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Keeping your Pantry Clean and Organized

Last Updated: April 9, 2024

Written by Karen Norman

A Dang Good Pantry Clean Out Project.

Is your Pantry Clean and Organized or a Dumping Ground? 

Dinner time! Do you know where that bag of rice is in the pantry? You did just buy one, right? Oh, there it is….and there is the other one you bought when you couldn’t find the first bag the last time. As you reach for the rice, a row of precariously stacked boxes of pasta tumble over. You say something unbecoming under your breath as you try to catch the tumbling boxes, and you stub your toe on the bag of potatoes that are in the middle of the floor.

Finally, you just back away from the whole mess and order pizza. Again. Does this sound familiar? The pantry is often the “catch-all” kitchen space, and it gets so cluttered and disorderly it’s easier to avoid cooking than to sort through it all. Well, no more! Today we’ll talk you through how to organize and keep that pantry clean once and for all!

Visualize your Pantry Clean. 

First, decide on the primary function of the pantry. Are you making the best use of it? Become intentional. Don’t make your pantry a dumping ground.

Do you love to cook and need a lot of room for ingredients? Do you only make easy meals and need the space for the small appliances that make your life easier, like your Instant Pot and your crockpot? Do you have a bunch of expired foods in there? Were you planning to turn into a baker, but the sack of flour sits unopened? Step one is determining how the pantry will best serve you. Do some planning. Allow a few hours for this task. What might you need to make your pantry organized and effective? Ashely Whitlatch has an excellent pantry organization video.

The Pantry Clear out. 

With your pantry’s end goal in mind, it’s time to empty out that pantry. Make some room in your kitchen because everything is coming out! Sort your items into:

  • What you will keep in the pantry
  • What you will relocate elsewhere or donate
  • What you will throw away or compost
  • What you will donate to a food bank or other charity.

Never donate expired food to a food bank. Throw it away. However, if there are non-expired items in there you have been avoiding, like cans of sardines or tins of extra hot chilli peppers, it’s okay to donate them to the food bank or a foodie who can make use of them. This goes for appliances too. If you never use your bread maker or the extra-large plug-in a turkey roaster, donate it to Value Village, Goodwill, or a friend that can use it.

Once everything is in the proper piles, get the donation stuff into the car, the garbage in the bin, and leave the ‘to keep’ stuff on the counter. Now before you do anything else you may wish to group similar items together.

  • Breakfast Ingredients
  • Drinks
  • Snacks
  • Dried Food
    • Pasta and Grains
    • Beans
    • Baking Ingredients and other dry ingredients
    • Herbs and Spices
  • Canned goods
  • Sauces and Dressings

Is your Pantry Clean?

When was the last time you had the opportunity to thoroughly clean your pantry? Now that everything has been emptied out, it is time for a pantry clean out from top to bottom.

  • Dust the light fixtures.
  • Vacuum away crumbs and other remnants that have accumulated on shelves and floors.
  • Wipe down all the shelves.
  • Pay extra attention to any stubborn stickiness.
  • Wipe down the walls and door.
  • Sweep and mop the floor.
  • Dust off any small appliances that are going back into the pantry, if needed
  • Make sure the packages you are going to be putting back in the pantry are also clean.
Pantry Organized Shelves

Organize the Pantry. 

Remember the function you decided for your pantry and organize accordingly.

Put pretty hooks on the walls for aprons and tea towels if you want a home cook’s paradise. Get glass canisters to hold flour, sugar, and baking supplies. Use vinyl cutout stickers to create beautiful labels. Install shelf dividers to make more room for the spices you have transferred into decorative jars.

If you have laughed endlessly at the point above because you prefer a “get dinner done in 15 minutes or less” pantry, that’s all good too! Keep items like quick-cooking oats, quinoa, couscous, or pasta at reach. Don’t bury them behind seldom-used ingredients.

Get sturdy glass or plastic containers so you can buy things like pasta or rice in bulk and keep a measuring scoop in the containers. Dedicate shelf space to your flavour boosters and quick add-ons, so you quickly see if you have ketchup, BBQ sauce, hot sauce, mustard, pickles, olives, etc. Remember, though, that some condiments must transfer to the fridge once opened.

You want to blend the two concepts above if you are an occasional cook. Keep your quick-and-easy foods in reach, but make room for your lesser-used ingredients. Don’t let them get buried behind other items. Keep small appliances on the lower shelf or floor. Put in a divider right on the floor if there is space. That way, you can put your small appliances on the lowest shelf and store extra paper towels, garbage bags, and cleaning supplies underneath.

However you imagine it, you can make your pantry work for you. Other things to consider include:

  • Do you have one of those pantries with open wire shelving? Until you can do a reno, simply go to the dollar store and buy a bunch of plastic placemats. This keeps your bottles and small items from falling over.
  • Truly, the dollar store is your friend. Here you will find decorative boxes, small adjustable shelves, contact paper, hooks, and more things you can use to organize the pantry.
  • You can organize by your favourite meal. If you love breakfast, skip lunch, and order in dinner, stock the pantry with breakfast items. Get things to make overnight oatmeal, for example. Storage items to make your life easier include boxes, baskets, swivel racks, trays, clear containers, can containers, and potato and onion keepers (keeps them fresh longer). Consider moving several packets of food into one sealed container.
  • Many pantries have two doors – in and out. Do you need both? Could you keep one permanently closed? Could you make use of the space with over-the-door containers and shelves?
  • Delicately cut vinyl stickers are great labels, but so are masking tape and a pen. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just useful!

Learn more Pantry Clean and Organization Tips.

After your Pantry Clean Out.  

Now that the pantry is clean and organized, you are – no doubt – inspired to clean and organize the rest of the house. We can help! Check out our cleaning blog.

Or if you live in and around Calgary look no further for the best carpet and furnace cleaning in town.

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