Eating is an essential part of our lives. If you cook at home, even a small portion of the time, it’s likely that you have some sort of food storage area. Whether you can your own goods, buy in bulk, or simply stock up when your favorite brands are on sale, it’s important to have an organized pantry, especially when that space is small. Not only will this keep you from buying more of an item that you already have, but it will help you see what you have at a quick glance and maybe even inspire you to create something delicious. Here are some tips for organizing your small pantry.

Step 1 – Sort

The first step in any organizational project is to sort, donate, and discard. Pull everything out and create three piles. Find the contact information for your local food bank and donate what you won’t use.

Once you’ve filtered your contents down to the things that you really want to keep, think groups. Creating categories keeps you ultra-organized when making grocery lists and during meal planning. With a quick glance, you know what you have and what you still need. Categories can include pasta, canned goods (by subgroup such as tomato sauce, refried beans, kidney beans), snacks, condiments, and lunch supplies. Next, consider the amount of space you will need for each group. Will one basket hold all of your baking supplies or will it require an entire shelf? Also, think about what really needs to be stored in the pantry. Could you put the fabric softener in the laundry room, the shampoo under the bathroom sink, or the coffee beans in a decorative container on the kitchen counter?

Step 2 – Use Your Space

Now that you have your categories outlined, think about how best to use your space. If your storage area has adjustable shelving, consider moving shelves to allow for canned food without unused space above it. Add additional shelvesas necessary. Ditch any large boxes that take up space. Instead, put the Costco multi-packs in baskets or neatly lined shelves. Use top shelves for light items like toilet paper or chips.

Be sure to take advantage of space below your rack for extra foil, thin boxes of granola bars, and paper lunch bags. If you have an unused wall, mount wire baskets, a plastic bag holder, or other items. Drive nails into the wall and hang a chip clip from each one. Use them for open items like pretzels, crackers, and chips. Also, use the space inside the closet door by hanging a shoe organizer or specialty pantry organizer. Fill it with cleaning supplies, quick-grab snacks, or other food items. Inside the cabinet door, use 3M hooks to organize measuring cups and spoons, hang clips, or install spice racks.

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