Pantry organization is a shockingly good way to not only tidy your kitchen but to reboot your outlook and eating habits.
By organizing your space, you can create a more functional kitchen and more easily provide healthier snacks and meals for you or your loved ones.
Sometimes, all you really need to hit this reset is a reason to get started. The changing seasons, fall and spring in particular, or the start of a new year, are ideal times to make these adjustments!
Below, we have laid out a few reasons why you should even consider pantry organization, some tips on how to do it, and some staples you should consider adding to the mix!
Why You Should Invest Time In Pantry Organization
For many, pantry organization sounds about as fun as a root canal. But the truth is, properly organizing and stocking this important kitchen space can provide a number of benefits.
Here’s why you should invest time in pantry organization:
- It maximizes your space. When you organize, you can maximize. You would be amazed at what you can fit in there once you’ve tidied up and created a system!
- You’ll save money. With pantry organization, you will be able to see what you have and what you need. No more guessing at the grocery store and coming home with a duplicate. And, food waste is a real problem for a household budget. An organized pantry will let you see what is about to expire so you can use it before it’s too late.
- Cleaning is easier. An organized space is always easier to clean.
- You’ll be inspired to cook more. Knowing what ingredients you have in your pantry will inspire you to mix and match ingredients for exciting flavor creations!
- May promote healthier eating habits. Part of pantry organization is clearing out some of the foods you already have. It is the perfect opportunity to clear out unhealthy foods and stock up on healthier staples and snacks that will make it easier to adopt healthier eating habits.
6 Tips for Pantry Organization:
1) Remove Everything From Your Pantry
The first step in any pantry organization effort is to remove everything. Yes, we mean everything.
Loosely organize items on the counter or kitchen table based on food type or use. This will make your life a little easier when putting things back into the pantry.
Pantry Organization Pro Tip: Start this process BEFORE you go on a grocery run or before you stock up on pantry staples. It’s easier to remove items from the pantry when there are fewer items there in the first place!
2) Recycle, Donate, Eat, Throw Away
The end goal of your pantry organization is to have a clean, ordered, healthier, kitchen space. And to that end, you need to make some decisions about what you have in there at the outset.
- Recycle: Take this opportunity to recycle any cardboard, plastic, or aluminum food containers that you will no longer be using. Getting rid of these items will help you create more space and functionality in your pantry.
- Donate: Donate any foodstuffs you are not interested in keeping. Give them to neighbors, family, or your local food bank. Do not, however, donate any expired food items.
- Eat: This is your chance to get rid of odds and ends. If you have a handful of cereal, or a few crackers, put them in a bowl for easy snacking as you work. If you have kids around, give them the bowls and let them finish it off. Anything else that is still suitable to eat but that you don’t want to have around long term, plan to use/cook in the next few days so that it is out of the pantry without creating food waste. Nothing wrong with a mix and match pantry meal!
- Discard: Anything that is stale or expired can be discarded or composted.
3) Clean the Pantry
Pantry organization is also pantry cleaning!
Sweep up any errant crumbs and wipe down all of the shelves. Vacuum if necessary.
If you have the time and the inclination, this is the perfect time to apply contact paper or a fresh coat of paint to your pantry shelves. Why not do a full pantry refresh?
But, if you are hoping to complete your pantry organization a little bit faster, skip the paint and the contact paper and give the shelves a good scrub. Just be sure to let the shelves dry completely before restocking to avoid mold!
4) Put Foods In Clear Containers
Part of pantry organization is making things more accessible and more functional. By putting dry goods into glass or clear plastic resealable containers, you can actually see what is going on in there!
No more reaching for the cereal box to find only crumbs in the bottom. With clear containers, you’ll be able to tell when you are running low and can add it to your shopping list before you run out!
Cereals, crackers, cookies, pet treats, pasta, rice, dry beans, lentils, and baking goods like flour and sugar are excellent candidates for clear container storage.
Even though you can see what’s inside, it is a good idea to label the containers. It will help you keep things organized when refilling the containers and assist those who may not necessarily know the difference between quinoa and couscous!
When adding labels to containers, consider adding dates as well to keep track of freshness and usage.
5) Create Pantry Sections
Creating different sections is a big part of pantry organization. Exactly how these sections look will depend on the size of your pantry and the number of shelves you have.
But generally speaking, you can separate things into breakfast items, lunch and dinner items, snacks, and baking goods.
For the sake of practicality and convenience, put bulky items on the lower shelves and lightweight or rarely used items on the top shelves.
If your shelves are deep enough, add baskets or trays to store things like toothpicks, food clips, and the non-edible items you use in the kitchen on a regular basis.
Turntables are great for spices and condiments. They will save you space while giving you very easy access to these items.
If there are kids in your home, consider creating a kids’ snack section. Put these snacks within reach, on a lower shelf, and fill the shelf with healthier snacks that you are comfortable with your kids having on a regular basis.
To help all household members follow your system of organization, add labels to the shelves. This will help everyone understand where to return an item they have removed from the pantry.
6) Stock Up on Healthier Options
Making time for pantry organization, in many ways, is making time for a healthier you.
