For the first time in my adult life, I have a food pantry!!!!
It might seem like a little thing, but wow, does it make a difference! In all of our apartments, I had to dedicate a few cabinets to food storage which meant less storage space for organizing the rest of our kitchen stuff.
I’m so happy we have one, but having all that space makes it necessary to be organized. When it gets messy (and it does), I forget we have things, but too many extras and stuff goes bad before I can use it. By keeping things organized, I can see where everything is, I buy less and actually use up what we have.
Here are some of my tips keeping your kitchen pantry tidy and functional, as well as the best products for pantry organization.
How To Organize Your Food Pantry
Take Everything Out
This step is the absolute first and should not be skipped. Taking everything out forces you to actually look at each thing, better organize and when the shelves are empty, you can easily wipe them clean to really start fresh!
I use my favorite non-toxic cleaner in here because I don’t want bleach or anything toxic near the stuff we eat.
Consolidate Items by Category
We actually did this in our mini “pantry” in Chicago too, well, we had some professional organizers help, but it taught me a lot! Organizing items in your pantry by category makes everything easily accessible. We use wire baskets with labels so I can not only easily see the contents, but quickly find the stuff I need. Some ideas: baking, snacks, and grains & pasta, canned and dry goods.
Use Clear Containers
I’m such a visual person, so using clear containers makes it a breeze to find the item I’m looking for. It also makes it easier to build a grocery list because I can see which items I’m running low on instead of having to open the container and look inside.
If you use clear containers, you can definitely see what’s inside, but I like adding labels too. Some people in our house, aka Rob, don’t always know exactly what flaxseed and cacao look like, so this makes it simple for everyone.
Most Used Items at Eye Level
Put your most-used products at eye level to make them easy to reach and find. Items that you don’t use as often can be put higher or lower. I opt for higher because Owen likes to get into stuff. So, I mostly keep things like trash bags and things he’s not interested in at the bottom level.
It’s easy to lump all cans into one place, but keeping them organized will ensure that you don’t overbuy one specific thing.
Coordinate Your Containers
This isn’t absolutely necessary, but if you’re starting from scratch, I’d suggest going for containers that match or go together. The reason for this is that it just keeps things looking tidy when they’re mostly the same, versus a bunch of different styles of containers and baskets which just makes me dizzy thinking about it.
Check Expiration Dates Often
It’s crazy how easily stuff can get lost in your pantry, which is why it’s so important to keep it tidy. But, if you’re starting to organize from scratch, make sure to check expiration dates on spices, cans, dry goods, etc. They don’t all last forever.
Tweak as Necessary
I’ve found sometimes that I get things organized all perfectly only to find that it’s not as functional as I wanted. So, when this happens, I make tweaks, move things around until it becomes the most functional for our lives.
Food Pantry Organizing Essentials
I love wire baskets! They’re easy to see into and keep the pantry from being overwhelmed and messy with boxes and bags of food items. I have one for baking, so when I go to bake cookies, I just grab the bin and bring it into the kitchen.
I have another for snacks, one for chips and one for pasta and grains. It just keeps all those loose items organized and easier to find. We have these little clip-on labels for these that I just write on with a chalkboard marker.
These clear bins are great for snacks, boxed items, pouches, etc. Basically, anything you buy in bulk and need a spot for. It helps you remember what you have in stock and what you’re out of.
As you guys might know, I make homemade sourdough every week and finally found the perfect canisters for storing my flour. These are a gallon and hold a whole bag of flour and also have a rubber seal so they’re airtight when the top is on. If you bake often, these would be perfect for flour and sugar too.
Air Tight Containers
These OXO Good Grips containers are my absolute favorite. They’re airtight and the lids really stay on which is great for when your toddler drops them. They’re high-quality and will last you forever. We have so many of them because I use them for dried grains, seeds, snacks and more.
We actually don’t keep our spices in our pantry, but if you do, a good spice rack will keep you from buying multiples. My best tip—put the spices you use most often in the front row. Behind that, organize the remaining ones alphabetically!
A lazy Susan is great for small items like snacks or even canned goods, or oils and vinegars. It doesn’t take up much shelf space and is really great for small spaces. We have a two-tier version in our kitchen that I use to store vitamins and supplements. Just make sure you measure your cabinet or shelf depth before ordering!
We use these chalkboard stickers and labels with a chalkboard marker for our labels. What’s great about these is that you can easily wipe off the marker when you want to re-fill the container with something else. You can also use a simple label maker like this one to easily label things. We have this one and I’ve used it for arts and crafts stuff and it’s great.
Over the Door Pantry Organizer
If you have a small space and have a pantry door, you can also use an organizer like this over the door organizer to give you extra storage space. We used a spice rack like this in one of our old apartments and it made such a difference in keeping things neat!
I was surprised that this project didn’t take me nearly as long as I expected—granted, we’ve only been here 4 months, so we don’t have that much in there. It also inspired me to finally go through our junk drawer (anyone else have one of these?!). I just bought these organizers for that area, can’t wait to share that too!
Hopefully this helps you get your own kitchen pantry organized and more functional than ever!