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Perfect Pantry Organization

The pantry is often the least-loved space in our kitchens. Hidden away behind cabinet doors or in its own closet area, the pantry is easily forgotten and regularly left to stew in its own chaos. If you’ve ever bought pasta not realizing you had two boxes or had to dig through a mountain of expired canned food, you know what I’m talking about.

A brown wood pantry with a rolling ladder                It’s time the pantry got its day in the sun. Come with me on this journey to whip our pantries into shape using these eight easy tips. By the time you’re done, your pantry will be organized and beautiful.

  1. Throw out expired food. It seems obvious that we should throw away expired food, but what if you never noticed? You may have cans and dried food that you’ve just forgotten about, but they’re taking up space, all the same. So step one in this process is to go through your pantry and anywhere else you keep shelf-stable food. Look for anything that’s past the printed date, and chuck it.
  2. Categorize your food. Whether you want to organize by type (staples, vegetables, etc), by packaging method (cans, bags, etc), or any other method you want. Think about the types of food you buy most often and how it’s packaged. This information will inform the coming steps, so make sure you’re thorough.
  3. Use containers. There’s a good chance you already have enough shelf space in your pantry for everything you want to store, but it probably isn’t set up to help you organize effectively.
    shallow pantry with blue doorsWe recommend using soft organizers made out of canvas or plastic for rigid packaging like cans and bottles. You can even color-code these organizers so you know at a glance where to find the can of soup or bottle of balsamic you’re looking for.
    When it comes to things like rice, pasta, and other products that are shelf-stable without their original packaging, we recommend airtight plastic containers that can be easily opened and re-sealed for easy use. Flour, sugar, pasta, rice, dry beans, etc. are all excellent candidates for storage in airtight plastic containers.
  4. Get a spice rack or organizer. You probably already own something like a spice rack, but there’s a good chance you don’t have enough room in it to store all your spices. Take the time to upgrade, and when you do, buy one that’s much bigger than you’ll need. Or if you can easily categorize your spices (e.g. high use spices vs rarely needed), get two smaller ones and position them appropriately in your kitchen. Spice racks can be quite beautiful by themselves, so if you happen to have plenty of counter space, a spice rack can double as a pleasingly domestic decoration.
  5. Label everything. We know how perfect organization breaks down; you start by putting one thing where it doesn’t belong, believing that you’ll come back later and fix the situation. By labeling your shelves and organizers, you’ll immediately recognize when something is out of place and be encouraged to put it where it belongs. The longer you abide by your labels, the harder it will be to become disorganized.
  6. Keep heavy items on the floor. If your family buys filtered water, large boxes of beverages, or you just shop at Costco regularly, make sure you keep some floor space available to store heavy items. Shelves are better used for smaller products, and you’ll extend the overall life of your pantry by not over-straining shelves.
  7. Keep paper products out of the way of food. Toilet paper and Wine room with marble countertoppaper towels are a critical staple of the American home, but they’re some of the most difficult to store due to their volume. Our advice is to keep them completely out of the way. Place them on high shelves in your pantry, or even in your garage or a hall cabinet. Make sure they’re still easily accessible while keeping them out of the way of your more important organization.
  8. Keep cleaning supplies away from food. Especially if you have kids, cleaning supplies are best kept away from snacks or anywhere your kids access regularly. Even if you don’t have kids, cleaning supplies are best kept under a kitchen or bathroom sink. Away from your food and closer to the places you’ll actually need them, cleaning supplies are best kept out of your pantry.


Ultimately, the best thing you can do to keep your pantry organized and accessible is to keep up with whatever you decided to do. Get in the habit of putting things where they belong, and over time that habit will become instinct.