Complete Pantry Organization Guide

This post will provide you with a complete guide to get your cluttered and messy pantry organized.

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Complete Pantry Organization Guide


What is the difference between a messy kitchen and a messy pantry?

The key difference between a messy kitchen and a pantry lies in their purpose:

Messy Kitchen

This is a functional space designed for food preparation. It typically includes countertops, a stove, sink, cabinets, and appliances like an oven and microwave. While a messy kitchen might have clutter and leftover ingredients scattered around, it’s intended for active use in cooking and baking.

Messy Pantry

In contrast, a pantry is a storage space. It’s usually a closet, room, or designated area within the kitchen dedicated to holding non-perishable food items, cookware, and small appliances. While some pantries might have a small prep area, their main purpose is storing ingredients, not actively preparing meals.

How do I make my pantry tidy?

Let’s tackle that messy pantry together! Say goodbye to expired pasta and lost spices.

Today, we’re turning chaos into order, transforming your pantry into a simple, organized space for all your ingredients.

Roll up your sleeves, because this pantry makeover is all about simplicity. Let’s do it!

There are only 2 steps to getting this done!

  • Step 1: The Great Pantry Purge
  • Step 2: Onto the Organizing!

Step 1: The Great Pantry Purge

Assessment and Gather Supplies

Before diving into the pantry purge, take a moment to assess your pantry’s current state. Gather garbage bags, cleaning supplies, and donation boxes.

Having everything ready will make the process smoother.

Our Cleaning Recommendations

Complete Pantry Organization Guide: Heavy duty garbage bags
Complete Pantry Organization Guide: All-purpose cleaner
Complete Pantry Organization Guide: Zero Scratch Sponges

Declutter with Intent

Start with the easy decisions, discarding anything clearly expired or spoiled.

Be ruthless with items that you’ve been holding onto for sentimental reasons but realistically won’t use.

Tackle one shelf or section at a time to avoid feeling overwhelmed.

Check Expiry Dates

Go through each item methodically, checking expiration dates.

Dispose of anything that has surpassed its prime. This includes spices, canned goods, and pantry staples.

Remember, creating space for fresh, usable items is key.

Donate Unopened and Unused Items

Consider the items you won’t realistically use and are still in good condition.

Donate unopened, non-perishable goods to a local food bank.

This not only helps those in need but also ensures that your excess pantry items find a purpose.

Wipe and Clean

With the clutter gone, take the opportunity to wipe down shelves and clean any spills or crumbs.

A clean foundation sets the stage for a more organized and visually appealing pantry.

Step 2: Onto the Organizing!

Invest in Quality Containers

Clear Airtight Containers

For pantry staples such as flour, sugar, and grains, clear airtight containers are your best allies.

Not only do they keep ingredients fresh by sealing out moisture and air, but their transparent nature allows you to take a quick inventory at a glance.

No more guessing games – effortlessly spot what you need and when to restock.

Best Selling Storage Containers

6 Pack Containers
Complete Pantry Organization Guide: Containers
15 Piece Canister Set
24 PIECE food container set

Elegant Jars for a Touch of Class

Elevate your pantry aesthetic with elegant jars. Perfect for storing spices, herbs, or colorful lentils, these jars not only keep ingredients organized but also add a touch of class to your culinary space.

Choose uniform jars for a cohesive look or mix and match for a personalized, eclectic vibe.

Beautiful Jars

Glass jars
Glass jars
Glass jars

Baskets for Style and Practicality

Bring charm and practicality together with baskets.

Woven or wire baskets not only keep everything in its place but also introduce texture and warmth to your pantry.

Consider incorporating pull-out baskets for easy access to items at the back of your shelves.

Handy Baskets

White Wire Baskets
Complete Pantry Organization Guide
Under Shelf Baskets
Complete Pantry Organization Guide
Hanging Baskets
Complete Pantry Organization Guide: Hanging Baskets
Wicker Baskets
Complete Pantry Organization Guide: Wicker Baskets
Clear Containers
Complete Pantry Organization Guide: Plastic Tubs
Stackable Baskets
Complete Pantry Organization Guide: Metal Baskets

In what order should my pantry be organized?

