Creating an organised pantry on a budget

This post is sponsored by Kia’s All New Soul

Recently I visited the final winner of the  ‘Win The Organised Housewife for a day’ competition, Leeanne, hubby and six kids, from Melbourne, Victoria. With thanks to Kia Australia I was able to visit Leeanne and drive to the various shops to pick up my supplies around Melbourne in the zippy little Kia Soul.



Organising the pantry, on a budget

Leeanne moved into her new home a little over a year ago.  She is trying to make all the rooms, cupboards and areas of the home work best for her family.  Leeanne has 6 kids and you can just imagine the one cupboard that is hard to keep under control….. the pantry. Perhaps this is the busiest cupboard in the home, hands big and small in and out all day rummaging through the food.


Along with the pantry Leeanne struggles to keep the kitchen bench clutter free.  Kids school books, mail and gadgets tend to pile up and frustrates Leeanne as it constantly looks messy.


The action plan:

  1. Remove everything from the pantry and assess the best storage solutions
  2. Sort through the paper clutter and create an area outside of the kitchen specially for it
  3. Organise under the kitchen sink

See how we transformed this pantry in the video below

The Pantry

Looking in I can understand how this one little cupboard is frustrating Leeanne, and if you know me well enough by now, I am totally smiling and looking forward to organising this pantry, I’m in my element!!

I can see in the back of the pantry a good supply of air tight containers, unfortunately they are so far back it’s hard to reach and all the other food products were just piled on top of each other.  Which would make it very hard to find what they are after and the possibilities that food was lost, stale or out of date before used.


The top of the shelf is really hard to get to or even see


We removed everything out of the pantry, sorting all the like items together to make it easier for me to determine what items I needed to better organise the pantry.


We used the ironing board to make extra bench space


Once everything was out we determined an improved way of organising the pantry, gave it a clean and headed to the shops.  Once back I put the big storage items into the pantry.  Working with these items as our base to organising the pantry.  I used 2 large 16L plastic drawers from Big W ($17.00 each) in the bottom shelf along with the white plastic Variera boxes from Ikea ($5.99 each), which will be very easy to clean if needed.


Now the bottom of the pantry holds all the extra food/double ups (which is a great idea when products are on special), bags of chips and medications.



Most pantries have a good stock of cans, stacking them on a tiered shelf will make it easier to find what you need.


 I couldn’t find a budget friendly shelf organiser so I improvised and created my own.  I found 2 inexpensive long slim baskets ($3.00 each – from a discount store), turned them upside down and the cans sat on top of them perfectly.


A lot of clutter from the pantry was boxes of snacks for the kids, by simply taking the snacks out of the boxes and placing them into the 5.7L Plastic drawers ( $10.00 each – Big W) it created so much extra space.  This also allows the kids easy access to pack their lunches or have a treat after school.  Plus it gives mum a good indication at a glance of what she needs to stock up on when doing the grocery shop.


Taking partially opened packets of biscuits out of the box and placing them into an airtight container (Decor 1.75L – $5 – Big w) will help to keep them fresh.


Oils and sauce are stored together.  Herbs, spices, noodles and packet mixes are all stored in plastic Variera Box (3.99 – Ikea).  Now Leeanne can grab a box, search for the herb she is looking for then place the box back.  The box is sitting on top of a Variera Shelf Insert ($4.99 – Ikea), which helps to create more storage space if needed.


Surprisingly we didn’t purge very much food, instead finding better storage solutions, which then created room so that the family can now easily reach the airtight containers that were hiding at the back of the shelves.


In the top of the pantry we stored away party supplies and appliances that are not used often in the Variera boxes ($5.99 each – Ikea)


This pantry has had a complete makeover, simply adding a few inexpensive storage items, removing packets and storing them differently, has just improved this space immensely.



The paper clutter

Along with the kid’s school books Leeanne had little paper piles through her kitchen, bills and hubby’s papers.  This can easily happen especially as Leeanne doesn’t have a designated office desk she has made her kitchen her space to look after the bills.


I purchased a Besta modular unit ($370, 5 x legs, 3 x doors, 1 x extension unit, 1 x shelf unit) from Ikea to have as a designated area for all the kid’s school books, mail, bills etc.  Each of the younger school children have their own Tjena boxes ($5.99 each), removing their books off the kitchen bench and into their own boxes.  They will now be able to grab their box, put onto the dining table to do their homework, pack up all items back into the box and neatly store away.


