The pantry doesn’t always get the love it deserves. It’s the middle child of the house. Sometimes ignored, but like the middle child, it wants to please. If the kitchen is the heart of the home then the pantry is the fuel.
Disclaimer: Keep in mind that I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you when you click my links and make a purchase. However, this does not impact my opinion in any way. I only promote brands I believe in and products that I use and love myself. I try my best to keep things fair and balanced to help you make the best choice for you.
From start to finish, I’m going to show you how to tackle this project in 6 simple steps. It’s easier than you think and will probably get done in half the time you expect it to.
Step 1: Getting Started with Pantry Organization
This phase is super simple and all about ensuring you have the right tools for the job. So, make sure to get everything together in advance so that your task is not interrupted by you constantly searching for something that you need. You only need a few everyday items on hand to get this rolling. The secret to getting organized is preparation as it makes the actual process of organizing and setting up systems so much easier – which means you’ll finish faster too!
So, take some time and make sure that you have all of the following items on hand before you get started:
- A cloth or towel to cover your kitchen or dining table.
- Rags and cleaner to wipe down the pantry
- Mop and or vacuum cleaner
- Bins or boxes for sorting
Pro Tip: I get all my pantry storage bins and boxes from Walmart as they have such a great variety of options that are suitable for any size pantry and I especially love their Eco-friendly glass containers.
Step 2: The Pantry Organization Process
1) Take everything out of your pantry and set it down on your kitchen counters. If you have a kitchen or dining room table nearby, cover them with some towels or a cloth (for protection) because this is where you’re going to sort through everything.
2) Start going through everything you have and check expiration dates. If it’s too old, unusable or unwanted, out it goes.
3) Group everything that’s left into categories. Think about how you prepare meals, how you cook, how you snack. Are you a vegetarian, do you have a sweet tooth, do you have kids who can make their own breakfast? When you are mindful about your needs and understand the way you use your pantry then you can create custom systems that work for your lifestyle.
4) Then use the Post-it notes and marker to label your groups. If you can finish this in one session and can leave everything out on the kitchen counter and tables, then do that. Otherwise, place groupings into the boxes or bins during the sorting process and this will make it easier to return to the pantry.
Here are some common category groupings. You may think of others as you go along depending on what you have in your pantry.
- Baking items
- Canned goods
- Condiments and staples
- Health bars
- Onions, potatoes
- Tea and coffee
- Quick meals
- Bottled water, soft drinks, Seltz
- Paper goods, plates, cutlery, straws, etc
5) Wipe everything down before it’s stored away, including jars, boxes and the pantry shelving. Mop or vacuum the floor. There are certain to be old spills and crumbs lurking.
6) Line your pantry shelves, (see shopping list below) especially if you have wire shelving. However, I prefer easy to wipe down plastic shelf liner. All you have to do is unroll and cut it down to size.
7) Now look at your empty pantry space and think about where you would like things to go. Are you a consummate baker or are you constantly making school lunches? Do you love to entertain? Do you like to test recipes from around the world? Items you use frequently should be easiest to reach. Children’s snacks and foods they like should be in unbreakable containers and on lower shelves. Keep similar groups together, such as sauces near canned goods.
Step 3: Shop for Pantry Organizers
- Look at your pantry space and measure each shelf, the width, height, and depth. (Believe it or not, each shelf may not measure the same.) Now measure a second time. It’s so easy to make a mistake and there’s nothing worse than coming home and realizing the items you purchased don’t fit because you measured incorrectly.
- Take a picture of the empty pantry and take the picture with you when you’re shopping. It will help you to visualize what you need.
- Expand the space with organizers. Know that there is a large assortment of organizers to hold your staples. You can choose from Lazy Susan’s, (great for corners) bins, plastic see-through organizers, wicker, stackable drawers, food racks, shelf expanders, and more.
- If your pantry area is in a closet-like space, buy a back-of-door organizer that can provide storage for small items (containers of bouillon, a box of matches, tea, Jello, cupcake holders, etc).
