Thursday, May 19, 2016

Creative Home Storage: Bookshelf Pantry

     *Note: Portions of this post were moved from my original blog page. Thus, the different web address printed on the images. It would take me far longer to find and re-edit all the images to display this blog site than to simply leave them as is and include a disclaimer. The post on the original blog will now redirect to this page.*


         When we moved into our former townhome, I instantly fell in love with the open floor plan. It wasn't long, however, that I discovered that the downside of the lack of walls was inadequate storage in the kitchen. Our dishes and cookware consumed all cabinets leaving us to think creatively for an alternate storage solution for all food items. Fortunately, we had a large open wall within the kitchen area available that we could work with in creating a pantry space.  

      A delightful trip to Ikea quickly provided that perfect solution in the form of bookshelves! What I love about these particular shelves is that they are available in a half size. We initially had a half size shelf and a full size shelf. Then, we expanded to having two half size shelves on either side of the full size shelf. (We did this so that we could move all items previously on the bottom shelves up so that curious little ones wouldn't empty it themselves). The shelves were perfect for our space in the townhome! I have really fallen in love with the idea of displaying the pantry in a kitchen or even a dining room space. 

     There are a few key elements necessary for having an open pantry. The first is to always keep in mind that the bookshelf pantry not only serves the purpose of functional storage, but also display. Disorganization and clutter are not suitable for an open pantry. You want to maintain a uniformity with the look but also add elements of interest. I've used six different storage containers for our pantry:

Click image to view larger

     I enjoy that all the containers stack and all items are only one layer deep. Everything in our pantry is easily accessible and does not require any searching or digging. The 3-tier spice shelves were used for a similar purpose. I particularly enjoy the color and freshness of glass bowls used for fruits and baskets used for potatoes, onions, and garlic, and tomatoes. The separate produce containers also keep items (like apples and pineapples) from speeding up the ripening rate of other produce items. (A tip learned from experience- line the tomato basket with a plastic produce bag in case one goes bad). 

     The next aspect of creating a bookshelf pantry is to keep foods fairly basic. We shop for only what we need in a week (vs. stocking up) which keeps the storage needs of the pantry low. We also limit varieties. For instance, we buy one type of cereal at a time which is stored in a designated container. We buy one type of chip, pretzel or cracker etc. Another strategy is to limit the "just add water" or other prefab meals or foods. In the past, I made much more from scratch. Over time, I had learned to create a large variety of foods that are typically packaged foods. For example, I made and stored Cream of Anything mix instead of buying the individual cans. David made homemade bread, and I would later create breadcrumbs from it. I also made homemade granola instead of buying boxed cereal. Yogurt was made homemade as well. However, my time these days is a quite a bit more limited with two children two years old and under. I try to maintain a balance between packaged and homemade. A limited pantry space for storing packaged foods is a good aid in continuing to make as much as possible homemade!

       A smaller pantry space can also be advantageous for the budget. By only keeping certain items in the pantry, I know exactly which dry goods need to be replaced, where to purchase, and at what price to purchase. While other areas of grocery spending may change, I can depend on this area to be fairly consistent. 

A more descriptive view of our original bookshelf pantry:

( Some flours like whole wheat flour are stored in the refrigerator. Other dry goods like flaxseed meal, seeds and nuts are stored in the freezer. Also, I keep the bulk of our home canned items in the basement, and only keep a few of each kind in the kitchen at one time)
     We've since moved out of that townhome and into a rental house until our own house purchase is complete. The rental house kitchen is quite small, but fortunately we've been able to set up our bookshelf pantry here as well. Creating a bookshelf pantry has not only provided us a functional pantry space, but also taught me how to think creatively in utilizing our small spaces instead of allowing discontentment to take root. It is possible to make a small space work well for one's family! I have enjoyed having an open pantry so much that I will actually miss having it in our new home! 


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