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Organize Your Messy Pantry or Food Cabinet in 3 Steps

A woman stacking clear storage containers of food in a pantry.
VH-studio/Shutterstock

It’s easy to forget what’s in your pantry or kitchen cabinets when everything is so cluttered, you can’t see what’s in each container. Luckily, there are some tips for organizing your food storage system that will make finding what you need much less of a chore.

The three steps below will help you get things in order and ensure that everything is always clearly visible.

Do a Pantry Purge

The best way to start reorganizing your pantry is to pull everything out of there. This is no easy task, but in the end, it will be worth it!

Once you’ve pulled everything out, complete the following tasks:

  • Check expiration dates: Then, put everything in order with whatever is expiring soonest in the front.
  • Determine what you want to keep: Toss anything that’s expired or that you won’t eat. You can also donate anything that hasn’t expired to a local food drive.
  • Repackage: Transfer any food in bulky packaging or bags that are filled with air to stackable, airtight containers.

Now that the hard part is out of the way, it’s time for the fun!

Invest in Clear Storage Containers

10 clear Rubbermaid containers filled with various foods on a pantry shelf.
Rubbermaid

In addition to being able to see what food is inside, clear storage containers also allow you to more easily see if there’s anything in there that shouldn’t be, like bugs and mold (gross). They’re also an excellent way to save space, especially for foods with lots of empty space in the packaging, like bags of chips and boxes of pasta.

Even if you already have some mismatched storage containers, it’s a good idea to get a new set or two. Matching collections are usually easier to store together or stack, which will open up even more space in your pantry or cabinet. They’ll look nicer, too!

Below are a few of our favorite food container sets:

Rubbermaid Set: This set of 10 (with lids) from the well-known brand will get your pantry reorg off to a quick start! There are multiple sizes, so you can easily find one to hold everything from pasta to peanuts. The lids also fit nice and tight to keep out moisture and pests.

They’re conveniently stackable and will create tons of extra space in your pantry or cabinet. All of these pieces are freezer and dishwasher safe, and BPA-free. Even cooler, they’re also available as singles, so you can stock up on extras in the sizes you use most.

Chef’s Path Set: If you want more bang for your buck, this 24-piece collection features four handy sizes, and you get six of each with lids. They also have chalk labels and come with a set of measuring spoons. All are BPA-free and can be used in the pantry, fridge, or freezer.

Kitsure Cereal Set: If your household is big on cereal, you’ll definitely want some extra protection for your favorite breakfast. This six-piece container set works well for other foods, too, such as grains and pasta.

These BPA-free containers also have convenient pour lids to prevent hungry kiddos from dumping cereal all over the table and floor.

Shop Smart

A woman at a grocery store reading the back of a juice bottle and looking something up on her phone.
Dragon Images/Shutterstock

The most helpful thing you can do to keep your pantry organized is to avoid overstocking it. Buy only what you need or have room for, and only items you know you’ll eat. Plan meals ahead of time, so you always know what you need to get. Always take a shopping list with you, as well, to prevent any impulse buys.

From canned goods and spices to rice and pasta, a pantry or cabinets are the ideal places to keep all your shelf-stable food items. If, however, you’re stocking up for some reason, you might want to find another location to store some of the extras.

For example, you could keep anything you use often or that’s close to expiration in your pantry or cabinet, then use some space in a closet or basement for everything else. Then, you can just rotate your stock whenever you add more to prevent stuff from expiring before you can use it.

As we mentioned previously, it also helps to only buy the stuff you know you’ll eat. Be sure to add a little zest, as well, by stocking some spices, jams, pickles, olives, pesto, various sauces, sauerkraut, and other tasty tidbits!


Your pantry or cabinets don’t have to be a constant source of frustration. With a little time and the right storage solutions, you’ll have a food storage system you can navigate with ease.

If you want to save even more time in the kitchen, you might want to jump on the meal-prepping bandwagon!

Yvonne Glasgow Yvonne Glasgow
Yvonne Glasgow is a professional writer with two decades of experience. She has written and edited for nutritionists, start-ups, dating companies, SEO firms, newspapers, board game companies, and more. Yvonne is a published poet and short story writer, and she is a life coach. Read Full Bio »

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