Monday, August 3, 2015

Creating a Food Pantry From a Coat Closet

  • The layout of our home
  • The new vision for the coats 
  • The new vision for the pantry
From what I have heard from most all of our readers, living in a smaller home is actually very average and common. And many people have tried the expansive homes, and ended up down-sizing because the huge home took extensive amounts of time to maintain, and families found themselves living very separately instead of together. This being the case, many of you might find yourselves without an adequate pantry space, if any at all like we had. *smile* Tiny kitchen - NO pantry space. Not an impossible lifestyle, but pretty inconvenient. Well the Lord showed us a solution for our home as He always has, enabling us to stay living here comfortably. Creating a pantry from our coat closet! I thought I would share the vision with you; perhaps it will be a great encouragement regarding an area that is so prominent in daily life - food preparation and meals. And this summer holiday could be a great time to get this in place before school begins again... *smile*  

The home we currently own is so small that it did not have any room in the kitchen for pantry foods, or even 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, and our dishes to eat on were in the cupboards, 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 (which means we had to find another home for the linens, too!)  This was fine really, but time consuming and inconvenient going all around the house when ever we were preparing food.  

Here is where we store our large, bulk items mostly from Costco and Winco. None of this fit into the kitchen before; now they are stored in the garage, but we fill large Tupperware containers for the pantry from these bulk containers.

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's the kitchen in relation to the new 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 half of the garage into a large mud room, and one quarter of it into an all children's clothes closet. 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 children's in-season coats (we put away the out-of-season clothes, including coats) hang in the children's clothes closet on a rolling garment rack.

The vision I had for our pantry’s organization came from a dear friend, 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)? Here is where we keep some of the bulk items in the garage, 25 pound bags emptied into 5 gallon buckets to protect the food from rodents or other pests. 

On the bottom left shelves are some pantry items, and on the shelves to the left of the upright freezer are more bulk items. (If you would like to see more of how we choose to organize our home - this is our garage mudroom - you can do so at this link; or you may see how we more in depth how we do large-family food storage and grocery shopping.)

My friend also shared with me where she purchased her Rubbermaid containers for the pantry for the best price (for us that is Wal-Mart), and what labels she created for them.  My friend 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).

 We began saving money for the project, which cost around $200 total, including:

- 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 back saw 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 kitchen cupboards so I used those in our new pantry on the far right side. This is the top half of the pantry:

This is the bottom half.

The right side inside wall,

And even the door. *smile* I need every inch of space I can get! *laugh*

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, one of our crock pots (I have a second in the garage for when we have company, and our griddle.

We brought all of the food up from the garage and found homes for it in our new pantry, minus the 25 pound bag items filling Tupperward containers and then remaining in the garage. plus about 50% more food than we had before!  *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 serving dishes, cooking pots and pans, and cooking seasonings in the kitchen 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.

Organization saves time, money, and energy! Food preparation is so much more time efficient now, and the oldest children also enjoy cooking and baking in our kitchen and can do so with ease from our hallway pantry. *smile* 

I and our readers would love to hear if you have transformational ideas of your own for living comfortably in a small home, thinking outside the box!



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