Organizing a pantry is a bit of a guessing game. While it makes logical sense to measure it out to see what will be able to fit in there, that usually doesn’t happen. Organizing is an annoying task to many, this post is going to show you have you can easily makeover your pantry.
Original post March 2017, Updated April 2023. Affiliate links are used. The products listed are only from brands we use, trust and would benefit you. See full disclosure here.
We do not have a walk-in pantry. Our pantry storage is a door that you open with shelves. We’ve had this type of pantry storage for our past few homes.
We’ve had wire shelves in our past two pantries. I’m not a big fan of wire shelves. They have a cold feeling and don’t give the warmth that a pantry should have. While changing out the shelves would be ideal, it’s not a project that’s a priority. Until that happens, the next best thing is organizing the pantry with baskets and bins that give it a warm feeling.
When we first bought our house, I was so excited about the pantry because we had never had one. The places we lived before buying our house only had kitchen cabinets that we turned into pantry storage.
Our third shelf in our pantry needed to be broken up into a few different bins. It was in one big bin and starting to overflow and there was space on both sides that wasn’t being used. Something needed to change. How could I easily makeover our pantry?
I knew breaking them up into a few baskets was the best option. The next quest was finding the baskets I was looking for. I had Home Goods in mind because they tend to have the best prices on baskets.
However, I had stopped in Michaels first for something else and they had baskets on sale. Their selection is much wider than Home Goods and the chances of them having what I was looking was higher than Home Goods. I came across these storage baskets that have chalk labels.
This post originally proclaimed my love for chalk labels, however that has changed. They are not something I love anymore because of the shadow they leave on the label. When you erase the label, you can see a shadow of what was there previously. I would write on the label and still be able to see what was there previously. It was quite annoying.
I tried remedies from Pinterest and nothing worked. Plus, the chalk would fade way which I didn’t like either. Alright, back to the baskets.
Home Goods, Ross, and Michaels are great places to get pantry baskets because they are very affordable. If Michaels isn’t having a sale, they still have a weekly coupon that you use getting 40% off a regular sale item. The other great place to find storage baskets is Costco. This one is a bit tricky because they don’t have a plethora of options like the other stores do.
I originally wasn’t going to change out the top pantry shelf because of the space. The top shelf in this pantry had room for bins to be stacked which created more space. There are too many options are there for stacked bins/baskets.
It was during a shopping trip to Costco where I came across this wire stacking bins. I stopped and just stared at them, it was like they were talking to me. Seriously, I had to have them. My gut was telling me these were the best solution for the top pantry shelf because of the width and height.
The white stacking bins are good but they’re not great, they are narrow which makes it challenging to store items in there especially if they aren’t square. There was only so much that could fit in there and I was having to change the labels frequently because of overcrowding in the bins. Plus, I was creating duplicate labels for bins which means one of two things:
- The bin isn’t big enough for what we’re using.
- We have too much of the same category of food.
We had a combination of both.
The wire bins from Costco came in a two-pack. I bought two sets (four baskets total) initially because I wasn’t quite sure if another set would fit on the same row. I measured the space when I got home and found out another set would fit which obviously made me very happy 🙂
New Pantry Set-Up
Once the wire bins were put on the shelves, that’s when I figured out what was going to go into each bin. I started with the bottom bins first for a few reasons. The heavier items were needed to go here and food items that weren’t too tall needed to go here as well.
The items that went in the bottom bins were sweet potatoes because they were heavy, bread because we had more items that were tall than short, and rice because the packaging was smaller than the pasta.
The second row was next and this is where I decided to put individually wrapped snacks/food items. Oatmeal, fruit snacks, and cereal bars went here. We had two separate storage bins for cereal bars because one was for the kids and the other one was for the adults.
Next came the third row where most of the snack bags and chips went. The third row had the larger bins because they are easier to pull out than the smaller ones. When I was putting the rows together, accessibility was one of the most important things to that I kept in mind. There’s nothing more annoying than having a pantry that’s not easy to use.
I also made sure the baskets had enough space between them. If they aren’t spaced out evenly, the pantry is off balance. Uniformity and consistency are important steps when setting up any organized space.
The bottom row is where the white storage bins went. There wasn’t enough room to stack them here so they were lined up individually. The angle on the bins made seeing the labels on the bins easier which is another reason why these were the last bins on the pantry shelf.
The food items for the last shelf were things that we didn’t use all the time or was something that was easy to access like the peanut butter. Getting peanut butter is an easy grab.
When I first started thinking about how we could easily makeover our pantry, the first question that came to mind is how we could maximize the space on the first shelf. I needed to find bins that would create more space.
