How to Organize the Pantry

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how to organize the pantry

The pantry is often one of the messiest parts of the kitchen. You open the door and you see a wide array of colors, boxes, jars, and bags. No matter how you arrange it, it still looks messy.

As a result, meal preparation takes longer because you have to dig away to find the ingredients you need, or you end up realizing that you are lacking an ingredient for the meal you were planning.

You may also end up having too many stocks of the same food item. Every time you would need one, you’d buy one, not knowing that it is still available in your pantry.

If only everything was well-arranged and neat!

Well, the good news is… you can have an organized pantry. Those well-arranged pantries that you see in magazines and on blogs are not an impossible dream after all!

Okay… your pantry doesn’t have to look like in the magazines, but it can be organized – serving its real purpose of helping you prepare meals, having the ingredients you need and being able to find them when needed.

But… you’ve got to put the effort!

Don’t worry… it’s not as hard as you may think.

That being said, let’s now jump into how to organize your pantry!

Simple Steps on How to Organize the Pantry

Follow these steps for an organized and clean pantry.

1. Empty and clean.

Clear a space near your pantry. It can be a kitchen island, a counter, or a table near it. This is where you will temporary place the items in your pantry as you go clean.

When you’re ready, remove the contents of your pantry and clean the shelves.

2. Declutter.

Decluttering is a must before organizing, especially when there are so much unused stuff. So before you put back everything and organize the pantry, declutter first!

Go through all your food items and get rid of expired products.

Assess what remains. Are you going to consume it soon? Decide which items really deserve to be kept in your pantry.

For those that you will not use anymore, if they’re still good and unopened, you can give them to a friend, or donate to a local food bank.

3. Line your shelves.

To make your next cleaning session easier, line the shelves with paper. This helps with spills and in managing the odor.

Shelf liners are made to protect shelves from moisture and stains. As a result, your shelves are clean and dry for a longer time.

4. Measure

This will help you a lot when you shop for organizers. Knowing the measurement of your pantry will help you choose later on which ones to buy or make.

So if you haven’t measured your pantry yet, now’s the time!

Measure the depth of your shelves and the space between them. If there is a gap between the door and the shelf measure that too!

Write the measurements on paper and keep it so it will be ready when you need it! If you prefer paperless documentation, you may also use your phone to take note of the measurements.

5. Transfer some items.

When there is too much stuff, even when you have already organized your pantry, it will still be crammed and looking for an item can still be difficult.

So when you see that your pantry will still end up stuffed, make more space by moving some of the items somewhere else.

For instance, food items that have something to do with tea or coffee can be taken out of the pantry. You can set up a coffee station on the kitchen countertop or set up a mini coffee bar in the living room.

Spices can be in a spice rack on the countertop next to the stove. The basics you need when you cook such as oil, salt, and sauces can be positioned also next to the stove for easy access when you are cooking.

how to organize the pantry - transfer some items
Image from YOU TUBE BY THATS HEART

6. Keep what you always need easily accessible.

easy access

Which food items do you often need? Put them in front and on the lower shelves so they are always within reach.

Reserve the back portion and the higher shelves for those that you seldom use.

7. Take inventory.

inventory of food items

This will definitely help in planning your meals and when you need to shop for food supplies – the very reasons why we are striving to organize the pantry.

Keep a sheet where you can write your inventory. Update that every time you use an ingredient, and when you add something to your pantry. Take note of expiration dates.

When it’s time for shopping, see what you have in your inventory. In an instant, you’ll be able to determine which items to shop for!

8. Implement an organization system.

There are many choices when it comes to organization system.

You may choose to group like items together, arrange by the size of the package, transfer them into see-through containers, or arrange by expiration dates. Feel free to select what suits you!

If you have no idea how to start, move on to the next section and check out some tips and tricks that you can apply when organizing your pantry.

Tips and Tricks on How to Organize the Pantry

Here is a short list of organization systems for your pantry!

1. Use clear containers.

The most followed pantry organizing advice is to transfer everything in clear containers. This makes you see what you have in stock at a glance.

When it comes to containers, make sure that you get ones that have airtight lids. This keeps the food fresh.

For a neat and orderly-looking pantry, choose matching clear containers in various sizes. Be consistent with the brand. Using one brand makes everything look uniform and it makes smaller items easier to stack.

Transferring food items to a container gives it a more stable storage solution plus it keeps mice from getting into your stock.

Be sure to add labels so you don’t confuse yourself and your family where each food item should go.

Try these food containers at Amazon!

14-pc BPA-Free Plastic Canisters

4-Pc Glass Canisters

Shop for more clear containers in this page!

2. Put expiration dates on the containers.

We see all the clear containers with their labels but most homemakers forget something very important – taking note of the expiration dates. They often end up not knowing if their food is still good or not.

So, when you transfer food items from their original packaging, take note of their expiration dates in the pack and indicate them on the label. You can make stickers and print them out such as this.

