8 Tips to Organize Your Pantry on a Budget

How many times have you been cooking dinner and had to search behind rows of spices and baking products to find the ingredient you need?  Probably more than a handful of times.  If you’re like most homeowners you’ve scrounged for the ingredient, found it, cooked your meal, and then pushed it back into the same place you searched for it the last time.  Why not give your pantry a makeover and a complete organizational overhaul so that the next time you cook, you’ll know exactly where to find every single ingredient?  Organizing your pantry isn’t difficult and does not have to be expensive.  In fact organizing your pantry may save you money since you won’t need to purchase new items every time one goes missing or purchase duplicates because you couldn’t find the ingredient you needed.  Here are several tips to organize your pantry on a budget. 

Start With a Clean Slate

            Right now your pantry is overstuffed, cluttered, and probably in need of a deep clean.  Before you begin your organization journey you will need to remove everything from the pantry.  Yes, everything.  Every item from the largest oversized bag of flour to the small spice container.  Get everything off the shelves.  When you have removed all of the items you should do a thorough cleaning.  Wipe down the shelves with a multi-surface antibacterial cleaner.  Pay extra close attention to areas that may have sticky residue that will need extra scraping.  While your pantry is empty you may want to consider if it needs any touch ups such as a new coat of paint.  If it does, now is the time to complete the extra work. 

Take Inventory

            Everything in your pantry is either on your kitchen cabinet, floor, or both which means this is a great time to itemize your pantry’s inventory.  Doing so won’t just make reorganizing your shelves easier, it will cut down on the amount of food you throw out and save you money since you won’t always be running to the store to purchase forgotten items.  Create an inventory on a full sheet of paper, listing the items you currently have and the items you need.  Hang the inventory in your pantry so it will be visible the next time you go to the grocery store. 

Categorize Items

            Finding food products in a pantry that is overflowing and unorganized can take extra time and be very frustrating.  By organizing your pantry you can put food items into categories that will make it much easier to find your items.  Some common categories to consider are grains/pastas, dry ingredients, wet ingredients, healthy snacks, junk food, breakfast foods, canned goods, and spices.  Of course each of these categories can be broken down further but this list will give you a place to start.

Don’t Overstuff the Shelves

            If you have a big family then chances are you have quite a bit of food in your pantry.  It may be tempting to keep your shelves overstuffed with foods, however this doesn’t always mean that everything on the shelf is getting eaten.  In fact it could be getting pushed to the back and forgotten.  Eliminate food waste by keeping your shelves stocked but not overstuffed.  There should be space between containers and products and plenty of open areas so that you can easily move around food items. 

Find Low-Cost Bins and Containers

            Everyone loves the look of glass containers on their shelves, but those containers can get expensive, especially when you are organizing an entire pantry.  If you are desperate for the transparent container aesthetic you can search at second hand stores or discount stores to find them.  You can also mix and match the types of containers you use to cut down on cost.  Take a trip to the dollar store and you are sure to find plastic and wood containers that will fit onto your pantry shelves. 

Utilize Your Doors

            Your pantry doors are not just for closing off the area.  They can also be used as a storage area.  Mounting racks on the insides of cabinet doors can virtually quadruple your storage space.  Depending on your cabinet door size, you can fit quite a bit of additional food items.  Remember that you want your door to remain functional so you should avoid using thick or heavy racks.  Instead opt for thin racks that provide vertical storage.  Small food items such as spices, food wraps, cook spray, or cleaning sprays.  Adding storage racks to the pantry door can be permanent fixtures that will add to the organizational value of your home

Make Deep Shelves Work to Your Advantage

            You may have deep pantry shelves that can hold twice as many products as a basic shelf, but if you have to root around the back of a cabinet to find your items you may end up forgetting they are there or spending extra time searching.  Either way you will not be using your deep pantry shelves as efficiently as possible.  If it is within your budget, the most effective way to use all your deep shelf spay is with mounted pull out cabinet drawers.  These will fit right in your deep shelf, allowing you better visibility of products in the back. 

Make a Kid-Friendly Spot

            If you have small children you know that they are not the most organized people.  Keep a special area in your pantry for your children’s snacks that is low to the ground and easy to reach.  Not only will this make it easier for them to get their own food it will keep them from messing up the pantry organization. 

            Don’t let organizing your pantry become a difficult or expensive project.  By taking an inventory of the items in your pantry and organizing each item into a specific category you can have a clear understanding of what items you need at the store and which you do not.  You can save money on organizational products by searching discount stores.  Find an organizational method that will work for you and your family.