10 Rules for Organizing Your Pantry
There are so many rules for organizing your pantry that it can be hard to know where to start. Pantries are the lifeblood of a home where the kitchen and meal prep are a focal point. You approach your pantry to discover what you’ll make for the next meal. If you’re struggling with organizing your pantry, check out these rules for organizing your pantry!
Let’s be real here, who really wants to clean out a pantry? I’m lucky to have friends who will let me organize their houses and their cupboards! Keep in mind I never think anyone’s house is unorganized. LOL!
A few friends know I love to rearrange and organize cupboards, closets, pantries, and even garages. Sometimes you just need a little help to get you started because it may seem overwhelming at first. It truly brings me joy to sort through stuff and have my friends decide what they can discard, sell, or donate.
So, let’s get started with a few of my ideas to help you organize your pantry:
Table of Contents
- Do a Big Clean-Out
- Donate Unused Items
- Create a System
- Group Like Items Together
- Use Containers
- Label Everything
- Keep It Clean
- Shop For the Pantry You Have
- Keep Your Stockpile Elsewhere
- Keep a List
1. Do a Big Clean-Out (checkout these before and after pictures)
I’m so lucky to have friends who will let me organize their pantry as source material for a post! The first step to organizing your pantry is to do a big clean-out. This means getting rid of anything that’s expired, old, or that you know you won’t use.
It can be tough to let go of things, but remember that a clutter-free pantry will make your life much easier in the long run. 10 Things You Can Do with Expired Food
2. Donate Unused Items
If you have any non-expired items that you know you won’t use, consider donating them to a local food bank or soup kitchen. This is a great way to declutter your pantry and help those in need. The Pantry Needs These Simple Items
3. Create a System
Once you’ve done your big clean-out, it’s time to create a system to track how everything should be organized. There are many different options when it comes to organizing your pantry, so pick a system that works best for you and then stick with it. Some good options include grouping similar items together or labeling shelves according to category.
I also love these OXO Containers, any size is great. I just measure where I’m going to put the containers and order the ones I need that will fit the space the best. Remember, my motto, buy right the first time.
4. Group Like Items Together
The best way to organize your pantry is by grouping like items together. For example, keep all of your baking supplies in one area, keep all of your spices together, and place the canned goods so they can be viewed and reached easily. This will help you know exactly where everything is when you need it, and it will also help you keep track of what you have. I keep Mark’s breakfast cereal in these containers in a cupboard. These are 8-quart Commercial Rubbermaid Containers with Lids
5. Use Containers
Using containers is also a great way to organize your pantry. This will help keep everything neat and tidy, and it will also help you see exactly what you have. You can use bins, baskets, or even mason jars to store your food. If the containers are also somewhat airtight then you’ll find the foods will last longer.
6. Label Everything
Be sure to label everything in your pantry so that you know exactly what it is. This will help you find things quickly, and it will also help you keep track of your food. You can use labels, tags, or even chalkboard paint to label your shelves or the storage containers themselves. Food Storage Containers I Recommend
I use this label machine, I LOVE it! Label Machine
7. Keep It Clean
Be sure to keep your pantry clean and free of food debris. This will help keep bugs and rodents away, and it will also make it easier for you to find what you need. Be sure to sweep or vacuum your pantry regularly, and wipe down your shelves as needed. 58 Frugal Kitchen and Pantry Items You Need
8. Shop For the Pantry You Have
When you’re grocery shopping, be sure to shop based on the pantry size you have. This means that you should only buy items that you know you will use, and that will fit in your pantry. Don’t buy more than you need, and be sure to use up what you have before buying more. What You Need In Your Food Pantry
9. Keep Your Stockpile Elsewhere
If you have a stockpile of non-perishable food, be sure to keep it in a separate area from your pantry. This will help you save space, and it will also help you stay organized. You can keep your stockpile in a basement, garage, or even in a storage unit. 30 Survival Foods to Stockpile for Any Disaster
10. Keep a List
Having a list of everything in your pantry can be helpful. You can write down exactly what is in each container and how much you have, or you can keep track of expiration dates. This will help you keep on top of things and make sure nothing goes to waste. Make sure you have the staples that make for healthy foods and easier meal planning and prep, like flour, sugar, rice, pasta, canned goods, and other things your family enjoys on a regular basis.
What can you do if you have a small pantry?