The ideal organization order for your pantry depends on a few factors, but here’s a general guideline that prioritizes accessibility and efficiency:

1. High Reachability (Eye-Level and Above)

Frequently Used Staples

Stock this zone with everyday essentials you grab often, like cereals, pasta, rice, and baking supplies like flour and sugar. Clear containers in these areas make it easy to see what needs restocking.

Snacks and Kid-Friendly Items

Allocate space for easy-to-grab snacks and breakfast cereals at a level accessible to children if you have them.

Cooking Oils and Vinegars

These are often used regularly, so keeping them within easy reach makes sense.

2. Mid-Reachability (Waist-Level)

Canned Goods

 This is a prime location for canned goods like soups, vegetables, and beans. Organize them by category (e.g., vegetables, fruits, broths) for easy browsing. 

Consider using a can organizer or stacking them strategically to maximize space.

Baking Supplies (Less Frequent)

Ingredients used less often for baking, like chocolate chips, sprinkles, or specialty flours, can find a home here.

3. Lower Reachability (Below Waist)

Bulk Items

Store large, bulky items like bags of rice, pet food, or Costco-sized packages in lower cabinets or on the floor. Utilize stackable containers for these items if possible.

Lesser-Used Appliances

If you have appliances you don’t use daily, like a bread machine or waffle iron, this is a good spot to store them.

4. Pantry Door


A hanging organizer on the back of the door is perfect for spices, keeping them visible and accessible.

Condiments and Cooking Essentials

Sauces, oils you use less frequently, or small tools like whisks can be stored in door organizers.

Additional Tips

Group Similar Items

Keep things categorized for easy searching. For example, group baking supplies together, breakfast items together, and so on.

Consider Container Sizes

Use a variety of container sizes to maximize space and prevent wasted space.

Leave Room for Flexibility

Allow some wiggle room for new items or seasonal ingredients you might purchase.

Remember, this is a general guideline. The best way to organize your pantry is to personalize it to your specific needs and how you use your kitchen. Experiment and find a system that works for you!

How do I keep my pantry tidy?

Keeping Your Pantry Tidy: Simple Habits for Lasting Order

Let’s face it, a well-organized pantry is a beautiful thing. But after that initial grocery haul, how do you keep it that way?

Here are some easy habits you can slip into your routine to make sure your pantry stays a calm and inspiring space:

The Post-Grocery Put-Away

You know that feeling after a grocery trip where everything ends up on the counter? Here’s the key: put things away right then and there. This stops clutter from taking over your counters and makes sure everything has a designated spot where it belongs.

Use It Up Before You Buy More

Imagine your pantry as a little queue. When you buy something new, put it behind the older stuff. This way, you use up the older things first and avoid having forgotten ingredients moldering in the back.

A Quick Wipe While You’re At It

Multitasking alert! Whenever you grab something from the pantry, take a second to wipe down the container or shelf before putting it back. This little habit stops crumbs and spills from building up and turning into a bigger cleaning job later.

The Regular Refresh

Every few months, set aside some time to give your pantry a quick refresh. Toss anything that’s expired, those forgotten ingredients that never seem to get used, or any surprise duplicates you might have accidentally purchased.

Here’s a bonus tip: unopened, unexpired items can be donated to your local food bank – they’ll appreciate it!

Your Pantry, Your Rules

Your life and family needs might change, so don’t be afraid to adjust your pantry organization as you go. Maybe a new spice needs its own special spot, or a different size container works better for a particular ingredient.

The key is to keep things flexible so your pantry continues to work for you.

By incorporating these simple habits, you can turn your pantry into a space that sparks culinary creativity, helps you avoid waste, and makes meal prep a breeze. Remember, a tidy pantry is a happy pantry, and a happy pantry leads to delicious meals!

What to put on the top shelf of my pantry?

The top shelf of your pantry is prime real estate, but it’s not ideal for everything.

