My Big Pantry Redo! How We Got Organized

So the other day I was just minding my own business when I saw THIS picture in my Insta stories…

Pantry Inspiration on 100 Days of Real Food
Pantry Redo Inspiration!

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And I instantly realized I was going about organizing my pantry all wrong. You see I had some cute jars (without any labels, I should mention) but they were on deeper shelves with things behind and in front of them and honestly that one difference made our pantry feel like a little bit of an unorganized mess. Here’s the BEFORE picture (you can see some of the jars mixed in with other stuff— like bulk bin bags of the same items – on the left)…

My BEFORE Pantry on 100 Days of Real Food

When we moved into this house we thought the really shallow shelves on the right would be great for canned goods and empty jelly jars. And they are, but I’ve realized those shelves on the right are even BETTER for the bigger jars – so they can only be one jar deep. I couldn’t believe the stuff I started to discover when I cleaned everything out on Sunday. I’d been buying things we already owned (hello, twelve different squished boxes of tea and eight duplicate cans of coconut milk) because it was too hard for me to clearly see what we had!

My AFTER Pantry!

Okay, back to my newly organized pantry. I bought some additional glass jars by Fido (love those things) to add to our collection, and voila… here is how it looked AFTER my big pantry redo. Is it wrong that I wouldn’t mind hanging out in here with a glass of wine on a Friday night now? LOL.

Big Pantry Redo on 100 Days of Real Food
My pantry after organizing all our grains, pastas, beans, nuts and seeds into jars.

The Ingredient Jars

Here’s a better shot of the newly organized jars … I can now clearly see what we own and exactly how much we have!

Big Pantry Redo "after" jars on 100 Days of Real Food
A Real Food Pantry = No “Food” …just a lot of ingredients!

The other day when I called my husband from the grocery store (before the pantry clean out) and asked if we had at least 1 cup of green lentils, he didn’t realize he’d been sent on a scavenger hunt that meant finding and adding up the total amongst multiple bags and containers in order to give me an answer.

Totally a first world concern, I know, but it was enough to send my Type A personality into a frenzy – haha. Seriously though, being organized will save you so much time and (in this case) money too because you won’t mistakenly buy things you already own! And it’s just so much nicer to look at as well. :)

Oh and I should mention I recently took a “Hand Lettering” workshop and got to try out my newly acquired skills on the jar labels. I never even knew there was such a thing as a world of Hand Lettering, but it sure was a fun discovery right up my alley!

Canned Goods and Tea

So while our canned goods were okay on the shallow shelves on the right, I think they work just as well the other side of the pantry now. The key is we need to do a better job of keeping “like” items together to avoid buying too many duplicates of things we already own. And since our pantry has harder to access corner shelves, I decided that would be the new designated spot for backup items (such as the three different extra jars of ghee and two jugs of maple syrup I didn’t realize we had in addition to the ones in use in the fridge!).

Big Pantry Redo "After" canned food on 100 Days of Real Food

The other fun change we made on that shelf was a new MUCH better way to store our tea. We literally had a dozen different boxes falling all over each other with some loose bags that we couldn’t even see because they were up so high. So my daughter and I decided to just recycle all the packaging and instead organize the bags into these cute little bamboo boxes we found. My daughters have both had tea almost every day since we made this change because it’s so much easier to access.

Big Pantry Redo on 100 Days of Real Food

The Baking Shelf and Treats

One of the other problems in our pantry was that we did not have a clear system for the “treats” the girls bring home from school, birthday parties, etc. We used to have one big bin for that sort of thing, but then I cleaned it all out when we did our 100 Days of Real Food pledge, and it has since grown again into a jumbled mess on the top shelves (even though we do not keep everything they bring home anymore—they usually just pick a couple favorites to keep!). I’m talking we had Valentines candy leftover from last year (as in 2016) that we didn’t even know we had.

So, since I’ve decided they’re old enough to care about keeping their coveted treats separate, I gave them each their own jar for the treats they decide to keep. Our goal is to have a no-judgment, no-rules, no-guilt treat about once a week and, if we aren’t out having dessert somewhere else over the weekend, this is their go-to stash!

This shelf if also where I store baking ingredients such as sugar, baking soda, yeast, etc. I keep whole-grain flours and such in the freezer to extend the shelf-life. Oh and speaking of the back freezer, that most definitely needs to be my next clean out project! Yikes.

