Editing Your Kitchen: Pantry Organization 101

Lesson #2 in editing your kitchen: pantry organization. As I’ve mentioned before, “editing” your kitchen really lays the groundwork for a healthy lifestyle and making better eating and cooking choices. But it’s often difficult to walk into your kitchen and just start organizing from scratch.

In my previous post on organization, Editing Your Kitchen: Pantry Cleanup, I started with the basics of cleaning out your pantry. For a refresher, that includes ditching unhealthy ingredients, cleaning out processed junk foods, and trashing any bad oils or overly refined snacks.

So after this step, you’re hopefully left with a pantry full of clean, healthy foods that you can use for baking, cooking, or eating, like healthy nuts and seeds (e.g., chia seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, and walnuts), better baking ingredients (e.g., all-purpose allergen- and gluten-free flour, almond flour, coconut sugar, and honey), and clean oils and condiments (e.g., coconut oil, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and apple cider vinegar).

So what are you supposed to do with your pantry now that you’ve ditched all the junk? Well, I can try to help with that. Here are just a few tips to help you get started on the pantry organization process of your dreams (okay, maybe they’re just my dreams…I get a lot of joy out of organizing):

5 Tips for Pantry Organization

  1. Place everyday essentials in front and specialty ingredients in the back.
    Place the items you use every day on the shelf and location that is closest to your line of sight. This is rule #1 in my book because I have unreasonably high shelves in my apartment, and if I place anything other than my “one-in-a-while” specialty ingredients or flours there, I will not be a happy camper.
  2. Separate savory ingredients from sweet or baking ingredients.
    It seems super simple, but putting your crushed tomatoes, quinoa, and tuna on one side of the pantry, and chocolate chips, almond flour, and honey on the other makes life that much easier.
  3. Consolidate loose ingredients into canisters.
    Rubber bands and chip clips aren’t doing much to keep your ingredients fresh. Canisters are a real Godsend, because they keep your ingredients fresher, clear out unnecessary packaging, and make it easier to SEE your ingredients. The best canisters I’ve used by far are OXO’s POP Containers. If I were a rich woman, I would buy every single product in their POP line.
  4. Label everything by name.
    A better woman than me would probably add purchase dates to everything as well (I’ll get there one day), but just labeling your canisters by name can help you avoid the age-old question, “Now where did I put that darn tapioca flour?!”
  5. USE your ingredients.
    I know, I know. You’re thinking “Man, all this time, I’ve had a pantry full of stuff that I could’ve USED?! Where does she come up with this stuff?” But seriously. Food waste is no good. Check your expiration dates, and if something is getting close to the end, use it up. And when you use up those ingredients, you’re clearing more space for the future. Win-win.

There are a plethora of organization tips you can find on the internet or read in home and garden magazines, but I like tackling a few simple things at a time. That’s why I put this quick list together.

And I don’t want to overstate this, but once your pantry or kitchen cabinet is organized, it really opens up a world of cooking and healthier eating choices. So get organized, my friends. Even if it’s just your pantry.