Organize Your Pantry

March 29, 2011 by  

Pantries Always Need Maintenance

Mine included!  I don’t have a problem organizing my pantry, but with 6 other people in the house, the problem is keeping it organized!

I have my own ideas of where things should be kept. The problem is, that the rest of my family have their own ideas too….. any open area of the pantry is open game IF they are going to put something back into it.

Here is what my pantry looked like:



Let’s look a little closer.  This is the upper level.  The medicine bins.  Notice off to the left? There is a loaf of bread! Wait…. we have a bread drawer. We don’t ever keep bread in the pantry (ugh)


If you look here you see a cereal box that is on the can rack, pancake syrup in a couple places, two bags of raisens..both opened! Drives me crazy. lol


As an organizer (for those of you who share my passion… or affliction will know how I feel) I have to realize that I can’t control everything in my house.  When I try and I can’t, it only brings frustration.

Here is the lower level down onto the floor.  What? You don’t keep your cereal on the floor?


Here is the plan of attack!  Clean Everything Out Of The Pantry


Go through and check expiration dates

I’ll bet you’ll find some expired items.  This one was expired Feb of 2010!

expired can

If you have baskets you want to group things together.  Like with like!

powdered drink mixes

It is ok to take things out of boxes if you need to save room.  We had lose Kool-Aides all over. We get bottled water for the kids for lunch and have the powdered individual drink mixes they can take if they want. I think we had like 4 different flavored boxes opened. So I but the correct flavors together and rubber-banded them together. Same with the Kool-aide and hot cocoa mixes
kool aide

I keep my some of my medicines in my pantry and I went through those too.  You can read my previous posts where I got rid of expired medications and labeled them and organized them.

Before you put anything back into the pantry, clean it!

cleaning the pantry

Decide how you can make some extra room in your pantry

I don’t have much room in my pantry. So I stretched what I had without having to spend a lot of money.  I have previously purchased extra shelves that I put on the floor


Also up on top of the top rack to use some of that extra space on top. You can see my “fix” on how to put wire rack on top of wire rack.  Of course I am not recommending this method… it is very crude, but I had the lids I wasn’t using and they worked.  It would be best to use a board over the shelf, but I had these at the time I did this and not a board.


You Don’t Have To Have The Perfect Designer Magazine Cover Pantry!

I LOVE the separate labeled jars and plastic tubs for everything when I see pictures of pantries. But for me, this is not a practical solution for my pantry (I’ve done it before – remember I’m 51 years old and I’ve already raised my 4 boys, so I have tried many different organizing techniques over the years) .

Why I Don’t Use Separate Labeled Storage Containers In My Pantry

1) I frequently had extra of something that didn’t fit into the jar (then you have a box or bag)
2) You buy a different kind of chip & don’t want to mix them, but you already have 2 jars with chips…so you now have the bag of chips too.
3) Moving those beautiful jars out of the pantry all the time to get things for the kids eventually means broken jars (I know!)
4) The family doesn’t appreciate the effort you put into separating items, and they will just shove everything into the pantry if they put groceries away.
5) Trying to keep it up is time consuming and other than the oohs and ahhs of my friends, it didn’t really fill a practical need – other than the feel good appearance it gave me.

I wanted to let you know… it is ok to leave your cereal in a box or bag... it is ok to leave your chips in a bag with a chip clip. You can still be organized without all the fancy.  Heck, you can use boxes  to make baskets like my green ones if you like.

Jars on the Counter
I am going to do is to get a couple jars for my counter for some of our daily use items. My husband’s oatmeal that he eats daily and the brown sugar he puts in it.  Also one for coffee and a cookie jar.  Maybe not the traditional flour and sugar, but I don’t bake a ton and I would rather have out the items we use frequently on my counter.

I am also going to make cute labels for the baskets. Again, you don’t have to do this step, and your labels don’t have to be fancy, but in general labels do help. (although many times you will just decide that no one in your family actually can read!) I’ll show you the labels once I get them done. I’m going to do them with chalkboard contact paper and chalk board markers I got.

I also use the sides of the walls.  To hang grilling utensils on the left wall and I have a baggie that I hang on the right wall for chip clips. (Again, I’m sure there is a much cuter solutions for this)

chip clip bag

I also have an over the door can holder that helps hold more cans.

Once you have cleaned the pantry and sorted the expired food out – Start reloading!

I purchased these baskets at Old Time Pottery. I spotted them and thought they’d be great. They are plastic so I can wash them. They have handles for easy pulling out and they are sturdy.  I paid $8.99 for the large ones down to $4.99 for small ones.  Plus I loved the colors!
Old Time Pottery baskets

As I was putting things back in, I tried several different arrangements with the baskets.  So don’t think there is one solution and one solution only!  I might even realize I don’t like having the baskets. It is all trial and error.

There will be times that you will realize after you have organized…. that the system you put in place just really isn’t working like you planned.  Don’t beat yourself up over it.  It happens to the best of us. Just redo it. No problem.


organizing pantry

I put the medications in a new basket along with the paper plates, plastic silverware and napkins. The things we don’t use or need to get to as often.

pantry organizing

Here is our cereal basket.

pantry organizing

I also made a snack basket.

organized pantry

I have used an extra shelf here, but this one hangs from the wire above.  It works great for cans to utilize that extra space.

organized cans

I have one of the smaller baskets that just holds the peanut butter and one of my favorites and my step son’s favorites… Marshmallow cream.  We normally have a larger jar of peanut butter, so this size isn’t too big.

organized pantry

I also used a basket on the ground for the bottled water for the kids lunches. I had previously purchased the clear smaller baskets with handles from The Container Store. I did have the medicines in them. I am using them for lunch snacks (fruit cups etc) and envelop mixes, Ramon Noodles and powdered drink mixes.

organized pantry

Again…. just to refresh….  BEFORE

cluttered pantry


organzied pantry


before pantry


organized pantry

Your turn to organize your pantry! I want to see what you have done.  And YES on those of you who do the ultimate organization for your pantry… I LOVE them and LOVE to look at them. I’m not saying the jars and containers are bad…. if they work for you and your family… more power to you (jealous) … but please share!!

I’d love for you to link it up to my Organizing Mission Monday Link Party
It will be open until April 9, 2011  to link to, so you have time to work on your pantries!

Organizing Mission Monday

I LOVE your comments!

I’m linking up to these blogs:

A Bowl Full of Lemons

Reasons To Skip The Homework

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19 Responses to “Organize Your Pantry”
  1. Toni says:

    LOVE the green. Thanks for linking up! :)

  2. Candice says:

    I also love the green!! So cute! This morning I invested in my first (of probably many!!) wire racks to increase my cupboard space & they’re great!

  3. Love the baskets!

  4. Megan says:

    I’m so old school. I just try to keep my husband out of the cabinets. He is constantly misplacing things!

  5. Martha (MM) says:

    Excellent job!! I’m posting mine and will like up to Organizing Mission Monday in just a few minutes :-)

  6. Sandy says:

    My husband loves to cook and doesn’t mind grocery shopping… so for those wonderful things.. I guess I need to put up with the clutter! lol

  7. Sandy says:

    Thanks Martha

  8. Lisa~ says:

    I’m a sucker for an organized pantry! It’s so nice to meet you. How fun to make new friends in blogland.

    You are so right about not being able to control everything. But I have, with time and effort, trained my kids to put things back where they belong. It can be done! :)

    I love all of your tips. Great job! Lisa~

  9. OneMommy says:

    Sigh. I have such a long list of things I want to get done around here for spring cleaning… I don’t even know if I can get the pantry in on the list… But mine looks like your before photos. Almost exactly, actually. LOL Want to come do mine? Just kidding… I’ll have to try to squeeze it in somewhere someday before it all falls out on me.

  10. Sandy says:

    lol.. I want to see it then! lol I bet your like me then… wishing you had more room.

  11. Carolyn says:

    Wow, what a great article. I loved your suggestions and the pictures are amazing. Thanks for your inspiration! So glad I found your blog!

  12. Sandy says:

    Thanks Carolyn! Hoping my suggestions will be helpful.

  13. MARTHA says:

    Will u do this at my house?

  14. Sandy says:

    I’m guessing you are just joking, but if not – I’m not available to do organizing in homes anymore, but if you are serious then I can find you a Professional Organizer in this area.

  15. Petula says:

    Very nice! I’ve been eyeballing my pantry lately! It needs cleaning and organizing. (I keep “extra” meds in my pantry too!) Love the idea of baskets, but I think I’ll use clear, colored bins in red. Thanks for that idea. :-) Oh, you’re right about those containers. I was gonna do that ’cause someone I know does it and it looks so great, but they also live alone WITHOUT children. LOL

    Thanks for such a great post.

  16. Sandy says:

    Thanks! I like the idea of clear red bins. That will look nice!

  17. David says:

    Our pantry could definitely use some up to date organizing. Thanks Sandy for the tips and motivation to tackle a long overdue project!

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