Big Pantry Redo "after" baking supplies on 100 Days of Real Food

Oils and Vinegars

The oils and vinegars remained in the same spot, but, rather than trying to avoid an unwanted game of dominoes every time I moved the jars around to find what I needed, I divided them into two bins – oils and vinegars. All the hot sauces, cooking wines and miscellaneous items are just off to the side now and much easier to navigate!

I guess I should consider adding some “Oils” and “Vinegars” labels to these bins so the rest of the family can help me keep everything organized…

Big Pantry Redo "after" oils and vinegars on 100 Days of Real Food

Final Reorganized Pantry

Words cannot describe how much more functional our pantry is now. And as you can see I also made room for my new Instant Pot on the shelf … more on that later! :)

Big Pantry Redo "after" bins and racks on 100 Days of Real Food

Our Favorite Pantry Products

Screenshot of a video from 100 Days of Real Food pantry makeover recorded on Facebook.

I did a Facebook Live video tour of my pantry on Thursday (you can still view it above if you missed it) and, as promised, here’s a list of some of our pantry favorites a few were asking about…

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42 thoughts on “My Big Pantry Redo! How We Got Organized”

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  1. Sandra Szczepanski

    I love how that looks but where I live (mountains of Mexico) most of that would be full of bugs by tomorrow. Even in those jars you have your grains in. Ants eat through the rubber seal and make an entrance for themselves. I’ve spent a fortune on ‘guaranteed to keep things out’ containers and I’ve trashed way too much food. I freeze everything. All my grains, flours, rices, seeds, nuts, dried beans and legumes, all frozen. Twist lid jars/containers work half the year.. when it gets cooler, they find a way in. Freakin’ MacGuyvers these bugs!

  2. When buying some of the items in the jars like beans and grains, are you buying from the bulk section of the store or are you buying a big bag of rice/beans/etc. and then re-filling the jars as needed? If the latter, what do you do with the extra, opened bags of the product until you need to re-fill the jars.?

      1. Hi

        Do you have a door on your pantry or do you walk straight in.
        Also are shelves attached to the wall or is the pantry a cabinet arrangement

      2. We do not have a door on the pantry itself because it (and the mudroom/hall) can be shut off from the kitchen with a door. We had a carpenter make wooden shelves and painted them white. We also have a motion-sensing light switch in the pantry and mudroom. It’s nice to be able walk right in and out. – Jason

  3. Do you know anywhere else to get the jars, or similar ones? Delivery isn’t an option on them; &, the nearest store is a 3+ hour drive away, in Orlando.

    1. Buy Mason Jars. There is every size from 4ozs (1/2 cup) to 128ozs (1 gallon) in standard and wide mouth. You can vacuum seal with a Seal-a-Meal attachment and mason jar lids.

  4. What size glass containers did you use for the beans and pastas? I have half gallon mason jars that I use, but I don’t have a workable pantry now. We are moving and I am hoping to have a pantry that I can have all of my staples in one place. I have them with like items, but in a few different places.

  5. Why on earth are you buying bottled water? You are transferring boxed pasta into fancy “air tight containers” but can’t be bothered to refill a stained steel water bottle?
    Priorities. Reduce your waste.

    1. Kaitlyn – Those bottles are for my daughter’s hermit crabs (that require purified water, but fortunately not much) and the occasional “grab and go” emergency. We all have reusable stainless steel water bottles that we use all the time, such as car or plane trips, working in the yard, etc.

  6. I’m curious, do you mind sharing what size your pantry is? I have a relatively small pantry with deep wire shelves and I’ve been trying to convince my husband I need more shallow, sturdy shelves for the exact reason you mentioned (stuff gets lost). He thinks our pantry is too small to do something like this and I can’t tell from the photo how much bigger your pantry is. Thanks!

