Creating a Food Pantry From a Coat Closet

The home we currently own is so small that it did not have any room in the kitchen for pantry foods, or the pots, pans, and dishes we need to cook and serve meals for our family. We crammed small quantities of food into the back of the corner cupboards on turntables, but all of the Costco-size food supplies for our family of 11 had to be stored down stairs in the garage; we would send kids down stairs to get more of things when we needed them.  As you may imagine, this was often.  We also stored all of our cooking dishes and pans in what was intended to be the hallway linen closet.  This was fine really, but time consuming and inconvenient going all around the house when ever we were preparing food.  Then one day when I went to put something away in the coat closet near the kitchen the Lord gave me a vision for turning that closet into a pantry!  I was beside myself with excitement at the idea!  God has always been so faithful to show us how to fit our large family in to this small 1100 sq/ft house.  Here is how we created our pantry.

First I needed to envision where our coats and shoes would be stored when they were no longer in the closet.  We found a nice home for them in the garage which was a natural fit as we had recently turned one quarter of the garage into a large mud room (watch for a future post on creating a mudroom from a garage).  We used some of our large, plastic shelves from Costco to make large-family shoe racks for ours and the children’s shoes.  Bob and I keep our church shoes in our bedroom closet, and we put away seasonal shoes which are not being used (i.e. summer sandals and winter boots) into a box underneath our bed; so our shoe rack only needs to hold our current, casual, worn-often shoes.

The vision I had for our pantry’s organization came from my dear friend, Tena, so the next time we were at their house I picked her brain about how and why she organized things as she did.  What foods did she find most cost-effective to buy in bulk at Costco or Winco (we hadn’t bought very much bulk because we did not have a place to store it before), where did she purchase her Rubbermaid containers for the best price, and what labels did she create for them?  Tena graciously offered to make labels for our tubs with their label maker for these sizes of containers:

Tub size 40 c./9.4L

– flour

– sugar

– rolled oats

– steel-cut oats

– Bisquick mix

– pasta

Tub size 14 c./3.3L

– brown sugar

– powdered sugar

– rice & lentils (left over packages)

– cheese mix (we make our own macaroni and cheese)

– tea (I keep a container on the kitchen counter for a variety of tea packets, but the rest of the tea bags are stored here)

Container size 1.5 gallon

– cold cereal (3 containers, we don’t need more cereal choices than this at once; we rotate types of cereal in them).  These are on the bottom shelf in the pantry (not seen in the photo).

We began saving money for the project, which cost around $200 total.  This included,

Wire shelving for the pantry (we moved the coat closet hanging section to the garage)

Installation hardware

Rubbermaid containers to hold Costco quantities of bulk foods

– A small hook inside the door on the right where we hang our cooking aprons.

My husband used adjustable white wire shelving that hangs on metal frames which screw to the wall.  This way we could change the spacing between the shelves depending upon the heights of the Rubbermaid tubs we were stacking there, but it would not be permanent if we desired to change this spacing in the future.  The shelving is purchased in 8-foot-long pieces which my husband cut down to the sizes we needed; using bolt cutters is the easiest way to cut these, but a backsaw works also.  We then covered those sharp metal ends with white rubber end caps.

I already had four 14-inch size turn tables from the lower corner cupboards in the kitchen (which are 3-feet deep and unreachable without turn tables in them) so I used those in our new pantry for the corners.

On the floor of our pantry sit the two 25 lb. bags of extra flour and sugar, extra cereal bags not yet poured into the containers, our crock pot, griddle, and a couple of 2 liters of pop (we open up one per week on pizza night).

We brought all of the food up from the garage and found homes for it in our new pantry, plus about 50% more!  *cheer!*  And after clearing out what little quantities of food did fit into the kitchen and putting them in the pantry, we then had room for all of the dishes and cooking pots and pans in the cupboards.  Linen now lives in the linen closet.  And everything we need for cooking is kept in the kitchen and in the pantry.  Praise the Lord.  *smile*  Aaaah.

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