Prep Your Pantry for Organization

This month, my followers and I are focusing on organizing the kitchen. Want to join us in this month-long kitchen challenge? Click here. I love helping you in the kitchen because long after your shiny New Year’s resolution to eat healthier has worn off…you’ve still gotta make dinner. Organizing your kitchen when you aren’t under the gun from a big food holiday gives you more time to organize thoughtfully, with purpose. Prepping your pantry this time of year can save you money and help you with your bigger goals.

You might have a bigger kitchen project in mind, but you don’t have to wait for a full remodel to get a better pantry. My number one tip is to keep everything in sight. If you have a skinny pantry like this one, you might wish you had more space, but nothing is getting lost in the back and you won’t really have to worry about pantry staples expiring before you can use them.

skinny pantry organizing


What if you have the opposite problem, with non-adjustable shelves that are too deep and impossible to keep organized? This can be a real problem that leads to a lot of food waste.

Pantry organizing before


Add a couple of adjustable step risers along the back wall and side wall and create instant structure. BAM! You can see everything.

pantry organizing with step risers


Complement these with some shallow baskets for bagged staples and sauce packets (these baskets are similar), and you have a winning combination. The baskets keep groups of snacks and staples together, make it super easy to move things around on the shelves to find what you were looking for, and also help to contain messes.

pantry organizing after

All of these supplies set us back about $30 and will last for years. If you do have the chance to upgrade or remodel your kitchen, these can easily be re-used in any design.

Need more ideas for prepping your pantry to be more organized? Be sure to pick up my book, Organizing Your Kitchen with SORT and Succeed. It’s a short book and a quick read, I promise.

Organizing Your Kitchen with SORT and Succeed

There are plenty more quick ideas that you can use to organize your pantry. Re-position those shelves! You can lose a lot of valuable real estate to poorly positioned shelves. Keep similar items together in the pantry, and you should be able to vary the height that your items need. Pasta and cereals generally are taller boxes. Cans are shorter. Have more wood shelves cut at your local hardware store if needed. Bt changing the position of your pegs, you might be able to add another shelf or two in an existing pantry, giving you 20-30% more space.

Use the 2×2 Rule. Try not to stack things higher than 2 items or deeper than 2 items. Tall stacks get tipsy quickly, making a mess. Items on the bottom and in the back get lost and forgotten. Even without fancy organizing gadgets, using the 2×2 Rule makes it easy to see what you have, so you are more likely to eat what’s on hand.

You probably don’t need to buy any organizing gadgets. Use what you have. Many spaghetti sauces come in Mason jars. When they are empty, remove the label, wash and re-use them to store dry goods like beans, popcorn, dried fruit, and pasta. Spray paint the lids white for a quick DIY project that makes your pantry look farmhouse cute for no cost. Similarly, use cute fruit crates or sturdy bulk boxes to act as bins to corral small snacks together. Check out my pantry, where I use repurposed spaghetti jars to keep things neat and fresh.

If you have L-shaped or U-shaped shelves, you’ve probably got corners, which are brilliantly managed with lazy Susans.

Keep your chip clips where you will actually use them…in the pantry! Instead of losing them in some drawer, attach a magnet or clip them to the side of a bin, so they’ll always be near the bags that you’ll use them for. Keep cereal, dried fruit bags, chips, bags of crackers, pasta, and any other dry food clipped to eliminate waste and pests.

Bring in plenty of “forever foods” to have healthy meals on hand. Dried beans, rice, lentils, nuts, dried fruit, popcorn (not the microwave kind) and honey all qualify. They last for months and years in your pantry! Other long-lasting foods include squash, whole grains, and chocolate. Stick with staples and avoid pricey packaged foods that aren’t as good for you.

I hope I’ve inspired you to put one or two of these tips into practice in your pantry soon. Please comment if one of them seems like it’ll work for you. Pin for later.

Prep Your Pantry for Organization