If you ask someone to get something from your pantry, do they come back 15 minutes later, not only empty handed, but also like they just stepped out of a scene from the Twilight Zone? If so, then it may be time to clean your pantry. 🤨


I know this all too well! I would regularly send my husband and son to the pantry to get something for me, and honestly it was way faster for me to dive in myself since I was the only one who knew where anything was amongst the chaos. What I want to really know is how did paint brushes and sandpaper get into the pantry? 

After months of trying to find the courage, time, and energy, I finally cleaned out and organized my pantry. Below are a few tips that helped me get it accomplished.


One Shelf at a Time


I highly recommend cleaning one shelf at a time, so you don’t get overwhelmed. I found it helpful to set up a folding table near the pantry and take everything off one shelf. Brace yourself for what you may discover lurking in the dark corners of your pantry! 


Once you have a blank slate, clean the shelf well and if you like, install shelf liners. Yes, shelf liners may be a bit tricky to install and it may test your marriage or a friendship if you get someone to assist you, but it is worth the time and effort.


I purchased some pretty shelf liners over a year ago, knowing someday I would use them. Not only do they make the shelves look nice, but it is much easier to wipe them down if your olive oil bottle drips a bit.


Organizing, Not Just Cleaning


The trick to all of this is, not only cleaning out your pantry but setting up an organizational system where most everything (at least your staples) has their own designated place in your pantry, so you are able to maintain it. Organizing your pantry into categories such as, spices, baking, oils and vinegars, snacks, breakfast, canned goods etc. is extremely helpful. Be creative and create your own categories, whatever works best for you.


Once the shelf is clean, assess what you have, purge old and expired items, consolidate food from their original packaging and store them in canning jars or other containers where you can easily see what it is. This frees up important shelf real estate and makes your pantry look clean and streamlined. If you want to save cooking instructions, you can tape them to the back of the container. 



When you put your items back on the shelves, it is a good idea to put everyday items at eye level and heavier and easy to reach snack items for kids on lower shelves. Less used, lighter supplies like paper products can go on higher shelves.

Quick Tips: 

1) Have extra non-perishables that are not expired? Don’t throw them away. Share with your local Food Bank. 

2) Dried lavender sachets are a great addition to your pantry. Not only do they keep your pantry smelling fresh, but they may also help keep silverfish and moths away. 


An organized pantry is more about function than beauty, but it doesn’t hurt to give it a clean and consistent look. This makes the space easier on the eyes which will be much less stressful when it’s time to prepare meals. Matching canisters and adding labels also help keep your pantry items in their proper place and looking neat.


Containers to Help you Organize


Canning Jars: In our previous blog on 10 Simple Ways to Use Canning Jars I shared how canning jars work well for pantry storage. Using canning jars is an excellent cost-effective way to keep your pantry items organized and fresh. 


Clear Containers:  Clear storage containers are great for storing dry goods such as flour, rice, grains, pasta, etc. so that you can easily see and grab what you need, and always know much you have. It is best to use airtight seal containers to keep your food fresh and stackable ones are a fantastic space-saver, as well. 



Clear rectangular containers keep my never-ending tea collection organized and easy to access instead of having to comb through many boxes every morning. These containers also work well with organizing canned goods that seem to take over your pantry. 

Tiered Shelves: Sturdy tiered shelves are perfect for similarly sized cans or jars so that you can see all the labels clearly. Smaller tiered shelves work well for spices and seasonings.



Lazy Susan: I absolutely love Lazy Susans! They are a perfect way to group and organize similar items and make it a breeze to find what you need quickly. I have a Lazy Susan for oils and vinegars, one for seasonings, and one for baking items. Consider purchasing a Lazy Susan with a lip around the edge to help keep your items from slipping off when your kiddos “help” you spin them. 

Bin for Weeknight Dinners: Another great tip to help with meal planning is to have one large, easy-to-access bin in your pantry with all the items needed for your dinners that week. So, when you get back from the grocery store, simply add the items you’ll need for weeknight dinners. No more digging in the pantry, just grab and go!



Breathable Bins & Baskets: Mesh bins and baskets work well for storing potatoes and onions, allowing them to breathe and stay fresh longer. But don’t store them together, because onions emit ethylene gas, which can speed up the ripening process of potatoes and make them spoil faster. Also, onions and potatoes both release moisture, which can lead to faster spoiling. Both normally do best stored in cool, dark areas. 

Door Shelves & Hooks: Another great way to utilize every inch of your pantry and help keep you organized is by adding hooks, or even shelving on the inside of your pantry door. This gives you another level of storage and a great place to hang aprons and grocery bags.




Maintaining the Organization

Having an organized and beautiful pantry is worth the effort. I was shocked by how much more space I had. So much space in fact, that I was even able to find a suitable home for things that I have been wanting to get off my kitchen counter. So, by cleaning your pantry, you can also declutter your kitchen. All the kitchen gadgets look so much happier in their new home in the pantry!


Organizing your pantry not only saves you valuable space but also saves you time and money. Once your pantry is organized, you will no longer spend many frustrated moments looking for that one item you need when you are trying to get a weeknight dinner on the table. If your items are easily accessible and remain fresh in containers, you won’t waste money on food you have to throw away. Also, an organized pantry always lets you easily see what you have in stock so when you go to the store you don’t over purchase. 


Finally, I have found that it is a lot easier to maintain an organized pantry by keeping my items in their categories and religiously putting them back in their designated spot or bin. It will never be perfect, but I now have an imperfectly simplified pantry that functions like I need it to. 



May 28, 2021 — Amy Smith Kyle

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