June 11, 2014

HS: The Organized Pantry

ORGANIZED PANTRY // shutterbean

I’ve organized my pantry before and part of me was like… Do people really need to see my pantry again? It’s a chore that I (sadly) do once a year and I keep it up for the most part and then I FREAK OUT and want to bomb it when it gets out of control. You may be in the same boat too.  Let’s discuss that!  Things that race through my mind: Why didn’t I keep it clean?  What part is the hardest to keep organized? What makes me drop the ball?  I have noticed that the trigger for me to clean it out is always finding that I have repeats of pantry staples….and it’s because I’m not organized enough to know that I already have a jar of salsa in my pantry. I COULDN’T FREAKING SEE IT behind the chaos. The good news, is that every time I clean out my pantry, I come up with a new organizing scheme. I find that it’s best regroup and change your organizing habits to make way for new/better ideas. Let me show you!

First we start with the BEFORE.  Ooof.

No styling. This is the real deal. Go ahead, snoop. I know you want to.

Totally not Pinterest worthy. THIS IS REAL LIFE, folks.

ORGANIZED PANTRY // shutterbean

Top shelf view. Polenta is mixed with hot sauce, vinegar, oats, and RANDOMNESS.

 ORGANIZED PANTRY // shutterbean

Middle shelf view. Baking crap. Oh. I just bought that malted milk for a recipe and had no place to put it.


ORGANIZED PANTRY // shutterbean


There’s a lot of crap that needs to be organized…

pantry 004

The last time I organized my pantry, I labeled sections. That was cool until I didn’t have enough room for each section and the labels then came off. BUH-BYE labels. I liked the idea of you but you’re unrealistic.

ORGANIZED PANTRY // shutterbean

That one time I spilled all the cornstarch… let’s remove the evidence.

And The GREAT Cocoa Powder Explosion of 2014 too!

ORGANIZED PANTRY // shutterbean 

So the first thing I do is take everything out shelf by shelf. I clean the shelves with soapy water and I remove any food gunk from lids & jars. It’s time consuming, but if you’re gonna do it, DO IT RIGHT.

I have a hot sauce problem…and it takes up a lot of space. It’s also really hard for me to see where a specific hot sauce is so I decided to do something about it.

I decided to label everything with 3M Washi Tape and my favorite Chisel Tip Sharpie.

ORGANIZED PANTRY // shutterbean

I put all of the hot sauces in a plastic bin. The bin is labeled. Of course it’s labeled.

ORGANIZED PANTRY // shutterbean

I like to move things around in the process. I decided to change what goes on some of the shelves. That’s what I like about a project like this. It will force you to revaluate how you use the space. Over time some of your organizing systems don’t last and it’s great to regroup and problem solve!

This is the part in the process where I always want to scream. I want to scream because I just want it to be done with and I’m sad that my disorganization caused me to waste food. IT IS SO FRUSTRATING. But I carry on…

It gets worse before it gets better. Keep telling yourself that!

ORGANIZED PANTRY // shutterbean

I had a lot of rogue flours, nuts and grains in plastic bags, so I put a lot of them in Wide Mouth Ball 32-Ounce Jars.

I decided to label the top AND the side of each of the jars so I could see from above (if they’re on a lower shelf) and head on what’s in each of the jars.

ORGANIZED PANTRY // shutterbean

I love the way this looks.

ORGANIZED PANTRY // shutterbean

I also consolidated some my pastas. Here’s a tip! If you want to keep some in a jar, take a piece of washi tape and write the cooking time on top.

ORGANIZED PANTRY // shutterbean

This took a few hours…and caused my back to hurt but OMG IT WAS WORTH IT.

ORGANIZED PANTRY // shutterbean

First we start with the top. I decided to keep all of my vinegars and oils on top as well as the extra flour I have.

It was so hard to see all of our hot sauces when they were up here and I had to access them ALL THE TIME.

ORGANIZED PANTRY // shutterbean

Here we have the middle.

ORGANIZED PANTRY // shutterbean

I LOVE the way the jars look, don’t you?

