Organizing the Kitchen Pantry in 5 Simple Steps

Is your pantry an eyesore? Are you buying duplicate food items because you don’t know what’s inside? Has your pantry had any unwanted visitors lately {i.e. ants}?

photo source: BHG KitchenBathIdeas

If you answered yes to any of the questions above, it is time to organize your kitchen pantry. Does this seem like a daunting task? If so, here are five steps to help you organize your pantry with beauty and function:

photo source: BHG KitchenBathIdeas

First – Clear, Discard & Sort
Remove all the items from the pantry and place into boxes based product similarity (i.e. cereals, snacks, canned soups, pasta, baking products, etc.). In the process, check expiration dates and throw away products that have expired {recycle the container / packaging if possible}.

photo source: Martha Stewart

Second – Clean
Clean the pantry shelves and floor with a damp towel.

photo source: La Dolce Vita

Third – Assess
Determine the group of items {cereals} that you use most frequently. With a post-it-note mark that box number one. Proceed to number all boxes from most frequently accessed to least. Also make notes on items that are out-of-stock and need to be replenished.

photo source

Fourth – Make it Pretty
Use decorative storage containers to hold certain items {i.e. tea, rice, flour } and to help you maintain a clutter-free pantry. I particularly like baskets, tins and jars to hide unsightly items. If you opt for plastic, buy BPA (Bisphenol) free containers. BPA is a chemical in many polycarbonate plastics that may breakdown and add harmful chemicals to food. Avoid types 3 and 7 plastics because they may contain BPA.

There are so many adorable ways to label the container like the DIY glass-etched storage jars above from Martha Stewart. It’s also important to determine the type and size of container needed before beginning this project.

photo source: Country Living
Fifth – Arrange
Ideally your most used items should be placed at eye-level {except for heavy items such as large water bottles which would need to be at the floor level}. Again use post–it-notes to number / categorize which shelve each group of items will be housed. Fill the shelves on the appropriate shelf. If you are running out of space, consider storing non-essential items in the garage or basement.

Have you organized your pantry? If so, what tips do you have for keeping your pantry organized?

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22 Responses to Organizing the Kitchen Pantry in 5 Simple Steps

  1. Gilbert and Cely June 14, 2011 at 7:02 am #

    Thanks for the ideas….

  2. Deborah Guinn Designs January 18, 2011 at 7:10 pm #

    Ok….I'm inspired. Thanks for all the wonderful pantry organizing tips.

  3. February 22, 2010 at 5:49 am #

    I'm very organized by nature, but it seems the pantry sometimes takes on a life of its own. Thank you for sharing these inspiration photographs and for articulationg five steps to organize once and for all this important storage area in the kitchen.

  4. Bromeliad February 15, 2010 at 9:57 pm #

    I'm pretty good about keeping the pantry semi-organized – except for the floor, which is where everything gets shoved in our little apartment when we just need things to get out of sight.

  5. Southern Aspirations February 14, 2010 at 10:46 pm #

    Great ideas! I had a huge pantry makeover a few months ago… Definitely takes time but is so worthwhile. I also recommend lazy susans…. there are so many better options than the plain-jane white plastic ones and really are a godsend in terms of keeping things close at hand and making it easier to get stuff in the back.

  6. Amanda February 12, 2010 at 3:17 am #

    These pictures make me want to clean and organize pronto! Thanks for the inspiration 🙂

  7. Joyeful February 12, 2010 at 3:00 am #

    Oh dear, my pantry definitely needs intervention! It's just too teeny tiny and tight of a space. Arrrgghh. What beautiful pictures of wonderfully organized pantries for me to drool over, though : )

  8. MaryBeth Hughes February 11, 2010 at 7:20 pm #

    if only i had a pantry. until that day comes, i am taking notes and will save this!

  9. Giovanna February 11, 2010 at 6:43 pm #

    this pantry organization post has some great ideas! thank you. the first one would actually work well in my new apartment, and right now, it certainly looks like an eyesore.

  10. LesleySW February 11, 2010 at 5:33 pm #

    This is just what I need to be doing. Great tips.

  11. MB February 11, 2010 at 3:10 pm #

    Very inspiring images and great step by step tips. Thanks!

  12. Vanessa February 11, 2010 at 4:18 am #

    Love the glass-etched containers. My pantry is 24″ deep with pull-out shelves – holds a ton of stuff and everything is easy to see. To keep organized, I just make sure that the item goes back on the correct shelf!

  13. Struggler February 10, 2010 at 10:41 pm #

    I'm lucky, our kitchen is not old enough for the pantry to be too much of a disaster, but I do need to do a bit of sorting and rearranging. It would be a good time, too, to eat up some of the more ambitious/exotic items I've purchased and not used.

    So pleased to see you are planning to meet Centsational Girl et al in Petaluma in April. I hadn't realized you're on the Peninsula, I had thought you were a SF city girl. Don't tell anyone, but I live in Redwood Shores 😉

  14. Averill February 10, 2010 at 9:02 pm #

    I need to organize my pantry desperately! Just 7 months living there and it's already a mess….of course, it would help if I'd get out all the decorative objects I've been storing in there until they find a permanent home elsewhere in the house. 🙂

  15. Laura Trevey February 10, 2010 at 7:40 pm #

    Fabulous ideas!! Definitely the “make it pretty” needs some help in my kitchen!!

  16. Just Breathe February 10, 2010 at 6:55 pm #


  17. Queen "B" February 10, 2010 at 6:49 pm #

    I really appreciate this post, great ideas and I love the etched glass. Pantries are a favorite for me,
    Aloha wishes from across the sea

  18. Things That Inspire February 10, 2010 at 6:36 pm #

    Again, you and I are on the same wavelength – I have been thinking about the pantry as my kitchen designer just presented the proposal for the design of the new kitchen, and the pantry was different than I expected. Different, but so much better! She clued into the fact that putting things behind closed doors really works so much better for me. So, she designed most of my food storage in a double door cabinet in the pantry, since I don't tend to keep things perfectly neat and organized. The pantry cabinet is going to have 4 pull out shelves on the bottom, and fixed shelves on the top.

  19. Honey B. February 10, 2010 at 6:31 pm #

    Great ideas! We're just about to move, and I'm feeling the need to get things cleaned out, and a system in place!

  20. Porch Days February 10, 2010 at 6:11 pm #

    Those pantry photos are lovely but obviously arranged for viewing. That is not real life!! No one lives like that.

  21. Chic Coles February 10, 2010 at 5:59 pm #

    I don't have a pantry but I babysit a alot and whenever I go to make dinner or get a snack, the pantry is always so hard to find anything in! When I get a pantry I am going to make sure it is always organized because double buying is something I am sure I would do!

  22. Dallas Shaw February 10, 2010 at 5:16 pm #

    great! when are you coming to work on my kitchen?