When you clear out your pantry and get rid of the old foods that you don’t want or need, you can replace them with healthier options.
We aren’t suggesting that you can’t ever have cookies or chips in there, but if you make an effort to fill as much of the space as you can with healthier snacks and the healthier staples you need to make good for you snacks and meals, you’ll be setting yourself up for success.
Have a look at the types of snacks that you have there and assess whether you need them or if you should source some healthier snacks for your pantry.
Complete Your Pantry Organization with Healthier Snacks and Staples
Now that you’ve gone through all this effort, you don’t want to fall back into old habits. You want to stay the course!
Clearing things out and getting the space set up in a way that makes sense to your household, creates a natural beginning. This is why pantry organization is a great foundation for healthier eating and it is a great time to fall in love with new, nutritious snacks.
Out with the old, in with the healthier new!
For many of us, if there is junk food in the house, we will eat it. So, nix the problem at the source and keep a moderate amount of foods in your pantry that support your desired healthier habits.
Fill the pantry with healthier snacks and pantry staples that can support you in preparing healthier snacks and meals.
Here are some things to consider stocking up on. This list will vary based on your household and any food sensitivities but it should give you a good place to start.
Healthier Pantry Staples
These pantry items will support you in cooking and baking.
Grains and Legumes
- Oats (steel-cut or rolled)
- Dry beans like chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans
- Potatoes (white and sweet potatoes)
- Squash (butternut, spaghetti squash, acorn)
Nuts, Seeds, Dried Fruit
- Chia seeds
- Flax seeds
- Sunflower seeds
- Shredded coconut
- Dried fruit (dates, raisins, cranberries, apricots, blueberries, acai)
Canned and Packaged Goods
- Tomatoes (crushed and diced)
- Tomato paste
- Coconut milk
- Chicken and/or vegetable broth
- Canned tuna and salmon
- Peanut butter, almond butter, or sunflower, tahini, or soy butter
- Marinara sauce
- Canned pumpkin
Oils and Vinegars
- Oil (olive, coconut, grape seed, avocado)
- Balsamic vinegar
- Apple cider vinegar
- Dijon and yellow mustard
- Tamari, soy, or coconut aminos
- Maple syrup
- Salad dressing
Baking and Cooking Staples
- Baking powder
- Baking soda
- Kosher salt
- Spices (black pepper, cinnamon, coriander, chili powder, cumin, nutmeg, curry powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, ground ginger)
- Vanilla extract
There may be items on the above list that you will never use, and some missing that you consider essential, so use this as a guide and stock items that make sense to you.
Complete Pantry Organization with Healthier Snacks Like Harvest Snaps
Pantry organization and healthier eating do not mean you can’t snack. In fact, there is a range of healthier snack options available to you.
Using the pantry staples above you can easily create school-friendly snacks for the kids, quick nutrient-dense snacks to support your active lifestyle, and make allergy-free snacks that everyone can enjoy.
But if you don’t have time to make your own, you can have some store-bought healthier snacks on hand!
Harvest Snaps Snack Crisps are made with green peas, red lentils, or black beans and offer a range of flavors like Lightly Salted, Parmesan Roasted Garlic, Mango Chile Lime, Caesar, Wasabi Ranch, Black Pepper, and Tomato Basil. No matter your snack mood or vibe, there is a Snack Crisps flavor that will fit the bill.
Harvest Snaps Crunchions are made with red lentils and come in a fun ring shape, providing a big crunch in a bite-sized form. Crunchions flavors include the mouth-watering Kick’n BBQ, sharp and sweet Tangy Sweet Chili, and the classic go-to, Sour Cream & Onion!
And perhaps the best thing about Harvest Snaps is that they can be paired with other foods for a truly satisfying treat. Snack Crisps and Crunchions are great with hummus or tzatziki, or they can create texture and flavor in a homemade trail mix. Add some to a snack plate with fresh fruit and cheese and you’ve got most of the food groups covered!
Pantry Organization Makes All The Difference
When your living spaces are disorganized, it can be difficult to make healthier choices for you and your family.
By investing some time in pantry organization, you can create a space that supports you in your goals. The tips laid out above are guidelines but by following them, you can create a new system that makes sense for your lifestyle and is easy to maintain.
Once you create your pantry sections and establish your storage system, you will know where everything is but also find subsequent forays into pantry organization much simpler.
Life is busy and it is likely that your pantry will fall into disorder from time to time. Plan for pantry re-organization twice a year. Trust us—with a pantry organizing system in place, you’ll find the reorganization to be much easier than your initial pantry organization!
Spring and fall are the perfect time to take on this task. These seasons see big transitions in the weather but also in the seasonal foods that are available to us. The spring, for example, is the perfect time to clean out your root vegetable storage. Spring and summer mean brighter, lighter produce and you are less likely to rely on potatoes to round out a meal. Fall, on the other hand, may find you making room for the canned foods and preserves from your garden!
Simply put, pantry organization will make your life easier, help you maintain a healthier diet, and ensure that you get the most out of your food purchases!
Remember, if you can’t easily find it, you’re not likely to use it!