10 simple tips to an organized pantry

10 simple   frugal ideas to clean and organize your home

This post is part of a series – “5 weeks to an Organized Home.”  You can see all the posts in this series by clicking here.  And to make sure you don’t miss any posts you can sign up to have every post sent to your email or follow me on facebook.

10 simple tips to an Organized Pantry

So this is what my pantry looked like 2 weeks ago…

messy pantry before

And this is when you wonder why you are reading this blog?  When this blogger has an avalanche of sugar and tea in the bottom of their pantry, broken shelves on the door, and know that there is no way you could find anything in her pantry.  Oh, and she didn’t even bother to take pictures during the day so it looks like her walls are painted some freaky green neony color.

messy pantry before

Wait… don’t click away.  It’s get better, I promise!

Because this is my pantry now!

10 simple tips to an Organized Pantry

It may not be some perfectly Pinterest-fied organized pantry with tons of cool organizers from the container store BUT I can find things, it is clean, there is no expired food, there is no more avalanche, and I don’t have to push against the door to get it to close and hide all the mess.

Just keeping it real here today, folks! 

The pantry seems to be an easy area to get out of control easily.  I think there is 3 reasons why… I can close the door and forget about it (or hide it from guests), I get busy and in a hurry and throw things in after grocery shopping and don’t take time to put them away properly, and I needed more organization and storage.

Organized pantry before + after

So I added some more organization with some cheap bins I picked up at Walmart ($3 for a pack of 2 of the larger white bins with grey handles), and then reused an old drawer from our broken refrigerator to hold potatoes on the floor.   (More ideas on using things you already have at home and might toss in the trash to organize in this post.)

10 simple tips to an Organized Pantry

I would still like to do some more things in there – remove the wire racks from the door so I can hang aprons there instead (plus 2 of the racks are broken and I can’t find replacements in the store anymore).  And I would like to add chalkboard labels or some sort of labels to the bins.  So I might share that with you later on down the road.

But here’s some things I have learned from organizing my pantry (this time and many times before) that will help you get started to clean out and organize yours:

1. Remove everything from the pantry.

I actually like to do this shelf by shelf so I don’t get overwhelmed with my entire pantry contents all over the kitchen.  Plus usually things are sort of grouped where they should be just not put on the shelf neatly.  BUT if your pantry is completely disorganized with nothing alike grouped together and you are pretty much starting from scratch, you may need to empty everything so you can start with a blank slate.

2. Evaluate and clean the shelves.

Are your shelves broken or in need or repair?  Could you add an additional shelf?  Then clean each shelf before putting things back.

3. Purge. 

Look at every expiration date and throw out food that it is expired.  Also evaluate everything – does your family eat canned beets?  If not, no point in keeping that can – donate to a food pantry or someone that would use it.  Are there things in your pantry that could be stored elsewhere or don’t belong there?

4. Group like items together.

Baking goods on one shelf, crackers/snacks/chips on one shelf, canned goods on one shelf.  Customize this to how YOU use your food and your pantry size.

5. Store things in canisters, bins, or airtight containers.

store food in airtight containers

I am always looking for canisters, Tupperware type containers, and such at yard sales and thrift store and even on clearance at stores.  And of course you can pick up all kinds of storage containers at any store.  But think about storing cereal, crackers, pasta, sugar, flour in reusable airtight containers.  It will help you keep track of how much you have left, make your pantry neater, and make it easier to pour things.

6. Group smaller item in large bins and baskets (or shoe boxes!)

group food together in pantry with baskets and bins

This helps keep smaller items from being all over and contain them in one place.

group food together in pantry with baskets and bins

7. Use what you have to help organize.

Check around the house and see what bins or containers you already have that can be used.  A Tupperware bowl that doesn’t have a lid anymore?  Use it to organize something small.

8. Make use EVERY bit of space available.

Hang hooks on the back of the door, hang a plastic bag organizer in the corners, use small baskets on the walls, store large items or appliances in the floor.  Get creative and make use of every nook and cranny!

