

    Hi neighbor! We were dying until we made our mudroom into a pantry. We got a ton of Ikea shelves and have been forever grateful since!

    William actually begged me to take a video of us cooking pasta yesterday. HAHAHAHA… I told him about that cute video you did for Barilla, but keep forgetting to show him since we don’t do the computer with him at home.

  12. Hi Shaina – nice to talk to you at the MN Food Bloggers event the other night! I’m so with you on the lack of storage space. My pantry is in my basement and I too have a cupboard where everything fits in only one way! I’m always wrangling with stuff trying to find new ways to store it all.
    See ya at the next event…

  13. You kitchen looks amazing! Much larger than ours. I love to see how different people store their food. We are a family of 5 living in a 2 bedroom apartment. Most of our food is stored on a heavy duty shelf in our bedroom, and much more under the kids beds and crib, under our bed and even the couch.

    • Thanks, Katie. Really, it’s not that small, just lacking in storage, and the lack of closets in the rest of the house makes that hard, especially with 6 people. However, I love finding different ways to use the space, and it encourages me to really know what I need and use and what is frivolous and unnecessary.

  14. With all the natural disasters around the world, making sure your family is prepared is top priority. Adding freeze dried food storage makes being prepared easy!

  15. Consider using consolidators for cupboards and pantries. They hold from 20-60 cans and rotate them for you.

  16. We have the same kitchen layout except that my stove is on the opposite end from the window. What is the beautiful green paint color on your walls?


  1. […] Shaina shared how she makes a small kitchen work for her. […]

  2. […] great tips to get you motivated to makeover your own pantry.Shaina from Food For My Family showed how she stores food for a family of six on somewhat limited storage space, and has some good suggestions on how to prioritize for your limited (or non-existent) pantry […]

  3. […] from Food For My Family showed how she stores food for a family of six on somewhat limited storage space, and has some good suggestions on how to prioritize for your limited (or non-existent) pantry […]

  4. […] Limiting Food Storage (from Shaina at Food For My Family) […]

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