  7. Today is the 29th of March! Yay! I’m excited to see the results of the contest. Am I looking in the right place?

  8. It look amazing, I don’t have much space at all, so my transformation would not be so drastic. I think these projects like these are great for inspiration, but honestly people who spend too much time on this are obsessive… (unless you write a blog of course) A pantry needs to function for you, should be clutter free and organized, but labeling is out of the question for me… despite we have a printing business…lol

  9. So of course your pantry looks awesome! But, how much did it cost?! Reality…comes down to $ sometimes unfortunately ☺️

  10. I love the idea of this, but I find it difficult to actually put into practice. For example, when you buy a box of pasta, do you immediately transfer it to a jar, or wait until it’s open? I tend to buy when they’re BOGO, so I would always have some in a container and some in a box still? And to add to that, do you wait until you use up what is in the container before you add to it? Wondering how you control mixing ingredients with different expiration dates. And what about food that comes in seemingly air tight containers already? It feels like a waste to move them into another container that may or may not hold all the contents. I just seems impossible to me to always have EVERYTHING in nicely labeled jars and no other containers! Maybe I have to buy it all in bulk?

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      The jars do work great with bulk foods. Save that, I typically empty my containers before adding more. If something is in an airtight container, I leave it that way and then transfer if opening compromises that. :)

  11. Hi there. Thought you would like to know that Ikea is selling those bins – bought some yesterday at the store and they are also online. Learned that the bins that are a color on the inside are way cheaper than the all white one. by over $2.00. Style is Variera

  12. I live in southern California and we converted our “coat” closet into a pantry. It had become a junk closet since no one in So CA owns a real coat…lol. Anyway, it worked out great and has made life so much easier. We used shelving from The Container Store: Elfa brand.

  13. What are on all of the labels? I’m in the process of cleaning out all the junk from my house and need some inspiration to fill the pantry with.

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      Are you asking about the contents in the jars? The “after” photos above show them labeled pretty clearly so you can see how Lisa stocks her pantry.

  14. I am having pantry envy. I don’t even have one! My rice, beans, etc. Are in jars, but are separated in three cabinets or so. We have lived in this house about 18 months and I have rearranged things 3 or 4 times already. Might have to look again. I am with you on the tea. I am concerned like others have said that the bags sitting out with loose their flavor quicker.

  15. Stumbled upon the pantry blog on a weekend where attacking my very cluttered, unorganized pantry was top of the todo list. Thanks for the inspiration. I’ll have to see what I can come up with w/o spending too much $$ on new jars/ containers. I love the look though. Very organized.

      1. Curious you guys thoughts on the air tightness of the oxo pop. My pantry has tile floor and with young ones not quite ready to step up to all glass. But do want to avoid moth problems, etc

  16. I’m not able to enter your contest at this point–redesigning my pantry is on my to-do list later this year. However, I am very glad to see that you are utilizing shallow shelving–I’ve not seen that in a long time. In my younger days I read a book from the late 1800s about homemaking, and the author was very clear that shallow shelves enable organization much better than deep ones. They are also, as your amazing photos show, aesthetically pleasing and allow you and your family to see what you have (and what you are running low on) at a glance. It’s a win-win on many fronts!

    I plan to take out my 12- and 16-inch ventilated shelving in my pantry and replace it with narrow shelving along the top and deeper shelving (though only as necessary) along the bottom to store appliances and heavy mixing bowls. I can’t wait to get started. Thanks so much for your inspiring article!

  17. I love your idea completely. Our pantry is a closet and it would be a neat way to better organize it so we can see things more clearly.

  18. This is so inspiring!! I transformed a small broom closet into a pantry. I don’t have a lot of room, but I definitely think I can use some of the smaller jars to keep me organized!
    I’m excited to see you have the Instant Pot! I have had it for several months and absolutely LOVE it!! Can’t wait to see some recipes!!

  19. My “pantry” is a tiny closet with 1′ by 2′ shelves but you’ve inspired me to at least pull out the items and try to organize them.
    I can’t wait to hear more about your instant pot experience! I’ve had one since the spring and love it!

  20. Great pantry makeover. I can’t figure out what to do with the lentils, or whatever, I stock up on when they’re on sale. I don’t want to add them to partly filled jar. Also, don’t mice get into your tea bags? Do they go stale left open?

    1. Thinking since it’s in a pantry, it’s generally away from light and extra air. Tea really doesn’t go bad, it just loses its flavor. The darker the tea, the longer you can keep it and it will still have full (or almost full) flavor. So if you find that 5-year-old pack of tea in your pantry, it’s still okay to drink, maybe steep it longer or jazz it up with lemon or ginger.

    2. Yes, the oils giving it flavor evaporate much faster when not in a sealed jar or bag. Maybe ok if you go through a box a week, but I wouldn’t do it since it’s so easy to throw them in a jar.