organize: my pantry

Project #1: My Pantry

My first project in 2011: My Pantry.
I can’t think of a corner (literally) of the house that is more used by a mother/domestic engineer, than the pantry.

Step ONE.
Empty the pantry.

  1. Remove all shelf liners
  2. Wipe down everything
  3. Clean the floor really good

Step TWO
Review the contents.

  1. Toss any expired items (note what they are)
  2. Sort everything by food category, or how you use it
  3. Group items by most used

Put items back inside the pantry.

  1. Put the most used items in easy-to-access areas (think about who accesses these items)
  2. Open and remove prepackaged items from boxes
  3. Use LOTS of containers, bins, baskets and drawers to divide your space and organize sorted items

NOTE: Don’t rush this process. Approach it thoughtfully and with lots of flexibility. I’ve listed just the major steps here, but there are lots of little things to think about and test out. The trick is to be patient with yourself. Stop when you get frustrated and allow yourself to move things around. I organized my pantry when we moved into this house, so I had some idea of what worked well and what didn’t, but I needed a refresh and I really wanted to move some things up and out of my line of vision and put some things in easy to grab containers. The BEST (tested) tip I can give you is to OPEN packages up and take things out of boxes, so that it is easy to grab individual items. And yes, this means coming home from Costco or even the grocery store is a bit more involved, but the extra effort at unpack time pays back in HUGE dividends every other day.

A few other tips:
1. Consider installing additional shelves up high, to take advantage of free vertical space. Put stuff up there that you only need to access occasionally.

2. Make cute labels. You don’t need to go overboard here, because it’s unlikely that family members will ever become adept at using them.  Cute labels (tags, bows whatever) are for you and will make you smile and feel good about yourself.

3. Pay close attention to the stuff that is really old and/or expired. I mentioned this above, but it bears repeating because doing this will show you what items you DON’T USE and should stop buying or storing. For example, I had at least 5 mini jars of Hickory Farms minty apple jam or spiced mustard or something similar. Guess what? I can say “toss-a-roo” and still appreciate the givers and the gift boxes those come in without feeling obligated to store them in my pantry for years.

4. Designate one bin or drawer a catch-all. One of my stack-able drawers is labeled “clips and misc.” This is where I stash kabob skewers, Chip clips, mini toothpick flags and those super awesome bag clips from IKEA (sorry, can’t find a link.)

by the way, please don’t think I’ve been organizing my pantry the week I am preparing for CHA. That would be 100% unwise. I’m just reporting my progress. The good news is I’ve now lived with this re-organized pantry for two fulls weeks and have made no changes. So far so good.

My next project (I think) is the boys’ bathroom upstairs. Wish me luck and …
Stay tuned.


  1. Doesn’t it feel great every time you walk in there and everything is in it’s place? I need to re-organize mine. It’s not too bad, just needs refreshing. I bought some canned food storage racks from Costco last year, those are pretty nice. Good luck in the boys’ bathroom – brave lady!!!

  2. love it – when our boys were younger we always put the snack-y items in a bin on the lower shelf so they could easily reach them – also cereal and pop tarts went there. I still have their snack bin that’s covered in all of their favorite stickers – so fun to see even now that they’re in their 20s -

  3. Thanks for the inspiration. My pantry is getting way too empty- now would be a good time to clean it then stock it.

  4. I love the way that organizing seems to just open up “the flow” of everything, it really makes space for new things to come into one’s life. Thanks for sharing Stacy, I am also taking One Word and mine is Inspired, which I am after seeing your post! May just have to tackle my pantry tomorrow! :)


    I use rubbermaid/tupperware-type containers for my pre-package, easy-to-grab items, too, but CLEARLY I need to upgrade to SUPER CUTE CONTAINERS with tags and ribbons!!!! And you know…Target has these SUPER CUTE containers in the bathroom section that I’ve been dying to buy, but couldn’t find a reason. NOW I HAVE ONE!!!! THANKS FOR THE INSPIRATION!

  6. Love this because my pantry is laid out exactly like yours…I’m so doing this this weekend – thanks for the inspiration!!

