(Almost) Free Pantry Storage

before and after pantry storage

I love those beautiful pictures of color coordinated pantries as much as the next gal (or guy!) but I have yet to figure out how those are functional, at least functional in the way I need my pantry to be. I mean, where’s the peanut butter? Where’s the vinegar??

Here’s mine (and in the spirit of keeping it real, I didn’t even face the peanut butter forward):

pantry organization, picture of inside

Anyway, a very unfortunate event precipitated our recent overhaul of the pantry. In the middle of making dinner, as I dug around for the bag of pine nuts, I discovered, to my HORROR, some dead little buggies.

Ahhhh!!! I don’t know about you, but whenever I’ve discovered an infestation in my family’s food supply (it’s only happened once before), I get so grossed out and panicky in an almost-screaming, almost-jumping up and down with arms flapping, almost crying kind of way. No joke.

You know these infestations haven’t happened because I’m some sort of slob or anything, right? =( I’ve done a little research and much of the time, people bring critters home in packages from the store. And if you keep things around for too long, they hatch and multiply and invade other pantry items. SICK! They chew through cardboard and soft plastic. I know because I saw the holes.

So I set out to do my best to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

To start, I invested in some of these gorgeous (Is that too strong of a word? Maybe…) Oxo containers with credit I had at Bed, Bath, and Beyond. They are thick, safe plastic, easy-to-use, durable, and, as always with Oxo products, easy on the eye.

pantry organization with oxo containers

But to store beans, barley, popcorn, cornmeal, and other less frequently used small items, I turned to all the pristine jars I had saved after getting all the gunk off of them. Remember the DIY Goo-Be-Gone?

goo gone DIY

Because all the mismatched, not easy on the eye jar lids bothered me in the pantry, I decided to finally spray paint them, as I’d been meaning to for who knows how long.

jar lids for spray painting
pantry storage with glass jars
I love how they turned out, in both form and function. And all I had to pay for was the paint (which was actually left over from another project).
pantry storage with glass jars
pantry storage from glass jars

Quick tips for making your own pantry storage:

  • Save several glass jars from food items you buy. The more variety the better.
glass jars as pantry storage
  • Clean the paper and sticky residue off of them as you save them so you don’t have too many to do at once.
how to remove sticky residue from glass
  • Once you have a good number saved, collect their lids and spray paint them. Use Rustoleum, which adheres to metal. So far, it’s doing a good job staying on, even when we wash the lids (which isn’t very often since we store mostly long-lasting grains and legumes in the glass jars).

pantry view

free pantry storage arranged in a circle


  1. Great idea! I save my jars a lot because it seems to be a waste to throw them out or even to toss them to the recycling bin! So pretty!

  2. I was wondering how you got all the jar lids to match!!!!!! The roommate and I have been using jars to store everything, especially since we don’t have a pantry and have to use the kitchen counter! I’ll have to remember the spray paint idea & see if she wants to do that at some point. :)


    • Yes! It’s so much easier when you can do a bunch at once — and the reward is greater because all of a sudden you’ll have a matching “set.” Make a deal — one of you paints, the other gets the goo off the jars. =)

  3. I LOVE, LOVE your pantry! And yuck-o to the buggies, it happens to the best of us. :/ No fun, but a great reason for a pantry re-do!

    • Shifrah Combiths says:

      Yes, perfect excuse. And I realized today that when Trader Joe’s finally opens up here, I’m going to need some more Oxo containers. 😉