5 Foolproof Tips To Organize Any Pantry

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woman with a book looking at ingredients

The pantry is one of the places in your home that quickly becomes messy and disorganized. When you're in a rush, it's easy to just stash the non-perishable items on the pantry shelves when emptying the grocery bags.

It's time to learn how to organize a pantry. You really need to take the time to methodically put the non-perishable pantry items where they belong.

When you take the time to maintain the organization in your pantry, it doesn’t become messy and disorganized. You not only save money on food, but you also save time on meal preparation.

Everyone has a pantry in their home. Some have a small pantry cupboard in their kitchen with a larger pantry somewhere else, like the basement or garage.

Others have a larger pantry section of shelves or even a large walk-in pantry closet in their kitchen.

Whatever the size of your pantry and wherever it is in your home, it must work for you because its purpose is to keep basic non-perishable supplies on hand.

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Learn how to organize a pantry by using these 5 foolproof organization tips.

1. Group like items together as you would find them in the grocery store.

Put canned goods together by category: Soups together, fruits, tomato paste, and sauce — you get the idea. Put the newer cans to the back of the shelf with the older ones in the front so that things do not expire before you use them.

Keep baking goods together on a separate shelf or in a separate section. Have a section or shelf for unopened condiments.

Breakfast cereals and foods get their own section or shelf. Snacks like chips, granola bars, and cookies need their section, too.

Drinks like bottled water and soda belong together. If you have a pet or several pets, their food and treats get a section or shelf as well.

2. Store items appropriately.

Now that you know to group your food into categories, the next step is to think about how you will store these items.

Leave canned food in the cans. If you have a lot of canned food with labels that are hard to see, consider investing in shelf risers. They're easy to find in stores that carry housewares.

Remove dry foods like flour, sugar, cereal, and crackers from their original packaging, and store these items in clear canisters.

This protects the food from moist air and bugs. It also lets you see how much you have so you know when to buy more.

Organize your pantry shelves with square canisters or containers. These work best because they fit well together and come in a variety of sizes. Small ones stack easily while round containers take up more space.

If you have a lot of space, don’t worry about it. If you have limited space, make the most of your available space by using square containers.

Check the containers at the store before you buy them to see how easy they are to open and close. Also, check to see how well they seal when they are closed.

These are important things to consider since food stays fresh longer if moist air is kept out.

Keep small foods like individual bags of chips or granola bars in a basket. Set the basket at a height so that it's easy to grab individual snacks and go for everyone in the family.

If your shelves are very deep, consider installing pull-out drawers or keeping things in bins that are easy to lift off the shelf.

Heavy containers, like big containers of dog food, are best kept down near the floor. Small appliances that you use less often are best kept up and out of the way.

3. Use labels.

Label the containers so that everyone in the family knows what’s inside the container.

The label doesn’t have to be fancy or difficult to make. It can simply be the name of the food. For example, write "sugar" on a piece of paper and tape it to the container. Do what works for you.

Organize your pantry with labels on the shelves, as well. This way, you won’t forget which section is for each category of food. It also makes it easy for your family to help to put away the groceries and to find what they are looking for.

When you're labeling, take a minute to label the canned food with the date you brought it into the house. This will help you to use the oldest canned food first.

Another food group to label is spices. Spices are expensive and you only use a tiny bit at a time. They lose their flavor after a time and will not add anything to your recipe.

Keep track of their age by marking the date you purchased the spice on the bag or jar.

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4. Avoid the BOGO trap.

It's easy to rationalize buying more than you need at any given time when the sign at the grocery store says, "Buy one, get one free."

You think to yourself that you're saving money — you are, but what are you giving up?

Are you giving up valuable shelf space to store the extra foods you are buying? If you have the space in your home, then there's no problem.

If you have a small home with a small pantry, is it worth using the space to save a little money? Will you plan to use this extra food soon? These are questions for you to answer for yourself.

5. Shop from your pantry.

When you're thinking about trying a recipe, figure out the ingredients you need to use first, then check your pantry before you make your shopping list.

Many times, you have the extra tomato paste or the can of chicken stock sitting there on the shelf just waiting to be used. Don’t spend money needlessly.

When your pantry is organized you will know exactly where to look to see if you have what you need for that recipe.

When you take the time to organize your pantry and keep it that way, you’ll find that you can easily make nutritious and delicious meals because you have the necessary ingredients at your fingertips!

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Diane N. Quintana is a Certified Professional Organizer® owner of DNQ Solutions, LLC and co-owner of Release, Repurpose, Reorganize in Atlanta, Georgia. Diane specializes in residential and home-office organizing and working with people affected by ADD, hoarding challenges, and chronic disorganization. Diane has recently co-authored a book with Jonda Beattie titled: "Filled Up and Overflowing." Please contact Diane for a free 30-minute phone consultation.

This article was originally published at DNQ Solutions. Reprinted with permission from the author.