How to Organize Your Pantry | From Overwhelmed to Organized: How to Organize Your Pantry

Monday, February 25, 2013

How to Organize Your Pantry

Can you find what you need in your pantry?  Do you know how much you have of each item in your pantry?  Are you afraid to open the pantry door because something might fall out on you?

Pantries are very important elements in our kitchens, but they can easily become overwhelming.  Today I'll show you how I organized my pantry and give you some tips to help you organize yours.

We have a really small kitchen with limited cupboard space so we bought a pantry cupboard just after we moved in to give us more space.

Here is my "before" shot.  Not pretty!

At one point the pantry was sort of organized (small appliances on the bottom 2 shelves, snacks on the next 2 shelves, and cereal and a few other things on the top shelf).  I even had a couple of pretty boxes to contain some small things.

But over time, things sort of migrated to different shelves, depending on where there was space.  And as it got more crowded, we used the top of the pantry to hold surplus items.  It became more and more challenging to find what we were looking for and some things got buried at the back and forgotten about.  It was overwhelming!

So, I emptied everything out, threw out anything that was expired or that we didn't need, cleaned the shelves, and planned out the best use of each shelf.

Then I picked up some clear plastic shoe boxes to help group and contain the items I was keeping.

Here's the finished product:

So much better!

I actually organized this several months ago and it's stayed organized!  {The after pictures were taken recently so some of the food items have changed since the before shots were taken.  In case you were wondering :) }

I moved a few of the small appliances that we don't use very often to the cupboards in our basement.  That freed up more space on these shelves that we use every day.

It's easier to access what we need now.  And we can just pull out a bin when we need something that is at the back.

We don't usually have this much chocolate and candy, but between Christmas and Valentine's Day, we're a little overstocked right now :)

The bins really help contain the items.  I took all the granola bars and snacks out of their boxes so we could see better what we had and this way they take up much less space.

I was going to do the same with crackers, but since we usually only have a few boxes open at once and they fit so well into the bins, I'll try it this way for now.

I have lots of empty jars that I got on Freecycle that I had planned to use in the pantry but, since we have ceramic tiles, and my kids are still young enough that accidents happen... well, I just decided I'll find some other uses for those jars for now :)

And I know lots of people put their cereal into plastic containers, but I decided for now to keep it in boxes too.  We go through cereal so often that we're always aware of how much we have left and it just seemed like putting it into other containers would be extra work.

Since I had some extra space I was able to add a basket with water bottles which were previously scattered in various cupboards {and falling over frequently!}.  The basket helps keep them upright.  I also put a basket at the back of this shelf with our alcohol.  And in front of that I have a basket for overflow snacks if necessary {we get the big bags of chips from Costco and each one can take up a whole basket on their own!}.

I still have a few things on top of the pantry.  I was really hoping for a clear surface up there, but our griddle takes up nearly a whole shelf and I just don't have that kind of extra space in any cupboards.  We use it about once a week so it needs to be somewhere in our kitchen.  So, I've resigned myself to the fact that it will stay up here.  I moved the cupcake carrier to the basement though since we only use it occasionally.

And, you'll notice we have extra cereal boxes up there.  They aren't always there, but we don't really have anywhere else to keep our overflow food, and we go through cereal quickly.  So when there's a good sale or promotion, we stock up and the excess lives on top of the pantry.  For now anyway.

I added chalkboard labels to most of the bins so everyone in the family could find what they needed and also put things where they belong if they're putting away groceries.  And since they're chalk, I can change them up as our pantry needs change.

I love how the pantry is organized now.  The kids can reach the things they need to reach when they help pack their lunches or when they want a snack (they still have to ask... but this way they can get it themselves if I'm busy).

Here are some tips for you to organize your pantry:

  • Start with a clean slate (empty everything out and purge anything that is expired or that you know you won't eat).
  • Group like items together and contain them using baskets or bins.
  • Put items you use regularly at eye level and less-used items at the top or bottom.
  • If your cupboards are deep, use baskets or bins to help you access things at the back.  Lazy susans are great for that too.  So are sliding shelves.
  • Maximize vertical space with shelf risers, under-the-shelf racks, or extendable wire shelves.  You can utilize the back of the door too with back of the door shoe organizers or wire racks (depending on how close your shelves come to the door).

For more ideas on organizing pantries, check out my Kitchen Organizing board on Pinterest and my 31 Days of Organizing Ideas post on organizing pantries.

Does your pantry need organizing?  Which of these tips do you think will make the biggest difference for you?  Or, if you have a great pantry organizing tip, please leave it in the comments.

Happy organizing!

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