Pantries have a habit of getting messy quickly. They seem organized, but the second you go to add something from your latest grocery trip, you have a confusing mess on your hands. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to help you get your food pantry under control. Once you do, it will be much easier to keep things organized, accessible, and (most importantly!) safe.
Pantry organization is not an exact science. Instead, helpful guidelines and methods adapt to each family's unique circumstances and needs. So take a look at every piece of advice you can find and consider how you might tweak it to make it your own.
When you’re finished organizing your pantry, everything you need should be easy to locate and convenient to reach, especially the staples you use daily. Despite the hard work and planning that go into a well-organized pantry, the results are well worth it!
1. Take Out Everything. Yes, Everything.
Pantry (re)organization needs to start with a clean sweep. It sounds daunting, but you need a clean, blank canvas, or else you won't be able to organize everything as efficiently as possible.
You will probably be surprised how much the space needs cleaning. From cereal, crackers, and scraps to dead bugs and (perhaps) even other wildlife, it all needs to go. In addition, a clean and clutter-free space will allow you to see every square inch available and make planning easier.
As you remove everything from the pantry, ensure you put aside everything you know you won't use. Get rid of it! Eco-conscious preppers will donate unopened and non-expired food to local food pantries and, in the case of pet food, animal shelters. If you can still use something, don't let it go to waste, but be sure to donate everything you are reasonably sure you won't touch.
2. Make an Organizational Plan.
An empty pantry can be an inviting medium to exercise your creativity. Feel free to do so, but be intentional about how you plan to return everything to the shelves.
"Like with like" is an essential principle of organization. Furthermore, you should have the items you use most frequently in the most accessible places – front and center.
For example, rice, pasta, and other starches should have a section of their own. Moreover, spices, oils, dressings, and dried herbs belong separate from cookies and potato chips. The advantage of clearly defined areas is that you will always know exactly where to look to grab something or plan your following grocery list.
Pantries come in all shapes and sizes, from little more than cupboards to entire rooms with rows of shelving units. You can arrange a space for everything, provided you don't have more supplies than can fit. The process just takes patience, care, and a dash of creativity.
3. Use the Best Storage Containers for Your Needs.
Shelves, racks, containers, and other displays do more than make your pantry look nice and neat. They provide utility. Storage units allow you to fit more food in the space and make it easier to locate, remove, and replace items. Efficiency is the name of the game, and cans, jars, and mylar bags all have a part to play in an organized, food-safe pantry.
In addition to elements explicitly manufactured for food storage, look around your house to see if you have anything you could repurpose for pantry use. For example, a large, decorative basket could house oversized bottles of olive oil or 5-gallon mylar bags of rice under the shelves where they won't take up too much space. You could also make a snack station on the back of your pantry door out of a hanging plastic shoe rack.
Repurposing things you already have around the house is an excellent way to save money and stay organized. You also don't want to spend money buying containers for items that are already easy to store and display, like cereal boxes – they are easy to see and compact.
4. Consider What, Why, and How to Label.
People have different needs for visibility and accessibility. Some would prefer to label everything in the pantry clearly; others might rely on transparent packaging or other means to identify things.
When it's time to consider how many labels you want to use, think about the types of containers you prefer. Glass jars and some plastic bins allow you to see their contents; labeling them would just pigeonhole them and make it harder to use them for different items later.
On the other hand, cans, baskets, and other containers are opaque, and labels might be the best way to keep them organized efficiently. Mylar bags from PREMOUNT come with bright, easily visible adhesive labels for your convenience.
5. Let No Space Go to Waste.
Pantries are not just shelving units. You can use the door, floor, and other surfaces to mount additional storage space. Plenty of racks, shelves, and bins are available that hang over the door and are perfect for storing smaller items like spices, snacks, packets, etc.
Likewise, the floors of many pantries are underutilized. As a result, there are often spaces under shelves or in the corner that could hold a tremendous amount of goods you don't need to access daily. For instance, wire baskets under the bottom shelf make ideal storage spaces for boxes of things you use daily out of smaller containers like salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
Finally, try to use every inch of available wall space that's not already covered with shelves. You can affix hooks to hold reusable bags or install lightweight, portable shelving units.