10 Steps for Organizing Your Pantry (and Keeping It That Way!)
Ten easy steps for organizing your pantry and making sure that you keep it that way! This is a post that helps you reorganize your kitchen pantry and helps to keep everything nice and clean!
You’re just ten steps away from a more organized pantry.
And if you think that mine started this way, I assure you it most certainly did not.
Let’s just say that it got to the point where I could find anything. And if you follow me on Instagram, you got a peek of the whole mess a couple of weeks ago. Like stuff was everywhere I was buying duplicates because I couldn’t find the previously purchased items and I’m so ashamed to show you the before, but don’t worry, there’s proof for you, it’s coming. And as I was reorganizing, I had so many people message me and ask about products, and a step by step on how to organize your pantry.
So I’m putting it all together in a post, so it’s easy to see what you’ll need and how I organized everything. It’s been two weeks since I did the cleanup and things are exactly as I left them.
Organizing your pantry isn’t hard, it’s making sure you work to keep it that way that makes all the difference!
As promised, here’s proof that my pantry looked like a complete disaster. I mean, look at it! It’s overwhelming, to say the least, and as someone who often gets referred to as Monica from FRIENDS, it’s downright embarrassing! Remember the episode where Monica had a closet that she kept locked and when Chandler finally got into it, he found that it was all just a big old mess? Welp. That’s my pantry! Correction — that was my pantry.
See, I’m still getting used to it.
Steps 1-5 for organizing your pantry:
Step #1: Remove EVERYTHING from your pantry.
I mean it; get everything out.
Step #2: Sort and take inventory.
Make three piles: a throwout pile, a donate pile, and the keep pile. Place everything that belongs together in one place. Put all the pasta together. Place the snacks in a separate area. Keep the canned goods in one spot, etc. It’s entirely up to you how specific or general you are about this. I like to keep bundles of things, ‘baking ingredients’ ‘canned goods’ and ‘replenishing items’ are just some of the piles I made.
Step #3: Wipe the shelves clean.
You don’t need anything special, just a warm damp washcloth or a paper towel and all-purpose cleaner.
Step #4: Measure the length and width of your shelves BEFORE you purchase any containers to make sure everything fits.
Make a diagram of your pantry or take a picture and using the ‘mark up’ feature on your phone, write down the measurements. These measurements will come in handy when you’re standing in the basket aisle trying to figure out whether something will fit on the shelf or not! Next, assess the ingredients that you use the most (or buy in bulk.) For us, flour, rice, and oats are things we use all the time so I made sure to buy larger containers for these items so that a large stock fits in the pantry and can easily be accessed. When it comes to dried beans and legumes, I opted for medium containers as I don’t use them too often but because they are sold in medium-sized bags. This set of containers works well because it has containers that are a variety of sizes.
Full disclosure: I didn’t buy all new containers, I already had a ton of them from over the years. You can also find the oxo containers I liked as Marshal’s and Home Goods, so if you need just a couple, consider making a trip out to see if you can find them.
Step #5: Look around the house and see if you have any baskets that will fit your needs.
The number will depend on your categories.
For me, I made five baskets:
- oil and vinegar
- tea and coffee
- replenish (basically backups of things I use too often)
If you’d like to invest in a set of baskets, I like to use these because I don’t want everything to show through them. If you’d like to see what’s in your baskets, wire baskets are a better option for you. I also keep my onions and potatoes in my pantry, so I opted for see-through baskets for those. These are cute and relatively inexpensive!
Steps 6-19 of organizing your pantry:
Step #6: Make a home for all the sauces and condiments.
I originally bought one lazy susan thinking it was enough, but soon realized I had a whole row of sauces I hadn’t accounted for. This is why we take inventory in step #2 – do as I say, not as I do! So I split them into two groups. One holds all of the condiments I use most often, hot sauce, pancake syrup, maple syrup; you get the idea. The second is for ingredients I don’t use too often, such as fish sauce, mirin, dark soy sauce, etc. Lazy Susan #1 sits on an easily accessible shelf, while the other one sits at the top where ingredients I don’t use too often reside.
Step #7: Make a home for canned goods.
For me, sometimes I’m down to about 5 and other times I can have as many as 15. So I needed a tiered can organizer that I could easily adjust. This is the one I decided to get because it’s relatively inexpensive and it’s easy to expand or compress based on your needs at the moment.
Step #8: LABEL! LABEL! LABEL!
Can you look at two different types of rice and tell me which is which? Yeah, sometimes, I can’t either! So I labeled everything and it had to be my favorite part — so much so that I was going around the kitchen after I was done with the pantry looking for other things to label. I mean if I didn’t stop myself, everything I own would have a label on it. But this label maker is the cutest! It’s a manual label maker, and I love how it embosses the letters. Plus, even if you have mismatched containers (the way I do) the label maker is a nice way to tie everything together!
Step #9: Set it up!
What makes the most sense? Do you have kids that need to reach things? If that’s the case, make sure to arrange the cereal and snacks that they use in a place where they can grab things without needing your help. Then, place items as you’d use them. Place more frequently used items somewhere where you can grab them easily. I like to keep all the ingredients I use most often in the front and center and the stuff that doesn’t get used too often towards the sides or the top.
The most important step in organizing your pantry:
Step #10: Work to keep it clean!
Check the pantry about once a week to make sure everything is still where it belongs. If you’re keeping your bulk items in plastic/glass containers, make it a point to empty bulk purchased items into their respective containers when you bring home the grocery. It’ll take you a minute or two longer, but in the long run, your pantry stays cleaner for longer and requires fewer touchups this way!
The system works when we work the system.
The last few things that I have is that I added to the pantry were an over the door organizer and a hook. I always buy larger bottles of spices and keep the backups in my pantry (smaller containers reside in my spice cabinet.) And second, a hook to hold all my reusable bags. I placed all the reusable bags into one larger bag and hung it up to get it off the floor! I can’t tell you how much space it cleared up for me.
MORE TIPS FOR ORGANIZING YOUR PANTRY LIKE A PRO:
- For things like pasta, be sure to either print or cut out the direction label if you’re transferring to another container. That way you aren’t over/undercooking it. For this reason (and that fact and I have like, 1000 different types of pasta) I chose to keep it in a bin all together so that it didn’t take up so much of the shelf space. I buy a lot of pasta; I don’t eat it as frequently as I think!
- Clear, air-tight containers are perfect for bulk purchases or items you use more often. Containers keep things fresh longer and prevent accidental spills in the pantry if they topple over. If you don’t want to spend too much on them, I suggest investing in mason jars instead. They’re a little more economical and still serve the same purpose as the clear containers!
I hope this inspires you to clean up your pantry this weekend! Feel free to message if you have any specific questions! I sorta loved doing this and am planning to go through my entire house — Marie Kondo style!
Shope this post:
The pantry looks great! I love the retro-looking labels.
You might consider moving your onions and potatoes away from each other. The gasses from the onions will cause the potatoes to sprout much sooner. The potatoes are also best if stored in a paper bag.
Great tip, I’ll have to do that!
Wow, I’ve been looking at my pantry for a while now, wondering when it transformed from “pantry” into “dumping ground for stuff I ordered but didn’t know where to store.” The transformation has been impressive but not terribly useful if you’re actually wanting a PANTRY.
I’m so glad I saw this! I may finally have to attack that reorganization task as part of the Spring cleaning!