How I Organized My Messy Pantry Using These 8 EASY Strategies!

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woman organizing her pantry

Do you struggle to organize your pantry?

I definitely do. There’s a lot happening in my kitchen each day, whether it’s for my family or for my role as a food blogger for and I’m moving so fast some days that I don’t always take the time to organize my space and put things back properly. My goal is to stay organized to help my life run smoother!

messy pantry before organizing

I previously shared the drastic before/after of our pantry remodel.

You can read all the details about this home improvement project HERE. We did most of the work ourselves to save money, and we’ve been enjoying this space so much. My pantry is one of my most favorite parts of our home now for sure!

organized built in pantry makeover

Today I’m sharing 8 easy and frugal real-life pantry strategies to keep things organized!

I say real life because this is not one of those pantries from a magazine with five items! Ha. I have lots of appliances and stuff in general. In fact, my husband likes to give me a hard time about hoarding appliances and pantry foods, but I consider it just part of my process for work! lol

A lot of my pantry storage is from Goodwill or big-box retailers, so you don’t have to spend a ton of money organizing! In fact, I’d even check out places like the Dollar Tree for containers, too.

a plastic grocery sack with groceries on a counter

1. Purge and declutter.

Before I start any organizing project, purging is always the first step (less stuff always equals less effort to organize). I, too, sometimes overbuy one item and never use it, or my kids open a bag of chips, and it’s been sitting around months later! Declutter and get rid of as many things as you can, from spoiled food to unused appliances. Donate unwanted food that hasn’t expired to a food bank.

labeled kitchen canisters in the pantry

2. Create different zones in your pantry.

Creating zones will help you quickly identify items so that there’s a home for everything. You can create a zone for pantry staples like canned goods, cereal, one for baking supplies, one for grab and go snacks – and I also have a zone for foil, kitchen wraps, and baggies.

Since I bake often, it is so helpful to have a spot for all my flours and sugars. These clear storage containers work perfectly for my space as I can immediately identify what’s in each one. I also made these farmhouse style kitchen labels using my Cricut vinyl cutting machine, and love the look and functionality so much!

organizing using trays in the pantry

3. Use sheet pans or trays to gather like items.

As you’re creating pantry zones, consider separating items using a large sheet pan or tray. My inexpensive decorative tray from HomeGoods (above) helps to group things so that they don’t get spread out randomly.

Hip Tip: This inexpensive yet large 1 gallon Anchor Hocking glass canister, pictured above, holds the large box of k-cups from Costco nicely!  Those are nice quality canisters for pantry organizing!

organizing cans using an office filing shelf

4. Use double-tiered space for canned goods.

Using all of the vertical space in your pantry shelving makes perfect sense, especially for storing canned goods. I went super low budget by repurposing an office file organizing shelf from the thrift store. It’s functional and only cost about $3 at Goodwill!

pantry organized with stackable mental organizer for canned goods

Hip Tip: One of my team members loves this stackable metal organizer via Amazon as another recommendation.

Lina in the kitchen organizing

5. Take foods out of large, boxed packaging.

Food packaging takes up so much valuable space! As an example, I keep a container for our dog’s treats instead of the big box they come in. I also store rice and spaghetti in canisters.

OXO containers on counter with cereals inside

Hip Tip: Check out Sara’s pantry makeover using these handy OXO canisters!

lazy susan for pantry organizing spices and small items

6. Place a Lazy Susan in the corner.

I’m a big fan of Lazy Susan organizers to access items conveniently, as it’s a nice space-saving idea. This small turntable is perfect for smaller spices and baking items.

baskets to organize kitchen pantry snacks

7. Use storage baskets to separate snacks and small items.

I created a kid zone with all snacks and open chip bags. This way they can grab and go as needed, and everything is corralled into one spot. This is so much cleaner and easier than keeping snacks in original packaging floating around the pantry.

Hip Tip: Check out this small heated snack sealer that I’ve been using to prevent stale food in my pantry! It works great and helps me avoid food waste.

Pantry snacks stored in clear handled storage basket

Our team also loves these clear handled storage baskets which are available in sizes Small or Large (both under $5 at The Container Store) and are great for the pantry or even the fridge for storing food.

