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Moms View Message Board: Get Organized: Pantry
By Kiki on Tuesday, March 7, 2006 - 12:53 am:

I want to overhaul my pantry. Does anyone have a good way to organize a pantry?

By Ginny~moderator on Tuesday, March 7, 2006 - 06:42 am:

A pantry! I'd give my eye-teeth to have a pantry! I envy you.

But, the obvious things first. What do you use/need the most often? Those things should go on the shelves that are easiest for you to reach.

Are the shelves a convenient size - by that, I mean are they too far apart or too close together? If, for instance, you are stacking cans of soup 3 and 4 high, the shelves are too far apart. Think about installing a shelf in between existing shelves at that section, or buying wire shelf units to provide in-between shelves.

If your shelves don't go all the way down, install more shelves to go down to the floor, with some farther apart for big packages (like large bags of dog food), or buy some cheap wooden bookcases (Ikea, Target, etc. have fairly cheap storage shelf stuff).

Take a look at some of the stores like Target and Ikea, to see what ideas they have. I know Target has a section just for storage stuff. You may get some ideas on what will work for you.

Whatever you buy for holding small stuff, I strongly recommend it be clear plastic or open front, so you don't have to try to remember what's where, but can clearly see it. Some stackable clear plastic boxes for small stuff, with the stuff you use least often in the bottom box, could help, or a small shelf unit with clear plastic drawers.

Top shelves ... the problem with top shelves is that even if you put stuff you only use a couple of times a year up there (things for Christmas, for example), it is hard to remember what's there. It would be good to make a list and tack it on the wall so you can know what is where for the upper shelves, where you can't see things easily. And keep a folding stepstool or small stepladder in the pantry so you can easily reach those higher shelves.

Other than that, grouping like things together is the only way to go. For example, I keep packages of pasta, rice, and other "side dishes" on the same set of shelves; baking stuff on another set of shelves, etc. I prefer to put things like bags of sugar and flour in large size resealable plastic bags, because I wait for a sale and buy several bags at one time. This keeps out moisure and any little creatures.

Given the ages of your children, think about putting snack stuff on the highest shelf you can comfortably reach, which would keep it pretty much out of their reach.

Shelf liners. I don't like paper shelf lining, no matter how pretty, because it gets stained, faded and torn. But, many years ago, on a whim, I bought a roll of the clear corrugated plastic that some places put down over carpets when it rains. So I can use my pretty shelf liner, but cut the clear corrugated plastic to size and put it on top of my pretty paper (or, if you paint the shelves, on top of your pretty paint). The pastic is easy to wipe, I can even take it off the shelf and wash it in the sink or tub, and the corrugation holds any spills pretty well.

I'd get a couple of basket type containers to hold things of odd sizes - I recently found plastic storage baskets of all sizes, with handles, at Target. And keep a couple of baskets in the pantry so that when you go into it to get several things you can dump them in the basket for carrying.

This is definitely a major project. You may save yourself a lot of work if you spend some time thinking about it and maybe doing some rough sketches of layout first, so that when you start you know pretty much what you want to do and where you want to group things. Again, what you use most should be easiest to reach, and the most often used things should be nearest the front or the doorway.

Oh, and put a magic marker memo board or chalk board near the door or just outside the pantry so you can write down when you notice you are low on something, to add to your shopping list.

My Mom and your Mom were right - a place for everything and everything in its place. It takes a few minutes longer, when you come home from shopping, to put things in specific places rather than just dump them on the nearest empty shelf space. But oh, how much time it saves when you are fixing dinner or doing something and can quickly and easily find what you need.

By Yjja123 on Wednesday, March 8, 2006 - 02:28 pm:

I use a lot of tupperware for pasta and cereal storage. One shelf is devoted to canned veggies, another canned fruit, another baking supplies, soups, etc. I try to keep all like items together. It makes it easier to find things. I put flour and sugar in containers too. Lillian Vernon has some great pantry containers.

