December 16, 2018

Eat Up These Tips for Organizing Your Pantry

In terms of fears, does the thought of organizing your pantry rank right up there with public speaking and clowns? Getting your pantry in order doesn’t have to be a nightmare. Here are some helpful tips to get you started on a picture-perfect and well-organized space for your food supplies. And snack on something while you’re working. That always helps.

Empty it out

Begin by removing everything from your pantry and setting it all on your kitchen table. As you place items on the table, group them into categories such as staples, breakfast items, etc. Having an empty pantry gives you a clean slate to start anew. It’s like clearing your mind.

Clean the shelves

Wipe off the shelves with a household cleaner and rag to remove dust, food crumbs and any mystery gunk you might find. Allow the shelves to dry, and your pantry is ready to restock.

Divide it into zones

As you place items back on the shelves, arrange them in the general categories you established when you first laid them all out on your kitchen table. This step might sound obvious, but it’s easy to get into the habit of haphazardly sticking packages wherever you find room and not being able to find them when you need them.

Getting your pantry in order doesn’t have to be a nightmare.

Check expiration dates

Put on your glasses and check the expiration dates of all of your food items. Either discard expired items or eat them immediately. Keep in mind that expired dates on packages such as cans and vacuum-sealed jars do not necessarily mean the food is no longer safe to eat. (But if you haven’t eaten them in all these years, you’re probably not going to now.)

Configure the space

Pantries come in all sizes, so utilize organizing tools such as tiered racks and Lazy Susans to divide the space. If your pantry is deep, the space in back might never be used, and if it is, items will get lost. So reserve the rear space for storage of non-food items such as small appliances.

Clear up things

Transfer dry goods such as rice and pasta to clear glass containers so you can easily see how much you have of them in inventory. Storing the food in clear glass will keep them visible, helping you with meal planning and grocery shopping.

Bin there, done that

Store similar items in bins so you can find things easily. Bins also help reduce spillage on items such as flour and sugar. Just be sure to select bins that are low profile or clear so you can see what’s in them. You can even use old baking dishes — they’re low and shallow enough for most shelves.

Keep perishables visible

Place perishables such as bread and onions in a visible location so you’re reminded to use them before they spoil. Having them at eye level really helps.

Use your doors

Add hooks on the inside of your pantry doors to hold additional items. Just be sure that you can still close the doors afterward.

Keep heavy items on the bottom

Maybe it’s because we’re in Southern California, but I’m always cognizant of earthquakes when stocking my pantry. With temblors in mind, store heavier jars and liquid items on lower shelves so if they fall, they will be less likely to break or make a mess.

Assess it weekly

After your pantry is organized, it’s easier to keep it that way. Go through your pantry every week to determine what needs restocking and what needs to be eaten soon. Move around items as you see fit. Make your pantry work for you.

Jonathan Fong is the author of “Walls That Wow,” “Flowers That Wow” and “Parties That Wow,” and host of “Style With a Smile” on YouTube. You can see more of his do-it-yourself projects at