9. Do an “eat from the pantry week or month”

If you coupon or stockpile when you find things cheap like me, chances are you will end up sometimes with a bigger stockpile of an item that you need.  Take note of these things and work them into your menu over the next week or two.  10 boxes of spaghetti noodles?  Get creative – regular spaghetti, baked spaghetti, fettuccini with spaghetti noodles. 

10. When unloading groceries or putting things away, take time to put it in right place the first time.

You will thank yourself later.  Preaching this to myself too!  And show others in your household where things go and where to find what they want.

Organized pantry before + after

Hopefully my pantry won’t get that bad again!  Going to work really hard to keep it neat and organized this time.

Could your pantry use some work?  Is it one of the worst areas in your house to keep clean and organized?

Tomorrow, I will share a roundup of other organizing ideas, pantry storage ideas, and beautiful pantries on the blog.  


  1. Taryn from ATL says:

    I actually find my pantry to be one of the easiest to organize… I used a shoe holder on the door and that has helped TREMENDOUSLY! I put awkward items or bottles in each mesh pouch, plus I also keeps my toddler’s snacks at the bottom pouches for easy to reach. I love it and I am so happy with it! I also toss the boxes for almost EVERYTHING. If it doesn’t need the instructions on the back then I take the items out of the box, recycle the cardboard and it has made it look a lot less cluttered! Hope this helps for some people!! 🙂

  2. I cannot wait to one day have an actual pantry!(: I love the little cabinet that we use though. I love how yours ended up! Very organized, friend!
    molly recently posted..Empty the sink and fill the CrockpotMy Profile

  3. I didn’t even notice the “avalanche” at the bottom of the before picture until you pointed it out! 🙂 I was thinking “oh boy…she should see my pantry!” And yes, I have a pretty serious avalanche on my pantry floor too. Gravity is against me.
    Erin recently posted..A Chance to Make an ImpactMy Profile

  4. Hi Christina,
    Thanks for the great tips to pantry organization! I am going to put some of those to good use! I not only love the great ideas you shared, but I love that you were not afraid to be honest and to share the “before” pictures. My pantry is semi-organized….I’ve had Tupperware modular mates for years, which have helped and have just recently started also incorporating baskets for snacks & things to pack in my son’s lunch. I don’t have a pantry closet in this house, just a large section of cabinetry that I use, but I miss the larger pantry area and being able to use the door for additional storage. Thanks again for the great ideas. I am loving this series and looking forward to more great ideas!

  5. I am actually planning on organizing my pantry this weekend! Thanks for the reminder to look around and see what tools you already have to use. I have fallen prey to the “go out and buy new organizing stuff for each project” before and now have a stack of empty bins taking up space in my storage room.
    Kelly recently posted..Choosing light fixtures for a new home is hard…My Profile

  6. Allison Barber says:

    While my pantry leaves a lot to be desired ~ one thing I have added to it are the stackable 3 drawer 12 x 12 storage units. They fit nicely on the wire shelves, run about $10 on sale and hold all of those little items that are typically loose in the pantry. I have one that is 3 drawer 8 x 11 or so and I use it to hold plastic utensils, party napkins, and “to go” packets of coffee, sweeteners, salt and pepper. The larger 12 x 12 holds snack items, and partially opened “bag” items like nuts, craisins, etc.. I like them because the drawers pull out and are nice and shallow.
    One day when I am feeling strong, I will empty it all out and reorganize like you suggested!!

  7. Penny Shelton says:

    I used to use the plastic containers for holding EVERYTHING in my pantry…. Noodles, coffee, creamer, sugar, rice, oatmeal, and on and on and on… I hear on the news that plastic containers can allow key nutrients to be lost from the foods that are stored in them.. Then upon further study, I now find that plastic containers that are actually meant to hold our foods can be releaseing toxins into the food and I am and have been feeding them to my child.. I have proof, 6-7 years ago, when I started using them, we, my hubby and I thought I was a storage genius.. Well, starting 5 years ago, I start getting blotches on my skin.. white, loss of pigments… Guess what, I have them all over, now, including on my eye lids… There is no reversal of this condition and I truly believe it is directly connected with the use of plastics to hold your foods… I HOPE this starts all of you to reconsider using plastic to store your foods.. Please thing GLASS@@@!!!!!! IN HIM PENNY SHELTON


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