Here’s a breakdown of what works well on the top shelf and why:

Best for the Top Shelf

Lighter Items

Paper products: Paper towels, napkins, and aluminum foil are all perfect candidates for the top shelf. They’re lightweight and won’t strain your arms when you reach for them.

Disposable plates and cups: Similar to paper products, these are lightweight and ideal for storing on higher shelves.

Seasonal items: Do you have a special cookie cutter collection for the holidays, or a specific type of popcorn you only use for movie nights? These occasional-use items can find a home on the top shelf.

Less frequently used small appliances: If you have appliances you only use occasionally, like a popcorn maker or a bread machine, the top shelf is a good spot to tuck them away.

Not Ideal for the Top Shelf

Heavy Items

Avoid storing heavy items like canned goods, bags of rice, or large containers of flour on the top shelf. These can be cumbersome and potentially dangerous to reach for.

Frequently Used Items

The top shelf isn’t the most convenient spot for everyday essentials. It’s better to keep things you use often (like spices, cooking oils, or baking supplies) within easy reach at eye level or below.

Additional Tips

Consider Container Weight

Even if an item itself isn’t heavy, think about the weight of the container it’s in. For example, a large glass jar filled with pasta might be better placed on a lower shelf for easier handling.

Accessibility for Everyone

If you share your pantry with others, consider their height and reach. If someone has difficulty reaching the top shelf, it might be best to find alternative storage for specific items.

By strategically using your top shelf, you can maximize your pantry space and keep frequently used items within easy reach. Remember, the key is to create a system that works for you and your family!

How to use space at the bottom of my pantry?

The bottom shelf of your pantry can feel like a storage no man’s land. It’s dark, it’s dusty, and reaching things in the back requires some serious contortionist skills. But fear not!

This under-utilized zone can actually be a prime spot for some pantry essentials. Here’s how to make it work for you:

Bulk Items

This is the perfect spot for those giant bags of rice, dry lentils, or flour you love to grab at warehouse stores. They’re heavy and bulky, so keeping them down low prevents them from toppling over and causing a pantry avalanche. Plus, you won’t need to reach for them every day.

canned foods

Think of all those canned goods you stock up on during sales. The bottom shelf is the ideal home for them. Heavy cases of beans, tomatoes, or soups can find a sturdy resting place here without worrying about them taking over a higher, more accessible shelf.

Stackable Containers

Invest in some stackable containers for things like dry goods (oats, cereal, pasta). This is a great way to maximize the vertical space on the bottom shelf and keep things organized. Clear containers are a bonus, so you can easily see what’s inside without having to bend down and squint.


The bottom shelf tends to be a bit cooler and darker than other parts of the pantry. This makes it a less than ideal spot for things like fruits, vegetables, or bread that might spoil faster.

How to make a pantry with limited space?

Living with limited pantry space requires some creativity and strategic organization.

Here are some tips to help you maximize every inch and create a functional pantry even in a compact area:

Utilize Every Vertical Inch

Install Shelves

If your pantry only has bare walls, consider adding sturdy shelves yourself or hiring a handyman. This creates more storage space and allows you to categorize items efficiently.

Take Advantage of the Door

Utilize tiered organizers on shelves for smaller items like snacks, baking supplies, or canned goods. This prevents clutter and allows you to see everything without having to dig around.

Go Up and Over

Consider using slimmer containers for spices, condiments, or oils. Look for space-saving options like half-sized spice jars or flat-profile containers for dry goods.


Go Declutter Regularly

Schedule regular pantry audits to remove expired items, forgotten ingredients, or duplicates. Donate unopened, unexpired items to a food bank if possible.

Embrace Flexibility

As your needs or family dynamics change, reassess your pantry organization. Don’t be afraid to adjust shelf heights or storage solutions to optimize the space.

Small Pantry Essentials

Mounted Spice Rack
slim storage containers
stackable pantry shelves

How do I simplify my pantry?

Living a minimalist life or just looking to simplify your pantry?

Here’s a basic list of essentials to get you going:

Dried Staples


All-purpose flour: Your baking and cooking workhorse. Great for pancakes, cookies, and thickening sauces.


