Every square inch can be valuable real estate when you’re working with small spaces. Storage for food and kitchen items might take a bit of creativity to stay well-stocked! Here are 9 ways to get creative with limited storage space! 

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Does your kitchen seem to be bursting at the seams? We know an important element of Shelf Cooking is staying well-stocked on pantry staples. Plus if you are cooking at home for the majority of your meals, you likely have quite a few kitchen gadgets on hand too. So if you’re set-up is low on storage space and you are needing some solutions for giving everything it’s place, here are 9 ways to make sure you are MAXIMIZING your storage options!


Yes, those clear matching containers are aesthetically pleasing and we love how they look too. No denying that! But if the problem you are facing is a LACK of storage space, then we are going to need to abandon pantry vanity for the time being. Those beautiful clear containers and plastic can holders at the end of the day are added bulk and barriers that don't actually help with your space and storage conundrum.

It doesn’t need to look perfect, it needs to be practical! 

Stack your cans and layer them in rows, but don't bother with plastic holders. Use all the space for the actual FOOD.

organized stacked canned goods, from Shelf Cooking


This might be a geographic thing, but do you guys call them kitchen cabinets or kitchen cupboards? I've always called them cupboards but recently had a friend giggle and reply, “you mean cabinets?” Aren't they the same thing?! ANYways….

The inside of the cupboard/cabinet door is a golden opportunity to add some storage hooks and rehome some flat kitchen items!

Command hooks are a great little tool for kitchen storage, and so simple to add. Place some command hooks on the interior of the doors and use this for:

  • Dish towels
  • Baby bibs
  • Oven mitts
  • Spatulas
  • Cutting boards
  • Canvas shopping totes


Don’t let vertical space in your shelves go to waste! 

Your pots and pans lay on a shelf with tons of inches of air space above them, right? That’s valuable real estate in small spaces! Amazon sells great stackable shelving racks that you can add to any cabinet shelving to give a second and third story of storage and utilize all of that air space above the first layer!

These are great for your pots and pans cabinet, plus under your kitchen sink with your cleaning supplies and even on pantry shelves if your shelving units are tall!


The corner shelves in a cabinet or pantry are usually the deepest but also the most cumbersome to grab things from. Make sure to store your largest and bulkiest items like a crockpot, instant pot, or Dutch oven in these corner spots. And throw something else bulky in those items while you're at it! Why can't your crockpot also store your bullet blender in it, or a new bag of flour, or your commuter mugs?


There’s no question that pots and pans take up a large surface area when storing because of their large handles and awkward shapes. So much wasted space all around them! To free up room, look into a hanging system that allows them to be stored outside of the cabinets.

There are some affordable mounting systems that would allow you to hang handled pans above an island, and there are other versions that mount directly up against a wall if you have an appropriate amount of wall space in your kitchen. This will clear up so much cabinet space for other items or food!


Take any bags out of their outer boxes, and keep cutting away excess packaging!

Does your bag of cheese crackers come inside a cardboard box? Take it out! Use a chip clip and make sure the cut down all of the excess bag each time it becomes emptier and emptier. Same with large paper bags, like Costco tortilla chips (my weakness). Don’t let empty bags and unnecessary packaging claim any of your storage area! This also makes them more airtight, which keeps them fresher longer.


So you’ve learned our rule: buy one for now, two for later. Great! That is an amazing shelf cooking principle! Now those 2 for laters? Find somewhere OUT OF THE KITCHEN OR PANTRY to keep them. Here’s some suggestions: 

  • A food storage tote with all of your pantry “extras” that gets stored under a bed, in the laundry room, or at the top of the guest room closet. 
  • Keep food secure in storage ottomans
  • Hide food in bins and cover with a tablecloth to use as an end table or TV stand
  • Store food in electronics storage consoles
  • Stack buckets or boxes behind the couch
  • Fill empty decorative wicker baskets, oversized vases, and trunks with food
  • Fill an empty toy box or blanket chest with canned and bagged food


Sometimes, food or kitchen items can be utilized as decor on the counter or table rather than needing to be stored away. For example, fresh fruit can be placed in a bowl and kept in the center of your dining room table to serve as both a centerpiece AND a way to clear up some storage space in the fridge or pantry!

Cutting boards can be layered and placed standing up against the backsplash of the kitchen counter.

Get creative and see which of your kitchen items can open up some storage space by housing them out in the open on display as a form of practical decor!


If you're a Gilmore Girls fan, you might remember that Lorelei uses her oven to store her shoes since she doesn't do much cooking. Obviously on Shelf Cooking, we do use and love our kitchen very much but that doesn't mean we can't adapt her method in a more practical way!

I like to keep all of my baking sheets in my oven, but you might also use that space for large cumbersome items like a cast iron skillet, a wok, or a Dutch oven. You need to remove them when your oven is actually in use, but that is typically only an hour or two a day and then your appliance can become a storage mechanism again!


If you have any specific food or kitchen storage struggles that you are looking for some troubleshooting on, please leave a comment below and we'd be happy to help brainstorm solutions for you! A little creativity, flexibility and abandonment of what the perfect Pinterest kitchen looks like will help turn even the tiniest of accommodations into Shelf Cooking material.

If you are looking for more information about stocking up your kitchen and keeping things organized, here are some more great posts for you!