One night I was making burritos for dinner. I went to grab refried beans out of the pantry and couldn’t find any. Later, while cleaning out the pantry, I found some. If the pantry had been organized to begin with, I would have been able to find the refried beans and save my husband a trip to the neighborhood store, saved money as refried beans at the neighborhood store are not cheap and lots of frustration. Another problem with a cluttered, unorganized pantry is waste. I found spilled flour, noodles, Jello and cornmeal packages. So, in an effort to improve myself and knowing what I had done in the past wasn’t working, I put some thought into how I could create a better system. Here’s what I came up with:
Assign a Home for Each Item
Assign a home to each different type of item. For example, have one shelf for cereals, another for canned foods, another for spices and another for prepared boxed meals such as macaroni and cheese. If you have to, you can split up a shelf for two different foods. Be sure to keep multiples of foods together so you can see at a glance how much of something you have.
Get Rid of Dead Space
Make sure your shelves don’t have too much ‘dead space’. Dead space is unused space which is usually found above what you are storing. For example, when I was putting my canned food away on the canned food shelf, I noticed I couldn’t stack two regular sized (about 15 oz.) cans one on top of another, but there was a lot of empty space above the cans (dead space). So I adjusted the shelf up a couple of inches so now I have room to stack two regular size cans and there is less dead space. This made a tremendous difference–I could now get all canned foods onto this shelf rather than have them scattered throughout the pantry.
Find canisters or other holders for noodles, flour, sugar, rice, popcorn or other food that comes in plastic or paper bags. I used to store the opened bag of rice (or other plastic or paper bagged food) right in the opened bag (closed with a twist-tie) which always lead to spills. Now I use canisters, empty coffee cans, glass jars, and other containers to hold these items for no mess. If you use pretty glass jars (which you can find at thrift stores), you can store noodles, rice, split peas or other attractive food in them and display on your counter to save pantry space. Finally, put taller items in the back. This makes finding things easier.
The effort you put into organizing your pantry can be very rewarding. It will save you time, frustration and money. It is so nice to be able to open the door and see everything organized (or just being able to see everything without a can falling on your head or toes).
© Monica Resinger
About the Author: Monica Resinger is a loving wife and doting mother of two who enjoys gardening, painting, dancing and homemaking. She edits and publishes the e-zine The Homemaker’s Journal, a free e-zine published Monday through Friday, that features a useful homemaking tip and scrumptious recipe of the day; if you’d like to subscribe, just send a blank e-mail to: