Want to know one of my greatest love-hate relationships? It's PANTRY ORGANIZATION. As we all know by now, I'm a bit of a food hoarder and believe strongly in shelf-cooking (keeping a good stock of food on-hand to keep meals homemade, and inexpensive). Keeping a good stock of food at home can be a major benefit to your wallet – B-U-T…if that food is disorganized, messy, and cluttered, it can definitely feel more like a burden than a benefit!
Two years ago when we moved into our house I finally figured out a pantry organization system that works really well for my family. It took 8 years of marriage to get there (sad, but true!) but now that we have found our system, I'm passionate about helping you find yours!
Thus, for today's “Back to Productivity” challenge this month, I'm going to share exactly how I do my own pantry organization as well as loads of other ideas and tips I found to hopefully spark some organization inspiration for you! Now, I'm well aware that my pantry is GIANT – trust me, it was a huge selling point for the house we bought. But the last 2 houses we lived in had ITTY BITTY BITTY pantries that didn't offer much storage. So the tips I'm going to give today can be adapted to fit into almost any food storage/pantry space; large or small.
Let's get to it, shall we??
First, let me give you a tour of my own pantry to kick things off…
Here's a video I did a while back for a YouTube channel I used to contribute to. Many of the tips and systems are still the same ones I use today, so I thought I'd share this video to help you get a quick visual of how I do things:
So there you go! That's a quick overview of how I did my pantry 2 years ago, and frankly, not a whole lot has changed since then, ha!
Here's a breakdown of how I do my pantry organization:
1) CREATE A “MOMMY STATION”
In my pantry, this is a space where I stash items that I use every day. Such as kid hair items (I do my kids hair while they eat breakfast to save time in the morning), three ring binders that organize important documents, manuals and home maintenance phone numbers (as explained in this post), chore sticks (get info on our chore sticks here), files inside a file organizer holder for things like school assignments or important forms, and a kid junk drawer filled with things to keep my kids busy while I cook dinner.
If your pantry doesn't have a formal drawer/shelf area like mine does, you could use a hanging file folder or basket system that hangs over your pantry door, or even on your wall (as shown in this post). However you do it, just have “a place for everything, and everything in it's place” so you don't have piles on your counter!
2) ORGANIZE BY USE
When it comes to organizing a pantry the PRACTICAL way, sometimes you have to go based off of what makes the most sense based on USE, and not necessarily what LOOKS the prettiest. As fun as it is to browse Pinterest for amazing pantry ideas, I'd say 9 out of 10 are just for show, and really aren't very practical for the average human being. Thus, concentrate on USE, USE, USE!
Keep things you use the most often, on the most convenient shelf (which is typically eye-level). Keep things your KIDS use most often, on the shelf that is at THEIR eye level. Again, it may not look as pretty as the magazine-worthy photos you see online, but this is all about productivity and efficiency. Looks come second, mama!
As you go around organizing your pantry, start with the things you use the most often at the front of your pantry, and save the back of the pantry and the top/bottom shelves for the B and C-list items.
3) INVEST IN STORAGE BASKETS
The day I decided to stop stacking food and cans in my pantry and instead keep everything in storage baskets, the skies parted and my whole world changed! (No, but really!) For years I kept food loosely stacks along my shelves, trying to keep them as orderly and organized as possible. But, inevitably, things got shoved to the back and I never knew what I had and what I didn’t! Once I started keeping food in baskets and organized by category, it not only keeps things clean and contained, but helps me quickly see what I have, and has helped me cut down on SO MUCH WASTE since rotating food is so much easier!
I got my baskets from Target and Home Goods, but Amazon has various sizes as well. They also have these mesh baskets that could work nicely. The benefit of metal baskets are that they hold up through the test of time. The downside is that they scratch up your shelf (but keep scrolling for a solution!) and can look more messy since you can see into them.
Which is why I have also opted for some sturdy plastic ones. Just make sure they aren't cheap, because if they are, they WILL break! Baskets in general are definitely an investment, and you don't want to skimp on flimsy ones. I recommend considering just buying one or two per week if you need to, to pace yourself and your budget. I believe I got mine for around $8-$15 each from TJ Maxx, Ross, and Home Goods, but again, similar ones are on Amazon too.
Better yet, the other day I was at Target and saw these bad boys:
So if you're at Target in the next few weeks, keep your eye out for those.
Not only do baskets keep your panty looking nice and tidy, but they are also perfect for holding small packages of things, like lunch items and snacks. Remember when I did a whole post about snack systems? It's such a game changer with lunch and snack items FOR SHEEZY.
4) LINE YOUR SHELVES
Especially because of tip #3 (BASKETS!), you'd be amazed at home messy, scratched, and dinged up your pantry shelves can get. To keep everything looking nice and new, I lined my pantry shelves with some shelf liner paper. There are loads of cute prints and designs you can choose from. I opted for a heavy duty adhesive shelf liner and even after 2 years, it's held up like a champ.
Along with the shelf liner I also added little felt dot pads (or you could even use little bumper dots) to the bottom corners of my wire baskets to keep the sharp corners from shredding and cutting the liner paper, and also so they slide out nice and smoothly.
5) CATEGORIZE & LABEL YOUR BASKETS
Baskets are great and all, but they won't do you any good if no one knows what's in them, or where anything goes! To keep things straight, tidy, and clutter-free, it really comes down to labels, labels, labels! Give each basket a label so you know where everything goes. With wire and plastic baskets, sticky labels just don't stick. I opted for some gift tags I got from the Target dollar spot and they have held up great, even after 2 years. There are a lot of different places that have gift tags, but Amazon has some great options as per usual.
After you've purchased your gift tags, you'll want to write on each tag the food items that will be in each categorized bask, and then tie your tags on to your basket. If you're super cutesy and crafty, I found this free printables pin you could do instead:
6) CONTAINERS ARE A MUST!
If you buy big bags of things like cereal, chips, pretzels, nuts, or baking goods especially, having organized containers is a must! I buy bulk cereal, then put them in my favorite cereal containers to avoid making a huge mess. I also use them for crackers and other snack items. You can find cereal containers just about anywhere, but these ones from Amazon are my absolute favorite and totally worth the investment!
If you have a sweet tooth, you can also purchase some smaller see through containers to put your favorite candies in. Plus, whenever you have company over, simply go in to you pantry, pull out your candy jars and you have an instant candy bar for your guest to use! Oh! and check out this pin on my Organization Pinterest board! It shared shared some pantry organization tips on how to decide what food items should go in storage containers; and yes candy should definitely be one of them.
7) COOKBOOK ORGANIZATION
BONUS! Just like I love having an organized pantry, I also love having an organized kitchen. There are a ton of different ways to do this. However, these are so my current favorites…
- Cookbooks – I love to keep mine on a shelf in my kitchen. You could organize your books on a pantry shelf if you have the space, or opt for a kitchen cabinet like I do. You could organize them alphabetically, or even by rainbow color like I do (especially when they are in a glass cabinet or on a shelf that can be seen). This is a fun and easy way to brighten up a space!
- Another organization idea is to store spices in a drawer. Store them alphabetically so you can quickly find what you need.
See some of my other kitchen organization tips in THIS post and video.
That's all folks! These pantry organization tips and ideas are ones I have been using for years now. They have kept my pantry clutter free and me (and my kids) from going in to panic mode when I can't find what I need. Do you have any pantry organization tips that you absolutely love? If so, share them below! I would love to see how you Freebs organize your pantries!
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