“I love these baskets! From holding laundry cleaning supplies (large bin) on a stacked laundry center; to the kitchen for spice bottles, coffee supplies, snacks etc. Super product!

Hip Tip: Chip clips from Dollar tree are super handy and inexpensive! You can also re-purpose the clips from pant hangers into chip clips as another frugal idea. See tip #16 on this post.

kitchen appliances on a pantry shelf

8. Take 10 minutes at the end of each day to tidy up.

This has been huge for me, and it makes all the difference so I don’t get overwhelmed. Even just wiping up the counter and shelving – and making sure miscellaneous things are put away at the end of the day – is so helpful!

Check out how I keep brown sugar soft in my pantry!

Lina has a Bachelor's Degree from Northern Arizona University with 10 years of blogging and photography experience having work featured in, Martha Stewart, Country Living, Fox News, Buzzfeed, and HGTV.

Join The Discussion

Comments 17

  1. Pattijhs

    Thanks for the hints!

  2. kelleymcghie

    I would love to know how people store all the mini bags of chips from Costco or Amazon. I wind up leaving them on the floor in the box and I hate that!

    • Dealzgurl

      I arranged mine in a large rectangular basket that I happened to have on hand.

    • Json

      i use a long rectangular wore basket as well. they stand right up and easy for my kids to grab on the go or when packing lunch.

    • Jo

      I use the Sterilite medium stacking basket. Since they’re stackable, they fit perfectly on my pantry shelves. I found them at my local Walmart.

    • Rosie

      Kelleymcghie, I got a 6 pack of clear plastic boxes, (shoe box size) at Target, for 6 bucks. I fill them w/ granola bars, snack bags, fruit snacks, etc. They stack easily, nothing gets crushed, and I can tell at a glance what we’re running low on. Hth!

  3. MichelleBlair

    Any tips on organizing a kitchen with an island? I’m considering moving my dishes/ pans/etc. What works for you?

    • andrea

      We use our island a lot so i put things in there we use daily. Cutting boards, strainers, prep supplies, etc. Our vitamix sits on top since we use it daily for smoothies. Hth.

  4. Jake

    I don’t like taking all my flour and such out of the bags any more. The ones I’m using – sure. But it seems like several times a year there’s a recall, and when it’s in a canister I don’t have a way to check the brand/lot number/expiration date to know if it’s safe, and if I bought several bags in a deal, I want to be able to at least return the unopened ones for a refund.

    • CM

      I placed my package flour , sugar etc in the clear container. They fit perfectly in OXO containers. It makes process simple if it’s ever recalled.

    • Kandice

      True for all your foods and especially important for those of us that manage food allergies.

      I prefer to use storage containers that will hold the original packaging or clip just the label (include lot#) and attach to the storage container.

  5. Jw206

    I bought a 30 count pack of wooden clothespins from the laundry section at the Dollar Tree and use them for chip clips

    • Jeanine

      This is what we use, too. Plus clothespins are great for closing bread bags (toss those silly square plastic tabs immediately!), plus partially used pasta, chocolate chips, dried fruit, sunflower seeds, and frozen veggies, too.

    • a

      We do this too! Cheap and efficient.

    • Nancy

      It makes me sad there are only 30 in a pack. There used to be 80 and ten it got to be less and less. I bought a ton way back when and use them for chips, too

  6. Paula Wilson

    I have SUCH a small pantry, makes me want to cry! But I have tried a couple of these from before…they’ve helped a bit, thank you 🙂

    • Nancy

      I hear you. We put up a shop 22 years ago to live in while we built our house. We made it cozy and really enjoyed living there…and before too long we decided not to build at all. Still living in the shop and loving it. Since it is small I want to share a few things I figured out over the years. In the summer I store extra blankets between the mattress and the box spring. Also, in my pantry and my closet…when you walk in and turn around like you are walking back out and look up over the door my husband put up big peg boards in each. When I find good deals (thanx H2S) I stock up. I hang bags of cotton balls, packs of razors, a million tooth brushes, rubber gloves, q-tips and a bunch of other stuff in my closet. In my pantry I hang bags of snacks, chips, etc. Hardware stores carry baskets and bins that attach to the peg boards and I love that the clutter is out of the way. I should have mentioned my tiny home is 896 sq ft.

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