During the holidays, we all have extra food goodies lurking around in our kitchens and somehow those extras usually get thrown into the pantry.

Yesterday, I purchased a gingerbread house kit (on sale!) for the kids to construct while on their Winter Break. When I attempted to stash the gingerbread house kit into the pantry, this is what I was faced with…


Not exactly a pantry with plenty of room for a gingerbread house kit. And I know better. So much to my children’s delight (I really should invent a sarcasm font), it became acutely mandatory to declutter the pantry before I could add this gingerbread house kit.

One of the steadfast “rules” of organizing is to empty the ENTIRE pantry/cupboard before putting anything back in. But in this case, I decided this was one of those rules that are meant to be broken. I cleared one shelf at a time, which was messy enough.

Now I began while the kids were at school, but inevitably I was in full decluttering mode when the school bus pulled up. The children were less than excited to hold off on their after school snack. I needed to move lots of canned goods to clear two spots for them at the kitchen table. There are no photos of this chaos since I was mildly distracted by two unhappy children. (Probably for the best. And yes, we did order pizza for dinner that night.)

Anything and everything that was expired, didn’t belong and or I knew we would never eat was purged. Why did I ever buy canned creamed spinach?

I cannot believe how much I got rid of.  I delivered one large bag of canned goods to our local grocery store that is collecting food donations this holiday season. Our trash compactor and disposal also ate well that night.

Enough was purged that I ended up with one extra shelf and the floor as free space. Now time to decide what and how to put it back.

First, I  reordered the shelves. The dry goods we don’t use very often were decanted into IKEA containers, labeled and gathered on the bottom shelf.

dry goods

Another shelf is completely dedicated to cereals along with my daughter’s almond and rice milk. Another shelf became home to the canned goods. And on the shelf high enough to be out of my kids reach, are the vitamins and medications. You will need to decide what your family needs are. I have a very open kitchen and it only has one wall mounted cabinet, which means a lot more gets delegated to the pantry than I would like. I am a HUGE believer in label, label, label. I label everything. Most people think, why? It’s obvious where the cereal goes. Yes, but do your children always put every thing back where it belongs? (If they do, please have your children call my children immediately!) And what about your holiday guests, what if they don’t want to bother you about grabbing a quick late night snack?

cereal at the ready

So here’s the “after” picture.

Why is there a rug on the pantry floor? First of all, it was an extra one. It was brought from our old house to our new house across state lines and it wasn’t working where I had it.  More importantly,  I have shattered two glass jars (so far) after dropping them on the tile. It was not an optimum situation to stop dinner prep and sweep up glass shards. I’m hoping the rug will soften the impact when I drop the next item.  I was also able to add our napkins and placemats in the black wire basket on the floor. I am hopeful that this may increase the odds of my children actually setting the table since the supplies are now right next to the kitchen table.

napkins and placemats ready for tablesetting

My insulated coffee tumblers now also fit onto the door rack.  There are probably a bit too many of them, due to my mild coffee obsession.  See there’s another organizing rule I broke – I didn’t purge a single one of them.

caffeine paraphernalia at the ready

There are as many ways to organize a pantry as there are pantries. You will need to decide how to organize your own pantry. Check out some of the web sites below. They include motivating  decluttering photos.

Personal Organizing on About.com

Organizing the Pantry Closet

Inspiration, tips and decorating ideas for your pantry  ( this web site contains lots of the nitty gritty details of exactly how long to store your pantry items)

5 Tips for Organizing your Pantry

Also feel free to browse my general organization and pantry organization boards on pinterest.com. Let me know what you think. Do you have any more ideas?




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2 Responses to How to Organize Your Pantry

  1. Anne Boodheshwar says:

    Looks great! I only have two comments…only four coffee mugs?? lol…your doing great…and your kids actually put the cereal box back?? My family doesnt need labels, they need arrows and a map!
    Enjoy your new pantry!!

  2. christine says:

    I know, right? well, I only have 4 that are “travel” mugs. how many do you have? we have quite the stash of regular mugs as well. my fav are the old Starbuck city ones that hold 20oz. I broke one a while back and had to stop myself from crying- my hubs brought it back from the uk. can’t get another one.

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