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Ten Steps to an Organized Pantry

There are two good reasons to whip your pantry into shape – stress and money.

  • The more you waste food, can’t find what you need and struggle to get dinner on the table, the more stressed you become.
  • The more food gets lost, grows old and sits unused, the more of your dollars that go directly into the trashcan via the pantry.

Besides, getting your pantry organized makes cooking easier. No matter if you are a gourmet chef or a parent throwing together a meal on the run, having an easier time in the kitchen makes sense.


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Here are ten steps for getting the pantry organized:

  1. Take everything out of the pantry. As you do so, check expiration dates and discard outdated products. Set aside anything that is nearing the expiration date so that you can use those items soon.
  2. On your kitchen counter, sort the food into categories: beverages, breakfast foods, vegetables, fruits, baking and dessert supplies, dinner preparation items (such as spaghetti sauce or taco seasoning packets), snacks, condiments, staples such as rice, beans and pasta and quick meals/snacks like cans of soup and ravioli.
  3. Wipe out the pantry.
  4. Return items to your clean pantry shelves by category, keeping like items together. 
  5. Have a separate location for opened packages of snacks and the new, unopened packages. This will help your family consume the opened snacks first before reaching for new boxes.
  6. Purchase some small plastic baskets to hold some of your items. For example, a basket can hold all of your pastas from spaghetti to elbow macaroni to ziti. Another basket could hold beverages from boxes of tea to hot chocolate. Using baskets will help you see how much, or how little, you have in any category before heading to the store. It also helps you make the most of vertical space in your pantry.
  7. Label the edge of shelves so that family members, returning items to the pantry or unloading groceries, can put items in the correct location.
  8. Label baskets because it makes it fast and easy to find what you need.
  9. Add a wipe-off board to the inside of the pantry door. This is a great place to note items that need to be purchased.
  10. Use the floor to hold large packages such as cases of soda or paper towels. If you have pet food in the pantry, consider adding a wheeled pet food container that can roll in and out as needed. Be sure to choose one with a tight-fitting lid to keep out both pests and pets.
Ten Steps to an Organized Pantry:  Created on March 24th, 2010.  Last Modified on January 21st, 2014


About Lea Schneider

Lea SchneiderProfessional Organizer Lea Schneider’s organizing advice has appeared in Woman’s Day, Natural Health and Better Homes and Gardens Kids’ Rooms magazines. She is the Grand Prize Winner of the Rolodex Office Makeover Challenge. Her team of professional organizers, at Organize Right Now, provides organizing assistance through her Organize Online program. She is the author of Growing Up Organized: A Mom-to-Mom Guide. Learn more at