Organizing @ Home #07 The Pantry

Organizing @ Home  the Kitchen Pantry [image src=”” align=”right” border=”none” link=”” alt=”” title=”” lightbox=”false” ]

Today’s focus:

– Assess
– Reflect & Purge
– Sort & Organize
– How to Organize it
– How Long Will it Take?
Fuel up, say a prayer, grab a trash bag and put on music!


Once again we return to the assessment, but this is sooo easy. This time you are assessing if your pantry is set up in zones. It may have started out that way once, but when the pantry isn’t functioning this is the main reason why. How do you know what you have if things aren’t grouped together in a logical way?



Most of the time these categories apply and will become your zones
– Cereal/Breakfast
– Bread/Tortillas
– Snacks
– Canned Goods
– Pastas/Grains/Rice
– Condiments/Sauces
– Water/Drinks
– Trash Bags/Reusable Grocery Bags
– Alcohol (booze)
– Paper Products – paper plates, napkins, paper towels
– Wraps/Baggies – snack/ lunch/ quart/ gallon bags, plastic wrap, aluminum foil, wax paper, parchment paper


Items that can apply to more than one category
– Peanut Butter: Is it a canned good? Does it go with breakfast items? Or maybe with snacks or with the bread?
– Bread: Should it go with cereals and breakfast items, or with Grains? I often put it in the breakfast zone, but sometimes it doesn’t fit there! Since it is an item that is often used and shrinks everytime it is used
– Paper Products: If there aren’t too many, they can be added to the Trash Bags zone.


Items that can go in the pantry or a drawer
– Wraps/Baggies


Items that can go in the pantry or an upper cabinet depending on your set up and habits
– Baking Supplies: Sometimes the pantry just isn’t big enough, and if you have room to spare in an upper cabinet, that is agood alternative.
– Spices: Most people store them in an upper cabinet or drawer, but sometimes it becomes necessary to store them in the pantry
– Oils & Vinegars: Either way on a lazy susan is my favorite!


Reflect & Purge

I think I like Reflect & Purge better than Sort & Purge! In short, you will look through each item in your pantry and search for what has expired or just isn’t used anymore. If it’s NOT opened it can be donated. It’s time to be decisive – so when you are ready to jump into the activity put on your decision-making hat and channel your inner CEO.

Reflective Questions

– Did it expire because it couldn’t be found?
– Was there a dietary change that made it obsolete?
– Was it yucky?
– Are there obscure items purchased for a specific meal that will never be used?
—Church Food Drives are year round – Donate it.)
– Is there an overabundance of candy?
—Take it to the office, church or your kids’ school.
– Are there a plethora of paper plates and party napkins?
—Give yourself a break from the dishes and use those paper plates. Next time don’t buy so many or immediately use the leftovers until gone. Extend the party fun by using the napkins in kids lunches or for everyday use. The reality is that the next time you have a party (especially a themed party) you will want new plates and napkins, so use them up!
–  Do you have an over-abundance of canned beans or chips? Bulk shopping isn’t the best idea for everything. Saving money is great, but if a pantry is so crammed that you can’t find what ‘s in there; it’s costing you elsewhere. (Like your peace of mind)

Sort & Organize

As you Reflect & Purge you are going to Sort & Organize. It really is almost all one motion and as you make decisions you’ll be grouping like items to set up into zones.

Create Zones

Set up zones using these general guidelines:

– Items that are frequently used should be stored at eye level.
– Healthy snacks for kids can be at their eye level.
– Items for cooking meals can be at the eye level of the head chef.
– Stack cans like you see them at the store – in rows. Most people have several of the same thing, so stack them in rows of like kind.
– If there are a variety of canned goods that all need to be seen, use a 3-tiered organizer.
– Use the high pantry shelves for things that aren’t used all the time. For some it’s baking and overstock condiments, for others it’s oils & vinegars. Things you don’t need (or don’t want) to use every day. (Unless you are very tall of course, in which case it’s the reverse. Those items go down low.)
– Drinks can be stored on the floor because A) it’s usually pretty heavy, B) it’s easier to stack on the floor C)shelf space isn’t as commonly available.
– Have you ever stood behind a tall person in a photo? It’s hard to see over tall things. Make sure taller items are in the back.

[blockquote sub_text=””] Make sure taller items are in the back. [/blockquote]


How to Organize it?