Here’s how you can easily makeover your pantry:
1. Empty out it out.
Take out everything in the pantry. This will give you a clearer vision of how you want it to look. If there is quite a bit of space between the shelves, try stacking bins to create more space. Once everything is out of the pantry, clean it. Do this before you do anything else. You want to start with a clean slate.
I’m not a fan of cleaning, there have been many times where I’ve skipped out cleaning the space because I just didn’t want to do it.
2. Group your current items into categories.
Keep all of the breakfast food together, snacks together, etc. Keep the categories broad, getting too detailed will bring you more problems and leave you frustrated where to put things. Once you have the foods organized by category, take a picture of it. This will help you when you begin your search for baskets and bins.
3. Check current bin selection.
See what empty baskets you have around the house that aren’t being used first. Make sure you have enough of the same bin if you plan to use it on a shelf. Consistency is key when organizing your pantry.
4. Plan your shopping trip.
The next step is to get bins and baskets. I prefer shopping for bins in baskets in store, it really helps give me a better visual than what’s online. Plus, you can get a better deal in the store than online.
Start with Ross or Home Goods or TJ Maxx. They tend to have the best prices for baskets. The selection at these stores is hit or miss. Michaels and The Container Store are the next best choices. Make sure to check their sales first to see if you can find a coupon online.
I prefer The Container Store because of their selection of bins. Plus, they have a great rewards program.
It’s important to consider your labels when you are out shopping too so you don’t have to make more than one trip. Some baskets and bins come with labels while others don’t.
Labeling the bins is an important, critical step when getting organized. It can be an easy oversight because you can see the food however it does you down because you don’t go automatically to the bin you need to.
If you don’t have the time to completely transform your pantry, you can easily makeover your pantry by just using labels.
6. Execute your plan.
Once you’ve purchased or found the bins you need, put the food items in the basket, label it, and put it back in the pantry. Before you know it, you’ll have a pantry that you love looking at.
Here’s a before and after of our pantry makeover. The before picture is an organized pantry but it’s busier. The after shows the warmth a pantry can have with warmer toned bins.
Here are the storage baskets and labels that I recommend:
- Wicker Basket: These hold mismatched items well such as bread, trail mix, and baby food. They are sturdy, durable and look great in the pantry.
- InterDesign Linus Pantry Binz: These are one of my favorite bins. I love them for the pantry because they are clear which is perfect for storing multiples of a food item (like cereal bars).
- Metal Stacking Bins: These are awesome for fruits and vegetables. Plus they stack which allows you to create more space if you have the room to go higher. The stacking bins that are in the picture are from Costco and are only there a few months out of the year. I’m recommending a similar one.
- Expandable Tiered Shelf – This expandable shelf works great for canned goods. The shelf allows you to adjust it to the necessary width and allows you to display cans for easy accesibility.
- Turntable – Turntables work great for bottled items. It optimizes spaces and prevents items from getting lost.
- Food Storage Containers – Decanting, aka taking items out of packaging like flour, cereal, and chips gives you a better visual of what you have. It’s basically instant inventory. These containers also stack which optimizes space and eliminates bulky packaging.
- Deep Storage Bin – If you have a pantry with deep shelves, fear not, these bins are a game-changer. They act as pull-out drawers making items accessible without having to take out every single thing to see what is there.
- Bin Clip Label: Hallelujah for these label clips. For such a long time it was tough labeling wicker baskets and bins because no label would stay on them. These clips are legit and have worked on every bin that I’ve need one for. There are a few ways to label these. You can use the label that comes with it, you can write on there with a Sharpie oil-based marker (for permanent use), a dry erase marker (flexible use), or a label from a label maker.
- Sharpie-oil Based Markers: These are excellent to use for permanent use. Another great thing about these markers is it’s easy to use and you don’t have to make a label. If you don’t plan on changing a bin frequently, I would recommend using these. They do come off with a magic eraser but it does take some time to get it off and you’ll be scrubbing hard. If you don’t like your handwriting, I wouldn’t use these.
- Label Maker: You almost can never go wrong with a label maker. They give you a consistent and uniform look which always looks nice.
Pantry bins and labels are how you can easily makeover your pantry. Buy bins that you will love looking at, make sure they are uniform and match each other. Baskets can really take your pantry to the next level. Using baskets will make opening your pantry more enjoyable. Once you have your bins, decide on a labeling method that you love.
Try to go vertical as much as possible because it will create more space. When labeling, keep your categories broad this will eliminate the need to re-label bins.
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