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:
- Aimee from Simple Bites
- Alyssa from Kingdom First Mom
- Carrie from Denver Bargains
- Jessica from LifeasMOM
- Katie from Good Life Eats
- Katie from Kitchen Stewardship
- Mandi from Life Your Way
- Tammy from Tammy’s Recipes