Easy and inexpensive kitchen pantry organization

If you’ve ever moved into a new home, you’re probably familiar with the mad-dash to get everything unpacked as quickly as possible. You haven’t been in your home long enough to know where you want to put everything, so you just start throwing things in places that might work. You figure, “I’ll move it around later if I have to” or “I’ll make that look pretty once we’re all unpacked”. Then it sits there for months and the months slowly turn into years. Before you know it, you’ve been living with a disorganized mess! Well, it’s time to finally fix it! Here’s my how-to guide to help you with easy and inexpensive kitchen pantry organization.

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We purchased our home knowing that it did not have a walk-in food pantry. I think we took them for granted in our previous homes! When we began unpacking our belongings, we realized we had no idea how to fit everything into a small kitchen cabinet! Needless to say, things got a little crazy. I had such a hard time finding anything. Here’s a before picture of our embarrassing pantry:

Messy Kitchen Pantry

I seriously can’t believe I’m putting that out there for the world to see.

I’d like to add that I take sanitation and food safety seriously and the prior lack of organization of my pantry has no correlation to the cleanliness of my kitchen.

Organizing a small pantry can be challenging because every inch of space is super-valuable. Storage efficiency is of the upmost importance.

When I finally decided to tackle our kitchen pantry cabinet and give it an organizational overhaul, I discovered two problems:

First, have you seen those gloriously fabulous photos of completely organized kitchen pantries? They look amazing. Everything’s lined up perfectly and it all miraculously fits into the same shaped container. It’s also beautifully labeled as if another food will never grace the confines of that particular container again. When I began researching pantry organization containers, I found those brands of containers but the prices had me practically falling over in my chair! I couldn’t believe how much those containers cost, just to hold your $2.00 box of spaghetti.

Easy and Inexpensive Kitchen Pantry Organization Challenge # 1: Find an affordable alternative to the expensive pantry organization containers.

Second, have you heard about micro-plastics? Well, apparently, they are a thing now. Researchers have found that items made of plastic leave little microscopic pieces of plastic everywhere they touch. So, when food is stored in a plastic container, microplastics inevitably get into your food. Studies have shown that these microplastics contain chemical toxins which may or may not potentially cause health issues. This article from The Washington Post talks a little more about it. I’m not really a “crunchy momma” but when I learn about things that I could try to avoid because they may be harmful, I usually make an effort to.

Easy and Inexpensive Kitchen Pantry Organization Challenge # 2: Find glass jars for pantry organization.

Note: If you’re intrigued by the switch from plastic to glass, I also swapped my plastic Tupperware for glass storage containers. I absolutely love them and they are much less fragile than I thought they would be. They’ve definitely been tested a time or two! If you’re interested, you can check out the exact set I got here on Amazon. They’re oven, dishwasher, and microwave safe and the lid seals tight for a leak-proof seal.

With these challenges in mind, I set out to find an inexpensive alternative to those expensive plastic food storage containers.

After some research and intense comparison shopping, this was the best solution:

  • 32oz glass mason jars (shown below). I got a 12 pack of these jars from Target for less than $15! I used them for all of my unpackaged items such as pasta, oatmeal, nuts, loose crackers, seeds, lentils, drink mixes, etc.
Mason Jars for Kitchen Pantry Organization
  • 64oz glass mason jar (shown below, right). I only purchased 1 of these from Target and I use it for larger packages of crackers, pasta etc.
Large Glass jars for food storage
  • A big, 135oz sealing glass jar for cereal (shown above, left). Here’s a two-pack from Amazon for those who like to have a variety of cereals on hand.
  • These awesome, inexpensive plastic organizing bins from Amazon for prepacked food such as fruit pouches, cereal bars, gummies, packaged crackers, etc. (shown below). They were literally half the price of some other bins I checked out! They’re great because you don’t have to mess around with opening and closing boxes. They also allow you to see exactly what you have and how much of it is left.
Plastic Bins for Pantry Organization

Now listen,

I KNOW that these pre-packaged items are packaged in plastic. It’s not ideal but I’m not at the point where I’m going to go so far as to completely eliminate these items from my family’s diet. I make a concerted effort to choose items that don’t come packaged in plastic but if my kid wants cheerios, I’m going to get him Cheerios. Anyways, since they are already packaged in plastic, it doesn’t matter if they’re sitting in a plastic tray.

This is my glorious kitchen pantry makeover! Zen.

Finished Kitchen Pantry Makeover

The best part is that it cost me less than $50, and these containers will last forever.

As always, there was some trial and error when figuring out this new system. It took a little bit of time to figure out which containers to put certain items in. For example, there are actually more cheez-its in a package than you would think! I was able to fit 99% of them in their designated container so I may or may not have taken a snack break during this process.

One of the things that I love about mason jar storage containers is the metal lids. You can use a dry erase marker to write the expiration date and contents on the top of the container. Then, it can be easily wiped off when you choose to fill it with something else in the future.

Mason Jar pantry organization expiration date

Now that I’ve organized our little pantry cabinet, it’s so much easier to find everything! Putting my son’s lunches together is a breeze when I can just reach in and easily grab whatever I need. Have you organized your kitchen pantry lately? Comment below!

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