20 Tips for Organizing Your Pantry
There’s nothing like a cold, snow day to inspire a little pantry organization project! Oh, how quickly our pantry clutter can get out of hand! This week I’m whipping our pantry back into shape to kick the year off on a good note. In today’s post, I’m sharing 20 tips for organizing your pantry.
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Of course, we have to start with a great/terrible before shot. You may have seen this before shot in this post from last week when I shared some of the home projects I wanted to tackle this year.
Here she is in all her glory!
Yes, it’s very scary in there!
Our walk-in pantry is a great size. We’re blessed with lots of extra space to store our dry good items, cook books, our mail command center, and even some small appliances. I love an organized space, and I love all of the beautifully designed pantries you see online, such as this amazing scullery in the 2021 Southern Living Idea House.
Our pantry isn’t all that cute, but it is pretty serviceable — at least, when we keep it organized. We added lots of shallow-depth wire shelving when we moved in 13 years ago to make use of all the wall space; and a few years ago, we added a small IKEA Billy bookcase to give us more storage for cookbooks and appliances.
So, here are my tips for organizing your pantry.
1. Start with emptying your entire pantry!
Pull everything out!
You’ll be shocked at just how much you had stored in such a small space!
Throw away anything that is expired, and get rid of anything that you don’t use anymore. Sort your pantry items into groups or categories so that you can get a better idea of what you want to store together, and what type of storage containers you might need.
You have to make a mess before you can make it better — but you’ll feel SO MUCH better when it’s all done!!
2. Corral opened chip bags in bins.
I hate fighting all of the chip bags! We could get by with simply tortilla chips and potato chips, but our sweet girl likes to have a variety of options available to her. We keep plenty of chip clips on hand and corral open bags into a plastic bin.
You can also empty bags into these stackable bins for another option to deal with the clutter.
3. Empty pastas and grains into air-tight glass storage containers.
The concept of decanting foods is not just about making your pantry look pretty. I try to empty all pastas, grains, seeds, flour, etc. into glass storage containers that have tight seals.
I’m not talking about the ones with the button on top. I’m talking about something like these Fido jars with rubber gaskets and hinged locks or these containers with snap-on air-tight lids.
You can unknowingly carry home pantry moths from the grocery store in grains, flours, nuts, or seeds purchased from bins in your whole-food section. Even packaged items such as flour can also be a source. (Don’t ask me how I know this!)
Securing these items in sealed jars will keep those pesky little friends from spreading out and multiplying if they happen to arrive in your pantry. Trust me, you may not want to know this, but you need to know!
If I want to keep the instructions to a package, I just cut them out and tape them to the jar. Using chalkboard stickers allows me to switch out the contents of the jars easily and re-lable as needed.
4. No woven baskets!
I only use easily wipeable plastic or glass bins and storage containers in our pantry. I’ll spare you the sordid details (see Tip #3), but trust me, if you’ve ever dealt with pantry moths, you’ll NEVER want to use baskets in your pantry, no matter how cute they look!
Baskets have lots of lovely little nooks and crannies, and well, you just don’t need those in your pantry — just trust me!
These bins are great options.
5. Shallow shelving is great for canned goods.
We attached shallow wire shelving to our walls to make use of every inch of vertical space in our pantry. We keep canned goods, baking items, oils and vinegars on these shelves.
6. If you have a door to your pantry, attach small shelving or add an over-the-door shelving unit.
Our pantry door has a pocket door, so we can’t add any storage to it. If you have a smaller pantry with a normal hinged door, you can create quite a bit of vertical storage space for canned goods by adding an over-the-door shelving unit like this one.
7. Keep your spices in a drawer.
We have a lot of spices, and I started keeping ours in a couple of cabinet drawers in the kitchen. I’ve emptied some of our more commonly used spices into glass jars, but most of them are in their original containers. Now is the time to sort through your spices. Get rid of anything old, and if you have multiples of anything try to combine them.
These 4 oz. spice jars are great if you like a unified look in your spice drawer, or if you want to store them on your counter. The set of spice jars comes with cute labels as well.
