Before I sit down to work at my desk, I have to tidy up my workspace. It drives me crazy to have things out of place when I am ready to sit down and tackle a to-do list.
Similarly, I feel the same way about my kitchen. I am a notoriously messy cook, so I can’t have a messy kitchen before I even begin to cook or it will be a true disaster by the time we are finished.
The pantry is like the heart of the kitchen. Without an organized pantry, the rest of the kitchen is bound to be chaotic, which can make cooking stressful, especially if it’s something you already don’t enjoy.
So if you’d like to reduce the chaos in your kitchen but don’t know how to organize your pantry, here are some steps you should take!
1. Move things from your pantry to a countertop or table, shelf by shelf.
When you’re organizing the pantry, it’s easiest to take everything off of a shelf and move it to the counter. This will help you truly see all of the items you have! Take the opportunity to wipe down those shelves while they’re empty, too!
2. Determine pantry categories that work for you, and then sort items accordingly.
I personally like to organize my pantry in sections. I like for snacks, spices, grains/pastas to all be in the same place, respectively. It helps to sort these items in groups when you have them out of the pantry so that you can put them away together as well.
Here are some pantry categories to consider:
- Dry ingredients
- Wet ingredients
- Healthy snacks
- Junk food
- Breakfast foods
- Canned goods
3. Sort through dry goods and toss anything that is expired or stale.
This is something we don’t always tend to do on a day to day basis. Old food gets shoved in the back of the pantry and forgotten until we make it a point to go through it. You just might be surprised by what you find!
4. Put frequently used items into glass or clear plastic containers.
Boxes, bags and even non-clear storage bins can make a pantry feel really cluttered. It also makes it difficult to see what you have in your pantry which can result in overbuying things you may already have!
5. Add labels to your clear storage containers.
While you can see the contents of these clear bins, they are just SO much prettier with these DIY labels. I’m a big believer that things should be both functional and attractive because we are so much more likely to follow through with a system if it’s both functional and visually appealing!
You can either purchase vinyl labels from a craft store or make your own using a die cutting machine, like a Silhouette Portrait which is what I used for this. You can download the file I used below for free!
6. Use baskets to store loose items like coffee pods, tea bags or cereal bars.
Using baskets breaks up the monotony of boxes, bins, etc., in your pantry and is a great way to efficiently organize smaller items.
7. Add shelves or spice racks to make the most of tall spaces.
We have a few spice racks that make it so much easier to sort through spices and also be able to see all of the spices we have at a glance. If you have taller spices that don’t fit in a typical spice rack, you can get a different organizer for the ones that don’t fit.
8. Use a lazy Susan to be able to use corners in pantries or to store smaller items.
A lazy Susan allows for quick access to certain items that may be in a back corner of a pantry or simply boxed items like baking soda, cocoa powder, corn starch, etc., as shown here. Using a few lazy Susans in our pantry has made it so much more efficient for us and easier to find items!
Bonus tip! Keep a list of frequently used items that are in stock or out of stock in your pantry.
These quick tips will help you to keep your pantry organized. Plus with these DIY kitchen pantry labels, your space will be functional and pretty, too! Don’t forget to grab the file to use with a Silhouette machine here.
How do you keep your kitchen and pantry organized?
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Read Next: How to Maximize Kitchen Space (15 Ideas)
Editor’s note: Originally published August 2016; updated July 2020.