If you have a small pantry, there are still ways that you can keep it organized. Be sure to use the above tips, and also consider these additional suggestions:
- Use door racks or hanging baskets to store items.
- Use clear containers so that you can see what’s inside.
- Keep frequently used items at eye level to make them easy to access.
- Keep frequently used cooking items together, such as spices or oils.
- Consider installing more shelves or other storage solutions to maximize your space. It may also mean moving the shelves closer together or it could mean spreading them out if the containers require that step.
- Remove any unnecessary items from your pantry that are taking up space but not being used, such as old food containers or unused kitchen appliances.
Overall, there are many different ways that you can keep your pantry organized, no matter what size it is. Be sure to find a system that works for you, and stick with it. With a little bit of effort, you can have a clean and organized pantry that will make your life much easier.
How can you organize your pantry on a budget?
Use what you have on hand to store items, such as empty food containers or mason jars. Look for affordable storage solutions, such as baskets or bins that you can find at dollar stores or thrift shops. How to Make the Best Pantry Ever
Why is pantry organization important?
Pantry organization is important because it can help you save time and money. When your pantry is organized, you know exactly where everything is and you can easily find what you need. This can help you avoid buying duplicates of items that you already have, and it can also help you make sure that nothing goes to waste. A well-organized pantry can also help you plan your meals, as you will be able to see exactly what ingredients you have on hand.
What are some common mistakes people make when organizing their pantry?
One common mistake people make when organizing their pantry is not taking into account the amount of space they have. This can lead to buying too many items or trying to fit things that are too large into a small space.
If you are struggling to keep your pantry organized, there are many tips and tricks that you can use. Be sure to figure out what system works best for you, and stick with it. With a little bit of effort, you can have a clean and organized pantry that will make your life much easier. May God Bless this world, Linda
26 thoughts on “10 Rules for Organizing Your Pantry”
Ha! I just spent the past two days rearranging and reorganizing my pantry! It’s a (former) bedroom so it’s very “roomy”…and very full! We have been remodeling and painting our kitchen and dining room so the pantry sort of got away from me, lol.
I’ve always tried to keep like items together, rotate, etc. But…I found 14 cans of fruit that got lost and ruined. Have now made lists of what’s where and how much is there. Trying to get more clear storage containers so I can more readily see what I have. With grocery prices being what they are I can’t afford to lose food!!
Great article Linda, keep up the good work!
Hi Beth, I love hearing you are working on your house, I love to remodel too! LOL! You know we all have had to toss a few cans, it’s okay. It’s called food insurance, we may eat it, but we may not. But we have it! I love clear containers as well! Linda
Another idea for a small pantry is to set aside space near your LTS for overflow from the pantry. Anytime you use something up, you restock the pantry from the overflow space. New purchases go directly to the overflow space.
I’m blessed with two pantry cupboards, one built-in and one freestanding, that have plenty of room for everyday items. But I still have extra cans of common staples like refried beans and soups, containers of cooking oil, etc all down in a separate shelf next to my long term supplies. Having a can-rotation system helps keep things in date, but for larger items I just have to be disciplined to rotate the supplies each time I add new stock to the overflow area. And I always check how much I have versus how much we’ve been using so I know not to buy things that might not be useable when we get around to them. Cutting out waste is important with the price increases lately, but having enough to get through until shelves are restocked can be just as important….
Thanks for all you do for the prepping community!
Don’t worry about those dates on the items. With the way things are going in this country and the world, you will probably be using most of it within the next year or so. Perspective. LOL!!!
Harry, I agree with you! This year is going to be rocky! Linda
I know most best by dates are pure fiction, but a few things I know have to be used pretty close to the date – oils are the biggest, but I’m also leery of some cream based soups like clam chowder, and saltine and soup crackers are surprisingly quick to spoil once past their printed date. Other things I’ll let it go FAR past the printed date. For example, I’m using tuna dated in 2017 and Chef Boyardee from 2019. Still quite safe to eat, although part of that may be the conditions I store the food in (a fieldstone basement in New England.)
Hi DmWalsh, great conditions having a basement in New England! Love it, Linda
I understand. You are lucky to have the fieldstone basement. Here in the Texas Hill Country we have to take other measures. We have a very small house, but I have a storage shed/workshop out back and have a well insulated room in it with a window air conditioner to keep it at 68 degrees. That’s where we store our supplies. As to dates, if something truly goes bad, I consider the loss like paying an insurance premium on a policy and never making a claim. LOL! Further, we had a can of Spam that had gotten pushed to the back of our house pantry and overlooked. About a year ago, I found it and it was dated sometime in 2012. The can looked good. I opened it. It smelled fine , looked fine and tasted fine. I ate it all of it and had absolutely no repercussions.