By Kiki on Friday, March 10, 2006 - 10:46 pm:


When we purchased our house 10 years ago the kitchen was newly remodeled. Itís a nice kitchen but I would not have designed it the way the previous homeowner did. There is a pantry next to the refrigerator but to me itís more like a big closet. Some of the draws pull out. Itís a nice feature. I have checked out a store called the Container Store. They have great ideas but can be a little pricey. I really like your suggestion for making a list for the items that are high up. I canít tell you how many times I have come across stuff that I didnít recall buying or have found too many duplicates of. I have to purchase another step stool because my DH recruited it for a house project and I guess I can kiss that goodbye. Lol The baskets you mentioned would be a good idea for those little powder mix packages (gravy, pesto, etc).

You are right about this being a major project and the best way to tackle it would be to clearly think it out first, come up with a plan, get the kids out of the house (wishful thinking but a girl can dream), and get it down.

I have another closet that I plan to turn into an appliance shack. I want to put appliances and large items that I donít use on a regular basis. My dh built a large pantry for me down in the basement near the playroom. I keep all the extra stuff down there like toilet paper, homemade sauce, cereal, and other stuff.

My next house, I hopefully will be able to design my own kitchen. That old saying you mentioned is one of my favorites! Itís so on the money. Thanks for the ideas!

By Kiki on Friday, March 10, 2006 - 10:48 pm:


I try to keep like things together but sometimes that can be hard to do with the kids and DH. I will check out lilian vernon. Thanks for info.

By Yjja123 on Sunday, March 12, 2006 - 01:48 pm:

We stick with the same theory "A place for everything, everything in it's place". I have used a labelmaker to list what items belong on each shelf. It helps the kids put things back where they belong. By now they are so used to it, the labels could be removed. Train them now to put things back and organizing will be much easier!

By Ginny~moderator on Sunday, March 12, 2006 - 08:51 pm:

Kiki, the drawers can be useful too, but my mom (who was extraordinarily well organized - drove me crazy) used cheap plastic baskets in drawers to keep like or similar small things together. That, by the way, is a great place to put spices, because it is out of any light. I keep my spices in a kitchen drawer because I want them out of the light and away from the kitchen heat. The drawer (a silverware drawer) is just deep enough to hold two layers of spice bottles, and I keep them more or less alphabetized. I also use baskets on the basement shelves that I, like you, use for backup and extra stocks of stuff, and especially for those envelopes of gravy mix, rice and pasta mixes. And, actually, you can use shoe boxes for a lot of stuff, if you label the front of the box clearly.

I really like the appliance shack. Also a good place to put those large platters and bowls that you only use a few times a year. Make a shelf higher than usual, and either have hubby put some grooves in it or nail down some quarter-round or even a 1X2 or 1X3 (that you'd have to fasten with screws from the underside of the shelf) so you can stand the platters on edge and they won't slip, and vases on the top shelf if you aren't using it for anything else.

By Ginny~moderator on Sunday, March 12, 2006 - 08:52 pm:

Oh, and maybe a rack on the inside of the pantry door for small stuff, or pegboard with hooks and those pegboard hooks that are circles. I've even seen pegboard stuff that is small plastic containers to fasten to the pegboard.

By Kiki on Thursday, March 16, 2006 - 12:41 am:

Good ideas! Thanks Ginny!

By Reds9298 on Saturday, March 18, 2006 - 08:36 pm:

Kiki - I'm a major freak for organization around the house and I LOVE this place for storage containers. I store my things about the same as Yvonne described. I use containers for pasta, cereal, and some snacks (like teddy grahams, and snack-size cookie packs), flour, sugar, and candy.

By Ginny~moderator on Sunday, March 19, 2006 - 06:56 am:

Kiki, check the dollar store for storage containers. I know they have the small plastic baskets I mentioned (3" square, long narrow ones about the size of a silverware section in a silverware drawer, and 3"x5" approx,) at 1, 2 or 3 for a dollar. I've also seen a lot of storage stuff at Target and K-mart at much lower prices than places like Linens n' Things or Bed, Bath & Beyond.

By Kiki on Monday, March 20, 2006 - 09:04 am:

Thanks Deanna!
When I have more time I will look into this site.

Ginny- I never thought about looking into the dollar store. lol

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