Organizing the Pantry

By / Food / February 6th, 2014 / 2

I’m pretty sure I have four bags of flour in my pantry. I haven’t the faintest idea why, but I do. Which is why I’m planning a pre-emptive pantry spring cleaning. There are only four steps! Who’s with me?

1. Purge

Take everything out and sort it into three piles – chuck, donate and keep. Ask yourself three questions: Has it expired? Do I like it? Will I ever use it?

If you answered…

  • yes to the first question, chuck it – trash these as soon as you’re finished.
  • no to the second or third questions, donate it – box these up and bring them to your local food drive.
  • yes to the second or third questions, keep it.

2. Organize

Sort the keepers by “type” and “packaging style”. There is no right way; everyone has their own style and associations. Do you think in terms of soups, cereals, baking supplies, pasta, rice, snacks, miscellaneous? Or breakfast food, snacks, lunch, dinner?

When you’ve sorted, group the individual piles by cans, bags, bottles, jars and boxes.

3. Clean

Grab your favourite all-purpose cleaner and wipe down every inch of your pantry. You may need to vacuum up the crumbs. Make that space shine.

4. Store

Let adult Tetris begin. I suggest playing the Tetris soundtrack in the background. Put least-used items in the awkward places and frequently used items in accessible places. Taller items behind smaller ones.


Cereals, pasta, flour – these are easier to store (and last longer) if they’re stored in containers. Aim for glass or clear containers, so you quickly can see what’s in them and how much is left.

Try removing the doors to give your kitchen an open concept look. Or install rolling shelves for easy access to items at the back of your pantry.


A freelance writer and editor, Lisa Hoekstra loves learning and trying new things. She can be found with her nose in a book or multiple tabs open on her browser as she researches the latest and greatest in the world of food, style and everything in between.

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