  7. Be still my organizing-loving heart. Awesome project.

  8. Oh geeze. I posted the other day about how messy, disorganized, and completely useless my pantry has become. Then I get laid-off yesterday. I am seriously not going to use my free time to drop the baby off at my mother’s house and come back to clean out my pantry. Not this week, at least. But I’ve spent part of my first day home thinking things like “well, now I have the time to put all the baby’s toys into her toy chest” and “Maybe I should finally clean out the office closet.” Hmmm. Pantry.

  9. Lovely. My kitchen is the size of your pantry so I don’t have as much to organize.

  10. Jodi Berg says:

    You’ve inspired me to organize my pantry. Have fun at CHA. Please blog what you do and see there!

  11. How did you know that this has been on my to-do list for WEEKS?!? My pantry is about half the size of yours, though. I do love what you’ve done. Love the wire basket, definitely have to get me one of those for sure! Thanks for the ideas!

  12. Trust Stacey Julian to make even her panty cute!!!

  13. This is great. I did my pantry a few months ago as a project for my Simplify 101 class. It has stayed perfect every since.

    One thing I love is I made a bin for “Food to eat this week”. This is where I put food purchased to put in a recipe this week. This food (usually specialty type items) would just get lost in the mass of other stuff. Now it has a specific place.

    Another thing I love are my lazy susans I put in the corners. I have the same basic layout as you. On one lazy susan I have bottled water. On another I have healthy snacks and bananas. On another I have misc bags, sacks, clips, etc.

    I still need to make some cute tags.

    • I love you pantry door. Very fun. Mine is green and I have a glass/crystal doorknob. It makes me happy every day. It reminds me of my Grandma.

  14. Looks great Stacy!!! I love how you made sure to let us know that the “cute” tags, labels, and bows are to make us smile! I know from experience that the family just disregards them…”oh, you have labels on the shelves….I didn’t know that went there.” Yep, we make things pretty and cute for ourselves.

    have fun at CHA!

  15. Kathy Jo Camacaho says:

    I LOVE it. It looks SO cute. And SO organized. It’s got to feel good to get that done. :) Great job!

  16. My first project around my house this year was also cleaning out the pantry – now I just need to clean all my blinds!

  17. Too funny. Just added this to my list of things to do I have a small pantry in the kitchen and then a larger one around the corner but I feel the need to “contain” my stuff.

  18. I’ve been trying to organize one drawer, nook, closet, shelf… one little space in our home each day. I’ve not quite worked up to our pantry and (sadly!) it’s only about half the size of yours! Thanks so much for the awesome inspiration!

  19. My pantry need reorganizing too! We have a small pantry with deep shelves. I’m thinking I need to utilize more baskets and containers. That might make it easier for short little me to have better access to things.
    Thanks for the tip.

  20. Looks amazing Stacy! That is one thing I really wish my house had…a pantry. Oh well, I guess I’ll be happy with my cupboards.

    Safe travels to CHA!

  21. Chris Cross says:

    I have pantry envy! Wish I had one and it was just as organized as yours is.

  22. I love the pantry Stacy! I miss having a pantry! My current pantry consists of a couple of shelving units in the basement that I hate because it means going all the way down to the basement to get things that I need that are down there. We have a “closet” of sorts at the bottom of the basement stairs that I want to make into a pantry but that’s still a ways off.

  23. Love your pantry!! I wish my house had a pantry…oh, well!!!! The boy’s bathroom….brave person!

  24. What a project to tackle! When I read the tip on “not to rush”, I cringed a little bit; I don’t think my family would appreciate me leaving all of the pantry contents all over the counter until I could get back into the groove of it again. Perhaps, this is a project that I should tackle when I know that I have someone else to watch our toddler (or else I would have more help than I know what to do with). Definitely, along with a list of other things, I should tackle it BEFORE our new addition comes. Thanks for the inspiration, you organizing guru!

    • Sarah,
      You are right — you won’t get away with leaving all the stuff out. What I mean is you can put things back on the right shelf and then revisit each shelf to fine tune the organization there — and just so you know. I totally hired a babysitter to come help me with both Addie and the food. I gave her the job of emptying the pantry and throwing away expired items. Totally allowed me to focus on putting items back in on the “right” shelf!