Step 4: Pantry Organization Storage
- Consolidate and clarify. Everything that comes in awkward or space-hogging boxes or bags—pasta, cereal, chips, should be poured into transparent bulk plastic or glass containers that store food compactly and permit you to see what’s inside
- When storing perishables like garlic, onions, potatoes, tomatoes, and avocadoes, separate and store in baskets that are lined. Be sure to take them out from plastic bags or to remove any plastic wraps.
- To speed up the ripening of avocadoes, store them in a brown paper bag. Just fold the top over and clip it shut.
- Place onions, garlic or shallots in separate brown bags; fill the bags halfway. Fold the top of the bag over and label the top with a marker. You can go one step further and clip the bag with the food clip. Store in a cool, dark place, so that air can circulate between the bags.
- Consider stacking boxes on their side for storing. Make sure that either the labels or the contents are clearly visible. You don’t want to have to turn the box over to identify what it is.
- Label everything that you store in the pantry. There’s nothing worse than being unable to find the ingredients you need while cooking. This results in you rifling through just about everything before finding what you need which is likely how your pantry became disorganized in the first place. You can avoid this completely by labeling everything before you put it back in the pantry. Get creative and make it look good by buying labels – I love these chalkboard labels from Walmart – and writing on them neatly. You can label sections of your pantry for the larger categories and then each individual container.
A Creative Pantry Organization Solution
Ideally, the shelves in your pantry are adjustable to fit products of all sizes from rolls of paper towel to juice boxes. If you find, once everything is cleared out, that your pantry is somewhat lacking, then you may want to consider installing a custom pantry. Having a pantry that suits your needs is the key to developing systems that keep it organized and working for you and your family. Sometimes, that means starting from scratch. For creative pantry solutions in my own home and in my clients’ homes, I use EasyClosets. They have a range stylish pantry choices that you can personalize to fit the space you have available. The EasyClosets pantries are gorgeous and so simple to install. I find that having a custom pantry makes organizational systems so much simpler both for me and my clients. Get 5% off your custom pantry with the code: CLOSETS165
Step 5: Maintain Pantry Organization Systems
Now that you’ve finished this task, all that’s left to do is maintain it by keeping your systems in place. Inform your family of any changes and explain how the pantry is to be used from now onward. Although organizing your pantry from scratch seems like a daunting task, it doesn’t have to be. Best of all, doing this once now sets you up to easily keep your pantry organized in the future. All that you have to do now is keep it in good shape by following your own systems that you’ve put in place. You can do that quite easily by incorporating a pantry check into your weekly meal planning routine. Do a quick inventory to see what you need to purchase, add or remove labels and make sure everything is still where it’s meant to be. Plus, knowing exactly what you have in your pantry saves you from buying multiples and ensures that you’re cooking and eating the food you already have.
Step 6: The Ultimate Pantry Organization Shopping List
Now that you know exactly what needs to be done, you can compile a detailed shopping list of tools you need to get your pantry into order. Getting creative with the tools you have or planning what organizational items to include in your process is the exciting part of organizing.
This list of items includes everything I mention throughout this article. Many of the items you probably already have at home but others can easily be purchased online and delivered to your home while you’re in isolation:
- Plastic shelf liner – I use this one which is easy to wipe down
- Brown paper bags – a handy 50 pack that lasts long
- Sealing clips – this pack of 5 is only $1
- Food containers (plastic or glass)
- Expandable shelf organizer – these adjustable metal ones work well
- Lazy Susan or spinning caddies in a variety of sizes
- Back-of-door organizer – this is the one I use
- Pantry storage baskets and bins
- Stackable drawers
- Wire food racks
- Label maker and adhesive labels (file labels, craft paper labels, chalkboard labels, labels with beautiful lettering, in a script or even clip-on labels)
And there you have it! Follow these 5 steps to organize your pantry today. It offers a productive task to do while you’re at home and makes your life easier in the long-run. Combine this with the kitchen organization tips I shared in my last article and soon you’ll be loving time spent in the kitchen. Then, you can get creative and try my favorite super simple 3 ingredient recipes too!
As you can see, pantry organization can be achieved with a few easy (but important) steps. Although it may seem like a chore, it will pay off in the long run. When you take the time to create systems now it saves you time in the future. Plus, it will leave you with a satisfied feeling and a new love for your kitchen space.
When last did you make time for pantry organization?
PIN IT FOR LATER: