How to Organize a Pantry

Three Parts:Clearing Out Your PantryOrganizing Your PantryStaying Organized

If you reach into the pantry daily, you know how important it is to be organized when cooking. If you don’t organize your pantry, things can go bad, be unused for months or even years, and simply be hard to reach. If you group your items and follow a few simple inventory tricks, you can get organized and stay organized.

Part 1
Clearing Out Your Pantry

  1. Image titled Organize a Pantry Step 1
    Remove everything from your pantry.[1] Place everything on the kitchen table. Toss out anything outdated or bottles that have less than a teaspoon on the bottom. If you have duplicates of an item that you rarely use, set these aside. You may want to reconsider buying that item in the future.
    • Check expiration dates. If something is very old, but not outdated, consider donating it. If it has lasted years, you probably aren’t going to use it.
  2. 2
    Clean out your pantry. Dust your pantry and remove any sticky messes. If you clean your pantry, there will be more of an incentive to keep it clean. Use baking soda and vinegar to clear out any mold, and clean the floor as well.
    • Use butcher paper to line the shelves, so that your pantry will be easier to clean in the future. Some people like to use wrapping paper for a more cheerful look. Wire shelves in particular can be drab and may need some dressing up. [2]
  3. 3
    Fit baskets or containers into your pantry. If your pantry is disorganized, then it is likely that you need separate containers to split it into sections. Find baskets with low or transparent walls, so that you can see what is in them without pulling them out.
    • Some people suggest using spice racks or lazy susans for easy access to items.
    • Some things, like flour or nuts, that you may accumulate a lot of, can be put into large jars and labelled with a tag and a sharpie.

Part 2
Organizing Your Pantry

  1. 1
    Combine duplicate items in containers. If you have two bags of flour, put them into one container. If you accidentally buy duplicate items, you can simply empty them into the containers. [3]
    • Get square, stackable containers to make the most of the space that you have.
  2. 2
    Organize what is left on the table. Gather like items together into groups that you will keep them in once you transfer them all to your shelves. Some people prefer to organize their pantry by meals-- breakfast foods, lunch foods, snacks and beverages.[4]
    • Some people prefer to organize by type. Common groupings are as follows: flour and sugar, canned and jarred goods, grains and beans, boxed items, spices, canned/bottled beverages, potatoes and onions, and paper goods.
  3. Image titled Organize a Pantry Step 2
    Put the groupings into wire, cloth, or woven baskets. You can usually find cloth baskets at a home goods store. Also be sure to check goodwill or another thrift store.
    • Don’t be afraid to pack the basket a little bit tight-- you will be removing it from the pantry to grab your items.
    • This will ensure that instead of reaching to the back of the pantry you will be able to pull out the basket, remove your item, and replace it.
  4. 4
    Label your items. If you took items out of their original container, label the container. If you put items in an opaque container for grouping, put a tag on the container and write down which grouping is inside. You can also print labels onto stickers for more permanent staples, like flour.[5]
    • Labelling is essential for clarity, especially if many of your family members will be reaching into the pantry as well. If everything is clearly labelled, you will reduce the learning curve and minimize confusion.
  5. 5
    Put the items back in your pantry. Organize your items by weight and necessity. Heavier items should be the most easily accessible. The same goes for healthy snacks and daily staples, like cereal and bread.
    • You may need to put things like cookies and other sweets higher. [6] They are less likely to hurt someone if they fall, and stay out of the reach of small children.

Part 3
Staying Organized

  1. 1
    Create a pantry inventory list. These can be found online, or you can make your own. [7] A pantry inventory list is just a list of your groups, the items in them, and how many there are. As you use and buy items, you update the list, so that you always know how much food you have in the pantry.
    • You can also buy a chalkboard at a thrift store, or chalkboard paint at a home improvement store. When you are running low on an item, you can write it on the chalkboard.
  2. 2
    Use fun containers to keep your pantry beautiful and interesting. [8] You will have more of an incentive to keep your pantry organized if you like the containers that things are kept in. Buy a couple of fun containers whenever you see them out shopping, and add beauty to your pantry.
    • You can usually find vintage or antique containers at secondhand stores or junk shops.
    • Brightly colored containers can usually be found at a home goods store or big box store.
  3. 3
    Use levels of storage so that you can see the back row of items.[9] If you have a particularly deep pantry, you may want to elevate items that are in the back by putting them on low shelves. This way you can see their labels, and you will not buy duplicates when you visit the store.
    • Big box stores sell low wire racks for this purpose, but you can also get creative. Old cigar boxes can be about the right height. If you have many duplicate items, sometimes you can stack them two high.

Things You’ll Need

  • Baskets or containers
  • Pantry liners or butcher paper
  • Tags or labels
  • Sharpie marker


  • Make sure there is nothing sticky on the outside of food packages, if there is, it would be wise to clean it off, because failing to do so would leave you with an unclean pantry, and could cause mold to grow.
  • Nice containers really do make a difference. They will give you an incentive to keep your kitchen clean and beautiful.


  • Make sure you keep checking dates, so that you can use the older dates before the latest ones.
  • Throw out outdated and canned tops that pop when touched.

Article Info

Categories: Kitchen Cleaning