Pinterest and Instagram have tons of pantry inspiration, but you probably want to know how to organize your OWN pantry. Let’s be honest, most of our pantries are chaotic with random items that don’t belong and we MIGHT do a little quick organization before visitors come over. Don’t be hard on yourself. We’re normal people with real lives that aren’t always picture-perfect. As you read this, remember these are all suggestions. Stay true to yourself because there’s no right way to do this!
I’ve shared my pantry organization a few times on Instagram and the most common question is “How?”. Honestly, my mind cannot process anything and I cannot be at peace without organization, so an organized pantry is a requirement in this house. Organized spaces bring me clarity and I genuinely enjoy the aesthetics. I didn’t have an actual pantry in my apartment and wasted so much money on food because I couldn’t see what I actually had. That’s what pushed me to start.
My Pantry Organization Must-Haves
The items listed below are not essential per se, but I found them useful and they’re a good foundation. I played around with them and swapped a few things out, but would definitely purchase all of them again…and again.
- Baskets: Great for water bottles, paper goods, dry goods such as onions & potatoes (wire baskets are best in this case for airflow), and extra stock. I have oversized woven baskets in several rooms of our home and I love them.
- Bins: These can be clear or solid colors like pink, but I find they make snacks (and really anything) easily accessible. I started out with wire baskets but switched to clear bins. The look was just a little cleaner and felt like me.
- Air-tight containers: Canisters for baking items, pasta, coffee, oats, etc. This keeps them fresh for longer periods and makes them easily accessible with a cute spoon.
- Lazy Susans: These are AMAZING for saving space. You just turn the thing to get what you need! I have a lazy susan in several places throughout the house, but I use them for condiments in the pantry.
- Expandable Shelves: Perfect for canned goods and easy to adjust for a particular space. Although expandable, still check the measurements. I use this organizer for canned goods and jams.
- Cereal dispensers: This isn’t crucial but I like how these dispensers look, so I definitely splurged on them and have zero regrets!
- Floating Shelves: Depending on how your pantry is set up, these shelves can maximize space that you may not realize you have. I use them for storage bags, foil, etc.
- Spice Jars & Labels: These are easily my favorite purchase. I got these glass jars and vinegar dispensers, then added custom labels from Paper & Pear. Because of the layout of my kitchen, I decided to put them in the cabinet next to my stove. I’m obsessed with how they look and after nearly a year of use, I can say they’re durable. Definitely getting more!
The pantry Organization Process
Okay so how do you start? I had the advantage of organizing my pantry while prepping to move into a new home. But regardless of when you start, the process requires a clear plan, a solid budget, hard work, and patience. Hate to be redundant, but organizing your pantry/kitchen requires organizing your thoughts first. Let’s go!
1. IDENFITY YOUR PANTRY GOALS
I’m all for creating a mood board of inspiration posts, but don’t rely solely on what you’ve saved on Pinterest or Instagram. Create your unique look. Decide what storage methods would functionally work for you and your family. Would baskets on your bottom shelves be easier for your kids to reach? Do you want clear bins that allow you to see what’s in stock? Or maybe you want blue bins to hide clutter when visitors come over and blue would match your dish towels? Do you!
2. MEasure the space & do inventory
I cannot stress this enough. Measuring the space you have will prevent added frustration and trips to stores for returns. Every nook and cranny should be measured because all of it it can be used. Also, make note of the inventory you have and how you want to get items out of the pantry on a daily basis.
Fun Fact: I measured all of the shelves, drawers, cabinets, and doors in the entire house during the final inspection of our home. I walked around with a tape measure and spreadsheet pulled up on my laptop. The realtor and Keenan thought I was insane, but I was SO prepared at move-in. Unpacked the entire kitchen in maybe 45 minutes with my mom and aunt.
3. FIND A BUDgET THAT WORKS FOR YOU
Identify items you need, the quantity of each, what items will go where, and any items are you willing to splurge on if necessary (because we like luxury in moderation around here and we can’t always find a cheaper version with good quality).
Denisse Myrick and Hayet Rida teamed up to make a pantry organization guide as the #PantryAunties and it was super helpful for me. I used that and a spreadsheet to track what needed to be bought as well as where things would physically go inside the pantry.
4. LET’S GO SHOPPING!
Search for pantry items within your budget, but be mindful of your measurements. We’re still in a pandemic. No need to keep running back to the store for returns. Shop around online for the best bargains, make a list, and order. I share a few options here as well as below.
5. clear everything out
It’s moving/install day! We need to be able to see WHAT we’re organizing. That cereal that’s been stale for months, canned goods that expired 3 years ago (yes, they expire), cookies you weren’t supposed to buy anyway, and the baby toys that magically appeared behind the paper towels?…get rid of them (or donate to those who need help if safe). Keep things you will TRULY use. Wipe down shelves for a fresh start.
6. Put it all together!
Put everything into its appropriate container, bin, basket, and so on. You should already know this based on your notes, spreadsheet, etc. As with life in general, most things don’t go as planned. Make any adjustments as needed. Remember, this is your pantry. Do what works for you.
a few pantry Tips
- Repurpose items you already have. Got an old laundry basket? DIY! Nothing a little DIY can’t change with a little spray paint. This is also a great way to get your kids involved. An even better way to add things to your partner’s Honey-Do list.
- Dollar or mom & pop stores are your best friend. There are so many gems to be found for a fraction of the prices you’ll see from big-name brands. Home Goods and TJ Maxx are also great options. I splurged on items, but most came from cheaper stores.
- Unbox things as you put groceries up. Does it take a little longer? Yes, but that’s how you maintain the organization (and peace for me). I store things with the oldest in the front and freshest in the back (just like a grocery store).
- TAKE YOUR TIME! Pantry organization can be expensive and nothing has to be done overnight. You can start small with one section of the pantry, then progress to the next. We’re human, life happens and who will really know anyway, right?
Questions or suggestions? Drop them below!
Got your pantry covered? Head over to start your home bar area!