I used the Pluggis Magazine files from Ikea ($14.99 set of 2) to sort mail, bills and hubbys paperwork.  Simply by turning the holders around makes them look a lot tidier, hiding the paper inside.


Now inside the unit Leeanne can store the dishes that aren’t used frequently, before they were taking up space in the bottom of her pantry.


Now the kitchen is beautifully tidy and paper free


Under the Sink

One other change Leeanne wanted to see in her kitchen was to organise under the sink.  It really frustrated her that her tea towel had nowhere to hang, she just poked into one of the cupboard doors.


With a very small shelf at the bottom of the sink it made this area really hard to get at, needing to get on hands and knees to see what is under there.


Simply adding in a few plastic baskets ($12.50 set of 4 – Big W) the family can simply slide out a basket without bending down too much.  We added a caddy to the door to hold dish sponges and brushes ($17.00 – Big W)


And a towel holder onto the front of the door ($12.00 – BigW)


I am so truly grateful for Leeanne allowing me to come into her home and getting my pantry organising groove on, it was so much fun.  She has said her new pantry makes her feel like she has lost weight, it’s no longer overwhelming and it will make crazy time in her kitchen so much easier.


What part of your kitchen drives you nuts?

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Donna Easthorpe May 26, 2014 - 2:51 AM

The only thing I would change is to have the medication box removed from the floor/bottom shelf and placed up out of littlies reach!

Amber Adams May 26, 2014 - 3:19 AM

Kmart have $7 dollar can organisers and are better than the $20 ones from Howard’s

Lipstick & Motherhood May 26, 2014 - 3:45 AM

Love this makeover!!! I would love to see a pantry makeover with a really deep pantry and high shelve space

KATRINA ANN DE FELICE August 21, 2018 - 12:20 PM

there is a big similarity to my pantry but mine is very deep so Yes would I love to see a deep pantry make over too please

Megan Harrington May 26, 2014 - 4:11 AM

What an amazing thorough transformation! Katrina, you’ve done a fantastic job, well planned and executed. I loved the storage containers used

Anorina Morris May 26, 2014 - 5:24 AM

Looks great!!

Elizabeth Metz May 26, 2014 - 7:47 AM

Wow, what a difference. Nice to see that we don’t need to spend a lot of money. That has always stopped me even looking, so thanks for the great ideas!

Tane Philp-Reid May 26, 2014 - 9:15 AM

One suggestion for the shopping list, Avery do a stickon white board label, I have one on the inside of the pantry door, when you use something write in on the label then take a photo with your phone before heading out to the shops.

Tabatha January 3, 2016 - 8:55 PM

Love that idea of taking a photo!

Anwen O'Donnell May 26, 2014 - 9:52 AM

Where is the plastic bag holder from? On the inside of hte pantry door? I need a couple of those!

Nicole July 12, 2015 - 11:16 PM

IKEA 🙂 about $10
They’re great!

Kelly Tabone May 26, 2014 - 1:05 PM

Those shelves you couldn’t find at a decent price can be found at Kmart 😉 they are white and there are 2 sizes to choose from

Katrina May 26, 2014 - 2:06 PM

Thank you Kelly, I’ll have to have a good look through Kmarts kitchen section, sounds like they have a few new items I wasn’t aware of!

Lisa Carroll May 26, 2014 - 1:37 PM

I got my moccona coffee loving friends to save me their jars of all sizes and I also bought in ops shops too, and used them to store all my ingredients. It looks great and really stylish!

noura May 26, 2014 - 8:08 PM

I need a solution for herbes and spices I have heaps and need a practical handy non expensive idea please

SonyaMath May 27, 2014 - 2:22 AM

Great job!! My only recommendation would have been to put shelf liners down to stop oils and scraping on the shelves. They also help stop bumping items in the front when getting ones at the back as they are slightly non-slip.

Leah May 27, 2014 - 6:24 AM

Beautiful job! Great video.

Jess May 27, 2014 - 11:26 AM

Hi! I love your blog as I love all things organisation and love helping others to organise their home too. I was wondering if you have a need to hire any staff? I’d love to learn from the master!

