The Easiest Way to Organize Your Pantry & Refrigerator
We’re sharing the easiest way to organize your pantry and refrigerator with simple tips and tricks anyone can do!
Over the years, our pantry has undergone a few cosmetic changes.
My favorite was the kitchen and pantry makeover we did for the One Room Challenge.
The pantry is now one of the most consistently organized spaces in our home.
But to be honest, it didn’t start out that way.
A Look Back…
It’s taken a bit of trial and error as our needs have changed over the years, a lot of decluttering, and a sheer determination to keep the system maintained each month.
It didn’t happen overnight.
But the initial investment we made in baskets and containers from the very beginning were two of the best investments we’ve ever made.
Our pantry is TINY with wire shelving on each side.
And because of the size and our lack of organization, it was also 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.
Clutter Desperation Leads to Action…
Although the photos shown above were taken in 2014, I can still remember how desperate we were to get more organized and to change the way we were living.
It’s the reason I know this system works because we’ve used it every day since then.
While we’ve had a few cosmetic changes, you’ll see the basic system has remained the same.
Here’s a look at the dry goods side of the pantry in 2015…
and in 2016 and 2017.
The dry goods side of the pantry in 2018…
Last week, I upgraded the labels and bought a few new containers for cereal.
But as you can see the baskets and glass jars haven’t changed much since 2015 which feels like a huge win.
It shows me this system works for our family.
Our dish pantry in 2016 and 2017...
You’ll find the same thing with the refrigerator as well. This is 2015..
the system we used from 2016-2022…
Utilizing Baskets and Containers…
I share this because organizing your pantry and refrigerator can seem downright overwhelming at times.
Not to mention, there are hundreds of baskets and containers on the market to sort through too!
Most of these baskets were bought on sale with coupons from big box and craft supply stores in January and July.
I even found one at an estate sale.
The glass containers were all picked up at Amazon or at big box stores as well.
Each year we start the 52 Weeks to a Simplified and Organized Home Challenge and it’s always my favorite time of year.
While the pantry and refrigerator are consistently organized, I took the opportunity to tweak things just after the holidays.
They were all really small tweaks.
But they made a big impact.
Here’s a look at the easiest ways to organize the pantry and the refrigerator…
- When your organizing the pantry and the refrigerator, it’s best to work in zones when possible.
- Clear off your kitchen countertops or dining room table so you can use them as a work surface and staging area.
- Take all the items out of the pantry or the refrigerator (just 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.
- Declutter and organize one category at a time.
- Toss all items that are expired and recycle as many of the containers as you can.
- Choose a mix of different sized baskets to corral everything from cans to peanut butter to snacks. Use a riser to help save space when storing canned foods if you don’t want to use a basket. Clear containers can be used for dry goods including cereals, flour, sugar, pasta, rice, beans, nuts, etc.
- Consider using a turn table for taller items or those items you use frequently like cooking oils and vinegar. Being able to see what you have will help make grocery shopping easier.
- 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.
- 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, put a system in place that has some flexibility.
- 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 We Found On Amazon…
(Amazon affiliate links have been provided for your convenience. As an Amazon and Impact Media Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Any sales made through such links will support us with a small commission at no extra cost to you. You can read our full disclosure policy here)
Water Hyacinth Basket * Clear Refrigerator Containers (ours are unavailable but these look similar) * Cereal Containers * Three Tier Non-Skid Riser (my parents use this one for canned goods)
Heritage Hill Jar * Cracker Jar * Ball Jars * Food Storage Containers
Non Skid Turntable (my parents use this one) * Clear Turntable (we use this one) * Pantry Labels * Luggage Tags
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, it’s one of the easiest ways to organize your pantry and refrigerator.
As I shared above, we’ve used these simple tips for years now.
With an initial investment in baskets and containers, I feel like we get our money’s worth every single day.
Bonus, it makes grocery shopping and replacing everyday items super simple!
Do you have any organization tips for the pantry or the refrigerator you can’t live without? We’d love to hear about them!
Other Posts to Enjoy:
How to Stencil Textured Walls Like a Pro
DIY monogrammed market tote (perfect for picking up a few groceries)
Until next time, I’ll see you on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest.
I feel like I should say thank you for showing us your messy pantry and refrigerator Coco. You always look like you have it together and whenever I see your mess, it makes me feel normal. My pantry is mostly organized but man our refrigerator is a never-ending problem because of the way we pack lunches. I really want to get that under control this year. Thanks for the tips.
While we try hard to keep things picked up and tidy, we are not perfect at all. It’s a daily struggle for us as well so we do whatever we can to try and stay on top of things. Several of my friends that have small kids say meal prepping on Sundays was a total game changer for them so you might want to try that if you haven’t already. Hugs, CoCo
I dont know if my pantry will ever look this good but I atleast want to try. I’m on the fence about baskets in the refrigerator though. Its k8nd of weird.
Did you see my pantry in 2014? It didn’t look that great at all, in fact, it was a total disaster. I’m telling you once you get a system in place that works, your pantry will look like this too – for years – as long as you keep it up. My sister is definitely with you on the baskets for the refrigerator, so try the turntables and see if you like them better. It’s worth a shot. Hugs, CoCo
These are the things that make us say “ahhhh” when it’s all done and organized. Right now our places look like the hot mess express. After the business of recovery and the holidays, helping hands put stuff back willy-nilly. Nothing is as it should be for the moment, but when the time is right we will refer to your great tips! Much love!
This is an incredible transformation. I HATE clutter. I do not currently have the space for a pantry but when I do I am so going to set it up like this. Good job!!
I loved being able to see how your pantry and fridge progressed through the years. I am a big fan of the styles containers and baskets you’ve used!
Your pantry is so pretty with the bee stencil in the background! Love your beautiful baskets and the new labels look wonderful! Thanks for all the great tips!
The turn table in the refrigerator is genius! I am definitely going to look into adding one of those. My pantry is an utter disaster, so this post is quite timely. Thank you so much for sharing the before pictures and the annual pictures too. It gives me hope that we can create a system that will work!
Thank you for sharing with us at Whimsy Home Wednesday!
CoCo, thank you so much for visiting and sharing your pantry with Whimsy Home Wednesday! When we remodel our kitchen, a pantry is in the works, and you gave me so many ideas! In fact, I am thinking we can begin the pantry before the kitchen now. Thank you for that! So many clever ideas, and those drawers? What a wonderful idea to prevent wasted storage on the floor, yet easily accessible by pulling out the drawer. HUGE FAN of this one! Thank you again for sharing your inspiration with us!
CoCo, I have chosen your pantry organization to be featured on Whimsy Home Wednesday tomorrow, thank you for sharing your inspiration. This has been one of my most favorite posts.
Hi CoCo – you and Donna, from An Organized Season, are my heroes. One day, I aspire to be as organized as you are. I love how your pantry looks and that the system has worked for you over a number of YEARS. (Truly a test of its effectiveness). I think our pantry is just too small – we flat out don’t have enough space- so stuff just gets piled on stuff and well . . . its a disaster. We have waaaay to many snacks. Anyway, I will one day figure out how to keep it all organized. Thanks for the tips and inspiration.
I can totally relate to the small pantry spaces. I had to stand outside the pantry to take all the pictures because there was no room to stand in there and focus the camera at the same time! My bedroom closet is the same way. I totally get why people want open-concept homes but goodness gracious it makes the closet spaces like little jewel boxes. My parents also have a small pantry. They’ve really stepped up their game with containers, risers, and turntables though and it helps a ton. Don’t give up, it will get there I promise. It takes a bit to find exactly what you need for the long haul. Big hugs, CoCo