Organizing A Small Kitchen To Save Time And Money
Well, winter has made an early appearance where I live. Which means I probably won’t be getting much riding in this week. The weather has been cold, rainy and snowy. This weekend they are forecasting 3 inches of snow Saturday, and again on Sunday. And since I won’t be able to ride very much, or spend much time outside, I will have to find projects to keep me busy inside.
Have you ever watched video’s of people organizing their perfect and new kitchens? I have. And I get jealous of their beautifully large kitchens filled with walk in pantries, and more cabinets than I have in my entire 1989 built home. My house is older, so it doesn’t have all of the new fancy cabinets, or tons of storage. But I decided to make the most of the space I have, and make it as nice as it can be, without having my kitchen remodeled.
A couple of weeks ago I started by organizing my kitchen pantry and cabinets. For me, this a good place to start getting organized because the kitchen seems to be the heart of our home.
We use the kitchen a lot. And I tend to buy a lot of pantry food, especially when things are on sale, so my pantry was pretty full. And I decided to organize the mess.
It was a project that took the entire weekend. And I found a lot of food that had expired because it had been shoved back into the dark corners of my cabinets and pantry.
Organizing A Small Pantry
I started with the pantry since this seems to be where I put a lot of the food. And by the time I had emptied it out, my counter tops were covered with things that I never used. This was discouraging to see how much food we had wasted.
But we all need a starting point, right?
Buying Kitchen Organizers On The Cheap
Then I decided to take a trip to the dollar store, and Walmart for some organization help.
The dollar store didn’t have a lot, but I did find some cute baskets that I knew I would be able to use. And I was hoping to find some large plastic containers, and I didn’t have much luck. I did find a few tall cereal keepers which was a bargain, so I bought the ones they had.
But that was about all they had. So Walmart was next.
I was more successful at Walmart. And some of the things I found were actually cheaper than they were at the dollar store! I found some plastic shoe boxes for $.84 each and some taller baskets for $.97 each. I did find them on Amazon, but they are more expensive. Just go to Walmart and buy them, they are a lot less expensive.
I also found an expanding step like shelf rack that would work perfect for my spices.
And my favorite thing that I found was a package of Better Homes and Gardens clear plastic containers that were on clearance! So I got a package of 3 containers for $12.00. And they had some single pieces too, and I bought them as well. If I had been planning, I would have bought this set of airtight storage containers from Amazon which would have given me the same amount of containers, for less money!
I also found a huge roll of shelf paper, you know, the kind that has a sticky backing. A huge roll of it only cost $4.97. And it was the same pattern as the contact shelf paper I found at the dollar store, only I think this was a better deal because of how much contact paper I got for the total cost.
Then it was time to rush home with all of my organizing treasures and get to work and finish the job that I had started.
Back To The Organization Project
I had already cleaned out the pantry, literally, before I went on my shopping spree. So everything was ready to be put back together. I started by measuring for the shelf paper. And then I removed a shelf that wasn’t really serving a purpose.
After the shelves were all papered, and looking pretty, it was time to start putting everything back.
I decided to use the shoe boxes to pack snacks, noodles, and oatmeal, all into their own containers of course. I used the shoe boxes to put all the separate items in. Then, I used some of the clear plastic containers to hold the cereal, rice, and mashed potatoes.
I was able to consolidate what I had and repackage everything into the larger plastic containers and create a lot more space. Sadly, I also filled up a few trash bags with food that had expired. SO even though I got a good deal on some things when I bought it, I actually wasted money because I didn’t use the food. Hopefully by having the pantry organized, I will prevent that from happening again.
Chalk Board Grocery List
Another thing I did was to turn the inside of the pantry into a chalk board.
I used black chalk paint and painted the inside of the cabinet doors to create a writing surface. I don’t like putting magnets and lists on the outside of my refrigerator. So by creating a chalk board, I have a place to write things down. Its fun to be able to write on the cabinets, I feel like I’m breaking the law or something.
I even added an extra touch of writing ‘Grocery List’ so when we run out of something, we can write it down on the door. And you might be thinking “well that’s great, but how are you going to know what you need when you get to the store?”
All I have to do is take a picture of the list, and presto! I have a picture of my grocery list on my phone. I mean I always have my phone with me. And it’s easy to just take a picture of the list and take it with me when I happen to be at the grocery store. I am pretty impressed with my creativity sometimes.
And when I have bought everything on my list, I just wipe of the cabinet with a damp towel, and it’s good as new and ready for my list building again.
Time To Organize The Cabinets
And once I had completed the pantry, and cleaned up the mess, I did the same thing again with 2 of my cabinets.
I started with my spice cabinet. It was a mess. There were so many things in there, and I didn’t really know what I had, until I cleaned everything out. And then I cleaned the surfaces with my homemade cleaner, and put down more shelf paper.
This is where I used the expanding spice shelf. I am so happy I bought this! It was $12.00, but so worth it. With the cool expanding length, it was like it was custom made for my cabinet. And It created extra storage space while still allowing me to be able to see what is on the shelf.
I also used one of the dollar store baskets I bought to hold all of my packets. This is where I keep the gravy mixes, taco seasoning, etc.
I also made use of the inside cabinet door too by adding in some bottle holders that I just stuck onto the door. If you do this, just make sure that the door will still close with the spices on the doors. It take a little bit of playing around with, but once you get it you will have extra storage space for your spices and they are easy to see.
Then I turned my attention to my corner cabinet. This is where we keep a lot of the supplies we need for baking. So I used another basket, and a few of the plastic container I had bought.
And of course, I did the shelf paper too!
Don’t Forget The Drawers
I still had some motivation to continue, so I decided to organize the small set of drawers that we have too. This was more of a clean out session than anything.
Our bottom drawer was a catch-all for the shopping bags that we collect. And it was a hot mess. There were so many bags shoved in here. I decided to remove all of the bags, and turn it into a drawer to store Ziplock bags and aluminum foils.
I also cleaned out the ‘junk’ drawer. If your kitchen is well organized, you don’t need a junk drawer. Instead, I will use this drawer to hold removable cords, and extras that I don’t use as frequently.
I also repurposed a large container to hold spoons, whisks and spatulas so they are easy to access on the counter top next to the stove. Easy access.
If you want to see some other things I have been working on around the house, you can read about it in my blog post, Catching Up On Neglected Housework.
I still have a couple of cabinets to ‘redo’. Like where I keep extra stuff, and coffee. And also where we keep all of our medicines, and more stuff. But for now, this is a good start. I am sure I will have plenty of opportunities over the winter to get my house organized and work on inside projects, since I won’t be able to work with my horses as much.
Organizing A Small Kitchen To Save Time And Money
By keeping the kitchen cabinets organized, it will take less time to search for items needed for the next meal. And by being able to see to what we have will save money, because I won’t be buying something that I already have. I didn’t add up the total cost of what I threw out that day. But I did decide that I was going to make a diligent effort to not waste money, or space by buying things that I already have.
I t should be easier for meal prep as well, meaning I can plan better what we are going to be eating for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
All in I spent around $78.00 for the storage things I bought. And while I did spend some money to make this happen, it was well worth it for the end result.
If you have an older home, and an un-organized kitchen, maybe you can use some of these ideas to make the most of the space you have, and help you to feel better about your kitchen too! And as always, I have included some affiliate links within this article. If you click on any of these links and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission from your purchase. It helps me to continue to do what I do on this blog as well as my YouTube channel and podcast. SO if you click on a link, thank you for your continued support!