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Steps for Creating a Functional Pantry

Have you ever lost a food item in your pantry and spent your time running to the store to rebuy it, only to come across the original item days, weeks, or even months later? Have you ever discovered half-eaten bags of snacks that were hidden away behind other bags of snacks and, in turn, gone stale? Have you ever looked at something being stored in your pantry that simply did not belong, but you turned a blind eye to it because the thought of finding a new home for it stressed you out too much?

If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, then it may be time to work on reorganizing that pantry.

First things first: Please know that these issues are super common and happen to even the most organized homeowners at one point or another. But the other thing is this:

Having a disorganized pantry leads to overspending, inefficient living,

and unnecessary stress.

If you are interested in creating a better system in your pantry or food storage cabinet, then I have a few professional tips for you. If you follow the decluttering and organizing processes shared in this post, I can just about guarantee that you will know your pantry stock at all times, which will keep you from bumping into the previously mentioned problems in the future.

And get this… Your pantry does not have to be Pinterest perfect in order to be functional and visually-pleasing!


In order to organize your pantry, the steps/tips I encourage you to follow are as follows:

Step 1: Declutter

  • Work from left-right, top-bottom. By doing this, you will have clear demarcation of where you began and where you left off, just in case you get pulled away from your project.

  • Create categories on-the-go. As you are clearing out your pantry, categorize your items on a nearby workspace. Place rice with rice, cereal with cereal, etc. Doing this will make the space planning and organizing processes much simpler.

  • Give yourself specific guidelines to follow while decluttering. No second-guessing here, people! For example, tell yourself that anything that is expired will immediately go into the garbage and follow through with it.

  • Determine which items currently living in your pantry do not necessarily belong there. Ask yourself, "Can this live somewhere else in my home with like-items?" For example, if you have seasonal party ware stored in a container in the garage, could you move that fancy chip-and-dip plate that is sitting on the floor of your pantry (you know, the one you only use twice a year?) into that storage container?


Step 2: Space Plan

  • Use your categories to guide you. Based on the categories you created during the decluttering process, think about how they should be placed back into your pantry. Writing down your categories and sketching out your space really helps here!

  • Keep the items you want to remember having at eye-level. Being able to see these items upon entering your pantry will remind you to use them.

  • Keep larger categories in the same zone as one another. For example, place cereals, oatmeals, and granolas together in a "Breakfast Foods" zone.

  • Space plan with your family in mind. Remember to think of the needs of your individual family members when you're creating your zones. Do you want your kids to help themselves to snacks? If so, keep them at your children's eye-level.


Step 3: Organize + Label

  • Place categorized items in order from tallest to shortest. This provides better sight-lines so that individual food items don't get lost.

  • Label shelves, zones, or containers (if you are choosing to use containment). Labeling will help you and the other members of your household to maintain the space better.


By following the suggestions outlined in this post, you will be able to create a more functional pantry while eliminating the issues of overspending on food, having items get lost or go expired, and wasting valuable pantry real estate on things that belong elsewhere. And as I mentioned before, this can all be done without feeling the pressure to make it "Pinterest Perfect"...

BUT if that is something you want (take a look at this pantry transformation for some inspo!), there are plenty of amazing, well-made products out there to choose from! Just remember to have fun with it!

For more tips like these, grab some of my free, downloadable guides!

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