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The Easiest Way to Organize Your Pantry & Refrigerator

Today, 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 several cosmetic changes like the kitchen and pantry makeover we completed for the Fall One Room Challenge. Honestly, the pantry is one of the most consistently organized spaces in our home.

A Look Back…

Don’t get me wrong, it didn’t happen overnight.  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. 

Thankfully, 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 side. 

I’m totally embarrassed to say our refrigerator didn’t look much better.

When Desperation Leads to Action…

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,

and 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 as part of the kitchen makeover, 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.

Utilizing Baskets and Containers…

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.

A Look at the Easiest Way to Organize the Pantry and the Refrigerator…

  • Work in zones starting with the pantry. 
  • Clear off your kitchen or dining room table to use as a staging and work surface area.
  • 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.
  • 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 cans 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 From Amazon For You to Consider…

(Affiliate links have been provided for your convenience. You can read our full disclosure policy here)

 

Water Hyacinth Basket with Handles

Refrigerator Containers

Metal Storage Basket

Clear Food Pantry Storage Containers

Wide Mouth Glass Jars

Glass Jars with Lids

Three Tier Non-Skid Riser

Glass Meal Prep/Food Storage Containers

Non-Skid Turntable

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!

Don’t miss this cute DIY monogrammed market tote we created to carry groceries in along with a few other ideas on how you can stop using plastic bags at the grocery store too! Until next time, I’ll see you on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest.

Many blessings,

CoCo

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6 Comments

  1. 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.

    1. 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

  2. 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.

    1. 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

  3. 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!

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