How to Rock Functional Pantry Storage on a Budget

Have no fear, my three year pantry journey is here! I don’t know about you, but I totally fell victim to Pinterest Pantry Storage envy. The containers. The symmetry. The built in cabinets. And the chandeliers! So many pantry chandeliers.

But how can we achieve this dreamy look in our actual homes? On a realistic budget? And in a functional way?

As we’ve simplified our lives, aiming for things like zero food waste has become a surprising new goal as a family. Not only is zero food waste budget friendly, it’s so great for our environment.

I used to knock the beautiful photos of decanted pantry goods, but the closer to zero waste we became, the more I realized it was essential to keep a well organized inventory of our food stock.

Functional Pantry Storage On A Budget

Our pantry journey is not one that happened overnight. But this journey is definitely one I am proud of. Sometimes it’s not about the end result, but more so how we get there. And especially with the spaces of our homes, we need to grow more comfortable with the thought of growing right along side them.

Here’s a peek inside our dining room closet turned uber functional Butler’s Pantry on a budget. Along with a few tips for how to achieve this project on your own too!

Establish Your Budget

THE WHY? I’m going to be super honest. Our budget for any and all home decor projects is a big fat ZERO dollars. Being on a debt free journey with four little kids at home means it’s something we don’t need to spend money on. Also, I thrive on a good challenge!

THE HOW? So how did we fund this project?

  • Facebook Marketplace sales
  • Building a gift wishlist
  • Upcycling
  • Shopping our home

Shop Your Home

THE WHY? Just because an item enters our home with an intended purpose doesn’t mean it has to stay that way. Save money by searching your home for storage items you already own. These three seagrass baskets have held more purposes than I can count!

THE HOW? Take a stroll through the rooms of your home with a fresh set of eyes and see what you can find! You may already own more usable storage that you think.

GOING SIMPLE TIP :: As you simplify the contents of your home, you’ll free up a lot of storage bins, meaning more pantry options to shop, all from the comfort of your own home!

Build A Wishlist

THE WHY? Merging beauty with function is how we create spaces we love. But sometimes that comes with an unavoidable price tag. Creating a gift list for these items is not just practical for your budget, but it’s also super awesome to have meaningful pieces in your space to remind you of those you love!

THE HOW? As you design, create a wishlist of any large ticket items you need or want! If someone inquires for gift wishes come birthday or holiday, all you have to do is send them the link to your wishlist.

Gifted items in our pantry: stackable shelving, cake stand with dome, large sealing glass jars, spray paint, a label maker, leak proof mason jar lids, decorative baskets, find the links to these items and more here!

Upcycle To Decant

THE WHY? Decanting isn’t just for looks. One quick glimpse at my pantry line up and I’m able to build my grocery list in seconds. But why shoot for upcycling our pantry storage? Not only is it awesome for the environment to reuse, but it’s super budget friendly too.

THE HOW? There’s no shame in my pickle jar game. Take one look at this spread of jar lids pre spray paint, and you can see where the bulk of our decanting jars came from. Not your local TJ Maxx, that’s for sure!

Wanting to upcycle but worried about lingering odors? I’ve got you covered, check my recent Instagram Reel for simple tips and tricks to remove jar labels, ink and odor.

Opt In For Bins

THE WHY? Bins are a great way to add functional storage to food spaces. Organizing items by category aids in easy retrieval. Also, adding a basket to a shelf creates drawer-style function, especially handy for deeper pantry or cabinet shelving.

THE HOW? I’m a major Dollar Tree fan. Perfect for a clean pantry look on a tight budget. My two faves, the white locker style bins and the woven plastic baskets. You can even bulk order online!

Not into opaque storage? Wire bins work great to hold categories together, but still see your contents!

Put A Label On It

THE WHY? Any small space with big content count requires some functional organization. Labels are the answer!

Labels help us find what we are looking for, and help us tidy up easily when we are done.

THE HOW? Divide and conquer. Group like items together and put a label on it! Whether it’s sharpie or dry erase on the glass jars, custom labels from Etsy, or a simple label maker like I have. Any label does the trick!

Commit To Storage Boundaries

THE WHY? One thing we’ve learned on a zero food waste journey is that boundaries are our best friend. We want to use things up before they go bad. So in this case, less is more. And boundaries help. Want to avoid the four opened boxes of cereal, all stale? Establish a boundary.

THE HOW? Limit your food to a set amount of storage solutions. And stick to it!

GOING SIMPLE TIP :: Use a sharpie or dry erase marker on the bottom of jars to track expiration dates.

In our pantry we have two bins each for cereals, snacks, dried fruits and nuts. Overstock, canned goods, drink mixes and sauces each have their own bin. We aim to keep contents to their defined space, so we don’t overbuy and waste.

Be Patient

THE WHY? Good things come to those who wait. Or at least that’s what I told myself as I slowly grew my stash of pantry organization. Would it have been easy to head to my local home organization store and purchase a bunch of bins and canisters for a quick pantry fix? Absolutely! But it would have been expensive. And much less satisfying.

THE HOW? Take it one pickle jar at a time. If pickles aren’t your thing, find something on your grocery list that is! It’s okay if our spaces take time to evolve.

We didn’t become who we are today with a quick fix. So why do we expect the evolution of our home projects to be so speedy? Check these photos out for the evolution of our pantry storage over the years in our three homes.

Think Outside Of The Box

BUILDING OR REMODELING ON A BUDGET? Here’s how we saved hundreds in our Butler’s Pantry closet! Instead of putting standard closet or pantry shelving into this storage space, we played with color, depth and height to give the illusion of a Butler’s Pantry. This way we avoided the added cost of custom cabinetry and countertops.

The pantry shelving is just the standard grade melamine shelving our builder uses, but the design mimics the cabinetry we chose in our kitchen space. Dark, deep set lower shelving paired with baskets mimics the look of cabinet lowers. Shallow white upper shelving with a backsplash sized gap between the two shelving spaces adds to the illusion of a Butler’s Pantry storage space.

PS guys …. we tried putting a chandelier light in this pantry. The inspector flagged it on move in day because it wasn’t to code. A hazard to have a chandelier near shelving. So flush mount it is for us.

Since it’s not directly in our kitchen space, I wanted to keep it functional for when I’m needing to mix dry goods for baking. Utilizing deeper shelving at counter height allows for a workspace within the pantry. This works so great when baking! It also allowed to for us to boot our microwave out of the kitchen!

Considering this storage space is in our dining room, I created a little quick grab arts and crafts spot for our kids. Simple baskets for each of them to store their notebooks and in progress artwork, along with an arts and crafts caddy rest here so they can easily head into and out of creative play!

I store family board games inside one of the lower large brown woven baskets. Boards together, and then each game’s pieces decanted into bags. A great way to condense storage for bulky board games!

I’m so excited to not only feel like this space is where I had it heading for so many years… and so many pickles! But I’m so excited to finally share it with you too! Am I finished? Well… I have ideas for a feature wall on the back wall, as well as adding a cookbook stand to my wishlist for my birthday. But we’ll see!



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *