The Only 12 Pantry Organization Tips You Need in 2021
These are the pantry organization rules you need to live by. Luckily, it isn’t too complicated. Use these 10 Pantry Organization Tips to take back control of your disorganized pantry, no matter the size.
12 Simple Pantry Organization Tips
Let’s get started on organizing your pantry.
1. HAVE ENOUGH TIME TO ORGANIZE THE PANTRY
First, want to budget your time appropriately. Don’t get started until you have enough time to put it all back. Plan on more spending more time sorting through it than you need.
I learned this the hard way. Thinking I could dump everything out and put it all back in an hour while the baby napped, I started pulling apart the pantry. 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 3 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
First, remove everything from the pantry. Take everything out. EVERYTHING. 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.
Next, while you are removing items, group like items in piles on the floor/counters/tables. By grouping like things, you can see visually what storage options may work best.
For example, if you have 50 canned items, you will likely need a large section devoted to canned goods. Likewise if you have 10 cereal boxes, you know you’ll need 10 containers or a shelf space for all of those boxes to be together.
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;
Next, toss any out of date cans or boxes, donate anything you know you won’t use or use in time (I’m looking at you, baby formula and Christmas sprinkles) to a local food pantry.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.
There is no shame in donating the things you will not use. It helps you in two ways. One- you will be more mindful in the future of buying items your family doesn’t use/eat. Second, it helps those in need. You’ll be saving money the next time around and helping others this time. So donate and give away what you won’t use up or what you don’t have space for and don’t feel bad about it. It is not wasteful if you can give it away.
4. CLEAN THE PANTRY OUT
Part of organizing your pantry is cleaning it really well. Gross, I know. Cleaning isn’t my gift- I’m a hot slob. But I force myself to keep up with it!
So, grab your scrub brush and a rag and give the pantry a good scrub down. I usually stick to a cloth and warm water + vinegar, but a magic eraser comes in handy for stuck on spills or scuffs. It’s a good idea to wipe down cans and boxes while they are separated into piles or as you are removing each item give it a quick swipe.
5. DECORATE THE PANTRY
Now that your pantry is completely empty, it’s a great time to make it yours. You can personalize it by painting or wallpaper with peel and stick on the back wall. There are so many ways you can take this, from white and fresh to deep and moody paint.
If you need to add a storage solution like an over the door rack, now is the time to do so.
6. BINS FOR PANTRY ORGANIZATION
Let’s tackle pantry storage. This is where you can get creative. You know how much you need to store and what you have the most of. The pantry is now clean and decorated.
Now you need to choose the storage bins that you will use to sort like items. You can choose clear containers, woven baskets, wood boxes, or plastic 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).
Other options include IKEA bins, glass jars, mason jars, hooks or hanging pots and bags, large canvas rolling carts and woven rectangular baskets. I have included links and photos at the bottom of this post with recommended items.
7. BUY MORE BINS THAN YOU THINK YOU WILL NEED
Inevitably, it will take more product that you think to properly organize everything in your pantry. Don’t ask my how I know (ha!). When planning for bins and storage solutions, make sure you overbuy. You can always return unused food storage items.
8. KEEP LIKE THINGS TOGETHER
When sorting pantry items, you should keep similar things together for ease and convenience. Keep cereal and oatmeal with breakfast foods, flour and sugar with baking supplies & tea, coffee and cocoa on a shelf.
Stash snacks and granola bars all in one area that is easy for the kids to grab and go. 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.
Pro Tip: Keep the cleaning supplies and paper towels together– up HIGH!
When you reach into the pantry to look for something, it will be natural to find what you need in the section devoted to that task such as baking or grabbing snacks for the kids.
9. STORE LEAST USED THINGS AT THE TOP OF PANTRY
The top shelf is a great place to store less used items. Paper towels, cleaning supplies, the food processor, extra cookie sheets, casserole carrying case, ice bucket and entertaining plates can all be stored on the top shelf. This way, they are not taking up prime eye level space, but can still be easily accessed.
If you aren’t tall enough to reach this shelf, keep a small folding step stool in the pantry as well to help you get down the higher stored items when the time comes.
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
Lastly, 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, spare containers of foil, plastic wrap and paper plates (all sealed), or a large bin to catch your recycling.
You can store these extras in large rolling canvas carts or on small wire shelves.
Remember to keep cleaning supplies up high and away from those babies (and older tide pod kids).
11. LABEL ALL THE THINGS
A great way to ensure your pantry stays organized and clutter free is to label the storage bins. So grab your label maker and get printing.
Because things are labeled, it makes it super simple to put them back in the correct place. This helps if you have children that can read or a husband who can’t ever find things.
If you’re tired of hearing “Mooooom” called from the kitchen every afternoon, stock the bins with snacks and label them so that the kids to help themselves.
12. PANTRY ORGANIZATION INVENTORY
Lastly, keeping a pantry inventory has been a game changer. Print out one of these sheets and tally up how many of each item you have as you put them away. I keep one on hand so that I can easily see what I am running low on.
It makes grocery shopping easy. As I use cans of tomato and beans for chili, I mark them off of the list or reduce the number. Then, when it’s time to grocery shop you know if you have 10 cans or only one left. As the number goes down to 1 or 2, I add it to the next grocery list so that I don’t run out.
I only use this method for staples & backstock – canned beans + tomato, pasta sauce, pasta, flour + sugar, stock or soups, and spare condiments. I can easily see when cereal is running out and I don’t itemize spices (I put those on the grocery list as they get low).
However, I do use it for listing things that I keep extras of so that I always have them on hand for a quick meal or when I don’t have time to run to the store.
Grab one of these free pantry organizing inventory printables below.
PRINTABLE PANTRY INVENTORY LISTS
I’ve rounded up a few of my favorite pantry organization inventory printables from Pinterest for you to head over to their website, download and print them out.
Pantry Organization Inventory Spreadsheet
With an inventory checklist, you’ll better be able to prevent overbuying, but still the supplies and foods you need most often. It’s a great resource that has helped with meal planning and overcrowding in my pantry. It’s a vital part of keeping the pantry organized!
TAKE CHARGE OF CLUTTER
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