Mission NOT Impossible: Pantry Organization

Mission NOT Impossible: Pantry Organization

You’ve accepted the (seemingly) impossible mission of organizing your pantry. Wise decision, but where do you start?

Organizing 101

Organizing basics for ALL parts of your home–even your pantry

Define your space – It may seem obvious that a pantry is for storing food but take some time to purposefully think through what you want your pantry to do for you. Food storage, sure. But how about keeping small appliances there? Or overflow items such as extra paper towels? Or your picnic basket? Define the space very specifically and stay within the boundaries you have set.

“Chunk” your work – Break jobs into bite-sized, manageable pieces. Pantries are no exception. You can work on the steps below in a single session or over multiple sessions by working on one pantry shelf at a time or even half a shelf at a time. (Pro tip: treat the pantry floor as a shelf)

Declutter like you mean it – 95% of organizing is decluttering. Discard outdated food and products you haven’t used in years. Combine duplicate items when multiple packages are open. Avoid the temptation to keep something because you have already paid for it. Clutter and excess cost more than they are worth.

mission accomplished sign

Accomplishing Your Mission

  • Clear counter space for room to work. If counter space is limited, a tabletop or the floor work well. If you need more space, set up a folding table.

  • Remove everything from the pantry. Declutter as you do this. Get rid of outdated items, products you’re never really going to use, and food that is no longer in good condition. Combine open containers of duplicate items.

  • Group items you take out of the pantry. Pasta products are grouped together as are soups, fruits, vegetables, and the rest of your food products.

  • When the pantry is emptied, wipe and dry the shelves.

  • Look at each group. If you have more of something than you want or need, give it to friends, family, or the local food pantry.

  • Determine where you want items to be placed now that you know how much of everything you have. Rather than putting things back where they were, think about what works better for you.

    • Items you don’t need frequently can be placed on harder-to-reach shelves.
    • Consider who will be accessing the food. Candy that small children might get into should be placed on higher shelves but the healthy snacks you want them to get for themselves should be placed where they can reach them.
    • Consider whether something fits the shelf height where you want to put it. If not, can you lay the product down, can you stack it, is there some other way to accommodate it, or do you need to choose another shelf? Remember, it’s important to be able to see the label on everything so you can find it easily.
    • As much as possible, put groups that often work together–such as baking products–near each other.

Enjoying an organized pantry is possible. You save time and energy finding things and your budget will appreciate that you’re no longer buying duplicates.

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