How to Organize Your Pantry


It’s ok, it happens to all of us. There are certain things that you buy, fully intending to use, but that just seem to sit there in the pantry taking up space. It’s easy to ignore at first, but eventually these items will have to come out.

Prepare your pantry for an all new look

  1. Remove everything and place it all in boxes or on the counter.
  2. Throw out food that has gone bad or is older than some of my neckties.
  3. Remove shelf paper and clean and scrub the pantry shelves. Hey, don’t put that old paper back! Use some new stuff.
  4. If it’s pretty dark and dingy inside, paint it with a white or pastel colored paint. You can illuminate it with one of those stick-on lamps that don’t require wiring.
  5. If you have adjustable shelves, move them up to minimize the amount of dead space – empty space above the goods on a given shelf.

Now restock by keeping like items together

  1. Shelve your goods in such groups as:
    • All canned vegetables
    • Canned meats, chili, soups
    • Boxed mixes – macaroni and cheese, ramen, etc.
    • Cereal
    • Canned and boxed fruit
    • Spices
    • Dry goods – rice, flour, etc.
    • Baking items — cake mixes, icing, baking powder
    • Snack items – popcorn, nuts, chips, fruit rolls
    • Paper products – napkins, paper towels, lunch bags, etc.
  2. Arrange items so that the taller ones are behind the shorter ones; a three-tier organizer expedites this, and a slide-out organizer eliminates the problem of trying to reach items in the rear. You can find these and other handy organizers at stores that specialize in that kind of thing.
  3. If you need to (if you have few items in a given classification), you can split a shelf among different classifications while keeping like goods together. If you’re really obsessive about neatness, you can put cardboard or plastic dividers between the goods.
  4. Be sure to keep multiple items of each food (say, three cans of corn) together so you can see at a glance how much of something you have.
  5. When you take one of your stored items out of reserve and put it into “active service,” always make a note that you need to replace it the next time you go shopping.

Another way to organize is for convenience:

  1. Rarely used items (or taller items) go on the top shelf
  2. Most-used items are placed at eye level
  3. Least-used items, tall items, items being held in reserve storage, and heavy items go on the bottom shelf
  4. Within this arrangement, you can then organize by grouping like items together.
  5. If you’re short on space, consider removing some non-essential items for storage elsewhere. For instance, paper goods in the garage, soft drinks and wine in the basement, etc. There is also something called a pantry caddy – mobile shelves which roll on casters and fit in any 10-inch space you have in the kitchen. They add a little bit of handy shelf space.
  6. When there’s room inside the pantry door, install wire shelves for storing small items like packaged sauces, mixes, spices, and extracts.
  7. Take noodles, flour, sugar, rice, popcorn, or any other foods that come in plastic or paper bags and put them in airtight containers. These maintain freshness, keep out bugs, and keep goods from spilling out of opened bags.
  8. Favor square containers over round ones. They fit better on shelves.
  9. Store all cleaning products away from food.

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