Do y'all feel more at ease when things are organized? I do. Whether it's my purse, my closet, or my finances, I let out a deep sigh of relief after organizing. I'm about two and a half (honestly, closer to three) years into home-ownership and I recently made up my mind to tackle pantry organization. My pantry was pretty much functional before but nowhere near organized. I could grab what I needed from it without having to search but mostly because it isn't very big. There's only so much that can fit inside a small pantry. I was also regularly unsure of how much of certain staples I had on hand. I'd make mental notes to check before grocery shopping but often end up buying flour (or whatever) only to get home and find a brand new sack already in the pantry. It was very annoying and no one's fault but my own.
My ideal state = A place for everything and everything in its place. Keeping my pantry organized helps me avoid food waste. I'm more likely to use what I can see before it expires. It also helps me to not purchase duplicates of things I already have. I whipped my pantry into shape in just a couple of hours on a Saturday morning and am synthesizing my experience into a kind of "how to organize a small pantry" guide for you.
Realize that Your Pantry is Yours
And it doesn't have to look like anything you see on Pinterest or anywhere else. It should suit your needs and your space. I'm the only resident in my house so I didn't have to take anything other than my cooking and storage routine into account but you might have little hands reaching into your pantry. Or roommates. Or pets you want to keep out of your human food. You'll notice there are no appliances in my pantry. They just don't fit. I have a ton of cabinet space, though, so I'm able to keep them off the counter tops, if I really need to. My house is nearly 70 years old, so the pantry isn't the typical walk-in version I grew up with and that you likely see in other homes. It works perfectly for me, though.
Measure Your Space
That old adage "Measure twice. Cut once." doesn't get much play at my house. I'm a fairly practical person but also very visual always want to skip to the hands-on part of bringing my ideas to life. I tend to skim through directions (if even) and get right to a project. Don't be like me. I've learned the hard way, over time, that measuring is important and made sure to note the dimensions of my shelves (depth, height, and width) before purchasing pantry organization tools. Pantry organization products and techniques are not one-size-fits-all (see paragraph above) and many of the tutorials and project guides out there are for walk-in pantries. For these reasons, it's especially important to measure if you have a small pantry. You have to know what you're working with in order to make the most of a small space!
Where to Buy Pantry Organization Tools
As an organization geek, I love The Container Store. I don't always love their prices, though. I recently picked up a few kitchen organization tools there but passed over the pantry storage options, with the exception of this acrylic riser, because they seemed overpriced for what they were. I was right. I went to HomeGoods the next day and found several identical pantry organization products for half the price. I also found a pair of leopard-print jeans. 🙂 If you have time to get sucked into the HomeGoods void (why are the lines SO long?) I recommend you check out their kitchen and organization sections. If not, The Container Store likely has everything you'll need. Here are my Container Store picks:
- The clear lazy Susan that holds my sauces and dressings is from HomeGoods. The narrow, acrylic bins that hold my nut butter packets and teabags are also from Homegoods.
- I mainly use Rubbermaid Brilliance food storage containers to store dry goods like sugar, nuts, and flour. They fit my pantry dimensions perfectly and allow me to easily see what I have in stock.
- This glass cookie jar has been with me since grad school but has never actually held cookies. I bought it at Walmart way back then and it's still available there in multiple sizes.
- The white baskets on the bottom pantry shelf were dollar store finds.
Print Your Own Pantry Organization Labels
Purchasing a pack of pre-made pantry item labels might not align with what you have in stock. I don't think there are existing labels in stores for dried goji berries or 7-grain baking mix, which are just a couple of things I have in my pantry currently. I typed up what I needed labels for in a free Avery template then printed them out on these matte labels. If you're going for that perfect, crystal-clear look, use these labels instead.
Helpful Pantry Organization Tips
- Organize for accessibility. Although every pantry is a little different, here are a few general rules of thumb:
- Heavier or less frequently-used items should be at the bottom.
- Place frequently-used items close to eye level.
- Try to group similar or complementary items together. For example, group baking items like flour and sugar or breakfast items like oatmeal, cereal, and pancake mix on the same shelves.
I hope this helps you if you're organizing a small pantry. Let me know if you have any questions at all. Thanks for reading!
P.S. more home organization ideas: