10 Tips to Organize your Pantry
A new year usually means a cleaning and purging rampage around my house. I usually start with an overwhelming project and give up. After failing many times to actually complete a full project (welcome to the 95% club) I’ve made notes on what you should do to get it done right the first time.
A great starting place in your new year’s cleaning is your pantry. Have you ever searched Instagram for an organizing hashtag like #organizedpantry or #pantrygoals? I went down that rabbit hole. While it gave me hope about my overcrowded pantry, it also made me feel overwhelmed. I’ve narrowed it down to my top 10 tips to organize your pantry to help you make it through the entire process.
1. HAVE ENOUGH TIME
Don’t get started until you have enough time to put it all back. Plan on more time than you need.
I learned this the hard way. I thought I could dump everything out and put it all back in an hour while the baby napped. I was dead wrong. After three half days of moving things around and rearranging I realized it was going to be a week-long, 20 hour project that was best broken up into a couple of hour time chunks. This allowed me to pull things out, toss and clean, then begin picking a permanent shelf for each group of items.
2. REMOVE EVERYTHING & SORT
Take everything out of the pantry to begin. Group like items in piles on the floor/counters/tables. Taking everything out allows you to see how much you have, what you do and don’t need, and how much storage space you will need.
A note on sorting: You can sort in any way that works best for your family, but if you need ideas, here is how I sort my items:
- Less used cooking appliances, extra baking tins and cookie sheets, ice buckets;
- Cereals, granola, crackers, oatmeal, nuts;
- Baby food, squeezies, baby cereal bars, teething crackers;
- Baking supplies: flour, almond flour, sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, meringue;
- Canned vegetables, salsa, chicken broth and stock cartons;
- Condiments/Sauces, oils, pasta sauce;
- Pasta, couscous, quinoa, grains, rice;
- Consumables: sweet potatoes, spaghetti squash, onions, shallots;
- Tea, Coffee, Hot cocoa, raw sugar, swerve;
- Almond butter, peanut butter, honey, applesauce;
Toss any out of date cans or boxes, donate anything you know you won’t use or use in time (I’m looking at you, baby formula and christmas sprinkles) to a local food pantry. If you are on a health food craze, tell your friends to come get the processed, boxed food you won’t be eating. The less food you have to rearrange the quicker it will go and the more space you will have to move around your consumables.
Give the pantry a good scrub down. I usually stick to a microfiber cloth and warm water, but a magic eraser comes in handy for stuck on spills or scuffs. Wipe down cans and boxes while they are separated into piles.
This one is cosmetic and optional, but if you want to decorate now is the time to do it- before you put everything back into the pantry. Does it actually help organize your pantry on it’s own? No, but if you love looking at a space, you are more likely to keep it looking nice. If you have the time and budget, do a little decorating to make your pantry a place you love to look at.
Do you want to paint the shelves or line the back wall with Peel and Stick paper? Pick your style and get to decorating. I chose to freshen up the shelves with crisp white paint and white bins to store food. I used a door rack to hold tea and coffee supplies and organized them by color to brighten the first thing you see.
6. BINS, BINS, BINS
Once you’ve picked your color scheme and favorite style, you can start shopping for bins. For a minimal clean look, go for clear or white. If you like color, go for coordinated bins in your favorite colors and keep the background solid. I opted for these white Target bins to keep everything looking uniform (and they are under $6, win-win).
7. BUY MORE BINS than you think you will need
It will take more than you think you need to complete this project. When I started on the pantry organization I ran out to Target and grabbed five white bins. I got home and started filling them and quickly realized I needed more. Luckily, I remembered I had a few stashed in the kids dresser to separate clothes and hold toys. I repossessed those bins and put them in the pantry. I was shocked at how many bins I needed to hold what seemed like a minimal amount of baking supplies, pasta, and kid snacks.
8. KEEP LIKE THINGS TOGETHER
Cereal and oatmeal with breakfast, flour and sugar with baking, tea, coffee and cocoa on a shelf, snacks and granola bars all in one area, cleaning supplies and paper towels together. You get the idea- group things that you use together or that serve the same purpose in the same bin or on the same shelf.
9. STORE LEAST USED THINGS AT THE TOP
Paper towels, cleaning supplies, the food processor, extra cookie sheets, casserole carrying case, ice bucket and entertaining plates are all stored on the top shelf. If you use them enough to keep them, but not daily the top shelf is a great place to store them. The items you use most, like cooking oils, baking supplies, lunch bags, tupperware, and on the go snacks should be stored on lower shelves for easy access.
10. USE THE FLOOR
Since you’ve already scrubbed the entire pantry, you can use the floor for storage. It definitely is not wasted space. Best uses include: trash bags, lunch boxes, playdoh and kid’s painting supplies, bags of napkins, spare containers of foil, plastic wrap and paper plates (all sealed), or a large bin to catch your recycling. Store these extras in large rolling carts or on small shelves.
Remember to keep cleaning supplies up high and away from those babies (and older tide pod kids).
* BONUS TIPS *
11. LABEL ALL THE THINGS
If you want to take it keep it organized, get out some labels and start printing. You can label each bin, basket and shelf so that items can be replaced without any confusion.
12. PANTRY INVENTORY
Keep a pantry inventory on hand so that you can easily see what you have and what you are running low on. I’ve rounded up a few of my favorite pantry inventory printables from Pinterest for you to head over to their website, download and print them out.
Pantry Inventory Spreadsheet
OneMamasDailyDrama Inventory Printable
The Peaceful Mom Pantry Inventory Printable
CarrieElle Printable Pantry Inventory List
With an inventory checklist, you’ll better be able to prevent overbuying, but make sure you have on hand the supplies and foods you need most often. It’s a great resource that has helped with meal planning and overcrowding in my pantry.
Well that’s a wrap. Show me your made over pantry in the comments below!!
LOVE IT? PIN IT!