Shelf cooking can be hard if you can never find what you need in your pantry. Use these pantry organization tips to make the most of your space, regardless of size!

Pantry organization containers, from ShelfCooking.com

We have lived in a lot of different houses during our married life, so we've had a lot of practice organizing different shapes and sizes of pantries. Through trial and error, we've found a pantry organization system that works for our family, regardless of the size. We've gone through tiny little baby pantries, and now we have the big daddy pantry of our dreams!

However, just because we have a large pantry now doesn't mean we've forgotten what it's like to have tiny little basically-non-existent pantries! Our hope is that our 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.

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Are you ready to learn all of our pantry organization tips so 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. We like to use lots of baskets and containers in our pantry. They're so great for organizing things! But they're also great at scratching up your pantry shelves from everyday wear and tear.

Buy some cute shelf-liner paper and cover all of your pantry shelves with it. It's great because you can just take it off and add some new liner paper when it gets worn down. Use a heavy-duty liner that's self-adhesive. It'll hold up really well on it's own, so you won't have to replace it for a long time!

Pro Tip: You can also stick little felt pads to the bottom corners of any wire baskets. It really helps to keep them from cutting into the liner paper! And bonus, they slide out super easily. That's a win-win in our book!

ORGANIZE YOUR PANTRY THE PRACTICAL WAY

Food items on a shelf, from ShelfCooking.com

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? Having to constantly help them get it down is no fun. You 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. Usually, that's at eye-level, at the front. Put all the foods your kids use the most lower at their eye level so they can easily reach them. We're 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 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 our pantry organization has really changed our world. Before baskets, we would try really hard to keep everything organized. But it never failed that something would get put at the back of the shelf. It's so hard to keep track of what's old and needed to be used first, or even what you have. Stop stacking food cans and keep them in storage baskets instead and never look back!

Organized each basket by category, which keeps like things together. It really helps you to keep of and rotate your food. You'll really love how much it'll help cut down on waste. Score! Baskets also allow you to stack things higher. You're really able to use up ALL of the space in your pantry instead of letting it go to waste.

Baskets really 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. (We're 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. You can 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

Pantry organization items from ShelfCooking.com

You can use any kind of basket that works for you — wire, mesh, plastic, sturdy cardboard, or even wicker. Metal baskets obviously last forever. However, they can scratch up your shelf (if you don’t use shelf liners and felt pads). They can also look messy, since you can see into them. 

We use some metal baskets, but we also use sturdy plastic baskets. The ones with lids are awesome because they can be stacked. Just make sure they aren't too 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 your budget will allow. We found ours anywhere between $8 to $15 from Target, Home Goods, TJ Maxx and Ross. Amazon is obviously a good choice to shop for them, too!

BASKET ORGANIZATION

While we love baskets, it can be really hard to know what's in them. It's especially difficult when you're organizing your pantry for the first time. Label them to keep everything straight and from constantly pulling every basket out to see what's in it, even the wire ones! This lets everybody know exactly where to find things without making a mess of all the baskets.

Gift labels on a string are really convenient, 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. Sticky labels are another option, but they don't stick well to the wire or 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! #Winning

USE CONTAINERS TO ORGANIZE LARGE BAGS OF FOOD

Cereal containers organizing food, from ShelfCooking.com

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. WE use them for crackers, chips, cereal, snacks, nuts, and baking goods. They really help keep the food fresh for longer, too! You can find them in pretty much any store, but Amazon is always a good choice.

ORGANIZE YOUR MOM ESSENTIALS

Finally, we're at the last step of your pantry organization! Create a space where you put the items you use every day. Our mom essentials include:

  • The kids' hair supplies, since we do their hair while they eat breakfast.
  • Three-ring binders that help organize all 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 the kids busy and happy while we're cooking dinner.

Of course, not all pantries have a shelf or drawer area like ours does. Don't worry about it! We've used a hanging file folder over the pantry door before. We've even used a basket system that hangs on the wall (just be sure to use Command Hooks so you don't have to worry about nail holes).

The key to all of this organization is for everything to have a place. The last thing 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.

KEEP TRACK OF YOUR FOOD

Pantry inventory checklist printable on a counter, from ShelfCooking.com

Now that your pantry is organized, make sure you keep track of what all you've got! It's the best way to save money since it'll keep you from buying items you already have. Keep your pantry inventory up to date and be sure to add and remove items as you buy and use them.

Alright, go get started on your pantry organization! When you're done, make sure you check out our kitchen organization post so 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 us know in the comments!

Image with text that reads "pantry organization for any size space" from ShelfCooking.com

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Go get your organizing on!