What if weeknight dinners were simple? An organized pantry is the first step to efficient cooking. If you want to improve your meal prep, start with your pantry. The more you simplify your kitchen pantry, the more you’ll simplify meal time.

When your ingredients are clearly labeled, you’ll find that cooking is actually relaxing. With the right staples, you can throw together a healthy meal in a pinch. You’ll know what ingredients you have and where they are. You won’t need to waste time with last-minute trips to the grocery store.

Yet when your pantry is cluttered, you add stress to meal prep. It takes longer to find ingredients. If you don’t know what you already have, it’s easy to overbuy or underbuy. A cluttered pantry makes for cluttered mealtimes.

Luckily, with just a few hours and the right tools, you can transform your kitchen pantry. We’re going to walk you through the steps to creating a simple pantry system. Once you’re done, you’ll have extra room for storage, a dedicated space for your staples, and clearly marked categories. We’ll break it down step-by-step so you’ll be on your way to enjoying a more organized and efficient pantry in no time.

Does a Pantry Need Ventilation?

Does a pantry need ventilation?

Most of us are quick to overlook the state of our pantry — until something goes wrong. Pantries, like other parts of the kitchen, require good ventilation. Poor ventilation creates excessive moisture and heat. Monitoring the conditions of your pantry is particularly vital in humid environments. Ventilate your pantry now, and you’ll save yourself time, money, and stress.

In many cases, a pair of air vents will efficiently keep air moving. An air vent placed near the top of the pantry will pull odors out. Vents installed toward the ground will draw fresh air in. Without any maintenance, this set of vents will passively circulate fresh air in and stale air out.

If heat and moisture are particularly noticeable in your pantry, consider mechanical ventilation. A mechanical fan in the ceiling on your pantry will reduce stale air and foul odors. Pair the fan with an open window or a jump vent; an open window or jump vent will circulate fresh air in and carry odors out.

If you do rely on an exterior window to circulate fresh air in or around your pantry, make sure it has a screen. Those bags of flour and grains are goldmines for many outside insects.

Steps for Organizing Your Pantry

How to organize your pantry, step-by-step.

Although clearing out the pantry might feel overwhelming, you can simplify the process by breaking it down. Set aside a few hours, turn on your favorite music, and get ready to create a pantry that works for you.

To get you started, here are seven easy steps to organize your kitchen pantry.

Empty everything

You have to make a mess to clean a mess. Put your gloves on and take everything out of the pantry. All of it. Once you can see all your items, throw away everything that’s expired.

Clean and add shelf liners

Before you put your items back in the pantry, grab a bottle of cleaning solution and wipe down all the shelves. It’s not often that your pantry is empty, so use this time to really scrub the dusty corners. If you’re concerned about using a food-safe disinfectant, you can mix one part white vinegar to one part water.

Once all the surfaces are clean, install shelf liners. Liners are affordable and durable, and they prevent boxes from falling over on wire shelves. Liners will also catch spilled food and prevent boxes and containers from slipping. It’s much easier to install them now, when everything is empty.


Categorizing your pantry can help keep it organized.

Before you put your canned goods back, group similar items together. You don’t need to put anything back in the pantry yet. In this step, you’re just choosing the categories that make the most sense for what you own.

Oils can go together, baking items in another category, and canned goods in another. Parents might find it useful to have categories for kids’ snacks and meals.

Take inventory

Make a list of your ideal pantry staples. Are there items you like to have stocked all the time? What items do you use regularly? Now compare your list to what you have. Are there any items missing?

If you cook frequently, consider finding one or two recipes you can make out of the pantry. Beans and rice or pasta dishes often rely on pantry staples. These recipes will save you time on busy nights, so add these ingredients to your list.

Optimize your storage

Now that you know what you have and what you need, it’s time to store everything. Store similar items in baskets for efficiency. Consider purchasing clear glass or plastic to store pasta and grains. We’ve listed a few of our favorite plastic containers for everything from spice packets to pasta boxes. If humidity or insects are a concern, make sure you’re choosing airtight containers for grains and perishables.

If your pantry has a door, you may want to purchase an over-the-door hanger. These can almost double the amount of storage space in a small pantry. If you have extra wall space, consider hooks for brooms or a bag dispenser for plastic bags.


Label your pantry ingredients to make it easier to find what you need.

Use stickers or a sharpie to label containers by category. For individual items in glass or plastic jars, include the expiration date and the item name on each label.

Enjoy and maintain your pantry

Now that everything is clean and organized, you can enjoy having exactly what you need in the right spot. Make sure to maintain this perfectly organized pantry. Put items back where they belong, and keep your list of staples with your grocery lists. Consider wiping everything down once a week, and make it a habit to throw away expired food.

