Share on ThriftyFunThis guide contains the following solutions. Have something to add? Please share your solution!
I save my mayonnaise jars, coffee cans (Folgers), and my catsup bottles for re-use again. I keep uncooked rice, dried beans, macaroni and graham crackers in the clear mayonnaise jars. I use the large coffee cans for dried beans, peas, and other items like spaghetti and noodles. The catsup bottles are used to put catsup back into. I buy at Smart and Final and the large cans fills up 5 of the catsup bottles for me. I place the rice into my freezer before putting it on the shelf because the rice sometimes has bugs and by freezing, it assures that the bugs will not hatch, if any are there.
Because I use about three different types of flours, (sr,ap and spelt) and three types of sugar (cane, beet, and splenda) I need a lot of jars. Last year I found 8 1/2 gal canning jars for a dollar each. I use those to put the different things in. Then I also use those large pickle jars, which I got from the high school concession stand I worked at. I will paint the tops of them this summer to match the cabinets which are country blue.
I re-use glass jars for food storage but hesitate with most plastics as they were not meant to be reused....just for one time use and that means the plastic is not safe. I always have plenty of glass jars to be reused and then there's no worry about them and I know they can break but I never seem to break any glass containers.
Canning jars are also very good to keep pastas, rice, macaroni, dried beans, etc in and they keep the food fresh. I got a hold of a dozen 1/2 gal size of Ball canning jars and they are just wonderful in my pantry for those types of things. I can see what's in them as well. Just be careful with using plastics for food storage unless it has the right recycle # on the bottom.
This is a guide about using drawers to organize pantry. Adding drawer sets to your pantry can create more useful and organized storage space.
It must work for them so I decided to do try it and do the same sort of thing in my pantry. Talk about shocked, I had doubles of quite a few things and had some items I have no idea why I purchased. The money sitting on those shelves could sure have been put to better use. If the store was as disorganized as I am it would go broke in no time. They can't sell something if no one can see it and I can't use something I bought if I don't know I have it. So something had to change.
A new organizing system had to be implemented. First of all everything came out of the pantry and was sorted into like groups: vegetables, pastas, condiments, etc. This I had done before, for the most part. Then each group was re-sorted. For example, the beans: chili, pork and beans and green beans; you get the idea.
My pantry is a wooden self-standing cabinet about my height so reaching high was not an issue. When it came to putting the goods back into the pantry, the most often used went on the top shelf at eye level and so on down to the bottom. I adjusted the shelves as I went to accommodate for the size of containers. When I came across those oddities I had forgotten I had, they went to the front, duplicates also went to the front.
When I use everyday items and only have one left I add them to my grocery when I use it. When I found duplicates I made a "2" on the lid of one and that one went in front of the other one. That tells me I have one left. Beside my grocery pad, I tacked up a piece of paper with the duplicates, neglected items and older items on it to remind me to plan around those items that needed to be used first.
Now to stick with this plan and keep my pantry looking organized, and easy to find items will be a pleasure instead of a chore. Hopefully this will help someone else keep organized and stop wasting money that could have been used elsewhere. Happy organizing and shopping everyone!
By Ann from Loup City, NE
Do you have a frugal story to share with the ThriftyFun community? Submit your essay here: http://www.thriftyfun.com/post_myfrugallife.ldml
Since our kids are now on their own, we don't keep a large inventory of stored food goods in the pantry, but I do like to keep a few items stocked. I put a rubber band around the last item to remind me that I need to stock up on that particular food product.
"File" your food in your freezer. Organize frozen food boxes where the label shows and you can see what the item is. Put all meats "filed" together, all vegetable bags "filed" together, and all juices "filed" together.
First of all, I empty all cardboard containers into plastic containers. Then I label them: pastas, rice, chips, crackers, spices, sugar, flour, etc. I do not use a canister set.
Pantries can get really messy. With their deep shelves, foods can easily get pushed to the back, only to be found after they expire.
I don't like keeping certain pantry staples in the original paper box. I transfer them to plastic containers with tight fitting lids.
I have a 2-door pantry cabinet with several shelves on each side. A couple of the shelves are pretty easy to organize, like soups on one shelf and canned fruits and vegetables on another shelf.
