5 Steps to an Organized Pantry

In apartments, space can be a little lacking… especially when it comes to the kitchen! Apartment pantries range from a shelf or two, to a mini-closet, to completely non-existent. With limited space, it’s important to make the most of it to ensure you have enough room for the goods you need. As always, it’s not hard to do with some thought and just a little effort. Ready for an organized pantry? Here you go!

1. Throw away old food

Even if you don’t grocery shop often, you likely have some old food sitting in the back of the pantry. Pull out all of the food you have in there and check the expiration dates. If it’s expired, toss it (and yes, canned food does expire! Packaged foods do too!). If it’s not expired but you won’t eat it, put it aside to donate. For the food that is still fresh, start to group them by theme. This will be helpful in step 3!

2. Designate your space

Check out your pantry space and make a mental model of how you’d like it to look. Think about your eating and cooking habits. It’s best to keep items you use often in a really accessible space so you don’t have to dig through your pantry to get to them (and it’s easier to put away). Some ideas…

  • One shelf for baking and canned goods and one shelf for snacks and more “daily” food
  • One side for healthy food and one side for splurges
  • One shelf for breakfast food, one for lunch food, one for dinner food
  • Front of pantry for daily use items, back of pantry for once-in-awhile needs

3. Organize by theme

When you put your fresh food back into your pantry, be thoughtful about where you want to place items. The key is designating space that’s EASY for you to maintain! Group your items by size, type, use, meal, or something that makes sense for YOU.

My pantry is organized by use… baking goods are all together (and in the back because I don’t bake too often) with our canned foods (segmented by soup and canned veggies), then our daily foods like bread, cereal, pasta, nuts and seeds are on the next shelf, followed by snack food and extra storage (big jug of olive oil, etc.) on the third.

4. Invest in infrastructure

If you have a really small space, consider checking out The Container Store or Amazon for some organization devices. Anything from a spice / can shelf to baskets may help your pantry stay organized (and beautiful!) if you’re willing to invest a few dollars in some storage helpers. Consider canisters for dry food, little shelves to maximize your space, or over-the-door hangers to make more space.

Try getting your food back into your pantry before you decide if you need any of these devices. I was convinced I needed a ton until I got all the food back in and realized I have more space than I thought I did.

5. Commit!

Finally, commit to having an organized pantry! This is an every-day type of thing. As you go in and out of the pantry, take the extra 2 seconds to put items back in their proper place and try not to get lazy about it. The organization process shouldn’t take you more than an hour, but this is one of those things you don’t want to have to do every month because you let it slip. Commit!

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Author My First Apartment

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Sarah is a dog lover and advocate for conversation & laughing at your own jokes. Since finishing her college career in communications, she began working (and living) in Atlanta. After living in a few different apartments over the last few years, she's ready to share experiences. Stay tuned for adventures, tips and advice!

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