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Organizing Your Pantry

Category Kitchen
Finding things in an unorganized pantry can be frustrating. A well organized pantry can save you money by decreasing unneeded shopping trips. This guide is about organizing a pantry.


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By 4 found this helpful
May 8, 2008

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.

By Louise from Cibola, AZ

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By Janet in GA (Guest Post)
May 8, 20081 found this helpful
Top Comment

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.

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September 3, 20121 found this helpful
Top Comment

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.

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August 10, 2009

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.


By it' from NE PA

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By 3 found this helpful
May 12, 2010

"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.

You can also "file" foods in the refrigerator. Put all liquid drinks on the top shelf. Use the second shelf put all lunch meats and cheeses (if you don't have a meat keeper drawer). "File" all sour creams, butter, etc. on the third shelf. The bottom shelf is for your leftovers.

This can also be done in your pantry. "File" all of your canned green beans one behind the other, your corn the same way, etc.

Organizing your pantry, freezer, and refrigerator this way will cut back on time because you'll know what you have in your areas and you can quickly grab these items. Also, you will know what you are out of when making your grocery list. This also saves money.


How many times have you purchased a grocery item and found out when you got home that you already had spaghetti sauce!? When making your list for the week, if you have spaghetti, use it, but put spaghetti sauce on your list to go with it.

Another thought, "file" your grocery items in the grocery cart! When you are placing items in your cart, put all of your canned goods together, all of your frozen items together, etc. and when you put them on the conveyor belt, they will be all together and the clerk will bag most of these items all together in like categories for easy unbagging and putting away when you get home. Place the bag with freezer items on the floor near the freezer, the bag with the canned goods on the floor in front of the pantry, etc. This makes for less going back and forth and saves steps.


Happy Food Filing!

By Jane from Paducah, KY

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By 2 found this helpful
August 19, 2009

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. They take up too much space on counter top and never really stays fresh.

Items stay fresher and safer in plastic containers. I keep a list on the door of my basic items and check them off when they need replaced. I keep a backup behind each of most used items. For larger items, I separate into smaller containers and do buy in bulk for items used more often especially my spices which are also put in smaller containers. I empty all bagged snacks and cereal as soon as they are bought. I find this saves time and money as items last longer and are all eaten because they remain fresh longer.

I also label my shelves and make sure all items are put back where they belong. That way I don't have two jars of peanut butter open at the same time for example. I don't repackage my oil but do put a small plastic box under it to prevent leaks and save my shelves. It's a system that continues to work and does save me money and time. I love always having my supplies handy whatever I want to cook.

By Lise from Huntersville, NC

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August 12, 20112 found this helpful

Pantries can get really messy. With their deep shelves, foods can easily get pushed to the back, only to be found after they expire. An organized pantry will prevent your foods from going unused and keep you from buying multiples because you can't find an item. Here are some tips for organizing your pantry:

  1. Start by emptying out your pantry.

  2. Clean off the shelves and sweep the floor.

  3. Discard all expired food.

  4. Find homes for items that may not belong in the pantry, such as your waffle iron.

  5. Sort like items, such cereals, crackers, etc.

  6. Small bins can help organize gravy packets and other small items.

  7. Investing in containers that stack can be very helpful. You can then transfer foods that are in bags or odd sized boxes into these containers for neater storage.

  8. Label containers so that you can easily tell what is in them.

  9. If you have multiples of the same item, organize them by expiration date so that you use the oldest first.

  10. Begin putting items back in the pantry. Group like items together.

  11. Try to not stack items to deep or put different items in front of each other.

  12. Consider using an over-the-door shelving unit or shoe organizer to maximize the storage space in your pantry.

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June 5, 20170 found this helpful

A well organized pantry not only makes it easy to find a specific item, but can also help save money since you won't buy more of a food item that you already have. This is a guide about restock your pantry like stores restock their shelves.

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By 0 found this helpful
March 23, 2009

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.

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January 14, 20050 found this helpful

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.

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June 14, 20170 found this helpful

Many people like to repackage their staple foods in glass or plastic storage containers after discarding the original packaging. Once done however, it can be difficult to differentiate between some dry goods. This is a guide about labeling pantry staples.

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May 30, 20170 found this helpful

Keeping a list of your pantry staples is a great way to know if you are low on anything. This is a guide about organize your pantry with an inventory list.

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January 14, 20170 found this helpful

This is a guide about using drawers to organize pantry. Adding drawer sets to your pantry can create more useful and organized storage space.

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February 13, 2012

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.

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By 0 found this helpful
August 17, 2009

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.

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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.

By 5 found this helpful
January 12, 2011

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


January 12, 20110 found this helpful
Best Answer

I purchased metal closet shelf dividers. Tomato items in a section, baking things, veggies, fruit, etc. I love it. Easy to find items even tho the shelves are deep, and also easy to take inventory for a store list.

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January 12, 20110 found this helpful
Best Answer

Purchase some plastic lazy susans at Wal-Mart or $ store. That should help.

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February 2, 20110 found this helpful
Best Answer

Divide the shelves into sections. The hardware stores sell drawers that pullout for shelves. Or construct your own.

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February 7, 20140 found this helpful

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


October 18, 20150 found this helpful

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.

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ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

January 12, 20110 found this helpful

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 Henry from Smithville, TN


Organizing the Pantry

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)

By Donna Cutting

Organizing the Pantry

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)

By Mary

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July 14, 20090 found this helpful

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


Organizing the Pantry

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)

By Holly

Organizing the Pantry

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)

By SherryB

Organizing the Pantry

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)

By christi

Organizing the Pantry

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.

Holly (09/07/2006)

By Holly

Organizing the Pantry

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)

By brws

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September 1, 20060 found this helpful

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

Kitchen Organization

Kitchen Organization

Kitchen Organization



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)

By Jacqui

An Old Dresser

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.

Door Shelves

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 Spencer

Glass Containers

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 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)

By Michelle

Good Job

You did yourself proud. I'm impressed. That's a good job, I assume you have cooperation from other family members? (11/22/2005)

By Syd


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)

By susan

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