If you prefer to buy, you may just shop for expiration date stickers at Amazon!

If you don’t like putting expiration dates in containers, then make sure that you write it down instead on your inventory sheet.

3. Gather like items in baskets.

If you have a lot of items and you think it is too expensive to buy clear containers for every one of them, there is a simpler and cheaper way to stay organized. Place like items together in a basket, and label the baskets.

For instance, one basket would be labeled baking and when you look in it, you will find baking ingredients.

It may not look as neat as having everything in clear containers but since most of the package will be hidden inside the basket, it makes your pantry look kind of uniform.

Of course you must arrange the stuff inside the baskets. Just because it’s hidden doesn’t mean you can dump everything inside without arranging. This will defeat the purpose of an organized pantry.

Try this one at Amazon!

Whitmor Rattique Baskets

Browse more choices for wicker baskets here.

If you prefer using wire baskets for your pantry, you will find lots of choices here.

4. Categorize using plastic bins and baskets.

Another alternative solution to organize your food items by group is to use plastic bins and baskets. They might be cheap but the key is to be consistent in the style and design of the bins and baskets that you plan to use.

Note how everything in this example looks so clean because the homemaker was consistent in the type of baskets and bins used. Consistency is key for a uniformed looking pantry.

Try this plastic baskets from Amazon!

Visit this page for more plastic bins and baskets!

5. Invest in wide-mouth containers.

For items that are measured by specific scoops in recipes such as flour and sugar, use wide-mouth containers for convenience.

You can easily just dip your measuring spoon in them and get the exact amount you need. Hence, you avoid the risk of spilling the contents!

Wide-mouth containers
Image from DIY BOOSTER

Try this mason jar at Amazon!

Browse for more wide-mouth containers in this page!

6. Use a food packet organizer.

Food packets and sachets are difficult to store because they can not stand by themselves and they can easily get lost among the other things in the pantry.

If you’re not transferring them to containers, then invest in a food packet organizer so that everything stays in one place.

Food Packet Organizer
Image from EBAY

You do not only get to find what you need right away but it also ensures that the contents will not spill out too.

Try this food packet organizer at Amazon.

Browse for more choices here!

7. Get a canned goods rack.

Canned goods occupy a lot of space in a pantry and they are hard to stack.

To help you save space when organizing the pantry, use canned goods racks. This will save you a lot of space and you can easily see what canned goods you have in stock.

Canned goods rack
Image from EBAY

Try this similar canned goods organizer at Amazon!

Go to this page for other choices!

8. Install pullout drawers.

If you often end up with expired products because they get pushed all the way to the back of your pantry where you never see them, your cabinets may be way too deep.

One way to make sure you can see everything you have is to install pullout drawers in your cabinet. This is also a great way to maximize the vertical space and double the number of items that you can store.

9. Install Lazy Susans in the corner.

The corner of your pantry shelves usually become black holes where food items are forgotten forever. Get rid of the problem by installing Lazy Susans in that area!

how to organize the pantry - put Lazy Susan in the corner
Image from DECORCHICK

Give it a spin and you can easily access everything in the corner.

10. Do not waste your space.

Part of organizing the pantry is making the most of the space.

You may have some unutilized space in your pantry. Like if your pantry has a door and there is still some space between the door frame and the end of your shelf, you can still use that space.

Install slim cubbies on the wall. This is a great place for spices, sauces, and other items that come in slim packages.

11. Use an over-the-door rack.

Add more storage space by using an over-the-door rack organizer. You can find a lot of products specifically made for pantry doors today.

how to organize the pantry - use an over-the-Door rack
Image from WALMART

Try this over-the-door pantry organizer!

Visit this page for more choices!

12. Be creative and use what you have.

Let’s say you have limited storage space in the kitchen and there is no room for a pantry, you can make your own pantry. But you’ve got to be creative with what you have.

Do you have an extra cabinet in the dining area filled with stuff that you don’t really use? You can make use of that.

Our sample here is a repurposed locker!

how to organize the pantry - repurpose a locker
Image from MAKE SPACE

A freestanding locker has compartments that offer a lot of space! Just add shelves to maximize the vertical space.

Most lockers are metallic so you can also use magnetic organizers on the doors.

Maintain your pantry.

An organized pantry is indeed one key to an easier, faster and budget-friendly meal prep!

So today, when you start organizing your pantry, remember that it doesn’t always stay organized. You’ve got to maintain it. So there’s the work!

There are easy fixes and there are some that would involve DIY work. Whatever you think is the best for you, apply it.

Once you open your eyes to the possibilities of what your pantry can be like and how functional it can be, you will realize that organizing it isn’t that hard.

When you put the work needed, you will definitely have the clean and tidy pantry that you have always wanted!

Looking for more pantry organization ideas? Check this out!

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how to organize the pantry

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