Keeping an organized kitchen at all times is tough. The shelving starts out nice and neat, but over time things descend into disarray. And before you know it, you've accidentally eaten a jar of almond butter that's way past its expiration date. Additionally, not everyone has the luxury of a walk-in pantry or even one with shelves deep enough to accommodate all of those dry goods and storage containers. However, if you're ready to declutter, an organized pantry with a logical layout is easier to achieve than you'd think. Just follow our steps to take control of your food storage space (or those kitchen cabinets that serve as makeshift pantries) and get it back into tip-top shape. Time to get to work.
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How to Plan Out Your Pantry Organization
Before you go nuts on your pantry makeover, a purge needs to happen and then some. It's the best way to really see what you have to work with, and let's be real — there's always stuff that's no longer useful. Also consider just how much pantry space you have in the first place. How you can optimize it?
1. Do a deep clean before anything else.
To start, completely empty the space, and throw away expired pantry items, as mentioned before. Then wipe down the surfaces. If you're wary of using chemical-heavy solutions to clean places so close to edibles, creating a vinegar spray is a cheap, easy, and natural option. Once your kitchen pantry is clean and empty, you'll be able to start strategizing.
2. Let shelves do the heavy lifting.
Look at those shelves. Do you have way too many or too little? You can find undermount shelves or add risers to create even more storage surface. Start visualizing how you want your pantry to look and what you want it to contain. Do research online, or flip through your favorite decor books and magazines for ideas.
3. Prioritize prime shelf space.
Arrange your most-used food goods on the shelves that are easiest to access. An organized pantry can quickly become disorganized if you have to rifle through everything in order to find what you need. Keep the items you use daily at eye level, so they can't be missed. Even if those shelves get a little messy from time to time, the rest of your pantry will remain nice and neat.
4. Divide the space by category.
Once you've cleared and cleaned your shelves, divvy up the space. After arranging the things you use everyday front-and-center, assign the rest of the shelves specific categories like "baking supplies," "snacks," and "canned foods." With each thing in its proper place, finding that bag of microwavable kettle corn will be a breeze.
5. Install pull-out shelves in cabinets.
No one likes having to reach all the way to the back of a cabinet or shelf only to realize that they've grabbed the wrong thing. So whether it's a cabinet or a pantry, adding pull-out shelves like the ones shown here, just makes life so much easier.
6. Don't dismiss the doors.
You can install extra storage on your pantry door to add more space to organize things like salts or spices. Or maybe you want this area to be all about those cake decorating doodads you keep on hand for whenever you're ready to make a baking masterpiece.
7. Try out tiered shelves.
If you've got deep shelves to work with, then lucky you! This can, however, make it tough to find things you need when you need them. Try out some tiered shelves so you don't have to go on a major expedition for your tomato paste.
Where to Find Pantry Organization Accessories:
Visit Organized Living if optimizing your kitchen storage is a top priority. From baskets to shelving systems, there is something for every pantry, no matter the size.
The Home Depot isn't just a hardware store for DIYers. It's chock full of useful pantry organization items, too.
We like Pottery Barn for the decor, but the kitchen organization items are pretty great, too. As an added bonus, the storage accessories are incredibly stylish, making them great for a pantry that's both functional and aesthetically pleasing.
For all the clear bins, jars, and lazy Susans your pantry needs, this is the place to go. You won't break the bank with any OXO products, either. So your wallet and your kitchen remodel will thank you.
How to Make It Cohesive
Beyond being ultra-organized, think about your pantry style. Are you a minimalist who likes all your containers to match with the same look and shape? Or do you like to mix things up with some old and new pieces?
1. Ditch the packaging, and use pretty jars or stackable containers.
Ditch your food's original packaging, and use your own containers instead. Not only will the uniformity look gorgeous, but sealed canisters will do a better job of keeping your food fresh. This may even help cut your grocery shopping trips in half. Additionally, if you opt for clear containers, you can easily keep stock of everything so you know when you're running low. You'll never end up with three boxes of confectioner's sugar on your shelf again. Pro tip: You can cut out the nutritional info and cooking instructions and tape it to your containers for later use.
