6 Steps to a Perfect Pantry

The pantry is one of the most used areas in your kitchen, especially if you have kids who love to eat! Chances are it’s overrun by countless boxes of granola bars, expired spices, ten bags of half eaten chips, and cereal boxes mixed in amongst cans of soup and stale crackers. Take back control of your kitchen by following these 6 easy steps to a more organized and perfect pantry!

1. Start fresh

  • Completely empty your pantry. Go through each item, look at expiration dates, and toss whatever is expired. Throw away bags that only have crumbs remaining. Trash or donate cans of food that you no longer plan on eating.
  • Start making piles of similar items. Group all of the cereal boxes together: the soup cans, the spices, and the pasta boxes. This way you can take inventory of what you currently have. If there are any items that don’t belong in the pantry, go ahead and remove them.
  • Now deep clean the shelves, walls, doors, and every surface in your pantry. You’d be surprised how messy this little area can get.
If you have wooden shelves, consider lining them with contact paper. It will cover any scuffs the shelves currently have, as well as protect from future wear and tear, and it makes cleaning super easy. Just wipe clean with a damp rag!

2. Contain

Clear containers will become your pantry’s best friends!

  • They are air tight, which keeps food fresher than the original packaging.
  • They are clear, which means you and your three year old can see exactly what is in there, and you can also tell when you’re getting low on something.
  • You can find clear containers that stack, which will save you space if you have a small pantry.
  • Contain your flour, sugars, pastas, cereals, and snack foods, such as Goldfish crackers or fig newtons.
Product Recommendation

Joseph Joseph Food Storage Carousel is the perfect solution to contain your pantry’s dry goods. With 6 assorted sized glass containers, brightly colored airtight seals to lock in freshness, and a rotating base for easy access to every item, this is the ultimate in space-saving, sleek looking pantry storage.

Baskets are another great way to organize food in your pantry.

  • Chip bags can be stored in a basket, as well as bags of cereal. Lose the bulky cereal boxes, stick a clip on the bag, and store in a basket.
  • Place all of your baking items into a larger basket or bin, so when it’s time to make a cake, you just pull the bin off the shelf and you have everything you need right there.
  • If you have kids who are big snackers, consider having a basket filled with their snack foods that is within easy reach.

Pretty much anything that you buy in a box or a bag can be placed in a clear container or a basket. Even consider transferring your olive oil, vinegars, and other liquids into glass containers. Not only is this an aesthetic way to organize your pantry, it also saves you time and money.

In a perfect pantry, there would be no more cardboard boxes, chip bags, or brightly colored manufacturer labels!

3. Label

Dust off the label maker and start printing. Label anything and everything, and in the future, replace the labels as you replace items. The beauty of labels is that you no longer will listen to, “Mom, where is the sugar? I can’t find the popcorn. Which cereal is Honey Nut Cheerios?” Well, we can’t promise you that you’ll never hear those questions again, but we can give it a good try!

4. Organize

Now it’s time to start filling the pantry back up with your freshly labeled containers and baskets! Group similar items together on the shelves. Place items you don’t use on a regular basis on the top shelves, and work your way down based on item usage. Place items that the kids use on a shelf where they can reach them, and items you don’t want them to touch, out of reach. Try not to hide containers and items behind others. If it’s out of sight, it’s out of mind, and that’s how you end up with ten boxes of spaghetti noodles and dried basil from 2004!

If you want extra credit in your pantry organization, try out these unique items, which will give everything in your pantry a proper place!

5. Utilize space

Use the inside of the pantry door as storage space, by installing a wire rack that can hold your spices, liquids, and other items. The inside of the door can also be used for hanging a cork board for recipes and shopping lists, or installing hooks for hanging paper bags and shopping bags. No matter what, the inside of the door should not be left empty. That is valuable, usable space! Use the floor for large items, such as pet food, which can be stored in plastic containers.

If you’re lucky to have a larger pantry area with lots of wall space:

  • Install a hook to hang your aprons.
  • Hang up Mastrad’s bag dispenser, which is a convenient way to store and reuse all those extra plastic bags you accumulate.
  • Check out Mastrad’s vegetable keep sacks. These protect vegetables, such as garlic, onions, and potatoes from the light, and easily allow you to store and retrieve them by the double-drawstring design.

6. Maintain

Maintenance is key to keeping a clean, organized pantry.

  • Keep a close eye on expiration dates.
  • Fill your containers as they start to empty.
  • When you buy new food, don’t just toss it on a shelf. Empty the pasta into the pasta container. Remove the granola bars from the box and place them in the snack basket. Put every item you buy into its proper place!
  • Every couple of months, go through the pantry and give it a good once over: throw out expired food, refill containers, relabel, and wipe down the shelves.

Print or pin our Basic Pantry Essentials so you have an idea of what you should always have on hand in your pantry!

You’ve tackled the pantry, now it’s time to focus on the fridge. Check out Proper Food Placement Within Your Fridge!

Photo credits: Pantry adapted from Chalon Handmade (CC BY 2.0), Dani, Little Paper Sparrow, Orange Blossom Shop, Ashley Sisk Photography  

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Dani lives in North Carolina with her two preschoolers. She is a stay-at-home/work-at-home mom who loves to clean and organize anything and everything. Her happiness is found in Jesus, days at the spa, and combating dark chocolate peanut butter cups with everyday workouts at the gym. She owns a wedding, lifestyle, and freelance photography business, Dani Nicole Photography.

Comments (2)

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    I did this to my pantry and all my kitchen cabinets based on some of this ideas and grocery shopping and cooking has been so much easier. Great tips!


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    Personally I wouldn’t just toss out anything that had expired. Most food will actually keep past is expiry date and it’s really wasteful to just throw it away because of the date on the packet/box/bag/tin.
    If it smells OK and looks OK, chances are it’s still OK to use.
    In 2013 I made and ate a pasta and sauce from a packet with the expiry date of 2007 and it tasted exactly the same as an in-date one!!


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