7 Tips for Organizing a Messy Pantry

As you drive home with a trunk full of groceries, you cringe at the thought of putting them away. The road before you blends into the orange horizon, and suddenly you picture yourself standing in front of the pantry. You imagine bottles of dressing and assorted spices tumbling off the shelves and crashing onto the floor before you, leaving behind a mess of basil and balsamic as your dog squeezes around you to sneak in a taste.

“Bad dog,” you mutter aloud as you clench the wheel.

No need to play the blame game here, but who is responsible for organizing the pantry? Sorry, dogs haven’t evolved that far yet.

If this image sounds at all familiar, then it’s time to set the pantry right once and for all. While we can’t do anything about your daydreaming, we can definitely help you get your pantry in order with these simple organizational tips.

Tip #1: Hit the Reset Button.

Clear off your counters and kitchen table, because it’s time to start anew in the pantry. Pull everything out of the pantry. Yes, everything, so that the shelves are completely bare. Wipe down the shelves, any racks, and base of the pantry. Use a hand vacuum or the extension of your vacuum cleaner to remove any food particles, dust, or dead bugs.

Tip #2: Purge.

“Oh, there’s those hearts of palm I was looking for last year,” you say. Better get rid of them. For items you don’t regularly use, either consume them or bag them up for donation- do not put them back in the pantry. Check the dates on everything, and toss any spoiled items.

Tip #3: Designate Sections.

Every type of item needs to have a home. Think of the pantry as a neighborhood, and each shelf and rack as a home. Due to the laws of gravity, you’ll want to keep heavier items (i.e. soda, potatoes) towards the bottom of the pantry, and lighter items towards the top.

Tip #4: Size Matters.

Section off shelves according to the sizes of your shelves and the number of items you keep on hand. For example, if you keep a lot of pasta sauce on hand, use a large shelf towards the bottom of the pantry for sauces and baking goods. If putting a tiny label on the edge of the shelf helps you remember where items belong, then do so, by all means.

Tip #5: Tiered Shelves for Spices.

Visibility is a key theme in pantry organization. With tiered shelves, you’ll have quick and easy access to your spices, without having to ruin your newfound organization for that tiny jar of mustard seed.

Tip #6: Stackable Bins and Baskets.

Again, go with clear bins so you don’t have to guess what’s inside when you write your shopping list. Bins and baskets are great for just about any type of item, but they’re best for items that don’t stand well on their own, such as chips or muffin mixes. Be sure to designate a theme to each bin or basket, otherwise you could fall into the messy trap of “miscellaneous items.”

Tip #7: Use Chalkboard or Whiteboard.

Use a chalkboard or whiteboard inside of the pantry door to keep track of what you need. Jot down items you’ll need on the next shopping trip as you use them. Clutter often happens as a result of overloading on items because we can’t see what we have.

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If you have any questions, comments, or would like to share your tips for organizing a pantry, we invite you to post in the provided space below- we’d love to hear from you. Thanks for stopping by!