Rachel May 27, 2014 - 3:39 PM

I feel so inspired! I seem to be always organizing and then reorganizing my pantry. I’m heading down to my local Ikea and Big W to stock up on plastic baskets and organizers ASAP!

Amy Gelmi May 30, 2014 - 2:41 AM

What a transformation! I love it – and it’s got me inspired to make some changes in my pantry/kitchen! I especially love the idea of emptying food out of cardboard boxes – makes it easier to do stock control 😉 Also – I’ve seen tiered shelves for can storage in Kmart for around $7.

Kellie Stewart May 30, 2014 - 10:26 AM

Thank you so much for the inspiration!! I did it!! My pantry is organised, tidy and functional. Very happy 🙂 I have grouped like things together and and put often used items towards the front and less used items towards the back, but in a way that is easy to put them back in the right place after use. I knew I was saving the large plastic mushroom containers for something, they are perfect for food colouring, sachets etc. Although the pantry is quite small, having it sorted in this way makes it easy to see what we have.

Katrina May 30, 2014 - 10:44 AM

Great work Kellie, you have it functioning perfectly for your needs now. Will be so much easier to find what you need now, glad you found the time to organise your pantry 🙂

samantha May 30, 2014 - 1:37 PM

A simple hint for keeping track of canned products, is to cut a piece of spare timber and push to back wall of cupboard. This means the back row of cans sit slightly higher than those in front and you can keep track of what’s in stock.

Karen May 30, 2014 - 9:30 PM

One job on my list today – stocktake the pantry. Got halfway through it, still half to go tomorrow. Used lots of Moccona jars. Then checked my email and what do you know ….. there was this blog about organising a pantry. I smiled to myself and read the comments.

Just one thing, I have LOTS of herbs and spices and would appreciate some advice on storing them. I do already have a medium sized spice rack that I use but the others are just stuffed in a plastic tub. Any suggestions? would be greatly appreciated. 🙂

Leonie June 4, 2014 - 4:20 PM

I went to House and bought two wall spice racks in stainless steel, and put them on the wall beside the shelves in the pantry. One on top of the other. Three would have been better. Now I have herbs and spices in alphabetical order. OCD much?

Katherine May 31, 2014 - 8:48 AM

Any time you need to replace your microwave, take out the turn table and running track first. They make a perfect lazy Susan in the pantry. We now have two, one for spreads, mustard etc and one for tins.

Louise May 31, 2014 - 9:26 AM

I’d live to know how best to organise a narrow but deep pantry cupboard. It only stays organised for a couple of days then is mayhem again

Bec May 31, 2014 - 11:25 AM

I have the same problem. I have a deep pantry so I can’t see what is not in the first 2 layers and things go to waste or I buy excess because I forget what I have.

Penny May 31, 2014 - 7:46 PM

Perhaps rolling or pullout baskets (like fridge baskets) could work?

Am January 3, 2016 - 9:06 PM

I had a similar pantry. I was lucky that my shelves are adjustable, so I got them cut down about 30cm, re-drilled support holes and screwed individual spice rack white wire shelves (Bunnings) all down the inside of the door. Put lighter items (pasta, jelly) etc on door, heavy on main shelves. If you don’t have adjustable just line up wire racks on door so not yo clash with shelf positions. Good luck!

Sam May 31, 2014 - 4:27 PM

I love the idea of the drawers for snacks in the pantry. Were they from BIG W? I can’t see them on their website.

N June 2, 2014 - 6:51 PM

They are sold at Big W, but you won’t find them on the website. They are Sterilite brand (Made in USA) and come in two sizes at Big W. You can see the big ones here:

The small ones are here:

They’re pretty pricey for what they are, but they come on special every now and then. They’re pretty durable as far as plastic containers go. You could probably get them from Howard’s storage world as well.

Cilla Neilson June 2, 2014 - 8:35 AM

You can get the shelfs for cans etc from the junk shops for $2

Tina Carr June 4, 2014 - 4:15 AM

Looks great it drives me nuts that I have so much clutter around the kitchen, my husband just stacks things on top of each other, I’ve tried to organise it lots of times but it never works. Love what you did in the pantry

Dietmar Wessel June 5, 2014 - 4:18 PM

Hi – love your clip! By the way I came across a great website with heaps of fantastic storage gadgets. They helped me with my cutlery drawers and spices – I’ve got so many (gotta have a bit of spice in your life, lol!) Check it out peeps – Love to all, Deedee.

