A cluttered pantry is not only annoying—it’s expensive: When you can’t find what you need to cook, you often end up getting ingredients from the store that you already have, but can’t find in messy cupboards. Declutter and organize your pantry with this easy guide. 

1. Clean and sort everything

Before you can organize the pantry, you need to know what you have—and what’s so old you should toss it rather than keep it. Take everything out of the pantry and sort by categories, such as pasta or canned beans. 

Set aside anything that’s expired or that you don’t want to eat. A food pantry or church will take anything that’s still in good condition, so you might help others just by getting organized. 

After you’ve made the initial sort, look over the items you have left. When you understand what you have—and what you commonly lose on pantry shelves—you can come up with an organization scheme that works for you. 

For instance, if you have a lot of small spices, bags of nuts or dried fruit, or other items, invest in clear canisters with tight-fitting lids. This way, you can keep your small items organized and deter pantry pests. 

2. Use shelves wisely 

Most pantries have high shelves, which are inconvenient for people of average height. Take advantage of high shelves by putting rarely-used or speciality items on them. Reserve eye-level shelves for the items you use most often, so you can grab them quickly. For low shelves, consider bulk items, canned goods, or cookbooks. 

3. Add straw or wire baskets 

For individually-packaged snack items or fresh fruits and vegetables, which can get lost on shelves, use baskets. Fill baskets with items like granola bars or garlic bulbs, so people can quickly help themselves. 

4. Use storage cabinets for miscellaneous items

Once you’ve put all the food on the shelves or in your baskets, you may have cleaning supplies and cookware left. These items can be heavy and oddly-sized, which makes them difficult to store. Cabinets work well for these items, keeping them easily accessible yet out of sight. 

When you spend an afternoon cleaning and organizing the pantry, you’ll be able to use up the food you’ve already purchased—stretching a grocery budget. You can also decrease stress when cooking and cleaning, because you created a place for everything you use. Now when you open the pantry to decide what to make for dinner, you can decide quickly—saving both time and money!

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