ORGANIZED PANTRY // shutterbean

And we have the middle.

I put all of my baking stuff in another pull out plastic bin so that I can grab & go.

These shelves from The Container Store are fantastic because they create another level. No space waste!

I decided to stack all of our stock & soup on the left. I like the way it looks and I can immediately see what we have and what we don’t have!

Look at that hot sauce!

ORGANIZED PANTRY // shutterbean

Here’s the bottom:

The two plastic bins on the left contain dried fruits & nuts. I put more nuts, lentils, beans and seeds on the bottom right of that shelf.

And in the bins on the floor- Left is all our pasta and Right is the SNACK bin with a few cake mixes in there.

ORGANIZED PANTRY // shutterbean

WHEW! Let’s cross our fingers and hope I can keep this up all year! I’m pretty sure it’s going to need some touch-ups from time to time but now I have these pictures as motivation.

ORGANIZED PANTRY // shutterbean



  • FoodNerd

    I really need to do this. I get given so much random food treats that I don’t end up using half of it and makes me sad to throw it out. You’ve inspired me!

    FoodNerd x


  • Stacey

    I did this earlier in the year! There was a great sale on airtight containers, so I loaded up and never looked back! This of course does not stop me forgetting it’s all purpose flour I’m out of and definitely NOT self raising! haha


  • Bri | Bites of Bri

    OMG! This looks awesome. Unfortunately mine looks like your BEFORE photos and I’d love to fix that soon. I always run out of space, end up cramming stuff in, and then discover duplicates or missing staples when I need them. You’re totally right though, I hit the panic button all of the sudden and need to fix it stat. Your finished pantry is pinterest worthy!

  • Jane M

    All it took for me was my washer and dryer were pulled out (they live in my kitchy) to be repaired. For all that repair loot, never put back properly and a MOUSE got into my pantry/kitchen. Went RIGHT to the Container store and ALL my pantry items (not canned goods) live in really pretty containers! We finally figured out the mouse problem and now (3 years later) all is fixed and the pantry is pretty and best of all no more RODENTS! ( I nearly threw a FOR SALE sign in the front yard after seeing the wrath of the 1 little mouse!). Your pantry looks devine. PS I didn’t know hot sauce after being opened doesn’t have to go in the fridge.

  • Heather

    I just did this last weekend too. How do you like the jars for storage?

  • Allyn

    We, sadly, don’t even have a pantry anymore! Though it was amusing when we moved to NYC last fall and discovered stuff that expired 3 years before, yet had somehow managed to get packed and shipped across the country… Oops.
    Way to go!

    • Tracy

      I totally made that mistake two moves ago. The last time around I purged the old stuff like WHOA! Less stuff to move.

  • Heather

    I will be on this come the weekend, my kitchen has been needing a total wipe down for quite some time, and I do have a bunch of painters tape I can use for the labels!

  • Naomi

    I need to do this soon, thanks for the tips! I would love to know what some of your pantry staples are!

  • cocinaros

    Cuando puedas ven a mi casa! Por favor!

  • Sara

    Jars make the world go around! Looks awesome.

  • Millie l Add A Little

    Ooh! So clean – I love it! I love how you stored stuff in the mason jars – it looks amazing!
    Also, what do you use buckwheat groats for? I keep seeing them but don’t know what they’re used for!

    • Tracy

      I seriously JUST got them. I want to make breakfast cereal with them:

      • Cynthia

        Buckwheat groats are another name for “kasha,” which means, really, any type of cooked grain (Eastern European slang?) But the kasha my grandmother made had chicken stock, diced carrots and onions, salt, pepper and very small pasta shells. It was fragrant and meant the sabbath was coming. I still love kasha! Here is a very close recipe. I have never used bow ties, but use whatever small pasta you like. You can also just prepare it simply like rice, but use broth not water. http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Kasha-Varnishkes-at-Wolffs-in-New-Jersey-40010

  • Reynaul

    I love this! I am in the process of doing this as well! Where did you get the plastic bins from?!

  • Jenny K

    Totally inspired!! My pantry is going to be my first tackle of the summer.

