I have organized my pantry a number of times over the years. Over and over and over again. You could definitely say that pantry organization has been on my mind a lot. I often wondered why I was unable to keep my carefully organized space neat and orderly.
In all honesty, organizing has NEVER been my strong suit. I have struggled with it from the moment I became a mother. I have definitely learned a lot of the tips I am sharing through personal failures. I can tell you so many ways that didn't work!
As a SAHM who cooks at least 6 times a week, pack school lunches and has a general love for all kinds of baking, it is really important for me to have a space that functions well and hey, if it looks nice, that's a bonus.
Through a lot of trial and error I have finally figured out a few tips (above and beyond all the basic tips) that not only MAKE my pantry organized but KEEP it that way.
Before my Pantry Organization Skills Were Fine Tuned
As you can see in this picture, my pantry was in pretty bad shape. With the holidays and having my kids home my pantry became an absolute mess.
I started cleaning it out the first week of January and as I pulled things out I saw evidence of mice! As you can imagine, my plans for organizing the pantry became a low priority as I dealt with the mice.
Oh boy, I have definitely learned a thing or two from THAT experience.
It took some time to get rid of the mice completely and before I could work on my pantry organization, my top priority was learning how to store food properly so that rodents wouldn't be able to get into it. I learned that if you have open packages, you should definitely keep them inside of another container, preferably a clear bin.
That being said, I'll jump in to share my best tips to help with pantry organization once and for all.
Pantry Organization Tips
- Clear Out The Entire Space- Depending on the size of your pantry, this might take a while. I spent a whole day clearing out my shelves and putting like items together. I found a few things in the pantry that I had completely forgotten about. Out of sight out of mind sure holds true in this case.
- Clean the pantry thoroughly- There is something to be said for having a clean, fresh start. During this process I peeled off all the shelf liner and replaced it. If you haven't used shelf liner in the past, I highly recommend it. It is such a great way to protect your shelves and has a smooth surface that makes wiping up spills so easy!
- Prep the space- I used this design of shelf liner from the Dollar Tree. I like to keep a little bit extra on hand so that if something gets really dirty, I can just pull it up and replace it! Adding new shelf lining and some simple vinyl stickers really changed the look and made it feel like a new pantry.
- Organize the pantry into zones- Once I was ready to start putting everything back in, I made sure to organize it in categories. For me that was breakfast, lunch, dinner, baking, snacks and special occasions.
- Find Storage Containers to Group Like Items- I took a long time to shop around and find containers that I wanted to use. As part of my prep work I made a list of all the items that would need to be stored in containers. All my containers had to pass two criteria: 1) items are clearly visible 2) it was the right size to hold the items. I also "shopped" around my house and found some baskets that were able to fit nicely into the space
Pantry Organization Maintenance Tips
- Make sure the pantry organization makes sense for EVERYONE who is using it, not just you!- This was a huge breakthrough for me in understanding how to keep a space organized. I made sure to put the breakfast and lunch stuff on the lowest shelves. I put everything they would need into the proper zone and put like things together.
- Keep Everything Visible- If you can't see it, then you are very likely to forget that it is there! Being able to see everything at a glance will streamline the process when you are determining what needs to be replaced and refilled.
- Everything has a place- Make sure that every item that goes into the pantry has a place. I grouped like items together in baskets so that I could quickly grab out what I need without having to shuffle a bunch of things around.
- Only Keep What You Are Currently Using- I love to buy extra items when they are on sale and just to keep on hand if I use them a lot. I finally figured out that I DON'T need to store them all in the main pantry. I have another food storage pantry in my basement where I keep the extras. It keeps my main pantry from getting over cluttered and allows me to clearly see everything that I have.
Here's the final picture for my pantry organization makeover! The lunch and breakfast items are on the bottom shelf so my kids can reach them easily. The next shelf up has all my cooking supplies for dinner. Above that is the baking shelf that my small kids don't need to reach. The highest shelf has snacks, treats, and other miscellaneous items that we don't need access to every day.
Do you have some other great tips that have helped you to stay organized? Do you have any questions about what I did? I would love to see pictures of your organized pantry on Instagram #peachtreedrive or just tag me @peachtreedrive.