Today, we’re sharing the easiest way to organize your pantry and refrigerator with simple tips and tricks anyone can do!
If you’ve been a friend of TCG for any length of time you probably already know that while our pantry has undergone several cosmetic changes, like the makeover we did for the Fall One Room Challenge, you also know the pantry is one of the most consistently organized spaces in our home.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s taken a bit of trial and error as our needs have changed, a lot of decluttering over the years and sheer determination to keep the system maintained each month. I can honestly say though, the initial investment we made in baskets and glass jars from the very beginning were two of the best investments we’ve ever made.
Our pantry is like a very small walk in closet with wire shelving on each side. And like most closets, it started out a complete disaster. In 2014 the pantry looked like this on one side…
and this on the other.
I’m totally embarrassed to say our refrigerator didn’t look much better.
Although these photos were taken in 2014, I can still remember how desperate we were to get more organized and change the way we were living. It’s the reason I know this system works, we’ve used it every day since then. Here’s a look at the dry goods side of the pantry in 2015,
in 2016 and 2017.
Our dish pantry in 2016 and 2017.
The dry good side of the pantry in 2018.
and the dish pantry side. Of course, the pantry looks different after we stenciled the walls for the makeover in 2018, but the baskets and the glass jars? They haven’t changed since 2014 save for adding new tags and labels.
You’ll find the same thing with the refrigerator too. This is 2015,
2016, 2017, 2018. And yes, we’re still using the same baskets.
I share this with you because there seems to be a misconception sometimes that you have to use the top of the line baskets and matching clear containers in order to keep your pantry and refrigerator organized.
It’s not true though. Most of these baskets were bought on sale with coupons from big box and craft supply stores in January and July. One I even found at an estate sale. The glass containers were all picked up at a big box stores as well.
In the first week of January, we started the 52 Weeks to a Simplified and Organized Home Challenge and while the pantry and refrigerator were fairly organized, I took the opportunity to work on things I had let go a bit since the holidays. I used the same technique I used way back in 2014 when our pantry and refrigerator were out of control given this method is tried and true some 5 years later.
Here’s a look at the easiest way to organize the pantry and the refrigerator…
Step 1– Work in zones starting with the pantry. Clear off your kitchen or dining room table to use as a staging and work surface area.
Step 2– Take all the items out of either the pantry or the refrigerator (not at the same time) and place them on the table. Pair like items with like (i.e. keep all of the canned food, rice, pasta, condiments, etc.) and keep the items together in categories.
Step 3– Work to declutter and organize one category at a time. Toss all items that are expired and recycle as many of the containers as you can.
Step 4– Chose a mix of different sized baskets to corral everything from cans to peanut butter to snacks. You could also use a riser to help save space when storing cans. Use clear containers for dry goods including cereals, flour, sugar, pasta, rice, beans, nuts, etc. so you can see what you have or what items you’re running low on.
Consider using a turn table for taller items or those items you use frequently like cooking oils and vinegars. Being able to see what you have will help make grocery shopping easier and you’ll be able to keep the pantry and the refrigerator fully stocked with staples.
Step 5– Once your items are organized in a container or a basket, label them by item or category, and place them back in the pantry or the refrigerator.
Step 6– Keep in mind neither the pantry nor the refrigerator is a “one size fits all” kind of space. Your storage needs will likely change in the weeks and months to come so you need to put a system in place that has some flexibility.
For example, if your snack basket is already overflowing don’t continue to buy more snacks and add another basket. That said, I know some of you buy in bulk, so you’ll need to have a designated and organized space to store any overflow. Also, if you eat a lot of leftovers like we do for lunch, you’ll need to make sure you’ve left enough space in the refrigerator to accommodate those items and containers.
Step 7– Be fully committed to maintaining an organized pantry and refrigerator by setting up a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly time to clean them out. The best time to clean out your pantry and refrigerator is the day/night before trash pick up!
Here are a few pantry and refrigerator organization items from Amazon for you to consider…(Affiliate links have been provided for your convenience. You can read our full disclosure policy here)
I know it might seem like a lot of extra effort to put a basket and food storage container system in place at first, but truly, this is the easiest way to organize your pantry and refrigerator. As I shared above, we’ve used this exact arrangement for 5 years now with an initial investment in baskets and glass containers and honestly, I feel like we get our money’s worth every single day.
Do you have any organization tips for the pantry or the refrigerator you can’t live without? We’d love to hear about them!
I’ll see you guys back here tomorrow with a look at how we created a cute market tote to carry groceries in and a few other ideas on how you can stop using plastic bags at the grocery store hopefully all together! Until next time, I’ll see you on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest.