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How to Organize Your Pantry in 5 Simple Steps

In this post: Having an organized pantry makes everything else in the kitchen so much easier. Here are 5 steps to purge and organize your pantry – so you can get on with life!

Having an organized pantry makes everything you do in the kitchen so much easier.

I mean, think about it.

If your pantry is well planned and laid out, you can meal plan and grocery shop like a boss. And of course, when you have a meal plan, life in general is easier because you don’t have to think about what you’re going to feed your family constantly!

With that in mind, here are 5 steps to a more organized – and stocked – pantry.  

5 steps to a more organized pantry

(Our current pantry cabinet above, and our old pantry on a rolling cart in our last house’s kitchen below.)

diy rolling kitchen pantry shelves | www.akadesign.ca

How to Organize Your Pantry in 5 Simple Steps

Now, stick with me, friend. Your kitchen is temporarily going to look like a bomb went off. It’s going to get a whole lot messier before we get to the other side. But it’s so worth it, I promise!

If you think you might become overwhelmed with the job, my favorite trick to avoid this is to break the pantry up into zones and only tackle purging and organizing one zone at a time. 

For example, follow the first three steps below for just the dry goods, then repeat them for the canned goods, the baking ingredients, salty snacks and so on. Before you know it you’ll be ready for steps four and five and you won’t feel overwhelmed at all. 

So, here are the steps to follow for an organized pantry:

1. Pull everything out of the pantry

Step one in organizing your pantry is to pull everything out and place it all on the countertops or the kitchen table for sorting. This makes a big mess, but it is truly necessary to get organized.

(Remember, if doing it all at once is too much, just do one type of pantry product at once.)

2. Purge expired and other items

Step two is to toss everything that is expired.

You don’t want to keep anything that is well past its best before date. Some foods will last a little longer than others, but if you’re in doubt, toss it. There’s a great list of how long pantry goods will last here

Other things to purge, and maybe you can donate these items, are things that your family no longer eats. Like if someone has developed a food sensitivity or food aversion right after you’ve stocked up. Ask me how I know about that! 

diy spice rack picture ledge canning jars

3. Sort like with like

Step three is to place like with like (on the table or counter for now, you will move it all into the pantry shortly).

For example, put all the mac and cheese together, all the soups, the snacks, the pasta, etc. Another option is to put everything needed to make a meal together: taco shells, refried beans, salsa, taco seasoning, corn, etc. and spaghetti, sauce, garlic bread, etc.

4. Use baskets, bins and labels

Step four is to make use of baskets or other containers for corralling things like spices or packets of seasoning, etc. so they don’t spread all over the cupboard.

Whether you’ve been working on one section of the pantry at a time, or you’ve done the whole thing in one fell swoop and you’ve now removed, purged and sorted everything, now is the time to figure out what (if any) new storage bins and baskets you need. 

Choosing the right baskets and bins to organize your pantry

To do this well, think about a few things before you go shopping for containers:

  • Do you always keep a certain thing stocked in multiples or in bulk? If so, you’ll need a bin or basket large enough to support that. 
  • Do you cook the same meals over and over again? If so, it may be easier for you to store all the pantry ingredients for that meal in one place, as suggested above in the sorting step. 
  • What size are your pantry shelves? Make sure you take measurements and have them on hand when you go looking for pantry storage containers. It’s so easy to mis-judge the size of something in the store vs at home. 

Then make sure you label your baskets and bins so you can easily identify the items inside at a glance. You could use label maker, or even a piece of masking or washi tape and a marker if money is tight. I created these free Silhouette Machine Pantry Organization labels (or you could use these ones from Amazon) to keep your pantry organized going forward!

It’s also important to note that you will want to put the things you use most on the easiest to reach shelves and the least-used items higher.

keep spices in canning jars

5. Restock your pantry

Step five is to stock your cupboard after you’ve purged and sorted. 

To do this get out your meal plan, and make a grocery list. Grab extra items that are on sale or even just a couple extra of the pantry ingredients you use most often. 

Check out this post: for a more detailed how to stock your pantry

Bonus Pantry Organization Tips

There are of course a few other things you could do to make your pantry function better, or even just look prettier:

  • Add additional storage by adding small shelves that hook over the top of the door. These are great for spices and food storage wraps and bags. 
  • Cover up stained or well-used pantry shelves with contact paper. 
  • Paint the back wall of your pantry with a fun stencil, like we did with our small-closet-turned-pantry at our old house

That’s it. Five simple steps to organize and restock your pantry, plus a few bonus tips to make it even more organized and lovely!

how to organize your pantry text on pink background

How often do you rejig your pantry? Do you find keeping an organized pantry simplifies everything else?

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