I have a very narrow shelf in my pantry and could get only a few cans in. When I began to put one as far back on the shelf as possible and then the other as far front as possible (touching each other) then I could get several more on the shelf.
Sometimes I get carried away by specials or forget I already have a lot of something and buy more. After my last pantry cleaning, I posted two lists on the refrigerator.
The post about buying peanut butter reminded me of how I handle sale items. I store cans of coffee or jars of peanut butter upside down. The most recent item is right side up. When I open this one, I turn another one over.
This is a really simple hint, but it helps me with my tiny pantry, just a few shelves in my kitchen. I try to keep like types of items together.
Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.
I have a big pantry, but obviously it's not big enough. It has open shelving and since I have major OCD it drives me insane! Does anyone have any tips to make it both more functional and more aesthetically pleasing?
My shelves are really deep, and so there is stuff just piled behind more stuff. It is not very functional.
By Jennie from Tempe, AZ
By open shelving do you mean wire shelves? I hate them. Things fall through. I lined mine with contact paper.
Purchase some plastic lazy susans at Wal-Mart or $ store. That should help.
I am dying to know how all of you with those beautiful pantries that have a container for every item keep your back up items? What do you do when you purchase more of an additional item? Keep it in the original bag unopened, until all of the "old" is used up? i.e. chips, pretzels crackers. etc.
By D. O
Unless it can be dehydrated, I don't buy anything until I need to. When the food item is down to about 1/3 then it goes on my list. I may not buy just then but wait if it's one of those food stuffs that goes on sale.
ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.
I organize my pantry in alphabetical order. When I get home from the grocery I put things away in a certain order. Especially canned foods. I put beans, corn greens, potatoes, tomatoes etc. They are stacked in alphabetical order so when I need to know what I have I just check the row and know when I am getting low on a certain item.
It helps to have it this way so you will not have to move cans over to search for a can of potatoes. They will be in the same place each time I buy them. My spices are also in alphabetical order, this sure saves a lot of time, just grab the "Ginger" in the "G's" and go on. You'd be surprised how many steps this saves.
By Connie from Smithville, TN
I have done this for years, and yes it does save steps and time: drives my husband crazy, cause he can't seem to get things organized in his shop or garage. Keeps saying he can't find anything, gee I wonder why? (07/15/2009)
I am green with envy. I try so hard to organize my pantry and my son goes through it searching for something to eat and I have no idea where anything is. Makes me so angry. (07/15/2009)
I have a small pantry and would like advice on how to organize it. Can you stack canned goods on the floor?
Onesummer from GA
Keep things together that are used frequently. Like keeping all baking supplies and canned items together, all the tomato products (paste, purees...), beans, soups, corn together - this will make searching a minimal task. If you do ethnic cooking, you can keep the supplies gathered in separate sections too.
I keep my spices in one of those ELFA racks from The Container Store that hubby shortened so that it fits on a shelf. I keep the spices in alphabetical order and the ones in large jars are very close by, all grouped together.
Been using the Elfa spice drawer rack for so many years that I am guessing it's been at least 15. Still satisfied. (09/05/2006)
I also have a very small pantry. My solution was to buy a cheap but sturdy bookshelf and put it in my laundry room. I stack all my canned goods on the shelfs. (09/06/2006)
I have a tiny apartment which means tiny kitchen, almost no cabinet space, laughable counter space. But it did come with a pantry, its small but at least I have one. I utilize it all the way to the ceiling. For my can goods, I had a white wire three tier basket shelf kinda thing that used to be used in my bathroom, when I had a bigger place. I now use it in my pantry, I just slid it in and put all my can goods on it. I do sauces on top, veggies in the middle and bottom, and whatever doesnt fit, goes on the floor next to it. As long as they are neat in there on the floor, they dont bother me. Also has a door so it gets too messy I just close it, lol. I also put an end table that I had extra into the pantry, lots of room down low. On it I can put appliances, more food and then put stuff underneath it also. (09/06/2006)
The ELFA rack picture from the Container Store didn't come through, so I will explain. It's a set of drawers that are very shallow, made of wire. In fact, it's probably the shallowest set of drawers that they offer. DH shortened the legs on this so that it fits on the pantry shelf and has three drawers.
