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Pantry Makeover: How to Organize in 30 Minutes

Pantry Makeover: How to Organize in 30 Minutes

If you’re anything like us, you’re usually more interested in cooking and eating with what’s in your pantry than how to organize it. Of course, a little cleanup time goes a long way in making cooking easier. It may also save you money—no sense in rebuying food that’s gone bad or overbuying the same items because you forgot where you hid them.

So, 30 minutes and a little advance planning is all you’ll need to turn your cluttered food shelves into an organized and well-stocked pantry.


Save cleaning time by taking a little time first to collect what you need to get the job done quickly:

  • Schedule time. Put it on the calendar. We promise, if you plan ahead, you can get this job done in just 30 minutes! But carve out time at least a week ahead to focus and get the job done.
  • Storage containers. A week or two before you’re ready to tackle the pantry, stock up on the storage containers you’ll need to quickly bring order to the chaos. Plastic containers, such as cereal keepers or glass and plastic canisters are perfect. Be sure to purchase or order a few extra…nothing like getting caught short in the middle of the job.
  • Cleaning supplies. Bucket, sponge, all-purpose cleaner (vinegar and water works great!) and towels to wipe your shelves dry should be within arm’s reach before starting. You’ll need them, and that fresh, clean feel will make your pantry or cabinet look and smell fresh and new.
On the Clock: Ready, Set, Go!

TOTAL TIME: 10 minutes

There’s only one effective way to tackle this project: Pull everything out of your pantry and wipe down the shelves. This way, you get a deep clean as well as a pantry makeover. This approach will also spare you from mindlessly shifting things around in your pantry, and will prevent you from getting overwhelmed by the towers of dusty soup cans.


TOTAL TIME: 5 minutes

Optimizing your food storage is a great idea when you organize your pantry. Many people allow food to go bad before using it, and although sometimes this is unavoidable, great food storage tools can keep more of your food fresh longer.

Here’s where your clean food containers come into play. Take just a few minutes to carefully fill them. Move too fast and you’ll lose time cleaning up a mess. We recommend these containers and tips:


TOTAL TIME: 15 minutes

Organize your pantry or cabinet shelves by food type. All canned foods should go on a single shelf, then subcategorized by fruits, vegetables, soups, etc. Similarly, keep baking products on another shelf, snack food on another and so on.

Try to keep all foods close to the front of the shelves, just like grocery stores do, and reserve the back for repeat foods or oversized, easily seen products.

Keep a notepad nearby. Write down things that need refilling or are out of date and need replacing. Any gaps? A missing common ingredient or two? Put them on the list.


You’re finished—30 minutes is up! But it’s likely you have a few extra things on the counter or kitchen floor. Here are a few ideas to wrap it up quickly:

  • Find extra food? If you have three extra cans of beans or unopened foods that you won’t use, pass them on to your local food bank.
  • Want to stay organized? If you have trouble staying organized, or getting your family to stick to the plan, label your shelves. Simple yet very organized!
  • Still too crowded? If you find that your pantry is still too packed, you may want to think about where else you can store some of the items. Maybe those rarely used appliances would be better stored above the refrigerator, in the basement or the garage. And those cleaning products…move them to the laundry room or under the sink. They shouldn’t be stored near food anyway.

What works for you? Share your quick cleaning tips and comments!