How to Organize a Pantry

If your food organization is out of control, and you cant find anything in your pantry easily, follow these tips and suggestions to get an organized cleaner pantry!


You may have a pantry in your home where you store all your food. Or you may store food in various cupboards in your kitchen, and around your home.

Wherever you store and keep your food items, having those items organized and tidy will not only help you find things easier and work better for you. It will also just, well, look better!

Nobody wants to be confronted with a messy cupboard or pantry when they go looking for something. It is off-putting, doesn’t serve you well, and also you just won’t feel good about that messy space staring back at you.

You may have put off organizing your pantry or cupboards because it takes time that you just don’t have.  Or more commonly, you just don’t know where to start.

But organizing your food cupboards and pantry can be done in less than a day, less than half a day in fact. It will require a little time investment up front, but it will be so worth it!

Here are all the steps you need to take to completely re-organize, clean out, and make your pantry work better for you!


How to organize a pantry. Tips and suggestions to completely organize and clean your pantry or food storage


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Start out Removing Everything First

Everything, and that means everything, needs to be removed from the space you are organizing first.

Take everything out of those cupboards/pantry and place them somewhere you can sort through them easily.

A kitchen or dining table is ideal for this.  Or even on your kitchen counters.

It isn’t going to look pretty! But this is only a temporary step in the process!  In fact, go ahead and take a photo of all that stuff that you just removed from your pantry! Because later you are going to look at that photo and be amazed at what you achieved!

Clean the Space

Once everything is out of the cupboards/pantry you need to completely clean the space.

If the space has a floor, sweep it and clean it. Clean down shelves and even the walls if needs be.

Wipe up any spills that may have happened in there. Create a nice clean blank space going forward!


Go Through what you Took out

Go through everything that you just removed from those cupboards and pantry.

Any foods that are old and expired, throw them away. Anything leaking or spilling, throw it away.

Anything that you have never used, and will never use, either throw it away, or (if it is still within the sell by/use by date) perhaps donate it to your local food bank. 

Related: How to Inventory your Pantry


Group Everything Together

Now you have got rid of old and expired food, and things you won’t ever use, group everything together in like groups.

For instance, group flours together, rice together, canned goods together.  Keep baking items together, snack items together and so on.

This will make things much easier when you put everything back!

Re-Purpose Some Things

Some items you may need to move and store somewhere else. There are probably things in your cupboards and pantry that certainly don’t belong there! Move them to where they do belong!

You may also decide that another space in your home is a far better place to store certain items. Move them there!

Related: Pantry Staples you should always have on hand


Go Through Your Containers

If you were previously using containers and storage items in your cupboards/pantry, go through them.

Are they still good to use? Is anything cracked or broken?  Is something ugly and you hate it?  Go through all those storage items and see what you can re-use, and what you can get rid of.

For the containers that you are going to keep, rinse them out and give them a wash.  If they already have food stored in them don’t waste the food of course. You can always wash them out next time that food item runs out.


Decide what you Need to Buy

With any organizing project, I always advocate waiting until the project is well underway to see exactly what you will need in the way of storage items and containers.

When you see the space in front of you (which is hopefully still empty right now!), and all the items that you are keeping and putting back, you will be able to see what you need to possibly create better storage for.

I have found over the years that it is never wasting money to purchase good storage items and containers. It may feel harsh up front spending money on something that is only going to store and hold something, and probably not even be seen much by others.

But by purchasing something well made and well designed, you should be able to keep that item for years and years working well for you, and keeping you organized.

Measure That Space

You need to know what size containers to buy, and whether or not something will fit, so measure the insides of your pantry or cupboards.

Measure the shelf heights, and the height from the bottom of the last shelf to the floor. Measure the height from the top of the first shelf to the ceiling.  Measure all the space that you have, so you know exactly what size item will fit.

What do you Need to Store?

What items do you have that need to be stored, not in their original containers? For instance, baking ingredients such as flours and rice would benefit from good quality glass or plastic storage containers that will keep them fresh, dry and out of the way of pests.

Do you need baskets in your pantry so that you can hold baking supplies together, or snack items together for easy access?


What do you Need to Keep Tidier?

If you have lots of canned drinks in your pantry, do they just look messy sitting there on the shelf? Would they look better placed in a basket, or a special dispenser?

Do those small items just look cumbersome sitting on your shelves? Could you tidy them away into baskets that would look better?

Think about how to make that space tidier and neater.

Do you Have a Color Scheme or certain Style?

Do you have a certain color scheme, or certain material that you want to use throughout the space?

For instance, do you want to use brown colored baskets only? Or do you love the look of wire aluminum baskets?


Organize your Pantry to Make it Work for You

Your own family and needs are going to be much different to another family’s. So you need to design your pantry space to work how is best for you.

Consider how you use your pantry/cupboards, and how your family life works currently.

Do you need to have snack items clustered together and easily accessible when your kids get home from school? Do you need to have movie snacks in a certain area to be grabbed for your family movie night?

Do you bake all the time, and need your baking goods all together easily accessed by you at the front of the pantry?

Consider all this when you are starting to consider what supplies to buy, and how to organize that pantry going forward.


Tips for Making Your Pantry/Cupboards work the Best for you


Label Label Label!

How many times have you looked at that jar of something, and wondered if it is regular flour, cornflour, or rice flour etc?!

When you originally put that item into that jar you knew what it was, and didn’t think you would forget that! But as time has gone by of course you have forgotten!

Label everything, so you can easily identify what you have, quickly and easily.

Labeling will also make your items far easier to find.  That box is of snacks, well would someone know that from just looking at it? Label what is in each container, basket and box.



Use Can Risers

Can Risers can help you locate your canned items so much easier inside your pantry or cupboard.

How many times have you looked at your shelf of cans, and had to pick them up one by one to identify what is in each one?

They all look the same from the top when you are viewing them!

Can risers can let you see instantly what cans you have on your shelves. No more hunting around! This expanding shelf organizer is a great buy.




Create Extra Space

You don’t just have to make use of the obvious things like shelves to store things in your pantry. There are other places, perhaps not so obvious, that you can also use for storage

The back of the door to your pantry is perfect space to use.  You can organize spices and smaller items in a rack on the back of the door

You can use the floor space in your pantry for extra storage. That space works well for bins for things like dog food for instance.




Use Items for Easy Access

Lazy Susans are perfect for keeping like items together, easily accessed and stored in less space.  



Clear storage bins keep items together, and show exactly what is inside them.


Cleaning out and organizing your pantry is one of the best organizing projects that you can do for your home. It will make you more organized, save you time trying to find things, and make your home look so much better! 

If your food organization is out of control, and you cant find anything in your pantry easily, follow these tips and suggestions to get an organized cleaner pantry!

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