Pantry Organization: 3 Steps


Let’s talk about pantry organization.

Pantry’s can get out of control FAST because of how often they’re used.  It just takes one grocery store run to overwhelm and disorganize the space.

I’m going to make this quick.   One of my pet-peeves about “how to” articles is the unnecessary LENGTH.  Just get to the point already!  We don’t need 14 up-close pictures of the same thing.   Just tell me the steps.

The Problem

As stated above, pantries are the most heavily used space in your home. Additionally, we all tend to over buy.  Therefore, the number #1 reason why your pantry (and kitchen) is unorganized is YOU HAVE TOO MUCH STUFF.   I organized a friend’s kitchen years ago and found fourteen…yes FOURTEEN containers of mustard.  New and unopened.  No wonder she didn’t have room!

Here’s how you start:

  1. STEP ONE:  Purge with Passion
  2. STEP TWO: Clear your Counters
  3. STEP THREE: Pantry Inventory / Organize
For Step 1 (PURGE):  You can use this form to track and monitor your progress.   Be purposeful and keep yourself accountable!   Don’t be overwhelmed. Start slow and time yourself.  Don’t spend too long on one section and get discouraged.  We are looking for quick mental wins here!
For Step 2 (CLEAR COUNTERS):  Now that your pantry and kitchen have been tamed you should have more room. Therefore, you *should* be able to clear your counter and put things away.  WARNING:  Resist the urge to buy containers or organizational systems until you’ve completed Steps 1-2.

For Step 3 (INVENTORY / ORGANIZE): Here is a pantry and fridge template form. Print and laminate (if possible) the pantry form so you can re-use again.  Here is a greyscale version that will use less printer ink.  (I’ve got your back.  Ink is expensive!)

More detailed pantry help

If you need more specific tips for your pantry – here’s the Pantry Clean Out Challenge.   You can do this in 40 minutes!

Pinterest is Not Reality

Repeat after me. “Pinterest is not reality.  Pinterest is not reality.  Pinterest is not reality.”

Do you hear me?  I mean it.

Pinterest is not reality.

If you search “Pantry Organization” on Pinterest the images are beautiful.  But a majority of them are STAGED and linked to a business selling a product. It’s not real life.  They are professionally staged and canisters are typically filled with fake, color coordinated items.   Certainly get ideas from Pinterest but please don’t compare your kitchen and pantry to those images.

Pinterest is the Sports Illustrated of Kitchen Management. It’s just not real.

Organizational Systems

A few weeks ago I was preparing for my Meal Planning class and realized I had let my own pantry get out of control.  I was busy managing other aspects of my family’s calendar and didn’t put things away properly.  Sometimes when you get home from the store it’s easier to jam things wherever there’s an opening.  The before picture below was the result.  Hot mess.


I followed the 3 steps outlined above and realized I had so much space available!  I then purchased three items: clear canisters, pantry labels and a can organizer.  Now things really started coming together very quickly.

I can’t tell you how much I love the clear plastic canisters.  Pinterest always shows mason jars for organization. [eye roll] Can we please move beyond the mason jar obsession?  It’s not practical (or smart) to put flour or honey in a glass jar when you have young kids in the house.  Why set yourself up for failure?   I also used the canisters to organize my son’s art supplies.

The can organizer was easy to assemble and it’s much easier seeing what I have in this system.

The labels are thick and durable.  For years, I’ve made my own labels.  But they eventually peeled off and wouldn’t wipe down easily.  They come with a variety of food categories and blanks to make your own text.

I hope this was helpful!

Love these labels!
Perfect for Art Supplies