  25. Kristyn G says:

    I SOOO need to do this in our house…

  26. Looks great Stacey! Good luck with your next project.

  27. I’m inspired! Thanks for sharing!

  28. Thank you! I so love seeing a glimpse into how other moms set things up —and what products they use:-)

    Love the tip to empy pre-packaged items. We try not to buy lots of those, but just the instant oatmeal being in an bin instead of a box I wrestle to reseal would make me smile.

    Christmas always leads to my baking shelf taking over the whole pantry. Thanks for the inspiration to start here.

  29. Heather Crawley says:

    I have been thinking about reorganizing our kitchen cabinets/pantry area and this is the perfect inspiration to get started. We have started cooking more at home/from scratch and I am noticing a shift in my grocery shopping to more staple items that we need regularly. I think this weekend’s project is at hand!

  30. Truly inspiring Stacy.

    If you have a moment sometime… where do you find those canvas baskets with the handles? You used the same ones for organizing your colors. I really like them and haven’t been able to find them.

    Have fun at CHA!

  31. sarah page says:

    Good luck with the bathroom! Those cupboards under the sink and the linen closet are always the hardest for me to organize.

  32. My next project is the pantry! Thanks for the tips, now if I could just double the size of my pantry I would be good!!!

  33. Looks great! Pantry’s on my list too!

  34. My daughter, soon to be 12, loves organizing the pantry. She’s very good at looking at the expiration dates, letting me know when things will expire, and putting things back in order not just be type, but also by date. Her categories may be a bit different from mine from time to time, but all in all, she does a great job, and enjoys doing it as well.

  35. lynne moore says:

    I am rethinking my container storage. Haven’t quite figured it out yet, but the weird shaped cabinet we have isn’t working so well. Thinking some little used casserole dishes might be happier over there. Especially since I use the gladware/tupperware over near the stove anyway…..

  36. I would love to reorganize my pantry but we will soon be starting a whole kitchen remodel so I think I will just wait. I am excited that I will have a new Pantry to organize properly from the get go.

  37. My pantry cupboard isn’t too bad, but my “junk drawer” is horrible. That will be my next project. I’ve been thinking for a while that I have to get in there, but I keep putting it off. I hate to think about all the stuff I will need to go through. But then, I might find a few things I have been looking for too.
    Thanks for the tips, I think they can be applied to my junk drawer in many ways as well as some other organizing I need to be doing.

  38. WOW!! Love your organized pantry!! : ) Thanks for sharing.

    PS – I was in Target yesterday perusing the candles. The 7oz size of apple pie and pumpkin spice yankee candles were on clearance for $3.48 ish. Maybe the sale has been on awhile But I just had to share. When I saw them it made me think of you and your candle budget. : )


  39. One of the first things I did when we moved into this house was to ditch the wire shelving for wood shelves lining the L-shaped pantry…this was one of the best investments I’ve made (in addition to doing the same in my master bath linen closet). No more tipping cans, or jars, or bottles. Nice & sturdy! I think the pantry is the most used room in the house! So worth it!!!!

  40. Christine H says:

    What do you do with the spices? I have yet to find a good solution for these multiple, varied sized containers.

  41. I love that you added higher shelfs for stuff you don’t use that often. Our pantry is a narrow closet type with a very high shelf like that. I started storeing the extra bottles of bbq sause, oil, ect up there and calling it We have used it like that for years and now before we buy anything like syrup to floor polish we check It’s Awesome!

    Tip #2 Make Cute Labels made me cry! I used to do that and stopped when I got complaints. It’s nice to have permission to do something nice just for me once in a while, even if it is just a cute label for my potatoes!

    Thanks a million!!!!

  42. Great organization tips. Made me want to come home and start in on mine! This post is featured on 30 Minute Martha right now.

  43. I’ll be going through my pantry this month. It is amazing what can collect there! You did great work!

  44. Luck! I soooo need to organize just about every room of our apartment!


  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by stacy julian, BigPictureClass. BigPictureClass said: organize: my pantry – My first project in 2011: My Pantry. I can't think of a corner (literally) of the house that i… [...]

  2. [...] Organize: My Pantry by Stacy Julian. Stacy tackles one of the most-used areas of the home with her signature color and style. [...]

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