Rice: A versatile and shelf-stable grain. Choose white or brown rice depending on your preference.

Pasta: A quick and easy meal option. Consider a basic variety like spaghetti or penne.


Granulated Sugar: A must-have for sweetening beverages, baking, and occasional treats.


Rolled Oats: Perfect for a healthy breakfast or baking cookies.


Black Beans (or choose 1 you like): A protein-packed and budget-friendly ingredient for soups, salads, or quick meals.

Oils and Vinegars


Olive Oil: Your champion for most cooking needs. Choose extra virgin olive oil for higher quality. It can handle a variety of cooking tasks, from searing meats to drizzling over salads.


White Vinegar: A kitchen all-star. It’s great for salad dressings, marinades, pickling, and even cleaning tasks.

optional additions

Balsamic Vinegar: A sweeter and thicker vinegar, perfect for finishing dishes or making glazes.

Sesame Oil: Aromatic and nutty, ideal for Asian-inspired dishes.

Canned Goods

great additions

Diced canned tomatoes: Diced, crushed, or whole. Diced tomatoes are your champion when it comes to convenient and flavorful cooking. They shine in countless dishes and can be your base for pasta sauces, soups and stews, chili and shakshuka.

Beans: A budget-friendly protein source. Black beans, chickpeas, or kidney beans are all excellent options to add variety and fiber to your meals.

Soup: Perfect for those nights you need a quick and easy meal. Choose a low-sodium variety for a healthier option.

Canned Tuna: A protein source that requires no cooking. Use it for tuna salad sandwiches, add it to pasta salad, or enjoy it straight out of the can with crackers.


Four Must-Haves

Salt: The king of all seasonings, salt enhances the natural flavors of ingredients.

Black Pepper: Adds a touch of heat and complexity to savory dishes.

Garlic Powder: A convenient way to add garlicky goodness without chopping fresh garlic every time.

Paprika: Available in sweet or smoked varieties, paprika adds warmth and a touch of smokiness to dishes.

Optional Additions

Italian Seasoning: A pre-mixed blend of herbs like oregano, basil, and thyme, great for pasta sauces, pizzas, and marinades.

Chili Powder: Adds a kick of heat and a smoky depth to chili, tacos, and Tex-Mex dishes.

Ground Cumin: A warm and earthy spice, perfect for chili, tacos, curries, and Indian-inspired dishes.

Baking Essentials (optional, but good to have if you bake)

Optional Additions

Baking Powder (if you foresee baking frequently): Leavening agent for cakes, biscuits, and some pancakes.

Vanilla Extract (consider a small bottle): Adds a touch of sweetness and complexity to baked goods. A small bottle will last a long time for occasional baking.

Condiments (choose a few you use regularly)

Four Essentials

Soy Sauce: The umami king, adding savory depth to stir-fries, marinades, dipping sauces, and even soups or stews.

Ketchup: A classic condiment for burgers, fries, hot dogs, and even adding a touch of sweetness to some sauces.

Mustard: Another well-loved condiment, perfect for sandwiches, hot dogs, and adding a tangy zip to dressings or marinades.

Hot Sauce (Optional): For those who love a kick, choose your favorite variety to customize the heat level of your meals.


Pantry Snacks

Box of Cereal (Optional): A quick and easy breakfast option

Nuts & Seeds (Small Quantity, Optional): Healthy and filling snacks, but buy a small amount to avoid spoilage.

Dried Fruit (Small Quantity, Optional): A naturally sweet snack, but again, start small to avoid waste.

Essentials Shopping List

organic all-purpose flour
Organic Brown Rice
organic Sugar
Organic old-fashion oats
organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Organic White Vinegar
Organic Cannellini Beans
Celtic Salt
Baking Powder Aluminum Free
Organic Soy Sauce

Organized Pantry Inspiration

Remember, a well-organized pantry is a happy pantry. Follow these tips, embrace the joy of decluttering, and watch your culinary kingdom transform from chaos to calm. Now go forth and conquer your pantry!

Happy organizing!

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