Michelle Somerville July 2, 2014 - 4:16 AM

That is great, such a difference on a small budget! The kitchen is the same design as mine, same countertops everything! Also the same clutter!! Actually mine is probably worse, I have saved the pic of the cupboard onto my PC desktop so I can be reminded I need to fix mine!!!!!

KayBee August 2, 2014 - 12:45 AM

I’ve trawled through many Pinterest boards and websites looking for a pantry makeover that would suit my pantry’s shape. While I can certainly use elements from most, your makeover of Leeanne’s pantry is exactly what I’ve been looking for. I have the same shape pantry and have started the re-organising, but because its been done in stages so far, there are pockets of organisation, but its certainly not functioning to its full potential. I’m looking forward to getting in and giving it a great makeover. Funny too, I was just looking at those white ikea boxes on our last trip and said to my kids, “do you reckon we could use these for something?” Turns out we can! Thanks to Leeanne for sharing her pan try’s transformation and to you for all the great tips. You both may just have saved my kitchen!

Katrina - The Organised Housewife August 4, 2014 - 11:17 AM

Hi Kaybee, Ooh that is great news! Would love to see pics once you have completed you pantry makeover! Good luck!.:)

Beth August 15, 2014 - 10:59 AM

Mine is so much worse than that!! To scared to even begin!!

Katrina August 18, 2014 - 9:33 AM

Ooh Beth be brave.:) Start with a small section at a time, you will be surprised at how quickly it will come together. Good luck.:) Would love to hear how you go!

Donella Harmer August 29, 2014 - 3:50 AM

I want to set up an organising centre like the little cupboard u have here from IKEA but I’m 4 hrs away from the nearest one 🙁

Cherie September 27, 2014 - 3:21 PM

Looks stunning and I am trying to replicate in my pantry. I can’t find the drawers on the Big W website – any idea what the dimensions are, to save me a trip there, and they don’t fit?


Katrina - The Organised Housewife October 1, 2014 - 9:00 AM

I’m sorry Cherie, I don’t know the dimensions to share with you, so sorry. Would love to see a picture when your done 🙂

Napoli Restaurant Alert January 3, 2016 - 8:38 PM

Hi Katrina, Big W has this great 3 tier can rack for tins (tomatoes, kidney beans etc) which is very space efficient – it was $12 when I bought it the other day.

Belinda March 11, 2016 - 9:33 PM

Hi Katrina,
What are your suggestions for a deep corner cupboard where it’s hard to see what’s in the back corners?

Chelsea July 18, 2016 - 7:06 PM

I’d love to know the total amount spent on all the shelves, boxes etc?

Deb January 23, 2017 - 8:46 AM

I love it and since seeing this post months ago I have tried my hardest to find the plastic drawers for snacks but can’t find them. Are they still available in bigw do you know?! I live in WA desperate to get similar ones b4 school starts thanks 🙂

Leanne January 6, 2019 - 1:44 PM

I was able to purchase reasonably priced drawers from Bunnings

MarieJeanne January 23, 2017 - 2:22 PM

One of my favourite organising videos.

Mimi Deen January 31, 2017 - 8:45 PM

Wow I’m certainly inspired to start a pantry cleanup. The before and after pics were awesome.

Ileen Goldberg July 11, 2018 - 10:18 AM

I do not ha e a pantry. I have cabinets. On my project list is a reorganization of my cabinets. I already completed the under the sink cabinets. I like the idea of using a stand for my canned goods. I have a Dollar Tree not far from me. I can get the stands there.

Jenny September 18, 2019 - 2:44 PM

Inspired to organise my pantry!

Katrina - The Organised Housewife September 19, 2019 - 12:16 PM

Haha, have fun organising Jenny! Kat 🙂

Daisy September 24, 2019 - 2:40 PM

Love this post, has given me lots of ideas! Do you have any posts or suggestions for a pantry with very deep shelves? What should go at the back?

Katrina - The Organised Housewife September 24, 2019 - 3:07 PM

Hi Daisy, great question! I would recommend using tiered shelves or long tupperware containers. You might get some inspiration from this blog post: Hope this helps 🙂 Kat x


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