The dreaded pantry that seems to be more like a disheveled storage unit than an actual functioning food organization station it’s supposed to be. Things get shoved in the back, organization ceases, and there’s never enough energy to figure it all out. The good news is you’re not alone. More importantly, there are steps you can take starting today that will teach you how to declutter and organize your pantry effectively.
If you are tired of looking in your pantry at the endless pit of disorganization and wondering what kind of food you have back there, it’s time to put a plan in place so that you can start enjoying your pantry again. Whether you think about it or not, your kitchen is the heart of your home and your pantry is part of it. Make it a place that inspires you again.
6 Steps to Declutter and Organize Your Pantry
As a professional organizer, I have worked with many clients who want to organize their pantries. Here are the six steps I share with them to get started and they can help you, too.
1. Remove Everything From the Pantry
Plan a day to face the pantry chaos that you might be living in. The first step to declutter and organize a pantry is to take out every single item from your pantry. Lay them all out on a counter, a kitchen island, or your dining table. As you are removing items from the pantry, start organizing them into categories. For example, put all of the breakfast items together, all the snacks together, all cooking items together, etc. If you have multiples of an item, consider a backstock category.
This process will help you see everything you have and notice any duplicates or areas to combine. Once you have a full picture of what is in your pantry, then you can begin with the decluttering and organizing process.
2. Check Dates
Check all expiration dates of every item you have. You may be surprised to find items well past their expiration date. Let go of expired items. You may also be hesitant to throw out spices, but over time they lose their freshness. Don’t you want to make meals that taste amazing?
You may even find there are expired items that you don’t necessarily want to replace because you simply don’t use them. Make a list of all of the items you do wish to rebuy so that you can start replacing your necessities and staples.
3. Evaluate Categories
Evaluate each category that you created in step one. Now that you have gone through all of the expired items, go back and sift through your unexpired items for foods that you know you will not eat.
Sometimes, we have every intention of trying a new food and we either end up not liking it or we just never open it. In that case, don’t let the food go to waste. Instead, set those items aside and donate to a local food pantry. Give someone else a reason to smile with your donation.
4. Clean Your Pantry
Before you start putting any food back into your pantry, you need to spend some time cleaning it. Wipe down your shelves, sweep and/or vacuum up the floor, and wipe down the walls if needed (food splatter happens, I get it).
Next, you will want to assess your pantry and decide which shelves will be dedicated to the categories you created. Consider the frequency in which you use the items in relation to their access in the pantry. For example, if you use cereal every day, you will want your cereal boxes to be in an easy-to-reach spot versus on the top shelf in the back of the pantry.
5. Bins, Canisters, and Labels
Probably the most important step is getting things back into your pantry in a slow and orderly fashion. You will need bins and labels to use for this step. Contain all of your categories into those bins.
Consider taking as much as possible out of boxes so that you can visually see what you are low on or out of. I often use canisters to store flour, sugar, grains, beans, cereal, nuts, seeds, and bulk snacks.
Using smaller bins in your main bin is helpful to contain bars, popcorn packets, mini snack bags, drink packets, etc. when you remove them from their boxes.
Lazy Susans are excellent for oils, vinegar, bottled sauces, and even canned goods.
Label those bins so that those bins won’t ever be used for anything else. There is never a question of what belongs in that bin because you will have them labeled.
Finally, add those bins to your dedicated pantry shelves. You will be amazed at how satisfying it feels to see your pantry come together in an organized way.
6. Fully Functioning Pantry
Head to the grocery store and purchase the items from your rebuy list. Keep in mind your bins and the organization functionality of your pantry. Don’t go just buying in bulk just because. Otherwise, you’ll start the clutter process all over again.
Keep new foods organized in their bins. Make any adjustments necessary so that you can have a fully functioning pantry.
An Organized Pantry is a Peaceful Pantry
There’s nothing better than an organized pantry. It’s almost like the heavens open up and sing when your pantry is finally in a state of organization.
After organizing pantries for my clients they often share their excitement and I’ve heard “I could stay in here forever, I could work in here, I just want to sleep in here, it’s so easy putting away my groceries, and it’s so easy to maintain.”
If you are ready to go further and get your entire house organized, I would love to help you. Let’s do this together starting with a complimentary consultation to understand how I can help you. You don’t have to do this alone. The dream you have of an organized pantry and home can become a reality.