It might be time for some pantry organization magic! Your pantry is kind of like a closet for your food. And, it can get just as unorganized! Time goes by, things pile up, food gets old, and you start to not see what’s going on. Until you’ve realized you’ve gone ‘pantry blind’ (like ‘nose blind’ 😀 ) and you know you need some new pantry organization ideas.
This realization might happen because you’re wanting to be able to create tasty pantry meals (see Easy Meals from Grandma’s Pantry here!), or you have company coming and you’re seeing things with different eyes, or you just recognize how hard it’s gotten to find ingredients in that black hole of a pantry.
If you believe it’s time to organize your pantry, we’ll look at some tips to do this as painlessly and efficiently as possible. There are 5 tips listed here and a cool, free Magic Pantry Organizer near the bottom of the post. I’ve just been through the process, so I will share my experience and shopping tips and my joy at getting it done.
#1 For Pantry Organization You Need to Know What You Have
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If you do think it might be time to organize your pantry, take a long, hard look at the space you use for storing your canned goods, baking ingredients, and snacks. Go a little deeper and do a mini-inventory of the foods and food products you have in there. Are there tons of cans? Several big boxes of cereal? Check it out. You’ll get a clearer picture once you start into the next steps, but having an idea of what you’ve got will help you determine what you’ll need in Step #2.
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#2 Organize your Pantry by Emptying it First
Bring the food down and out from the pantry. Think garage or closet de-clutter, where you make the piles. The throw-away, give-away, keep and sort piles work here to a certain degree. If you’ve got a lot of canned goods that could go to a community food bank, that would be great. But, your throw-away and sort piles will probably get the most action. Check dates. I tend to slide on the spices. They just don’t seem to get used up and so they hang around for too long. (Just ask my kids
Once you’re done sorting and throwing and giving, you’ll have an even clearer idea of what you’ll need in terms of storage containers to use in your organized (yay!) pantry.
Oh, and by the way, make sure to wipe those shelves down with hot soapy water (no bleach in a pantry). You might also want to put down some protective paper; waxed paper works well in this role.
#3 Pantry Organization through Pantry Re-Arranging
While shuffling things around and trying to think outside the box and with the encouragement of my daughter-in-law (she has lots of pantry organization ideas…thank goodness!), I discovered two sets of upper cabinets were totally empty. I hesitate to put things up high because it always requires help from a taller person or dragging out the step-stool. So, we’ll see if this works. Things we don’t use very regularly are up there at this point. In doing this small shift, lots of shelf room was opened up in the pantry. Another truth is that some things belong in the garage and that’s okay.
We have already talked about the seasonings and spices moving into their newly organized home in the kitchen. In order for that to happen, the cookbooks that aren’t on display moved upstairs (upper shelf) and the bottles of oil and vinegar, steak sauce, and teriyaki moved up a shelf and will be rotating on a lazy Susan soon.
#4 What Containers will You Need?
Once you have an idea of how much and which types of foods you have, you can figure out the containers you have and if you’ll need more. This is an essential step if you want to organize your pantry! Maybe you want to do a complete pantry remodel and purchase all matching baskets and bins. Maybe you want to invest in the wire mesh ones. So cute, but a little pricey for me.
My goal this time around was to have my Dollar Tree baskets stay with the mostly white theme! Those little standing shelves work great for putting cans above and below. I got four of them and organized my cans by type. (There is a LOT of tomato sauce!)
The next purchase was two sets of hard plastic, air-tight canisters. I love them, they’re stackable and can handle my flour, cornmeal, sugars, candy for baking, etc. Our Texas pantry was hanging up a welcome sign to some little friends who are particularly partial to flour, so going air-tight was essential! Still on my shopping list are a couple of lazy Susans for oils and vinegar and other tall jars.
Two more spice racks are needed. I previously had my most used spices in the cupboard next to the stove and the rest in two baskets in the pantry (not conducive to finding a certain spice quickly!) I’ve now moved them all to the kitchen cupboard and have separated them by use (baking or seasoning).
You might also want a few air-tight Tupperware-type containers for your cereals and pasta. This is especially important if you keep sugary cereal on hand for big kids or little grandkids. 🙂
#5 Create your “Organized Pantry Plan”
For this pantry organization tip, think re-arranging furniture! You’ve got all the food that belongs. You’ve got the containers to hold the food and keep it organized and fresh. And, you’ve got plenty of room to place all the pieces of ‘furniture’.
Put a little thought into what you’ll be putting where. Do you want the snacks at eye level or higher up out of temptation’s reach? Maybe you want to put all the baking products near each other? Or, do you want to organize by meal? You’ve probably got some Zip-Locs and aluminum foil in the mix, so where will those products go?
Let’s Wrap it Up!
Pantry organization (or re-organization) is a major accomplishment. Congratulations are in order for when you’ve ARRIVED! It would be so much fun if we could all do a ‘Pantry Crawl’ and cheer for each other’s hard work and rave over the beautiful spaces we’ve created. It’s a fact that not all pantries are created equal, so whether yours is a separate room or a section of the cupboards in the kitchen, the space can be organized and efficient and you deserve to feel proud when it is!
**Please comment below with questions or pantry organizing wins. We want to hear and help if we can.
Finding a new purpose in living and joy in the day-to-day was the goal when author Kathy Rowland and her entire family (adult kids and grandkids) moved from the PNW to Texas several years ago. The focus of Quiet Hollow is to encourage ‘next chapter women’ – those who are retired, empty-nesters, or have found themselves without a spouse to jump back into life. And, she shares multiple tips, ideas, and possibilities toward that end. Kathy completed her almost 30 years as an elementary teacher and hopped into over a decade of volunteer work, side hustle-type businesses, and grandchild care before discovering her unique and fulfilling purpose for the next chapter of life. What you read on Quiet Hollow is a large part of that calling. Another part is the happy life she’s leading in Central Texas in the same neighborhood as the 3 big kids and her 5 grandkids. She and her college sweetheart husband made sure to add a pool to their new Texas home, so there are lots of noisy, splashy days in their little oasis of a backyard. Come join her on Quiet Hollow in a conversation about finding and living the life you were created to live in this later stage. The chats will be full of laughter, support, faith, and inspiration to create.