Our kitchen pantry is the busiest place in our kitchen and therefore probably the most important to keep organized, especially because the doors are constantly left open by my teenagers! (I have taught them better!) Anyone else have this problem?
Today I’m sharing a few tips that have really helped in organizing our pantry.
#1 - Take everything out and purge!
If your pantry needs a complete overhaul, start by taking everything out. As you do so, throw away anything that is outdated, you know is never going to get eaten or simply is trash. Yes, I see those Walmart bags, the empty cracker box and the diet snack you though you could convince yourself tasted good. (:
#2 - Group like items together.
Sort things into groups that go together and make sense to your family. Put foods together, appliances together, dishes together etc.
Categorize your food items. Some groupings that fit my family are baking goods, canned goods (sorted by food type as well), potatoes and onions, snacks, breads, baking mixes, boxed dinners, pasta, bottled drinks, chips and cereals. If you have a lot of one type of particular item, you might have specific groups like drink mixes, protein bars, etc. Use bins to hold these groups. (More on bins below) You can even add tie on or stick on labels for each bin.
#3 - Invest in multiple of one size/style container or bins for your shelving.
I think the most important thing is that your bins fit your shelving without wasting space and store “enough” of what you need to store. Measure your shelves before you buy! I chose a 16” x 9.5” bin because it came almost to the edge of my shelf. I don’t have a walk-in pantry, just a very deep large cupboard. I used 11 bins. Purchasing all the same kind not only looks better, but they will fit more cohesively next to each other while maximizing the space. I did pick one that was a little “pretty”, but that isn’t necessary...function over beauty.
I also have invested in a few glass “candy shop” type jars with pull off lids. I found these helpful for storing easy access snacks for the kids. Not only can the kids see what’s there, but I can also easily see when I need to purchase more.
#4 - Use the upper shelves and the floor for things you don’t need access to as much.
Because these areas are more difficult to get to, use them for less accessed items. I have a couple large plastic baskets that I use on the floor of my pantry. They hold big items (like rolls of paper towels) and groups that I don’t need much (like paper products). I keep some appliances that I only use a few times a year, decorative charger plates and some bulk storage on the top shelf. This way I’m hardly dealing with getting down on the ground or grabbing a stool, but on rare occasions.
#5 - Use can storage racks and risers.
I didn’t invest in a lot of these, but the ones I have totally doubled or tripled my storage space! Instead of just one flat can section or stacking cans on top of each other (which can make it hard to find things), I can see better what I have. I didn’t purchase rolling can racks for my pantry canned goods, but I do have them in my long term storage room. They are pricey, but if you can invest in them, I highly suggest them! For my pantry, my handy husband just built some simple shelves that we use for cans.
Because my pantry area is so deep, using risers has made a big difference. I have one area that would have been lost to seeing what is there; I put a riser under the bin and it gave me back the sight line.
#6- Spice up your pantry!
One of the best things I did to get organized in my kitchen was purchasing simple spice racks to mount on my pantry door. For years I thought I had to use the cupboards right next to my stove for spices. I had a small cabinet door spice rack, had tried tiers that you put on your shelves and had even tried using a drawer. I could never find the right solution. There were always spices that were too big, too small and it was a chore to try to find anything. Then, I decided I’d had enough. I purchased some metal spice racks and my husband mounted them on my pantry door. I used a bin for oversized spices and put them close by on a shelf in the pantry. Best decision ever! Now it is so simple to find what I want! No more digging through jars or pulling one bin out of the cupboard so I can see what’s behind it. Everything is in clear view! So worth the cost of the racks!
#7 - Invest in some clear same sized containers.
I used to see all those pictures of fancy pantries where everything was in the same sized clear container and think it was totally unrealistic. Still do! However, I have experienced the value in it! It’s been worth it to buy several nice clear airtight containers (they aren’t cheap) and keep ingredients in them. Having a cohesive sized container saves so much wasted space, is less messy than bags and boxes and makes finding what you want easier. I keep things like sugars, flours, cornstarch, rice, and pasts in clear containers. I even have gone to putting my Oreo Cookies in one because the opened package was often messy. Pick a few items and try it out… bet you’ll find you want more.
#8 - Keep a tag on your containers
I realize this seems like an odd tip, it will serve you well in the end! When you purchase a new bin or airtight container, leave the tag on at least one of ithem or take a photo of the tag and favorite it. There just always seems to come a point that you wish you had more of that specific container. This makes getting more easy. You won’t waste time going through the store website or shelves, hoping to find the same one. If you leave a tag, you know exactly what it is. Even if the local store is out of stock, often they will still carry it online. This tactic has served me well in all my room organization projects.
#9 - Don’t be afraid to get creative!
One of the things that has saved me a lot of headaches is a tin picnic utensil container. We like smoothies and protein shakes at our house. This means I buy a lot of straws, but they were constantly getting spilled out of their plastic bag onto the floor. Another issue was plastic utensils. It seemed like I ended up with some spilling on the floor every time. I picked up a tin picnic utensil container and made it part of my pantry year round. I love it! I just set it on a pantry shelf and everyone has access to straws and plastic spoons with no mess! Get creative with your solutions. Everything doesn’t have to stay in the box it came in.
#10 - Label, Label, Label!
Rather you use a label maker, a sticky note or printed pantry labels, label your shelves and bins so family members are sure to get things back in the right places.
Want a free printable set of the 24 pantry tags I used? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send them to you!
#11 - (Yes, it's a bonus tip!) Do a regular tidy up in your pantry.
Once you have everything organized, don’t blow it! This organization will really minimize the mess making ability, but let’s me real… it’s going to get a little messed up. Regularly take just a couple minutes to just tidy up a bit. A few minutes here and there will keep you from having to do a complete redo in a few months.