6 Things Nobody Ever Tells You About Organizing Your Pantry

published Apr 17, 2022
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Home Edit inspired pantry makeover

Beautifully organized pantries make for delicious eye candy. And while it’s fun to gawk at eye-catching examples on Instagram, a pantry, first and foremost, needs to be functional. Otherwise, that picture-perfect food storage area will surely end up looking like a disaster again in no time.

How do you strike that balance? The balance of a pretty space that’s also useful? Very carefully. That’s why we write a lot about pantry organization. We’re always talking about smart organizers, little hacks, and clever tricks. And now, we’d like to talk about the things people don’t talk about. Ready?

Here are six things nobody ever tells you about organizing your pantry.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

1. You don’t have to decant every single thing.

Yes, neat rows of decanted cereal and oats in coordinating containers look nice in pictures. But how much of your valuable time do you really want to spend pouring dry goods into containers? And what should you do with those leftover crackers that don’t fit in the jar? Only decant the things that make sense for your family and the way you cook.

2. You don’t need to display boxes like they’re at the grocery store.

Store the boxes the way you’d store books, with the shorter sides facing out. This allows you to use the width of your pantry shelving and prevents items from getting hidden behind others. No, it’s not as pretty as seeing the front of the box, but it’ll save space and make everything easier to both see and grab. 

3. You don’t have to hold onto every ingredient in your pantry.

It’s easy to feel guilty about the food you haven’t eaten. So you keep it, making a mental note to use it soon. But too often, these untouched food items sit for months and even years. Be honest with yourself and get those items out of your pantry. Donate unopened packages of food before they expire. Someone else will appreciate them, and you will appreciate your newly freed-up space.

Credit: Sarah Crowley

4. It’s unrealistic to expect to have lots of breathing space.

Pantries with inches between items might make for a nice display, but they aren’t realistic. Using all the space in your pantry, and using it well, is the goal. You’re organizing for real life, not for a cover shoot. 

5. Round containers are almost always a bad idea.

Turns out, round containers waste a decent amount of space! Instead of circular or rounded containers, opt for square and rectangular options, which make use of every inch and can function in a modular system. 

6. Your containers don’t have to match.

While it’s helpful for some containers to match (so you can stack them and maximize space), other containers, especially ones that aren’t stored next to each other, don’t have to coordinate. Meaning: You don’t have to run out and spend a ton of money on containers just so that they look nice. Use what you have and what works for your space.

How do you organize your pantry? Tell us your strategies in the comments below.