Most of you already know that I feel most at home in the kitchen and despite my VIRGO guided perfectionist ways, I too have a tendency to have a messy pantry. We all have those moments when it’s just easier to put it anywhere other than where it really goes. I’ll show this set of before pictures with the disclaimer that we’ve been super busy around here and it really was easier to just shove it back in.
I don’t use a ton of prepared foods due to health concerns, but we all have a pantry full of this and thats. I was fortunate in that the forced remodel of this kitchen allowed me to set things up my way when it went back together. I like to group like things together and that helps to make meal preparation simpler. In the Lazy Susan next to the stove I keep the small appliances together and then on the shelf above those I keep the canned meats, canned vegetables and soups. In the opposite Lazy Susan I group together canned fruits, Jell-Os, box mixes like cake mixes, rice mixes and stuffing as well as jams and jellies. In yet another cabinet I have grouped together all the” seasoning” bottles like soy sauces, vinegars, oils, Worcestershire, etc…. In the 2 shelves below that I keep all the back stock like extra ketchup, mayonnaise, BBQ sauce, hot sauce, etc… Spices and such use on a daily basis are all labeled and alphabetized in their handy box close to the stove while additional infrequently used spices, bread crumbs, flavorings, baking soda & powder and such are kept in a separate cabinet. Baking staples are also all grouped together.

I have all of my seasonings and ingredients placed in such a way that the butcher block becomes my central point for creating. I try to keep all the necessary tools also within an arm’s reach. All of my reaching into cabinets is also at a minimum and I don’t have to dig for what I’m looking for. Every person and every family is different in their likes and tastes, so there is no right or wrong to pantry organization, just what works for you. That said, I have found that logic, organization and common sense play an integral part in kitchen success.

No matter what the size or shape of you ‘pantry’, the whole idea is to make your job easier and cooking more fun. So take that willy nilly approach and toss it out the window. It’s time to organize and see what you have in your pantry. Knowing will help you to keep things rotated and up to date. When I was growing up, my dad always wiped the lids of cans and then dated them when we got home from the store. I don’t go that far, but I do make sure to rotate the older forward paying attention to expiration dates and replace the restock to the rear.
Now for the after pictures.
I try to group like items together. For example the parts for a Mexican Meal are all together. The green chiles are right night to the enchilada sauce which is next to the refried beans, etc…
I store the back up stock on the lowest shelves since I don’t get in there very often. I also pull forward the most frequently used condiments and ingredients so I don’t have to dig for them. The refrigerator is the hardest ‘pantry’ part to keep organized since everyone is in and out ,all day some days, but I try to keep like items together here too. The jams are all on the same shelf, the pickles are grouped together, my garlic, pestos, bases etc… are all together on one of the top shelves to keep everyone from moving them!

This post originally ran on 3 Sides of Crazy as a guest post series for Barbara over at Candy Hearts and Paper Flowers who hosted the Homemaking September 2008 Shape-up. It was an all around comprehensive house to home style of posts to help us get our homes and lives whipped into shape.

Then it ran at OuR KrAzY kItChEn this past July when Martha and I first collaborated.