10 Spending Mistakes To Avoid When Updating Your Pantry

Interior of wooden pantry with products for cooking.
Valeriy_G / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Your pantry gets a lot of use, so you’re ready to give it a much-needed upgrade. Right now you’re in the planning stages, and you’re hoping to build a truly flawless space by taking the proper time to prepare. This is important, because a pantry renovation can get pretty pricey.

Related: 8 Affordable Ways To Upgrade Your Kitchen
More Ideas: 30 Ways To Upgrade Your Home Without Blowing Your Budget

The average cost of a reach-in update ranges from $250 to $1,500, rising to $750 to $2,000 for a small walk-in space and $2,000 to $3,500 for a large walk-in pantry, according to HomeAdvisor. So, make sure you get the most for your money by avoiding these 10 spending mistakes when updating your pantry.

Opting for Inward Opening Doors


When you’re working with limited space, every inch counts. Therefore, Volodymyr Barabakh, co-founder and project director at Structural Beam, a steel home building company based in Chicago, said to be mindful of the direction your door opens.

“Making your door open outwards is a great way to maximize space and avoid future frustration from having to maneuver around awkwardly to find your ingredients,” he said. “Rehinging a door can waste time and money, if addressed separately down the road, so it’s best to include this in the update as a priority.”

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The national average cost to hang an interior door ranges from $250.14 to $386.48, according to Porch.com, so it definitely pays to get it right the first time.

Choosing the Wrong Shelving Material

If you haven’t given the shelves in your pantry much thought, be sure to do so. Beth R. Martin, founder and designer at bethrmartin.com, recommended choosing a material that’s both easy to clean and very durable.

“Your pantry is not a place for unfinished rustic wood shelving, because spills are inevitable, and without proper scrubbing, you will attract bugs and other things you will not want around your food,” she said. “Not only can an infestation lead to you throwing out most of the food in your pantry, but you will also need to change out your shelf material which could cost between $150-$500-plus, depending on the size of your room.”

To avoid this, she recommended choosing shelving material made of metal or wood coated in wear-resistant paint.

See: 10 Spending Mistakes To Avoid When Updating Your Home Office

Not Installing Lighting

You might think your kitchen lighting is sufficient for your pantry, but it’s often not enough. You want to be able to see everything in there — including items at the back.

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In this case, all you need is a small, simple light fixture. Plan to spend around $75 to $100 to have it installed, according to HomeAdvisor.

Opting Against Adjustable Shelving

When designing your new pantry, your current needs will obviously be at the top of your mind. However, it probably won’t be too long before you need to switch things up, which makes installing adjustable shelving a must.

Having shelves you can easily modify to meet your needs will allow you to get the most from your pantry. The average cost to install shelving is $352.18 to $558.67, according to Porch.com, so you don’t want to have to redo it.

Buying Organizers Before Taking Inventory

If you don’t remember the last time you gave your pantry a deep clean, your space is almost certainly filled with items you don’t use. To save time, you might be tempted to give the pantry a quick look and purchase organizers based on what you see, but this isn’t economical.

The Pantry Essentials Kit at The Container Store costs $149.92 and The Home Edit by iDesign stacking pantry bins cost $21.99 to $87.96 each, so investing in the wrong items can add up fast.

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Which Should You Update First: Kitchen or Bathroom?

Not Using Clear Food Storage Containers

The “out of sight, out of mind” mantra definitely applies to food in your pantry. If it’s hidden in non-see-through containers, you’ll likely forget about it.

Airtight food storage containers aren’t cheap, so you want to invest in those you can use for years to come. For example, the 14-container Rubbermaid Brilliance Plastic Food Storage Pantry Set is priced at $84 on Amazon and the OXO Steel POP Container Six-Piece Set costs $112.99.

Not Using Door Space

You can never have too much pantry storage, so be sure to budget for door organizers. Whether your pantry has a cabinet-style door or a traditional one, there’s plenty of options to meet your needs.

For example, the ClosetMaid Wall and Door Rack costs $50.98 at Lowe’s and the Rev-A-Shelf One-Tier Door/Wall Mount Plastic Organizer is priced at $23.80.

Opting Against Shelf Paper

It might seem like an unnecessary step, but covering your shelves with shelf liners is a must. This will protect the surfaces from spills and keep items from slipping off.

Shelf liner is notably inexpensive, so you don’t want to skip this step. An 18×48-inch roll of Con-Tact Brand Grip Prints Non-Adhesive Shelf Liner costs $5.49 at Target, while the Duck Smooth Top EasyLiner Non-Adhesive Shelf Liner is priced at $22.99 for a 20-inch-by-24-foot roll.

Other Updates: 10 Affordable Ways To Upgrade Your Living Room

Not Utilizing Empty Space

If there’s a notable amount of space between your pantry floor and the lowest shelf, this prime real estate must be used. Make room in your budget for pull-out drawers to fit in this space.

The Container Store sells wire pull-out cabinet organizers for $24.99 to $32.99, as well as a Chrome Two-Tier Sliding Organizer, priced at $69.99.

Not Seeking Help When Needed

If you feel overwhelmed trying to update and organize your pantry, you might make costly mistakes. Consequently, it could be worth hiring a professional organizer to help you decide how to arrange your pantry and what storage items to buy.

Professional organizers charge an average of $495 per job, according to HomeAdvisor.

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About the Author

Jennifer Taylor is a West Coast-based freelance writer with more than a decade of experience writing about anything and everything. Since earning her MBA, personal finance has been her favorite topic, as she’s passionate about writing stories that educate, inform and empower. Specifically, she specializes in budgeting, debt repayment, savings and retirement.
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