How NOT to Organize a Pantry

The Eat Well, Spend Less series is continuing this month with a discussion on food storage. If you are shopping strategically for food, then storing it well naturally comes next. Have I mentioned that organization is NOT one of my strengths?  Ahem.

My fellow Eat Well, Spend Less bloggers can tell you all about innovative and resourceful ways to store food this week. So I am telling you how NOT to store it. Just keeping it real, m’kay?

Growing up, I never had a pantry. Food was haphazardly stashed in our tiny cupboards just so it would fit. Years of apartment living were also pantry-less. Now I have a glorious pantry, large enough to stand in. I am thankful… but a little lost.

Bigger is not always better.

Here are ten ways to NOT organize your pantry, which I have perfected in recent years:

1. Don’t bother sorting canned goods, just throw them all on the same shelf and call it good.

2. Cereal is best on the highest shelf, which tempts the kids to grab a stool and climb up to the top of the pantry, nearly falling and breaking their necks while grabbing a snack.

3. After a trip to Costco, just shove the bulk purchases where ever they fit.

4. Store various boxes and appliances on the floor, where you will likely forget about them.

5. Keep your snack shelf within easy reach, so the kids can also grab a handful of chips at will, leaving the bag open so they go stale.

6. When said snack boxes are empty, leave them on the shelf for a few weeks days to take up extra room.

7. Don’t worry about taking inventory, because buying duplicates of things you already have on hand is always fun.

8. Leave your subscribe and save food items in boxes on the shelf, just in case you need more boxes.

9. Shove hide clutter in the pantry before guests arrive, and forget to take it out later.

10. The pantry makes an excellent hiding place for various toys, thanks to curious toddlers.

By following these strategies for while, my pantry has become a black hole. Menu planning is not happening like it should, and frugal fails are inevitable. I know what needs to happen. So… with my readers holding me accountable and the need for a change, I will be revealing my extreme pantry makeover tomorrow when I find time soon.

It will not look like this for long:

I may even break out my label maker!

Let’s hear your pantry confessions. How are you NOT organizing your food?

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About Alyssa Francis

A thirty-something wife and mother of four! Two daughters by birth, one son by marriage, and a sweet baby boy born in April of 2009. Oldest sister of four girls raised by a single mom. California native. Grew up in Hawaii. Somehow ended up in North Texas. Once a single mom. Former agnostic. A survivor of abuse and addiction. Forgiven by a great big God. Married to my best friend.


  1. We don’t put things in the pantry according to size. Usually we just throw the stuff in there. So what almost always ends up happening, is my spices get hidden behind boxes of cereal or cans of soup. Then I find it months later,thinking I’d used it all up ( :( :( OH, well. I am getting better with making sure my pantry looks pretty and it’s easy to find things ;) :)

    Love and hugs from Oregon, Heather :)
    Heather :) :) :) ´s last blog post ..AVOCADO ICE CREAM

  2. We don’t even have a pantry! Biggest regret of buying this house!

  3. Yup, I think my pantry looks way worse than yours. Bags of stuff all over the floor…although the cereal is within kid reach :)
    LittleOrbitz´s last blog post ..Yellow Metal 3D Butterfly – Wall Decor or Fridge Magnet by merritthyde

  4. Alyssa Francis says:

    @LittleOrbitz, I am unsure if I should move the cereal. Down low, it will tempt little hands to “reach and run”. ;) I think I may experiment with my extreme makeover.

  5. My stockpile gets a little crazy looking at times since I often throw bags or boxes just in front of it. It does give me anxiety until I get a chance to organize it. I can’t wait to see your pantry after the overhaul! Have fun!
    Theresa´s last blog post ..Mothers Day Weekend

  6. Mary E.S. says:

    My pantry looks a lot like your’s only smaller.Right now I have boxes sitting all over the kitchen floor and the chairs have become storage units(if you shove them under the table it hides the food in them)and things are stuck haphazardly everywhere.I’m getting it a little every day.It took more than a day to get that way and it’s going to take more than a day to fix it. One day at a time.

  7. