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Let’s talk about your pantry. How’s it looking these days?
We’ve been in our new house for about three weeks now. I just couldn’t let one more day go by without tackling the disheveled mess in there!
You know when you move into a new house and you just need to unpack a box and put the contents somewhere?? Yeah. That kind of a disheveled mess.
I’m so pleased with how our pantry turned out and can’t wait to share it with you. I also made up some cool printable pantry labels and I’ll show you exactly how I did it. (And – you can get these labels too! More on that below.)
For informational purposes, we are a family of four with a dog. We buy some things in bulk from Costco, like cereals, beverages, and paper towels, etc. My husband has celiac so we are also a gluten-free family for the most part. Meaning, we have some extra flours and things that someone who is not gluten-free might not have. The ideas I’m sharing will work for anyone though.
Let’s get started!
Ideas for Organizing a Walk-in Pantry
When organizing anything, it’s important to start with a clean, empty space. Take everything out of your pantry. Don’t cheat! Your kitchen will look like a mess and you will want to scream. But don’t worry – this is the chaos before the calm.
This is also a good time to discard any old, expired food items and things you never use. That includes that panini maker from 1975 that your mom gave you!
If you haven’t used it in the past year – then it’s time for it to go. And that’s my general rule of thumb for cooking gadgets in general. I give myself a year. For instance, you may only use your roasting pan at Thanksgiving – but that’s once a year and still counts as a keep item.
While your pantry is empty, take some time to clean it up in there. Wipe down the shelves. Vacuum and clean the floor.
Yay! Progress already!
Don’t Break the Bank Buying Fancy Organizers
You don’t need to spend a fortune to organize your pantry. In fact, I was dead set on NOT spending anything. I eventually caved and bought a few organizers to keep things looking somewhat cohesive. But for the most part, I used what I already had.
However, if you want one of those fancy celebrity pantries, you will need to get organizers that are the same. That’s what makes it look put together in the end — using all the same baskets and organizers.
My tips for keeping it cheap?
I love Dollar Store and Home Goods for picking up baskets and organizers. I also love good old fashioned mason jars. Some I already had from my grandmother. I also picked up another bulk pack of these wide-mouth jars to store my dry goods in. I personally love the look of a bunch of mason jars together. So pretty!
And don’t forget thrift stores and flea markets. You can sometimes score some good organizers there.
The other item I purchased was a canned food riser. I love it so much I might get another one! It’s so much easier to see what we have this way.
My point is that you don’t have to spend a lot – you can use what you already have and try to obtain what you need on the cheap.
Decant, Decant, Decant
I love storing food items in their own organizing bin or container. It makes it so much easier for me to see what we need before going to the grocery store. Plus, I just think it looks better than having all those cluttered food boxes.
I love these containers for storing our cereal. I swear we have cereals in them from months ago that still taste as if I bought them yesterday.
I use mason jars to store all our dry goods items. That includes food items like flours, oatmeal, chia seeds, dried fruit, baking items, etc. I use the wide mouth mason jars so it’s easier to stick a measuring spoon or cup in there and measure out what I need.
Here are some fun facts about mason jars that you might not know.
For a larger amount of flour or sugar, I use these clear glass containers.
I keep two larger baskets for snacks and breads. We always seem to have so many of them in our house! Little items like fruit snacks and bars get stored in a reach-in container for easy access.
I purchased this wood-type reach in container for my kids toys and that would work well here too. One of these days, maybe for my birthday, I want to get these pretty wood ones! (I realize that I’m asking for an organizer for my birthday and I’m OK with that.)
I also love love love these clear acrylic organizers. I use them in our pantry for holding smaller items like tuna packets, rice packets, fruit cups, and oatmeal packets. Even broths!
You can always decant your pasta too. Since we buy gluten-free pasta and they come in smaller packages, it was just easier for me to stick all the pasta boxes in a basket and label it.
My tip here is to determine what you reach in for frequently and make it easy to access those items.
Keep Like with Like
At this point – my pantry was clean. It was empty. And I figured out what storing containers I was using. So now I just had to put it all back in a way that made sense and looked good.
Here’s a tip. It helps to make a list and draw it out on paper – what items will go on which shelf. Then you can put it all back according to your drawing.
Our pantry has two sides and that awkward corner area. I wanted to keep items we reach in for frequently on the middle and bottom shelves. That way little hands can get what they need without asking Mom or Dad.
For the awkward middle space, I suggest getting a lazy susan or arranging items in a way that you can easily reach in for.
I kept categories together as much as could. Baking, Snacks, Cereal, Bread, etc.
I keep our bulk items on the floor – things like paper towels and beverages. I want to get these wood crates and put little wheels on them. That’s a project for another day, though.
Do you have wire shelves?
Our pantry has wire shelves. Does yours?
It can be a pain to get things to stand straight on wire shelves. That’s why decanting your items and putting them in containers and baskets makes it so much easier when you have wire shelves.
You can also line your shelves with something like this. I even had an idea to take wood boards and lay them on top of the wire shelves. This would also give it a more rustic vibe. But I’m putting that project on the back burner for now.
What I did instead?
I took an old cutting board that I wasn’t using and used that to put my mason jars on. Again – use what you have to make your pantry work for you.
I made up these labels for our pantry and I just love the look! And true to my budget-conscious projects, I made them up using as little sticker paper as possible. Sticker paper can be expensive.
Here’s how I did it.
I purchased this clear sticker paper. I put it in my printer just like I would a regular sheet of paper. This sticker paper says it will work with inkjet and laser printers. Print out your labels on the clear sticker paper. You might want to give the sticker paper a little time to dry after you printed.
Use scissors to carefully cut out each word. Since this is clear paper, you won’t see the border. Try not to touch the word part too much because it can create fingerprint smudges. That’s being pretty nitpicky though.
Then just stick the label on your organizer! These labels work best on flat surfaces. BUT! I used these labels on my Ball mason jars and they worked out fine, despite the fact that there is a raised “Ball” symbol and things on it.
For my baskets and bins where I couldn’t stick the label directly on, I used labels with jute twine to make it work.
You can get my labels! They’re available in my Etsy Shop. Just go here to get the goods! You get four pdf sheets of printable labels. I tried to think of any pantry item I could, including pet items. But if you see something that’s missing, let me know and I’ll add it to the group.
I love our walk-in pantry! The only thing left is to decorate it a bit. Maybe a pretty rug? Maybe some art. Why not?
I hope these ideas for organizing a walk-in pantry inspired you to work on yours! There is no better feeling than walking into a clean and organized space.