Spring cleaning season has arrived, and one item that is for sure on our to-do list is decluttering the pantry. 

And we’re not just talking a clear out and clean. Reorganizing your pantry to improve functionality for your family is one way to keep it orderly for much longer this time around. 

Tired of digging around in a messy pantry? Then scroll on to your new favorite organization tips. 

Clean It Up

First things first, throw out anything that has expired or gone stale. Next, separate out any unopened items your family won’t eat that can be donated to a local food bank. There’s just no reason to let these items continue sitting in your pantry taking up space.

Clear Containers

Any master organizer will tell you this one - use clear containers for storage! You may be tempted to “hide the mess” with opaque containers, but then you can’t quickly see what’s inside.

Whether it’s a bin to group like-items, a jar to decant dry ingredients, or a tub for bigger items, keep it clear. And speaking of jars, we prefer rectangular containers with wide openings like these over round jars, for more efficient storage and easy scooping. 

Don’t Overlabel 

Sure, those Pinterest photos with the calligraphy labels perfectly aligned on every jar are dreamy. But, it’s also a lot of unnecessary work. You can clearly see the quinoa sitting in that jar, you don’t need to label it.

What you should label though is ingredients that look the same, like all-purpose flour and gluten-free flour. It also helps to mark down expiration dates to keep things fresh, and cooking instructions for a quick and easy reference. 

Think About Function

Grouping similar food items together is a given, but there may be a more functional way to assemble items for your family. Spend a little time thinking about how you actually use ingredients the most. 

Sure, keep all of your seasonings together, but if you are always reaching for certain spices, put those favorites in front and the less frequently used in the back. You could also move the spices more commonly used in baking, like cinnamon, nutmeg and apple pie spice, over with the flour and sugar.

With some items it may make more sense to organize by purpose. Put all of your kids lunch items in one bin together for easier prep, for example, or group your breakfast essentials together, like coffee, granola, cereal and oatmeal.

Pullout Drawers

Don’t forget to leverage the space under your pantry shelves as well. A set of wire pullout drawers can provide a lot of extra storage space and convenient access. 

It’s also a great organizational solution for all your canned goods. A shallow drawer is perfect for laying cans on their side, so labels are face up and easier to identify.

Use All Vertical Space

Pantry shelves are often built with tons of space in between, to allow for larger items like cereal boxes and small appliances. But if all you are stacking is some cans or spices, that can leave a good amount of wasted vertical area on each shelf.

Use up all that valuable space by adding extra shelf organizers, tiered racks and under-shelf hanging baskets

Order by Age

Another key to a good pantry organization system is to make sure older items are being used first. You don’t want to get halfway through a bag of tortilla chips before finding an already open bag in the back of the pantry that has now gone stale.

Whether you designate a certain spot in your pantry as “refill” items, or simply make a mental note to shelve new groceries behind their already-on-the-shelf counterparts, the way you organize duplicate items is important to maintaining freshness and reducing waste.

Where’d We Get It All?

Here’s some of the organizational containers we purchased.
March 29, 2021 — Jordan Towner

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