Now some fun tips to make your pantry more functional and how to use those nifty kitchen organizers we’ve been talking about.

Clear Boxes Rule!

Clear boxes (without the lids) are very helpful to hold all kinds of things. Small items like snack bars, granola bars, fruit cups, fruit squeezes, juice boxes and more. Larger boxes are useful for bagged chips or packages of cookies, bagged pastas and rices.

diy pantry organization, how to organize my pantry

[one_third]S and M Clear Boxes I like to use the S and M clear boxes for snacks and set up a “serve yourself” snack zone. If you don’t want to go through the effort of putting your snacks in a clear box, then tear off the top flaps of the box the snacks come in. Why? Two reasons. 1) it makes it easy to just reach in and grab a snack and 2) you can immediately see when they are gone. (No one likes reaching into an empty box for a yummy snack!)[/one_third] [one_third] L Clear Boxes A larger clear box is good for storing baking supplies – just grab the whole container and bring it to the counter. They also are good if you normaly have a lot of bagged pastas, rice, and beans. [/one_third] [one_third_last]XL Clear Boxes If drawer or shelf spaces are limited, keep plastic wraps together in a XL box. Paper plates, forks, knives, napkins,and  cups can be stored in one of these too, or if you have the Costco sizes, a 66qt bin works too. [/one_third_last]

[one_third]The Cabinet Shelf  In conjunction with clear boxes, cabinet shelves help create “drawers” that are easy to reach into and make it easy to see what’s left. [/one_third] [one_third]Lazy Susans rock! Use lazy susans on the top shelf or in corners for oils, vinegars, or other condiments to make them easier to find and access. [/one_third][one_third_last]XS Clear Box This size box is great for dip mixes, sauce mixes and packaged seasonings. Much cheaper than the acrylic containers made for this purpose.  [/one_third_last]


Get all of your organizing supplies in place and practice interacting with it. Literally stand there for a minute reaching in and out, sliding things over, spining them around or acting as if you are preparing a meal. That’s the test, and it’s better to test it all out now. Ask yourself:

— Are things easy to see? Adjust as needed. If you can’t see it, why? Move things around so you can while taking care not to lock something else out.
— How many steps in the process does it take to get what you want? Strive for 2 at the most. More than that it’s harder to follow through and things tend to get stuffed in places. Remember, it’s the putting things away that is important. Seeing things and be able to easily put them away.

If you want to see more pantries take a look at my before and after photos. I really like to keep it simple in the pantry – it just doesn’t need to be complicated. In fact the more complicated the less likely you will be able to keep it going.

How Long Will it Take?

If you stay focused most average-sized pantries can take about 4 hours to complete, start to finish. Be committed to accomplishing your goal today and in no time it will be finished. Drinking that morning coffee, asking for help from your higher power and playing music will give you a boost of energy to drive it to completion!

Today’s Assignment

Open the pantry and get started.

*** BE PREPARED*** Have at least some supplies BEFORE you begin. Time and momentum are wasted if you have to stop in the middle to go shopping.

If you think you need it, here’s the Action Plan worksheet.

If you have any questions, comments or thoughts, reach out on Facebook or join us on our bi-weekly ZOOM video conference calls! Join the Clutter to Clarity Club here!

Until next time…


[horizontal_tab] [menu_tab text=”Member Portal” link=”” active=”true”] [/horizontal_tab] [horizontal_tab] [menu_tab text=”01 the Basics” link=”” active=”true”] [menu_tab text=”02 the Process” link=””] [menu_tab text=”03 Supplies” link=””] [menu_tab text=”04 the Entry” link=”” ] [menu_tab text=”05 the Living Room” link=”” active=”true”] [menu_tab text=”06 Kitchen Supplies” link=””] [menu_tab text=”07 the Pantry” link=””] [menu_tab text=”08 Lower Cabinets” link=”” ] [menu_tab text=”09 Upper Cabinets” link=”” active=”true”] [/horizontal_tab]

[horizontal_tab] [menu_tab text=”10 Drawers and Counters” link=””] [menu_tab text=”11 the Dining Room” link=””] [menu_tab text=”12 the Guest Room” link=”” ] [menu_tab text=”13 the Master Bathroom” link=”” active=”true”] [menu_tab text=”14 the Master Bedroom” link=””] [menu_tab text=”15 the Master Closet” link=””] [menu_tab text=”16 Maintenance” link=””] [/horizontal_tab]