It’s hard to shelf cook with a disorganized pantry. These pantry organization tips will have you making the most of your space, regardless of size!
Bubba and I have lived in a lot of different houses during our married life, so I’ve had a lot of practice organizing different shapes and sizes of pantries. Through trial and error, I’ve found a pantry organization system that works for our family, regardless of the size. I’ve gone through tiny little baby pantries, and now I have the big daddy pantry of my dreams!
However, just because I have a large pantry now doesn’t mean that I’ve forgotten what it’s like to have tiny little basically-non-existent pantries! My hope is that my pantry organization ideas and tips will give you some inspiration for YOUR space. They really can be applied to any storage or pantry space, big or little. And the bonus? Shelf cooking is that much easier since you can easily see what you have and what you need to use.
*Note: When you click the links in this post, we may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.
Are you ready to learn all of my pantry organization tips so that you can use your space to the best of its abilities? Let’s get to it!
TAKE CARE OF YOUR SHELVES
Start your pantry organization off by lining your shelves. I like to use lots of baskets and containers in my pantry, they’re so great for organizing things! But they’re also great at scratching up your pantry shelves from everyday wear and tear.
I bought some cute shelf-liner paper and covered all of my pantry shelves with it. It’s great because I can just take it off and add some new liner paper when it gets worn down. I used a heavy-duty liner that was self-adhesive. So far, it’s holding up on it’s own, so I don’t think I’ll have to replace it for a long time!
Pro Tip: I also stuck little felt pads to the bottom corners of my wire baskets. This has really helped to keep them from cutting into the liner paper! And bonus, they slide out super easily. That’s a win-win in my book!
ORGANIZE YOUR PANTRY THE PRACTICAL WAY
Wouldn’t it be nice if all of those beautiful pantries that you see on Pinterest were actually practical? Seriously, who wants the kids’ food on the top shelf where they can’t reach it? I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to constantly help them to get it down. I want the food in there based off of what is used most, not what looks the best. As you’re organizing your pantry and food, focus on that and start there!
Group all of your foods together that you use the most. Put them where it would be most convenient for you to grab them from. For me, that’s at eye-level, at the front. For all of the foods that your kids use the most, put them lower at their eye level so that they can easily reach them. I’m looking out for you and your sanity, mama!
As you’re working on your pantry organization, really think about what makes the most sense. Put those items that you don’t use as much in the back and at the top and bottom of the pantry.
USE STORAGE BASKETS TO ORGANIZE
Using storage baskets for my pantry organization has really changed my world. Before baskets, I would try my hardest to keep everything organized. But it never failed that something would get put in the back of the shelf. I couldn’t keep track of what was old and needed to be used, or even what I had. I went from stacking food and cans to keeping them in storage baskets and I’ve never looked back!
Now each basket is organized by category, which keeps like things together. They have been so helpful for me to keep track of and rotate my food. It has really helped to cut down on waste. Score! I also love baskets because they allow me to stack things higher. I’m really able to use up ALL of the space in my pantry instead of letting it go to waste.
Baskets really help to keep your pantry looking clean and organize the big, bulky things. They’re also great to organize the smaller items that can sometimes get lost or have boxes that take up way too much space. (I’m talking about you, lunch and snack foods!) They’re also great for holding the small things like packets of seasonings, dressing mixes, sauce mixes, and soup mixes. I use multiple gallon storage bags to hold all of the smaller things together within a basket. It helps to keep the baskets organized so that you don’t have to dig through all of that small stuff.
TYPE OF BASKET
You can use any kind of basket that works for you – wire, mesh, plastic, sturdy cardboard, or even wicker. The benefit of metal baskets is that they last forever. The downside is that they scratch up your shelf (if you don’t use shelf liners and felt pads, that is). They can also look messy, since you can see into them.
I use some metal baskets, but I also like to use sturdy plastic ones. I like the ones with lids, because they can be stacked. Just make sure they aren’t cheap, because if they are, they WILL break!
Baskets are definitely an investment, but they’re totally worth it! Take your time to find good deals. Pace yourself and buy however many a week that your budget will allow. I found mine anywhere between $8 to $15 from Target, Home Goods, TJ Maxx and Ross. Amazon is obviously a good choice to shop for them, too!
While I love baskets, it can be really hard to know what’s in them. It’s especially difficult when you’re first organizing your pantry. Label them to keep everything straight and from constantly pulling every basket out to see what’s in it. Each one of my baskets has a label, even the wire ones. This lets everybody know exactly where to find things without making a mess of all the baskets.
I like to use gift labels, which you can find pretty cheap at Walmart, Target or Amazon. It’s best to write on both the front AND the back of the label, since they can get turned over easily. I had originally tried sticky labels, but they just wouldn’t stick to my wire and plastic baskets. Gift labels have really held up on their own and proven to be a good choice. You can tie them on to the handle of the basket and not have to worry about them coming off.
USE CONTAINERS TO ORGANIZE LARGE BAGS OF FOOD
Containers are another great way to help out with your pantry organization. Cereal containers are great for organizing the food that comes in large bags or boxes. I use them for crackers, chips, cereal, snacks, nuts, and baking goods. They really help to keep the food fresh for longer, too! You can find them in pretty much any store, but I got mine from Amazon and haven’t looked back.
ORGANIZE YOUR MOM ESSENTIALS
Finally, we’re at the last step of your pantry organization! Create a space where you put the items that you use every day. My mom essentials include:
- The kids’ hair supplies, since I do their hair while they eat breakfast.
- Three-ring binders that help to organize all of the important paperwork and manuals for the house.
- Stickers for chores.
- Files for school assignments or forms.
- A drawer filled with things to help keep my kids busy and happy while I’m cooking dinner.
I know that not all pantries have a shelf or drawer area like mine does. Don’t worry about it! I’ve used a hanging file folder over the pantry door before. I’ve even used a basket system that hangs on the wall (just be sure to use Command Hooks so that you don’t have to worry about nail holes). The key to all of this organization is for everything to have a place. That last thing that you want is for it to end up on your kitchen counter. If you have a different spot to put all of this in your house, then go for it! Keeping it organized is key.
Alright, go get started on your pantry organization! When you’re done, make sure that you check out my kitchen organization post so that you can be organized and ready to shelf cook like a champ! Do you have a favorite way that you organize things in your pantry? Let me know in the comments!
Be sure to check out these posts!