Walking into a disorganized pantry can weigh heavily on your mind and on your confidence. Make the decision to organize your pantry this month. I’m sharing the exact steps AND my two favorite products.
A Cluttered Pantry
We go into our pantries every day. And think thoughts.
These thoughts might look like: This is my life. Disorder is everywhere. I give up! Everywhere I turn my house is a disaster. My family never keeps anything nice. I can’t make decisions well.
These thoughts create feelings like shame or frustration or even anger.
This week I helped a client organize her pantry.
Here are the steps you can use to organize your pantry.
Decide you are going to organize your pantry. That’s it. Make a decision, go all in, and don’t second guess or back away from your decision. Ask for help from a friend, an organizer, family members or just do it yourself.
Choose a time and make an appointment on your calendar.
A pantry like the one pictured takes about five hours alone or three hours if someone else is helping.
Go to work!
When the appointment time comes you need to FOCUS and go to work. No checking your phone or zoning out or relaxing. Don’t give up. Never indulge in overwhelm. It’s not confusing or too big of a job. Focus. Make decisions. Work fast.
Five steps to organize your pantry:
Focus on the top shelf and empty everything out, sorting into like-item categories.
Wipe down the shelf. Dust the cobwebs out of the upper corners.
Continue to the next shelf.
Emptying your entire pantry might not work if you can’t fit it all in your kitchen. Try doing a shelf or two at a time.
Go back through each like-item pile and try to keep only what you use…in your kitchen.
Get rid of all items that are almost gone, you don’t recognize or you haven’t used in over a year.
Check all expiration dates. Donate non-expired items to a food shelter.
Question if non-kitchen items can live in another location.
This step is a fun puzzle you get to figure out.
I prefer all like-items to stay together so I typically have the following categories:
Pasta, rice/grains, baking, chips, sweets, snacks/bars, nuts, fruit, pet, paper products, wraps, breakfast, crackers, etc.
Which items do you access the most? Put those on the easiest to reach shelf. Do you have younger children that need access? Put their things on lower shelves.
Put appliances on either the top shelf, because you rarely use them, or the bottom shelf because they are heavy. Whichever you choose, try to keep them all together.
Set Limits with Containers
I have two favorite items that work great to organize pantries.
Giant Lazy Susans: Use these in the corners. This utilizes the corner space which often gets crammed and forgotten. Put all round items on the Lazy Susan’s. I like one for all canned goods, one for condiments and oils, etc.
Clear plastic bins: These bins fit perfectly on pantry shelves. You can see what’s in them and they have taller sides so things aren’t falling out.
If you prefer a basket look these work great. And get these labels for baskets.
If you have an older house and the shelves are ruined I suggest using liner but if the shelves are in good shape I wouldn’t line them. Your leaky items will be in tubs or on Lazy Susan’s. This keeps shelving in good shape.
LABEL. Label everything. This is how the whole family will know where things go. It will help everyone put things away correctly. This is my favorite label maker.
Now, all you have to do is maintain this organization.
The secret to maintenance is to tie it to something you already do.
Grocery shopping is something you already do.
When you come home from grocery shopping, take items out of the packaging and put them in the correct place. This is a great task for kids. All of our snacks are kept in two bins in our pantry and if the kids are home they have the job of emptying the packages into the bins.
Menu planning and making a grocery list is something you do. Every time you plan your grocery list, look in the pantry, tidy it up, and try to use what you have in your menu planning.
If a bin is over flowing, this is the trigger alerting you it is time to purge that category. Grab that bin, dump it on the counter and purge old items.
Ask your questions in the comments. I’d love to see before and after pictures of your organized pantry! Read more pantry organizing tips here in a Redfin article my lazy susan tip was featured in.