But most of all, enjoy! An organized pantry is a pleasure to use, so enjoy knowing that your pantry works for you.

Pantry Organization Essentials

Clear Plastic Storage Bins by mDesign, 8-pack

8-pack of clear plastic storage bins for pantry by mDesign.

Use this set of plastic bins to store spices, packets, cans, boxes, and more. The hard plastic is clear so you can easily see what’s inside. Reviewers loved knowing exactly what was in each container with just a glance. Each container has small raised feet for stability. Line these up side-by-side or stack them easily on your shelf.

The clear acrylic plastic is shatter-resistant, food safe, and BPA and chlorine free. They’re suitable for use in the fridge or freezer too. Wash them thoroughly before use. Some reviewers reported that the brand stickers were difficult to remove, so you may need to soak the bins in warm water to loosen the stickers.

Love it? Click here to buy now.

Airtight Food Storage for Pantry Organization, 8-pack

Airtight food storage containers for pantry organization.

“I love everything about these containers!” one reviewer raved. Join the many happy customers who think these containers are a godsend. They’re stackable, they’re leakproof, and they’re airtight.

The set includes 8 different sizes. Use them to store cereal, grains, pasta, flour, or even liquids. Each storage container includes an airtight lid, and the plastic is BPA-free and food safe. Reviewers rave that they’re leakproof and don’t shatter. Unlike glass, these won’t create a disaster if you drop them.

Note that these airtight containers are particularly useful for preventing a pantry infestation. Flour and grain stored in paper boxes or bags is vulnerable to insects. These airtight containers, however, will keep pesky creatures far from your food.

To read reviews, click here.

Plastic Food Packet Organizer, set of 4

Food packet organizer for pantry.

Each of these plastic organizers is divided into 3 sections. They’re the perfect size for spice packets, seasoning mixes, and salad dressing pouches. You can also use them to store an assortment of teas or hot cocoas packets. They’re safe in the fridge, so consider using them to store salad dressings or cold snacks. One reviewer used the set to organize her child’s lunches.

Stack them on top of each other to save space, and be aware that these are hand wash only.

To see pricing, click here.

Stackable Can Storage Rack for Pantry

Stackable can storage rack for pantry organization.

Are you tired of losing cans at the back of your pantry?Consider this simple can organizer; it stores and stacks your cans on their side. Not only does it save space, but you can see exactly what you have with just a glance, and each organizer holds up to 36 cans. The unit also includes metal connectors. Consider stringing together a line of these for your entire pantry.

Six adjustable dividers accommodate different sizes and types of cans. Reviewers report these are easy to assemble and incredibly durable. Be warned: most reviewers loved these so much that they ended up investing in several of them. You can’t buy just one.

Ready to buy? Click here.

Plastic Tea and Food Packet Organizer Bins, set of 4

Tea and food packet organizer bins for pantry.

If you have to dump your entire tea collection onto the counter to find just one variety, you need this organizer. These clear plastic containers store tea packets or spices. The cubbies allow you to line up food products or tea for easy visibility, and a hinged lid will keep dust or insects out. They’re stackable for efficient organizing.

The BPA-free, shatter-resistant plastic is safe in the freezer or refrigerator. Hand wash only with warm soapy water.

More than one reviewer was relieved to finally organize their collection of tea bags. These plain, durable organizers make finding products “so much easier.” Make sure you measure your teabags before purchasing; reviewers report that some brands like Tazo did not fit in the cubbies.

To learn more, click here.

Metal Wire Pantry Organizers by mDesign, 4 pack

Pack of four metal wire food storage bins for pantry.

Join the hundreds of reviewers who think these storage containers are absolutely perfect. Store onions or potatoes in them, stack your pasta boxes, or keep plastic wrap and foil in one place. The metal wire is durable and holds some weight, while the easy-grab handles on the side make transportation easy.

The finish is rust-resistant. Simply wipe them down with a damp cloth to clean. There are multiple sizes for different uses. They’re accessible, durable, space-saving, and made for long-term daily use.

Love it? Click here to buy now.

To Sum It Up…

A clean, organized pantry is a joy to use. You’ll save time and stress by clearly labelling your items, keeping your staples well stocked, and organizing items by category. When your pantry is clean, you can quickly whip up a dinner and streamline grocery shopping.

Don’t let the prospect of cleaning out your pantry overwhelm you; our list of pantry organizers will help. Clear plastic bins are great for categorizing items. Choose different sizes for different types of food. A stackable can organizer will keep canned goods visible and accessible. With a few simple organizers, you’ll create a neat and organized pantry in no time.