The 9 Deadliest Kitchen Pantry Storage Problems (and how you can overcome them)
Your walk-in pantry looked soooo nice BEFORE you moved into your home.
There were so many more shelves than your last place. You wondered, am I ever going to fill these shelves up?
And then life happened.
You had 2 beautiful kiddos (OK, at least they’re beautiful when they’re not fighting like cats and dogs as your Mom used to say). You swear they’re hooked on every surgery cereal and snack food known to boy or girl.
Your pantry started getting more crowded.
You started watching waaaay too many episodes of Iron Chef and buying obscure ingredients like flax seed, quinoa, and balsamic vinegar to repeat their crazy recipes.
And your pantry got even more crowded.
Then COVID hit. You AND your spouse were working from home. No more grabbing lunch at the cute Ma & Pa restaurant close to the office. No more stopping at McDonalds for your ‘power breakfast.’ Your grocery bill and your meal prep were exploding (like it or not). You were in the kitchen constantly.
And your pantry got even more crowded.
Now you’ve got a complete mess. Boxes, spices, blenders, cookie trays and cans are jammed together. You tried buying every ‘bolt-add’ and ‘add-in’ gadget sold at your Dollar Store and Container Store, but your pantry is still a disaster. You’re worried your pantry shelves are going to fall off the wall from all this weight any minute now. So, here’s the question you desperately need an answer to…
What can you do to get rid of your frustration and save your pantry from being a disaster?
In this article I’ll look at the 9 deadliest (OK – I don’t know if anyone has died from them YET, but you never know) kitchen pantry storage problems. Then, I’ll give you practical ideas to fix the profusely-packed-pantry you know (and don’t love) today.
Let’s dig in.
Kitchen pantry storage problem #1 – Your pantry shelves are as fixed as your Father’s politics
If there’s anything you know it’s Dad’s political POV is as fixed as the screws and brackets which are (hopefully) securing your pantry shelves to your studs today.
Dad’s political position isn’t moving anywhere.
While being ‘fixed’ works just fine for Dad when it comes to politics, you know your fixed pantry shelves aren’t helping you out girlfriend.
You’ve tried to fill the dead space between the shelves with undermount baskets. However, the baskets keep falling off.
You’ve tried to keep your spices organized with a tiered plastic tray. However, they tumble over like a house of cards when you go to grab one.
If only your shelves could be made to simply move up and down (so you wouldn’t have dead space between the shelves), you wouldn’t need cheap ‘add-ons’ which don’t exactly scream out quality.
Fortunately for you I’m here to spread the good news. With adjustable pantry shelves you can (literally) have your cake mix and frosting (because you can find them in your pantry) and eat it too! The adjustment holes on the side of laminate pantry shelves gives you the freedom to have the right spacing between tall cereal boxes or short cans and spices.
Kitchen pantry storage problem #2 – Those dusty, expired cans in the back
Is the back of your pantry shelves the ‘final resting place’ where canned goods go to die? If so, you’re like everyone else in the world. What you can’t see you don’t use. You may be wondering what the solution is to this problem? Let’s imagine we ‘cut away’ to a cheesy TV pitchman who teases you with a stunning solution to your problems. He shouts….
What if there was a way to actually see what you have in the back of your pantry- and even ‘rotate’ your stock of canned goods? What if you could stop wasting money on food you don’t remember to use until it’s already expired?
Well, I’m here to tell you, you don’t have to rely on a sleezy TV pitchman to get a solution to this problem. The solution is… sliding scoop pantry shelves. These pull-out shelves allow your pantry depth to be an asset, not a liability (OK – I just spoke like the B-school guy that I am!). You’ll not only be able to fit everything in, but it’s simple to move the oldest cans, jars or boxes to the front also.
Kitchen pantry storage problem #3 – You can’t find the tarragon, parsley or cumin?
If your spice rack makes you want to scream, I can feel your pain. Sure, your plastic rack has kept them upright, but when you go to grab one, you inevitably knock over 5 others. Can you relate?
When this happens, you say a few ‘choice’ words – and hope the kids are out of earshot. You’ve thought, there’s got to be a better way. And fortunately, there is.
What do you think about this pull-out spice rack? Wouldn’t it be nice to use this system and stop playing the game of ‘spice rack dominoes’ any longer?
Image Source: Rockler
Kitchen pantry storage problem #4 – Unused space above your top pantry shelf
You’ve tried to ‘cleanse’ your pantry. You’ve thrown out or donated boxes, cans, bags, unused kitchen utensils and containers with all the effort you could muster. Even after this exercise however, you still have too much stuff.
Then one day you looked up (as if to pray for more storage) and an idea hit you like a ton of bricks. You thought why can’t I ‘volumize’ this walk-in pantry? Why can’t I use the 2’ to 3’ of dead space near the top of my 9’ high pantry?
Why not add one more top shelf to your pantry? This strategy can add 15-25% more storage in your same space.
Kitchen pantry storage problem #5 – You can’t see what you have (or don’t have)
You’ve been thinking all day about your late-night guilty pleasure. A heaping full (if your spouse doesn’t catch you) bowl of your kids Frosted Flakes or Cocoa Puffs. It’s a snack you and your teenage son love. The moment has arrived. Your spouse is asleep. It’s time to dig in. This bowl will be H-U-G-E!
You grab the box. Your heart sinks. It’s as light as a feather. You say, “Doggone it (or something more ‘colorful’ I can’t print here).” Your son had this idea before you. He left a few crumbs at the bottom of the box. You’re pissed. If only you knew you needed to pick more up BEFORE you encountered this light-as-a-feather cereal box.
If you’ve lived through the disappointment of a family member scarfing up your favorite snack before you (and you didn’t know it until it was too late), you know how frustrating this is.
