Pantry Choregasm: How to Organize this Space

Happy Thursday friends!  Today’s post is long over do as I know it’s an area of the home that is most used and most struggled with.  The size varies but, no matter how big or small it’s 100% capable of being organized.  Of course I’m talking about how to organize the pantry!

When it comes to the pantry I’ve seen all types.  The ones dreams are made of that are the size of a walk in closet with shelves and areas to hide all the things, including appliances (swoon).  Smaller closet styles, which is what we had at our old home.  And then in our current home, we somehow downsized the pantry to merely cabinets despite getting a bigger place overall.  But the main point is this:  No matter the size, when it comes to how to organize the pantry, the same rules apply.  I’ll touch on what they are as I take you through how I recently organized mine.  But get ready for some pantry choregasms as we transform this space!

Note: Affiliate links are used within this post which means if you shop through them I may earn a small commission.

Before we begin I should probably show you what I was working with.  My guess is that if you haven’t yet organized yours it probably looks something like this too.

Everything crammed in there.  No order, few containers and just chaos.  I’m a huge believer that when your space isn’t organized your mind isn’t organized.  If this is what my pantry looked like, dare you even see inside my head?  I can tell you, this is how my head feels when my home isn’t orderly.  Or maybe my home isn’t orderly because my head is scrambled?  It’s the true chicken before the egg scenario.  Regardless, the point is they go hand in hand.

So, let’s break it down by steps on how to organize your pantry.  You’ll do the same steps regardless of the size.  The only difference between a big pantry and a smaller one is the amount of bins, sorting, spatial awareness, etc.


This first step is the best because it gives you a chance to really see what you need and what you can toss.  You’ll be amazed at how many expired, stale, near empty items you have that can be tossed or combined.

Once you have everything out on the counter, go through and toss what is old, or never used.  If you have small amounts of things left, combine them if you can.  Get it down to only what is going back inside the pantry.


Now that everything is out you want to wipe down the shelves, drawers, containers, etc.  It’s amazing how many food particles get loose or how much dirt and dust accumulates.

To wipe down my pantry I use a rag and either a mixture of vinegar water or my all natural all-purpose spray.

Now comes the fun part!  If you’ve been following me a while you know that I love me a bin, tray, caddy, etc.  For me, the pantry is the perfect place to put these to use.  But, with that being said I know not everyone wants to spend the price for containers.  So, before I get to the container version let me say….if you don’t wish to purchase items to store your food in and only want to work with the items themselves then my biggest tip is….

Sort, Order, and Leave Some Space!

Sort like food items with like food items (snacks together in one area, condiments in another, etc.) and from there order them by height.  This is easiest if things are in boxes.  If they are in bags, no worries, just group them.  Then, leave space between non related items. 

For example, if you have bags of flour and sugar place them together in one spot.  And if you have granola bars, protein bars, cookies, etc., leave some space between the flour and sugar and then group the snacks.  If they are in boxes order from tallest to smallest.  Having a little space between things just makes it looks more tidy and put together. 

So that’s how to organize your pantry if you don’t want to splurge for the containers.  There is absolutely no shame in that and it’s certainly better than chaos.  But, if you do want to go the route of bins, trays, and labels (oh my!) then keep reading.


This is where is gets both fun and tricky.  This part takes some measuring (blah) and planning but it’s so worth it!

Now that everything is out and sorted you need to decide how you are going to group things.  For me, I knew I wanted snacks together in one place (sometimes snacks take over multiple spots and that’s fine), and I wanted an area for my son’s snacks, extra food and condiments, nuts, bread, mixes, etc. 

As you’re deciding how to group things, let me mention that this might not be perfect.  Yes, I’d love bread to be on it’s own but quite frankly it just works for it to go in the bin with the nuts because there’s space for it there.  This is when labels will come in handy, but more on that later.

Once I know how I’m grouping things, then it comes time to find your containers.  Below are the ones I used.  You can click the individual images to shop.

My go to shops for containers and bins are hands down The Container Store and Amazon.  I will also shop HomeGoods and At Home at times too.  But before you go shopping you MUST do this crucial step first…..


Measure the width, height, length, and depth of your space and write it all down.  Then have an idea in mind of the look you are going for.  I knew I wanted all white (all the same shade of white, because trust me they differ), and I wanted the containers to mostly hide everything, but I was okay with a few clear canisters for powdered goods.  You could even go as far as to sketch a little design with measurements and what you’re looking for.  Or, just take a picture of the space and the items, to reference.


Now comes the fun, annnnd slightly annoying/tedious part.  Take your list of measurements and shop for containers that will fit those guidelines.  If you are shopping at a physical store take your measuring tape along and be prepared to actually lay things out on the floor and measure.  It’s better to take your time and do it right, versus having to return a ton of things.  But, there is an important tip to remember!


By far the biggest mistake people make is they measure a cabinet or shelf that is 36 inches long and then they go and buy containers that line up to be 36 inches.  To this I kindly yell, NO!  Remember your spatial awareness!  You want small gaps between things so it doesn’t all look like it’s on top of each other. 

Pro Tip: If your shelf measures 36 inches long you probably really only want your bins to measure 30- 32 inches across so you have a few inches of space between canisters.  Okay, now that we cleared that up, it’s time to shop.

The world is truly your oyster when it comes to containers and bins to use.  The Container Store and Amazon have everything you would ever need. Believe me when I say I could share 100 pictures of various bins and containers I love for organizing this space.  But in the name of blog space I will edit myself to just a few.  To shop all of the pantry options from The Container Store head here.  Otherwise, here are just some of my favorites to use in the pantry.


Once you have your bins, canisters, etc. now it’s time to map out how you want them displayed before you load everything back in. I put them in how I think I want them and then shift them around if need be.  Here is my trial run.

Once I had those in I decided I liked how it looked and now I could put things back. Before we get to the final reveal though, my other tip is….


I could have gone with all the same type of bin but I like keeping the same color and having variety in the type of bin.  And for your flour or mixes, oatmeal, etc.  it just makes sense to use clear canisters.  Here are some of my favorite clear canisters to use.


Now comes the choregasm magic.  The best part about how to organize the pantry, is organizing it!  Here’s how I did it.

I like when things can’t really be seen so, for me, I love a bin with a label.  It’s a great way to throw things in there in a hurry and still have it look nice.  My other rule of thumb is….


No one wants to grab a step stool every time they need bread.  So for me I keep the things we use most often on the bottom shelf, and the items we use the least (extra items, certain sauces, etc.) up top.


The final step once everything is in it’s place, if they are in bins you can’t see through, is to label so you or guests know what’s in there.  It doesn’t have to be perfect and it can have multiple things listed, but it’s just another way to look orderly.  And labels have come a long way!  You can just use simple label maker labels, or bigger ones like I have here. They even make dry erase labels, which are great if the contents of your container change.  You just erase and update what’s in there.  Shop a variety of labels, here.

And that’s really all there is to it!  How to organize the pantry is easy!  It’s all about:

  • Sorting like things together
  • Using space between grouped items
  • Organizing by height if not using bins
  • Using bins, canisters, trays, etc.
  • Keeping a color scheme or commonality among the containers
  • Using labels when appropriate

Remember there is no exact right or wrong way to organize a space.  Do what works for you and your budget.  You want it to look nice but you also want it to be functional and practical.

For more tips and tricks be sure to follow me on Pinterest where I share lots of organizing ideas.  And if you liked this post be sure to pin it so you have it to refer back to.

Thanks so much for stopping by!  I hope this gave you some ideas for how to organize your pantry and inspired you tackle this commonly used spot. Have a great rest of the week!

xo, Jill
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