    And your idea to put the pasta cooking time on top of the jar…GENIUS!!!
    Thanks Tracy!!

  • Talia

    Fantastic! My pantry is organized (I may have a few OCD issues…) and I can’t imagine it any other way. Makes cooking/baking so much easier!

    Great job!

  • Bailey Wallace

    Well. I think I know what I’m doing this weekend. My parents pantry drives me crazy! We’re all trying to eat better, and I think knowing exactly what’s in your pantry is a big part of that. Thanks, Tracy! <3

    • Tracy

      I’d looooove to reorganize my mom’s pantry….she’s probably reading this right now… Hi MOM!

      • Jen

        My sense of organization and order comes from my mom, but now that’s she’s in her mom’s kitchen she is the only one who knows where anything is! Cracks me up and befuddles me!

  • Ashley

    I completely know the AHHHHHH feeling in the middle, where you want to walk away and hope it magically organizes itself. It’s how I feel in the middle of every cleaning or reorganizing project. Oof.

    I found a lot of duplicate items and had A LOT of excess stuff when I moved in with my husband last summer. He wanted to throw out anything that didn’t fit. I begged to let me consolidate and work through as much as possible. I’m not done yet…but now it all fits into the pantry, plus a rouge box for large bottles of juice. Talk about constant reorganizing and frustration (for both of us)!

    Love the new pantry look and organization. I’m especially loving the jars, the labels (woo washi + sharpie!), and the plastic bins to wrangle similar items.

  • Amy

    Well this was on my to-do list & love the ideas of the jars. So that may win 🙂

    I re-organized my spices the other day and had SO MANY duplicates. Oh well. Happens to us all.

    • Tracy

      I hope to do spices one day! They are all a mish-mash of different brands and I contemplate putting them into the same kind of jar…but then again I’m not sure I would be able to spot exactly what I need when I need it. The way the jar is makes the spice stick out to me. So weird!

  • Todd

    You are one BRAVE woman my friend. Very impressive.

    P.S. can I have your pantry? 😛

  • Rose

    You had me with the before pic of the bottom shelf…now there’s a woman livin’ large, livin’ real 😉

  • Jamie

    Ugh, I need to do this. Our Pantry is split between a cupboard by the fridge and a big pantry, and both are a hella mess. Thanks for the inspiration to get it done.

  • Hilary

    I was just saying I look forward to the day where I can put all my flours/sugars in lovely mason jars (once i have my own place and all) haha 🙂

    Is it silly it makes me feel better that food bloggers use cake mixes too?? 🙂

    • Tracy

      🙂 Have you ever tried the gingerbread cake from Trader Joe’s? It’s so good!

  • Sasha

    So satisfying!!!! Nothing like a clean pantry 🙂

  • Taylor

    I wish my pantry was big enough that I needed to do this because OH MY GOSH DO I MISS ORGANIZING MY PANTRY! Is that weird? Maybe a little.. It looks fantastic though!!


  • Vanessa

    This looks so good! And, quite frankly, I’m jealous of your nut stash. (There’s a dirty joke in there somewhere.)

  • tara

    This post appeals to my OCD in so many ways. Those jars, so pretty.

  • Amy @ Thoroughly Nourished Life

    I bow down to you, Tracy, oh Goddess of Straightenance 🙂
    I wish our pantry could look like that, and my usually not-so-tidy boyfriend is great at organising it and takes great glee in doing so, but unfortunately we are saddled with the tiniest (and I mean tiniest) 1930s pre-war house with a similarly scaled pantry with Grandma’s stuff still in it (we are just house minding).
    However, next year when we move into our new townhouse I will have complete control over our kitchen! I can’t wait to label and box and make it Shutterbean perfect! Thanks for this in advance!

  • jerri

    I am in awe of ur pantry!! I so wish (and will try) to organize mine. U inspire me to get it done! Thankyou. (I showed my husband and said isnt it beautiful!? And hos response was “are those sweet potatoes in a dog bowl? Smh….men dont get it. Haha.