8. Add a command center with bulletin board and hanging file/mail station.
In our house, it’s a constant battle to keep mail clutter off the counters! I keep a command center inside our pantry with a place to file mail and important papers we need ready access to. I have a small bulletin board such as this one and tray similar to this one to try to tame the paper beast!
These hanging file organizers are great for keeping your mail organized.
My Rifle file folders are no longer available, but these folders have a similar look.
9. Store recipe books and binders in your pantry.
I store our cookbooks in our pantry. I keep a couple of binders full of recipes in page protectors. I started this recipe project last fall, and have everything in two binders, but need to do a little more recipe organizing. While I love to use Pinterest to keep recipes pinned, I have experienced the dreaded broken link or “favorite recipe no longer being available on a website”, so I print out the ones that are our favorites. I also have lots of old recipe cards and notes, so all of those items go into the recipe binders. I keep these, along with my favorite cook books on our pantry shelves.
In the two lidded boxes, I keep stationery items in one and small cookbooks and appliance instructions in the other.
10. Make space in your pantry for small appliances.
Create space in your pantry for storing small appliances. All those small appliances can clutter up your kitchen countertops, so if you have room to store the items you don’t use everyday, you’ll enjoy how handy and pretty your cleared countertops can be!
11. Keep a small step stool/ladder handy.
I keep our folding step stool in our pantry for hard to reach cabinets and shelves in our kitchen.
Our step ladder is similar to this one.
12. Use the top shelves for bulky items or items that are seldom used.
We keep our paper towels on the top shelf and well as infrequently used items such as our ice bucket and hot water carafe. This is the perfect place to store Caroline’s hand-made cardboard cake pop holder.
13. A food-safe 5 Gallon bucket with lid is great for storing bulk items like grains or oats.
These food-safe 5 gallon buckets with sealable Gamma lids are wonderful if you buy grains or other items in bulk. We used to buy bulk oats and I stored them in these. Currently, this one is housing all of Caroline’s Halloween loot! Not quite as healthy as the oats, but at least it keeps all the candy items and treats under control.
I have also kept all of our opened chip bags in here before to keep them fresh.
14. Store water bottles with this handy organizer.
In our family, we’re always fighting water bottle clutter! We currently have ours stored in a cabinet drawer, but this water bottle organizer is a great idea if you don’t have a drawer to spare.
15. Use any extra wall space you have.
In addition to our mail command center, we use hooks to make use of extra wall space in the pantry to store other needed items such as our grilling utensils and lunch bags.
16. Store small packets of mixes together.
I use these wire organizers that attach to our wire shelving to keep all of our little packets and mixes organized. You could also use these clear organizer bins to keep small packets sorted and in one place.
17. Keep commonly used baking staples in large containers on your counters.
If you like to bake a lot, it’s handy to keep flour and sugar, or any other commonly used items in glass containers on your counters. These large glass containers are especially nice because the mouths are wide and easy for measuring out your items.
These sealed glass canisters are similar to ours.
18. Keep the most-used oils near your stove.
We store most of our oils in the pantry, but do keep the olive oil next to the stove since it gets used most often.
You can empty your oil into a pretty cruet like this one if you don’t like the packaging.
19. Use tiered racks on pantry shelves.
If you don’t have wall space for installing shallow shelves for canned goods and other small items, these tiered pantry racks make it easier to see and access items on deep pantry shelves.
20. Label everything.
Since you are decanting everything into containers, you need a system to keep from mixing up the all-purpose flour with the powdered sugar. These chalkboard stickers and chalk marker are great for labeling your jars and containers.
I hope this gets you inspired to get a little kitchen organizing done! Our pantry is complete, so now it’s time to move to the rest of the kitchen. Having a well-organized pantry and kitchen just makes cooking and food prep much easier and more enjoyable. Plus, it helps remind you of what food you currently have on hand and need to use!
Thanks so much for stopping by, and happy organizing!!
Great tips! I wish we had a walk in pantry!
Thank you! It definitely is a plus — if we keep it straight!
There’s something so satisfying about labels!
Yes, I agree! A place for everything, and everything in its place!
Wow! You did a great job organizing your pantry! It looks amazing and will function so well for you! Thanks for all the great tips and tricks! Donna
Thanks, Donna! It’s so refreshing to have a neat and tidy space!