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Ignored for too long, pantries become like junk drawers; items end up there only to never leave. Short bursts of organization will tidy things in the short-term, but keeping your space in order for the long run requires a solid pantry organization system. To help, we tapped six experts for their best strategies on how to straighten up a pantry, and they all agreed on one principle: The key is to create a home for every ingredient and tool, from baking goods to cooking oils.
“Having a place for everything and everything in its place will save your sanity,” says designer Tamara Day. Read on for six other ultra-easy ideas—always knowing where your tomato paste is just a step (or two) away.
Check in Quarterly
“It’s amazing how much can live deep in the corners,” says Lauren Alsup of Neat Method. Occasionally you must start fresh—literally. Clean out your pantry every three months, dusting off items, checking expiration dates, wiping up errant spills, and tweaking any organizing methods that aren’t working for you.
Understand Your Motives for Organizing
Professional organizer Hannah Goetz suggests getting to the bottom of your motives. Ask yourself: What are your frustrations with your pantry? What is missing? (An over-the-door spice rack or a step stool, perhaps.) What are your goals? (To be able to spot and grab items quickly sounds nice, doesn’t it?) Knowing why you’re organizing will help you stay organized.
Matching glass containers will be your pantry’s new best friend. Day, who also hosts HGTV’s Bargain Mansions, transfers her kids’ cereals into glass jars—with a scoop inside so they can help themselves—as well as nuts and dried fruit for healthy grab-and-go snacks. Bonus: They also look beautiful and cohesive.
Organize Your Pantry Into Zones
Jerrod Blandino of Too Faced Cosmetics called on Amanda Titchenal, a professional organizer—or the “declutter whisperer,” as Blandino dubbed her—to transform his pantry into zones. “It’s like you’re shopping at a grocery store,” says Blandino. Place everyday items at eye level, while specialized ingredients that you don’t reach for often can be stored up high, and heavy items, like backup 12-packs of LaCroix, can live on the bottom shelf.
Make It Pretty
The more enjoyable your pantry is to be in, the more likely you are to want to keep it in good shape. Amy Leferink of Interior Impressions suggests incorporating color-coordinated baskets and bins, and even installing wallpaper if that’s your vibe. You’re one bold pattern (or paint color) away from a pantry you’ll actually want to show off.
Get Everyone on the Same Page
Half the battle of getting organized is getting everyone else organized. Jen Robin of Life in Jeneral recommends doing a pantry walk-through with your family after you’ve reorganized so they know that the popcorn goes on the left and the olive oil on the right. This helps keep everyone responsible for maintaining the new system, not just you.
More kitchen organization ideas:
8 Pantry Organization DIY Ideas for Every Storage Struggle
Containment Is the Key to These Kitchen Counter Organization Ideas
Here’s Exactly How to Organize Your Fully Stocked Fridge