A well-organized pantry is a beautiful thing. It’s like a model home waiting to be photographed. The trick is making it happen—the stuff that goes in our cupboards, cabinets, and drawers tends to move around on its own.
Luckily, there are some simple steps you can take to make sure your pantry stays nice and tidy all year long. Here are some practical tips for organizing your pantry so you can use it as efficiently as possible.
These solutions have worked wonders in my home. And with summer here and grilling season just around the corner, having an organized space ready to go will be super helpful!
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1. Start by cleaning out any old or expired food.
If you need extra motivation to get rid of items, why not ask a neighbor or family member if they’d like anything that isn’t regularly used? Chances are someone else will enjoy these leftovers. Organizing experts call it food triage , and I think it sounds pretty cool. If nothing else, clearing out old food makes room for new products.
2. Establish homes for categories of goods.
Let me say right now: Your pantry doesn’t have to match mine (or anyone else’s). Find a system that works best for you. But my goal was to find places where items could live without too much disruption—and also stay safe from critters like rats, mice, cockroaches, ants and other little varmints who might stop by looking for something tasty to eat.
3. Label shelves and containers.
The more clearly defined things are, the easier time you’ll have finding what you want when you want it. Also, labeling ensures we don’t forget about shelf dwellers hidden behind boxes of cereal or bags of chips.
4. Use bins instead of bags and jars.
Okay, okay; I hear ya—plastic bins aren’t always stylish… but guess what? We can hide them under serving trays or baskets! You don’t necessarily need to buy special plastic tubs specifically made for pantries. Just check local dollar stores and discount stores; odds are you’ll find at least one option that fits your needs while meeting budget requirements.
5. Make smarter choices when shopping.
Keeping pantry goods in stock doesn’t mean spending a fortune. Stock up when prices are low and deals are plentiful, and you’ll save money while reducing waste.
6. Keep non-food items out of reach.
On that note, it might not be a bad idea to keep cleaners, heavy kitchen equipment or cooking paraphernalia somewhere other than your pantry. If you’re really serious about keeping your food storage area clean and pest-free, avoid placing items that can potentially spill and attract unwanted guests.
7. Group like items together.
There’s a method to my madness when it comes to grouping goods into logical groupings. First, I grouped foods by their level of perishability—while some foods can last for months and even years, others need to be eaten within a week or two. Next, I grouped similar items—cereal, pasta, flour and sugar are good examples. Having foods that share a purpose in one location means fewer trips back and forth between rooms to find what you’re looking for.
8. Consider size.
Some of us have pantry areas that are enormous, some of us have pantry areas that can barely hold a loaf of bread. With small spaces, it might be better to consider vertical organization options like tiered shelving units. In other words, don’t try to fit your entire pantry in one tiny corner of your kitchen—make better use of vertical space, and you’ll be able to fit many times more items in a smaller footprint.
9. Choose appropriate lighting.
If you have limited natural light in your pantry, consider investing in strong track lights or installing recessed lights.
10. Finally, create an easy exit.
Going in and out of your pantry regularly will help you unearth forgotten items lurking on those high shelves, so make sure it’s easy to enter and exit! If you can’t easily maneuver in and out of your pantry, take a few minutes to build a step stool or find another way to make it accessible.