For my son's apt., I set up some large stacking wire shelves (also from The Container Store) in the apt. coat closet and arranged canned goods on them. He has a protein shelf (peanut butter, tune...), a canned veggie shelf, a soup shelf and the top is the junk food shelf because potato and tortilla chip bags are the tallest.
We have a single closet size pantry in our kitchen and it has about 4 deep shelves. When I buy things on sale I group like items together neatly (a lot like the picture in one of the other posts).
Now for the fun part... RECYCLE YOUR CONTAINERS! Plastic or glass containers originally used for mayonnaise, peanut butter and jelly are great for storage. (I use the ketchup containers for mixing my own cleaning solutions for veggies, etc.). Simply remove all of the labels and once the jar is washed thoroughly and dryed out, use those containers to sugar, flour, salt, beans, rice etc. You'll have no more pesky bags to deal with (and hopefully no bugs in the flour).
Take a permanent marker or label maker (if you want to get fancy) and clearly mark the new continents of each container (going for the salt when you think it's sugar is no fun!). Best of all... you'll have a beautifully organized pantry that looks great, and you'll be helping to save our planet. (09/11/2006)
My husband built me a pantry, which now I get to use all my cupboards in the kitchen for kitchen stuff. I like organization. My can goods are in alphabetical order (as are my spice goods, but they are not pictured here). I only purchase something if its on sale and I have a coupon.
By Tracey from Michigan
I always had a hard time getting to things in the back of my pantry. My husband finally decided to just put everything into plastic bins, the shallow kind made for under the bed storage. They can be pulled out to be looked into and slid back into the pantry with minimal rearranging! (02/15/2005)
I have an old dresser in my pantry that I keep various items in. One drawer has all my wax paper, tin foil, and Tupperware lids. Another drawer has multiples of boxed rices & pastas, as well as dry dressing mixes and gravy packets, and the rest have can goods. It keeps my pantry looking nice as well as my kitchen cabinets. (02/15/2005)
By By Terri H.
I bought one of those cheap "over the door" plastic shoes sorters that hangs on two hooks and you can still close the door with it up. I use the pockets to sort smaller items. Each plastic pocket is labeled with the labels from my vcr tapes, such as "Koolaid", Seasoning mixes, Tuna, etc. It saves alot of shelf space and keep those puches and stray items organized. (02/15/2005)
By Suzanne S.
After going through the whole mess of buggy flour, pasta, etc. that was stored in old fashioned metal canisters, I switched, and now use clear glass or clear plastic gallon jars as canisters. These can be obtained from restaurants, and actually you can buy some things like salad dressing in the large jars in the grocery stores these days. They are "see through", so you don't have to even have labels. I pour all cereal from the original boxes into these "canisters" as soon as I get it home. Have not had a bug infestation since using this method. Also, since I have a walk in pantry just off my cooking area, I have a huge pegboard on one wall and it holds anything that will hang from spatulas and funnels to skillets and griddles. Everything at my fingertips....no digging in drawers. I also have a shelf that holds my toaster oven, my breadmaker and my Kitchenaid mixer so that I have them handy at all times. I use them right where they are stored. Needless to say, my walk in pantry is my pride and joy. (02/16/2005)
By Harlean from Arkansas
Tupperware has organized my pantry. I know Tupperware can be pricey but it was worth my investment years ago. I built my collection over many years and have found many bargains on Ebay in recent years. I keep flour, sugar, brown sugar, rice, pasta, nuts, all the basic needs for cooking and baking stored in Tupperware. I also have some Rubbermaid containers that work very well also. The Tupperware just stacks so nicely and organizes well in the lazy susan cabinet. All my spices are Tupperware stored as well. I know what I have, the food item stays fresh and I am able to fit more in my cabinets. (02/16/2005)
You did yourself proud. I'm impressed. That's a good job, I assume you have cooperation from other family members? (11/22/2005)
I am so jealous--you are so lucky. This is one thing I want in my "dream home." It must make mealtime a breeze. You can now stockpile and rotate foods with ease. This is one of those things that makes life much easier--congratulations. (11/23/2005)