Where Do You Store Food If You Don’t Have A Pantry?

Stacy Randall
by Stacy Randall
Credit: Shutterstock / Daniel Hoz

It’s a reasonable assumption that every house has a kitchen and every kitchen has food in it. But every kitchen does not have a pantry. Therefore, unless you want to keep canned goods, cereal boxes, and other goodies out in the open, what do you do? Where do you store your food if you don’t have a pantry?

Clear out cabinets, add shelving to walls, or purchase a freestanding cabinet to store food items. Decant staples like flour, sugar, oats, and cereal into pretty, airtight containers and store them on open shelves or a baker’s rack. Repurpose a wardrobe or bookshelves into food storage. Keep back stock in another room to free up valuable kitchen space.

Does A Kitchen Have To Have A Pantry?

A kitchen does not have to have a pantry. Although it’s standard in most homes to find at least a small pantry in the kitchen, it is not a requirement. However, it would be remiss not to point out that the absence of a pantry would likely be a disadvantage when you want to sell your home.

Homebuyers love storage, and a pantry is often something many house hunters expect to see. But no pantry isn’t necessarily a dealbreaker. If you live in a house without a pantry, you still have plenty of options for where to keep your food.

8 Ways To Store Food Without A Pantry

A pantry provides extra storage and a convenient, organized way to store food. But it’s not the only way. You don’t have to have a pantry in your kitchen. So, if you’re missing this popular kitchen addition, don’t feel like your space is sub-par. You simply need to consider alternative solutions to your food storage situation.

1. Clear Out Some Cabinets

When limited on space in your kitchen, work with what you have. Go through your kitchen cabinets and pare down any unnecessary items. The goal is to free up space in one or two cabinets (more if you can) to use them as food storage.

Upper cabinets are best, since they’re easier to access. Use the proper organizing solutions to maximize the storage space. For example, tiered shelves are great for canned goods, so nothing gets lost behind other items. Lazy Susans and spice racks are other options, as well as baskets to corral similar things into categories.

2. Get A Free-Standing Pantry

If you have space in your kitchen for a piece of furniture, a freestanding pantry is an obvious, but often overlooked, solution. These units come in many styles, colors, and sizes, so find one that works well with your kitchen’s design.

Freestanding pantries typically come with many shelves. But you can also customize them to your needs using pull-outs, drawers, and other organizers.

3. Store Duplicates And Backstock In Another Room

Do you have some extra space in another room of your house to store items that would otherwise be in a pantry? What about spare rolls of paper towels, packages of paper plates or napkins, extra rolls of aluminum foil, or backup boxes of plastic baggies?

There’s no need for all of your backstock items to live in your kitchen. Keep them in a laundry room, an upper shelf of a hall closet, or some other location with more wiggle room. As you run low on supplies in the kitchen, you can replenish from your backup storage spot.

You can also use this spare storage space for things like small appliances you only use on occasion. Doing this frees up space in other areas of your kitchen (like cabinets) to open up a place for food.

4. Repurpose A Wardrobe

Working with a slim budget doesn’t have to hold you back from finding a good food storage solution. Visit local thrift shops or garage sales. A used but good-condition wardrobe or sideboard makes a great substitute pantry.

Add shelves to the wardrobe to store canned goods, food boxes, and more. If you’re working with a sideboard, keep boxed goods and larger items in cabinets and tuck things like rolls of parchment paper, plastic bags, and paper products in the drawers.

Smaller canned goods, like canned meats, fish, and fruit, fit well in drawers, too. Drawer dividers hold things like seasoning packets, spices, and other smaller items.

5. Convert Bookshelves Into Food Storage

A basic tall bookshelf is another way to create food storage in a pinch and on a budget. Secure it to the wall to avoid tipping, and paint it if you want it to match your kitchen.

Stock it with food items of your choice, using decorative containers if you plan to leave the shelves open. Or, use a tension rod to hang a curtain across the front of the shelf and hide everything from view.

6. Try A Baker’s Rack

A baker’s rack is another way to add storage to your kitchen if you have the available floor space. Since these pieces typically keep things in the open, consider decanting various goods into airtight, decorative canisters. Good options for this are staples you use often, including flour, sugar, pastas, cereals, and oats.

Baker’s racks come in a variety of styles, with some featuring a combination of closed and open storage. Consider what you plan to store so you can choose the best fit for your needs.

7. Maximize Your Kitchen’s Wall Space

The floor isn't the only place you can add storage. Don’t forget about the walls in your kitchen. When storage is in short supply, maximize your vertical space. This is especially handy when organizing a small kitchen.

Hang some floating shelves and store frequently used items in pretty containers or baskets. Use a series of floating baskets to store colorful produce in plain sight. Wall-mounted magazine racks hold food packets, bagged pasta, and slim boxes.

If your only option for food storage is on the walls, then it may inevitably mean some stuff stays visible. But at least it’s not strewn across your countertops or piled on top of your kitchen table. Cluttered countertops and flat surfaces are the surest way to make a kitchen look disorganized and untidy.

But if you prefer to keep things out of sight as much as possible, try a wall-mounted cabinet. Even if you only have room for one, it offers a closed-door solution for more unsightly items.

8. Install Cubby Cabinets (Or Transom Cabinets)

If your cabinets don’t go all the way to the ceiling, and there’s no soffit, then you just have empty space up there. Make the most of this dead area by adding storage. Talk to a carpenter or cabinet company about installing cubby cabinets, also known as transom cabinets.

Since this area is high up, it likely isn’t practical to store food items you use often (unless you’re six feet tall). But you could move items you use less frequently to this new storage area, freeing up more accessible storage.

No Pantry? No Problem.

There are plenty of solutions for food storage woes when you don’t have a pantry. Repurposing furniture to become a freestanding pantry, or buying an actual freestanding pantry are easy options. But don’t dismiss the more out-of-the-box ideas, like a magazine rack on the wall or hiding food in plain sight with decorative containers.

Paring down cabinet clutter frees up valuable space for food items. It’s also possible to use free space in another room for items you don’t use as often or backstock supplies. This allows you to have more space in your kitchen for the things you use daily.

The thought of no pantry might make you pause if you’re considering purchasing a home. But if you already have a house with no dedicated pantry space, it’s no reason to start looking for a new place. Instead, use these tips to store food without a pantry so you can maximize your kitchen’s potential.

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Stacy Randall
Stacy Randall

Stacy Randall is a wife, mother, and freelance writer from NOLA that has always had a love for DIY projects, home organization, and making spaces beautiful. Together with her husband, she has been spending the last several years lovingly renovating her grandparent's former home, making it their own and learning a lot about life along the way.

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