Fortunately, there is a pantry storage solution for this problem – which will not only help you know what you’ve got, but will make your pantry look more organized as well (and it doesn’t cost a lot of money either). This storage solution is to use clear plastic containers and glass jars. Your pantry will look FABULOUS and you won’t get caught with your pants (or your mouth) down nearly as often when you’re dying for your favorite midnight snack.
Image Source: Stiped Spatula
Kitchen pantry storage problem #6 – Stacking cookie, muffin and pie trays IS NOT very sweet!
If you’ve got a tinge (or more than a tinge) of OCD, I’ll bet stacking your baking trays and pie tins makes the hair on your back stand on end. If only they were the same size. If only they could ‘nest’ inside one another. Stacking them is a pain.
I’m going give you an idea which literally can turn this problem on its head.
Instead of trying (in vain) to neatly stack trays and tins horizontally, flip them 90 degrees and store them vertically with separators like you’ll see below. This pantry storage solutions can change your perspective…and mood…. storing trays.
Kitchen pantry storage problem #7– Your pantry door shuts down your opportunity for more pantry storage
Ah, the dreaded in-swing pantry door. It slices a hole in your dream of an expansive pantry storage space. It chews up (OK – that’s a bad pantry pun, but I’m going with it anyway) space you desperately need.
So, the question is how can you open the door (yes – I know that’s bad pun #2!) to improve your storage and ‘fight back’ vs the dreaded in-swing door? Here’s a few ideas:
- Idea #1- If you have a wide wall on the outside, a barn door can be what the home-chef ordered! Barn doors – which slide from side to side outside the pantry are not only in style- but they eliminate the in-swing problem.
- Idea #2 – Use bi-fold doors – These doors can cut the swinging problem in half, which is a help.
- Idea #3 – Start swinging the other way (and no, it’s not what you think)– See if a single or double door which pivots in the opposite direction can be your solution.
Kitchen pantry storage problem #8– Cheap wire pantry shelves
Whoever came up with the idea of wire pantry shelves certainly wasn’t designing them for the homeowner who would be living with them. No, these ‘bad boys’ (OK – sorry to be sexist) were designed to be ‘loved-on’ by builders. They go up quick. They don’t cost a lot of money. They’re a builder’s dream.
If you haven’t had the pleasure (sarcasm intended) to own wire pantry shelves but wonder, why everyone is *itching about them, here’s 3 complaints it doesn’t take a research scientist to uncover.
- Complaint #1 about wire shelves – Cracks are everywhere. Spice packets and thinner packages love to ‘escape’ through the thin wires.
- Complaint #2 about wire shelves – I’ve fallen, and you’ve got to pick me up – Placing bottles and spice jars on wire shelves is a balancing act even Simone Biles or Gabby Douglas would trip over.
- Complaint #3 about wire shelves – Spills are going down, down, down – After bottles topple (see complaint #2) if the lids aren’t on tight (see your kids who won’t fess up to it) you’ll experience a ‘gusher’ with sticky or oily liquids going down and down through the shelves below. What a mess!
So, what’s the best fix (or product alternative) for cheap wire pantry shelves?
Well my money’s on laminate pantry shelves. Here’s a few reasons why.
- Laminate is easy to clean.
- Laminate won’t warp like wood or bend like wire.
- Laminate doesn’t require re-staining or re-painting like wood.
- Laminate can handle heavy loads.
Kitchen pantry storage problem #9– Dealing with those ‘Bermuda triangle’ corners
Most walk-in pantries have shelving in one or two corners. So far, so good. The bad news is it’s a pain in the rear to reach what’s in the back of those corners.
However, what most people don’t realize is there’s a simple solution to this problem. That solution is to use a Lazy Susan (with a smaller version than in your kitchen cabinets). With a Lazy Susan you’ll take the ‘Bermuda’ out of your pantry corners mon.
Image Source: Closet America
What’s next? How can me and my team help you with your pantry storage problems?
It’s not hard for your pantry to get reduced to a disorganized and overcrowded mess. However, with a thoughtful pantry storage system and a little dash of nagging (OK – for your family it may require more than a dash of nagging) you’ve got a fighting chance to find what you need in your pantry. And you’ll even save a few bucks not being forced to throw out expired foods which get pushed to the back.
If you need help with your pantry shelving systems in Columbus Ohio call Innovate Home Org at 614-545-6888. If you live outside our service area I’d be happy to recommend some wonderful buddies of mine through the Association of Closet and Storage Professionals who can help you as well.
Here’s how to reach us
If you’re in Columbus or Cleveland Ohio and want more organized pantry shelving system and get a Free 3D Pantry Shelving Design, me and my team would love to help. Call 614-545-6888 or 216-658-1290.
And if you’re on LinkedIn connect with me @MikeFotiLinkedIn. Thanks for reading!
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The lazy Susan for the the corner looks cheap and horrible!
Luann – thanks for sharing your opinion. The other way to handle a corner is to use angled (or rounded) corner shelves. They’ll give you more room than squared off ones. I hope the other points were of value to you. Thanks for reading – Mike
Thanks for your very informative help on Kitchen Storage. If I was anywhere near Columbus, Ohio I would definitely make use of your company. I am 91 years of age and have a mobility problem in reaching up to high shelves and am a little dubious of using the 2 step ladder I have. Falls at my age are not a good idea. Anything above the first shelf in my cupboards are not practical. I am looking for narrow shelves to attach below the cupboards to store glasses and other things that are useful and/or decorative. Any ideas? Also enjoyed your information on bedroom closets. Thanks so much. Sincerely Catherine M. Kite
Catherine – I believe a company called Hafele sells a system of cabinetry where there is a pull down shelf for upper storage for kitchens. Try researching that and thanks for your nice comments!