When the SHTF, we will not be able to be picky.
Have a great day!
Hi Harry, the Spam story is the best! Linda
Hi DmWalsh, thank you for your kind word, my friend! I love how we all have a system that works for each of us. You are so right about cutting down on waste especially now. Crazy how empty the shelves are right now. Linda
I knew I should never have let you know that we are not real well organized in our preps. LOL!!!
Hi Harry, I pictured you as extremely organized, my friend! I guess we must always define, organized….Mark is not organized at all. He would get compliments on how organized our garage was…people thought he organized it!! LOL! Nope, he would have to ask me where everything is. Life is good! Organized or not! LOL! Linda
Great suggestions! And very timely. My current pantry is well organised but now that I’m moving it will require a whole new look at things. Since my days of living in a wall tent up North I’ve always made sure to use critter proof containers, a habit that’s stuck with me. I also like to group small containers of related items in larger ones so you can just grab all the baking bits and bobs in one go and the like. My new place will likely have pantry space as a smaller front section of long term storage. If I’m lucky I can reuse my Excel spreadsheets in the new place with some simple cut and paste regarding locations. All my lovely adjustable wire shelving is packed up and ready to go! I’ve used zip ties to connect the shelves in what will hopefully be pinch and slide proof easily handled bundles. If I’m patient at the other end I can even poke the zip tie locking bit so they come loose and can be used again.
Hi Alice, thank you, my friend! Moving is a challenge but it sounds like you have it organized and ready for the move! Life is good even in a new location! Linda
I love an organized pantry! My kitchen pantry is fairly large plus I also have a cold room in the basement. When I use up something from the pantry, I restock from my basement supply and it goes on the next grocery list. I hardly ever run out of anything that I use on a regular basis and this has literally been a life-saver for my family. Husband thinks I’m a little OCD about this, but he’s never gone hungry. LOL
Hi Paula, I love hearing you have a large kitchen pantry!! Oh, and the cold room in the basement is a bonus! It feels great to never run out of the things we use often because we organize and rotate! Linda
Now that I have cleaned out and reorganizing our beverage cupboard, the rest is easy. We have a slide-out cabinet next to the stove for spices and condiments. Our lazy susan corner cabinet is baking supplies and store bought cookies. One upper cabinet hold all our medications, vitamins and supplements. We have two good size pantry closets. One holds all the dry goods, cereals, coffee and Tupperware Modular containers. The other is canned goods, glass jars and bottles. I don’t have a separate long term storage, with the exception of water and ginger ale in the garage cabinet. Our freezer in the garage could use some straightening. Lining up everything neatly is my calming therapy. When we first moved here, 6 years ago, I never thought I could fill all these closets…..now I know better!!!!
Hi Chris, I love your last comment, I never thought we could fill all of these closets! We know better! LOL! Organizing is calming to me as well. I like that word! Linda
Just a heads up everyone….TWO more food processing plants had fires over the weekend, One, a Perdue soybean plant in Virginia, the other, a Saladino plant in California. That makes 22 plants….. and the lame stream media says NOTHING!! Bigger and better pantries for all! God watch over us all.
Hi Chris, I have a post going live tomorrow on the fires. I did a lot of research about the percentages. I’m not as worried as I was before researching. I am concerned about our food chain, yes, indeed, the fires were not what I thought. Fires are bad, no doubt. Linda
I forgot to mention the candy cabinet…….everyone has one right????
Yep, I have a goodies cabinet.
Hi Janet, awesome, we all have a candy cabinet or stash! Linda
Hi Chris, oh yes, we all have a candy cabinet!! LOL! Linda
My pantry and my food storage are separate. I keep the things I use for cooking daily in my pantry. Everything that isn’t in a can, ends up in a clear plastic container. I am not going to pay good money for food and let it go bad. I have very large containers for white flour, wheat flour, macaroni, and brown rice. Medium containers for white rice, oatmeal, and stevia. Small containers for tea, and other sundries. I know where everything is, and know it will be good when I reach for it.
Hi Janet, I’m with you, I need clear containers! I can see what I have or what I need! Linda