Organize a Pantry (or cupboards) so it STAYS Organized Forever

Secrets on How to Organize a Pantry

It is the never-ending battle. You may think you can organize a pantry, but deep down you know it is a constant nightmare that you can never seem to wake up from. You may think you have organized it and then after a quick trip to the grocery store, the clutter begins to accumulate again.

Your spouse or kids start rooting through the pantry and suddenly it is disorganized again. Is it even possible for your pantry to stay neat and tidy?

It IS possible, but the key is to making this as simple as possible for everyone in the family. That means, we have to establish some ground rules.

Completely Organized Pantry

Organize a Pantry

The Ground Rules

1. Pantry must be Organized according to Category.
2. Repackaging must occur after every grocery trip.
3. Place Foods in their Categories
4. Family must be aware of the Categories.

Organize a Pantry Rule #1 – Category

Every shelf in your pantry should have a different category assigned to it when you organize a pantry. It doesn’t matter what those categories are. They will vary depending on the household and what you consume in your house. My categories from top to bottom are listed below. I've included a picture so you can see each section.

For some families, it might be helpful to physically label each section. We don't have older kids yet, so for me it was not necessary.

1. Breakfast Foods / Cake Mix Type Things

2. Baking Goods

3. Snacks

4. Meal Foods

5. Big Infrequently Used Foods

Really Big Stuff

1. Breakfast Foods / Cake Mix Type Things
2. Baking Goods
3. Snacks
4. Meal Foods
5. The Big Infrequently Used Stuff
6. The Really Big Stuff

This is crucial! Everything in your pantry has to have a place. If you don’t know exactly where your food is supposed to go, how can you expect your spouse or kids to?

Try out whatever categories feel the best for you. If you realize that maybe you don’t do a lot of baking, but you made yourself a baking section, you can always change it later. You just need to start somewhere.

Organize a Pantry Rule #2 – Re-Packaging

Before when you would organize a pantry, you may have tried to fit the foods, in the packages that the company provided you, into the pantry.

Let me tell you something about food companies. They don’t care at all about how the food fits in your pantries! The first thing to do is get rid of that bulky packaging. Half the time, they put your food into bags that you can’t reclose and then it tips over and suddenly, the bottom of your pantry and every shelf on the way down is covered in powdered sugar. Don’t let the food company marketing department determine the organization of your pantry.


Look how easy all of these would be to spill. Putting them in a closeable baggie makes it a lot more versatile.


You'll notice I didn't change the brown rice. That one had a zip-able pouch so I was fine with the way it was packaged. You don't need to repackage everything. Use your best judgment.

If you have some storage containers, GREAT! If you don’t, no worries! I have a couple of storage containers, but not nearly enough for the foods that I have. Plus, containers can be bulky. If you are almost out of nuts, but have a giant container for them, think about all of that empty space.

One of my favorite ways to organize food is Ziploc baggies and cardboard boxes. Shoeboxes are AWESOME. Label the boxes and throw baggies of like foods in there. I have a Baking Box, three different Snack Boxes, a Grains Box. I’ve included my construction of the Grains Box for your reference.

The best part about the box is that you can pull it out like a drawer and slide it back in so that your pantry doesn’t ever look cluttered.

Steps to Putting Food in Boxes

  • use Costco boxes to organize a pantry
    I usually get big boxes of things from Costco so I have tons that I can cut down to the size I need.

Here is the finished product one more time. And as further evidence of its legitimacy, this picture was taken 2 days after I organized it. It's still intact!

Organize a Pantry Rule #3 – Placement

Once you have all of your food contained, you place it in the designated spaces in your pantry. So simple. It will look beautiful! Memorize their spots, but once you know their categories, it will always be easy to remember the spots of all of the foods. And if you get new foods, you will know exactly where to place it (after you repackage the necessary foods that need repackaging, of course).

Organize a Pantry Rule #4 – Awareness

To organize a pantry and KEEP it organized, you must enlighten your family members. Once you have completed your masterpiece, show your family the categories, the spots, the boxes. Give them a tour of the pantry so that they know where to find everything very easily and so that they know where to put things back to. Chances are, they will put it back in its spot.

This rule is so crucial! If they don't know where everything goes or how you have meticulously created a Food Wonderland for them, they will not know to respect it. Help them to enjoy the fruits of your labors too.

Try it Out!

Leave a comment if you have other ideas or thoughts about how to organize a pantry. Once you have given this a try, please leave a comment and let me know if it worked for you. Good luck!

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