2. Embrace baskets and bins.
For pantries (as well as cabinets), organizing with baskets and bins is a game-changer. Not only are they available in a wide variety of stylish options and convenient sizes, but they're also incredibly handy for grouping things together. Don't forget to include a designated "miscellaneous" basket or bin to serve as a catch-all container for the items you have trouble finding a home for.
3. Reduce, reuse, and recycle.
Instead of going out and purchasing all new containers, think about reusing things you already have at home. We've all got some lidded jars we meant to use for fruit canning but just never got around to utilizing. Or how about refilling your empty spice containers with loose herbs and salts instead of buying new jars all over again?
4. Color code.
Maybe you want to create a pantry that's not only amazingly organized but also an IG-worthy work of art. Group your stuff together by color, and get ready to snap pics of your progress.
5. Remember that size matters.
Think about what you're storing. If you have things like rice, pasta, sugar, or flour, maybe you want to go with bigger containers that hold more. And leave a scoop inside each for servings. When it comes to stuff with limited portions, like rare saffron or vanilla beans, smaller is better.
Where to Find Pantry Containers:
Some would consider The Container Store the mecca of all things organizational, and we'd agree. There are rattan baskets as well as plastic and metal ones. Plus, the inventory is unmatched. If you want your kitchen storage to feel cohesive, this is a great choice.
Ways to Optimize Your Pantry
You've sussed things out. You've done your planning. You've figured out how you want your pantry to look and what you're putting in there. Now it's time to go nuts (or go step-by-step) and organize the pantry of your dreams.
1. Go on a labeling spree.
As you transfer your pantry loot into seperate containers, pull out your label maker and create tags for everything. If you don't own a labeling machine, you can use dry-erase markers to write directly on the jars. Just make sure you pick containers with a smooth surface like glass, plastic, or glazed ceramic, so you can wash the words off whenever you wish.
2. Group like-items on lazy Susans or turntables.
Don't let the moniker fool you — when it comes to organization, lazy Susans do some serious work. Like baskets and bins, these spinning beauties are great storage solutions for grouping similar products together in an organized fashion. They're commonly used as spice racks in kitchens, but the possibilities are endless. Store condiments, tea, canned goods, bottles of vinegar, coffee, or modify your own DIY lazy Susan that's tailored to your needs.
3. Carve out space for cookbooks and wine.
If you fancy yourself a foodie, we imagine that some of your counter space is dedicated to your stash of Barefoot Contessa cookbooks and prized bottles of Cabernet. But those can take up quite a bit of valuable real estate, especially in a small kitchen. So think about how your pantry can accommodate these items. Do you have room for a cookbook shelf? Or can an empty square of cabinetry be fashioned into a wine rack?
4. Incorporate your pots and pans.
If you cook regularly, it can be a real hassle to dig through your cabinets looking for your favorite skillet. Instead, try dedicating one wall in the pantry to hanging pots and pans. This way, you'll always have quick and easy access anytime you want to turn up the heat in the kitchen.
5. Consider the kids, too.
6. Consider containers on wheels.
When space is tight inside the pantry, or you just need to supplement the storage with something moveable, add a little multi-tiered cart like this one we spotted on Wayfair. You can even use it for daily necessities like bottles of vino (we're not judging) and a wine opener.
7. Stock up on certain things.
If we've learned nothing else it's that it's always good to keep things with a long shelf life on hand for an easy meal. This goes for your favorite beverages, too. Soda and drink cans are especially important, so find a system that allows you to see your inventory in a snap.
Where to Pick Up More Pantry Must Haves:
Wayfair is the one-stop-shop for everything. Whether you need shelf risers, baskets, or clear containers for food storage this the place to go for massive online orders.
We like Target for the wide selection. And you can easily pop into the stores and see exactly what you're getting before purchasing.
Everyone knows IKEA has great Scandi furniture, but their food storage options are topnotch, too. If you want glass jars with aesthetic wood lids or a cool bin to corral all those snacks, this is where to find the cutest options.
For quick pantry organization items that you need in a flash (we're talking two days or less), check Amazon.
More than just an arts and crafts retailer, Michael's carries affordable containers and baskets, too. And the best part is with a coupon (that can be clipped directly from the Michael's website) you can save even more.