  • Quiana

    The after looks great. I wish I had that much space. I’m thankful for what I have though since we didn’t even have counters and cabinets when we first moved in. Talk about a fixer upper…

  • Sophia @ NY Foodgasm

    This is sooooo awesome, I MUST organize mine soon!

  • Patti

    My husband saw me reading this and said “That’s so your porn.” Yep.

  • Lynn @ The Actor’s Diet

    My dog is now 10-years-old and has become incredibly picky with his food, causing us to rotate between several bags at a time. Cramping the pantry space. I should put them into mason jars, but I’m slightly afraid they’ll look too delicious to me…

  • judith

    Nice job! I LOVE canning jars to store things in the pantry. If you have an over abundance of flours and grains you can always Oven Can them or use a Vacuum Sealer to create an airtight seal. I’m going to start stacking my broth and stock boxes like you did, great idea. Have you ever thought about using a Lazy Susan for the hot sauces?

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  • Carrie

    I love the idea of putting all your baking stuff in a plastic bin. I don’t know why, but I get irritated taking out the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and vanilla one at a time. You totally just rocked my world.

    Also? You have the coolest handwriting…

  • Leslie

    Wow! Good for you, Tracy! You have some great tips in here. I definitely need to try putting bulk grains, beans, etc, in the same sized container!! It looks amazing!

  • Emily @ Life on Food

    We are redoing our kitchen and evaluating our current pantry. To really do this I need to organize. I have been putting it off for the last few months. Now that is it nice out I have no ambition. This makes me want to start right away and put it off a while longer all at the same time. I love the end result but ARG to there…

  • Renee @ Awesome on $20

    Oh my gosh, I think you’re pantry is bigger than my entire kitchen. There were still some great tips I can put to use for my tiny space. Thanks for sharing.

  • wishcandy

    That’s so beautiful! I wish i could organize shelves better, but i have 4 roommates. Hopefully i’ll have my own loft this fall! <3

    Never really thought to store my grains, pastas, nuts, and GF flours that way. But i'll keep it in mind for the near future. 😉 I love mason jars (but who doesn't?)

  • Anna

    Ahhhh! ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT to put the pasta cooking time on the top of the jar/container. I usually end up with my pasta in jars but then it’s a crap shoot with the cooking time and I really have to watch the pasta cook. Thanks!

  • Cynthia

    I have to use large kimchee jars for flour and sugar! I am wondering how you keep mice away in the wintertime from the dried fruit and cardboard-boxed food near the floor? Is the door somehow sealed?

    • Tracy

      We haven’t ever had mice inside our house. The pantry has two doors. They’d have to somehow make a hole in the wall to get inside.

  • Lauren

    Do you have any tips for a 24″ deep pantry? Items get sucked into this Black Hole.

    • Tracy

      What about pull-out bins?

      • Lauren

        I will give them a go. Thanks!

        P.S. I saw your Blogger get-together in the September issue of Better Homes & Gardens, hence finding your blog to organize my pantry. It looked like delicious fun!

  • A mother and a cleaner

    The idea of labeling things is a great one. I know everything in my kitchen, but when my mother-in-law comes, she always get lost in there. So I will implement your idea in my pantry. Actually, there is no need of expensive, special jars for that purpose, a normal one will do the same job. Just will add a label. Thanks again.

  • Ashlae

    We’re getting ready to remodel our kitchen and for the first time EVER I’m going to have a pantry. Seeing yours all nice and organized makes me so, SO excited for it. Except I’m a total slob so – chances are – it’ll look more like the ‘before’ photos, most of the time.

    • Tracy

      Oooh!! That’s gonna be fun!!! I’ve noticed that it’s all about good habits. Make some rules for yourself- like I will not make this a mess. AND FOLLOW THROUGH. That’s all it really takes.

  • Vivian

    What a find! Jumped over from Joy the Baker…I needed this info so-oo much! Got the jars, got the on-sale airtight containers, got the plastic pull-out bins…but just knowing where and on what shelf to place them…I was at a loss.You have inspired me to “git-er-done”!

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