Pantries are one of those places that are tough to organize because you are constantly using everything. In this case, the hardest part isn’t organizing the pantry, but instead keeping the pantry organized. Personally, I have a pretty small pantry, so it has been so important for me to make the most of every inch. In doing this, I have figured out the perfect, 6 step system to turn your pantry into one of those beautiful Pinterest pantries. Plus, as an added bonus, I have included a few extra kitchen pantry organization ideas to make sure that your pantry will actually stay organized.
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The 6-Step Pantry Organization Process
Step 1: empty EVERYTHING
Before you can start organizing, you need to empty the entire space. Whether you have a huge walk in pantry (I’m jealous!), a small cabinet or anything in between, you need to take everything out before you can really get started. When I organize anything in my kitchen, I usually put everything on the island or kitchen table so I have plenty of space to go through it all. If your kitchen space is really small, it is worth moving it all to another room so you have enough space. Organizing is so much easier when you have room to spread out.
Once everything is out of the space, you are left with a completely empty pantry. And if your pantry is anything like mine, that is a very rare sight. While everything is out, take a minute to wipe down everything. Wipe the shelves, sweep the floors, everything. You’d be surprised how dirty it all gets.
Step 2: purge, purge, then purge again
For some organizing projects, there isn’t much that you have to purge. However, with the pantry–or really any space involving food–this is definitely not the case. This might be the most important step on the list. I can guarantee that you have at least one expired piece of food. For most of us, it is a lot more than one (myself included).
It only takes a few minutes to go through all of your food and check expiration dates, but it is so worth it. Especially if you have a small pantry, you don’t want to waste that precious space on something you can’t eat anyway.
After you throw away anything expired, do another quick look at all the food and check to make sure everything you are left with is something that you need to keep. If you can never see yourself eating something, don’t waste the pantry space!
Step 3: categorize “like” items
At this point in the game, you should be left with everything that needs to go back into your pantry. Now, you need to categorize everything. The best way to start is to just move things around to be near other similar foods. For example, move all the salad dressings together and all of your canned goods in one place.
Then, you can start to make your categories. Start general and then get more specific based on the foods that you have. In my pantry, the categories I have are dressings/marinades, oils, vinegars, salad toppings, soups, breakfast, pasta, rice, snacks, and some others.
Step 4: use the right bins
It is so important to use bins that are going to help your space, not hurt it. While some bins are great for other spaces, they may not work the best in the pantry. And as much as it pains me to say, just because it looks like the pictures on instagram doesn’t mean it is going to create a functional system for you.
The bins you use are going to largely depend on what your space is. I have a small pantry with oversized pullout drawers. In this space, I use clear bins which work to divide up such big drawers. For a larger, walk-in style pantry, baskets work great to contain everything and also look beautiful in the process.
Another sub-step in step 4 is to decant as much as possible. Not only does everything look so gorgeous, it actually helps to keep all of your food organized as well. In my own kitchen, I decant all of my baking goods, cereal, salad toppings, nuts, and some snacks.
My favorite pantry products
Click for all of my favorite pantry products! I can guarantee you are going to LOVE these. They have helped my own pantry stay so organized, so I hope they do the same for yours!
Cereal containers (I use this for cereals and pancake mix)
4 quart container (I use this for flour and white sugar)
2.8 qt container (I use this for powdered sugar)
2.2 qt container (I use this for spaghetti and croutons)
1.7 qt container (I use this for walnuts, pistachios, and dried cranberries)
Small clear bin (I use this for yogurts and puddings/jellos in the fridge)
Large clear bin (I use this for boxes of pasta, boxes of rice, and oversized chip bags)
Wicker bins (I use these in the pantry and all over the house and I LOVE these bins. If you are looking for wicker, these are perfect!)
Metal wire bins (these are super cute and come in a bunch of colors and sizes)
Wicker bins (another great option if you are looking for wicker)
Step 5: put everything back
Once you decide what bins/baskets/products you want to use, just play around with what goes where. Try to designate each category you made in step 3 to a separate bin. Then, place like bins near each other to make easy access systems. You might have to move things around a few times before you figure out what works.
Step 6: label EVERYTHING
The final, and maybe most important step is to label everything. If you have been here long, I probably sound like a broken record. But I will keep saying it: you need to label EVERYTHING. If you live with other people, labelling makes sure that everyone knows where everything goes. And if it’s just you, you should still be labeling. Even if you think you will remember where everything goes, 9 times out of 10 you won’t.
If you have a label maker, use it. If you want a label maker, click here to buy my favorite! And for those who don’t have or want a label maker (which I find very difficult to understand haha!), you can use anything to label. Get some tape and a sharpie and go to town. You can also buy blank labels that you can write on and attach to your bins. Regardless of what you choose, you should definitely pick something and label!
Other kitchen Pantry Organization Ideas
For a pantry in particular, it is so important to leave some empty space. Unlike most spaces in your house, the contents of your pantry are constantly being used and thrown away and refilled. That being said, it is so important to make sure you aren’t overcrowding your pantry, or else you won’t have any room for new foods.
Buy what you have room for
Going off of my last tip, if you have a small pantry, you have to account for that when you go shopping. Of course, buy whatever foods you want to eat. But… be reasonable at the supermarket and keep in mind the space that you have to store this food. If you are looking for some supermarket tips, click to read about My Best Grocery Shopping Tips for New Shoppers!
Make sure whatever you are doing is practical and sustainable
Above all, if you take one thing out of these kitchen pantry organization ideas, I hope it is that you make sure the systems you are creating are sustainable in the long run. You know yourself better than anyone, so set up your systems accordingly. For example, try to have easy access to all of your most used items and put those lesser eaten foods on higher shelves.
If you’ve finished your pantry and want more kitchen organization, check out my best ideas for Tackling Serving Dishes & Platter Organization!