Pantries are one of my favorite spaces to organize. They're a hub of any home, but also a spot that can easily start to feel overwhelming and out of hand. Our current house doesn't have a designated pantry, so we quickly decided that tons of kitchen cabinet space + large built-in corner Lazy Susan = pantry à la carte. The setup has worked well for us so far, but using the right products has been key in maximizing storage and staying organized. Whether you're working with a giant walk-in pantry or a DIY shelf unit in another room, here are some of my favorite products and a few Pro Tips to help your pantry space work for you and look its best!
1. Clear containers
No matter what kind of pantry I'm organizing, my number one go-to product is a classic clear bin or clear sealed container. Clear storage makes it easy to keep an eye on inventory so that you're only restocking when you need to, along with keeping your food fresh longer (when using a sealed option), saving both time and money. They're also a great way to ditch bulky packaging for things like cereal, protein bars, and dry pasta or rice. My personal favorites are made by OXO (find them for less at places like TJ Maxx or HomeGoods!), but you can also get creative with glass jars or acrylic canisters that you may already have around the house.
*Pro tip: Remove cooking instructions from the original packaging on rice or pasta and adhere to the back of the clear container for future reference.
Here's the part where I contradict myself. As much as I love clear storage, purchasing enough to decant every single dry good in your pantry can add up quickly, so a great cost-effective alternative that I recommend to clients is using a mix of clear storage and baskets. Keep things like bulk snack crackers or cookies in their clear plastic bags (still ditch bulky outer packaging, though!), seal with a chip clip or even a binder clip, group like items together into a pretty woven basket with a label and BOOM - organized and good lookin'.
*Pro Tip: Baskets are a great way to group dinner ingredients together by day of the week! Lasagna on Monday means noodles and tomato sauce share a basket, Taco Tuesday supplies in another, etc.
Could I even call myself a Professional Organizer if I didn't tell you to label, label, label? Labels mean that everyone in the house can see where things belong and, most importantly, where they should be put back. Don't want to label every single individual container? Label the shelf directly, either with a label maker or by tying a label onto the wire shelf with some cute ribbon or an ever-functional zip-tie, then store like items for that category (breakfast, canned goods, baking, etc.) above.
*Pro Tip: Have some fun with your labels! Use chalkboard labels and a bistro pen, fun gift tags and bright markers, or go all-out with a vinyl lettering machine. Labels allow you to add a bit of your style and personality to the space, and you're even more likely to maintain the setup if you love the way it looks.
4. Lazy Susan
I'm going to start a petition to make 2018 the year we rename this beauty because, friends, this is one tool that goes to work. I love Lazy Susans for bottles of vinegars and oils, spices, and backstock condiments. They're great space-savers that, again, actually let you see what you have. Plus, the spinning part is kind of fun, yes?
*Pro Tip: if your pantry has corner shelves, try a Lazy Susan in that section to keep items that would normally disappear front and center.
5. Shelf riser
Have you ever attempted to organize your pantry and realized that you've overbought canned goods to the point that a doomsday prepper may start to get jealous of your supply? I may be beating a dead horse at this point, but this truly is one of the fundamentals of getting organized: when you can see what you have, you'll only buy what you actually need. Risers are another great tool for that. Similar to basket storage, make sure to group like with like (beans, sauces, soups, etc.).
*Pro Tip: Look for expandable riser options to make the most of your space, or custom-design and DIY your own from spare pieces of wood.
If additional product isn't in your budget right now or if you're still trying to figure out what works for your space, you can at least get started with taking everything out (seriously, everything), discarding any expired or near-empty product (keep a list as you go of items to be replenished), combining duplicates (looking at you, four half-empty bags of chocolate chips), and then put everything that's left back in designated zones. Keep your least-used items (small appliances, etc.) up high, staples and basics at eye-level, and designate shelves or sections of shelves for specific categories. I also love leaving a "kids' zone" so that they can grab snacks on their own or even help with the dreaded chore of packing school lunches.
Now excuse me while I snag some of those Nutter Butters from said kids' zone before my children catch me.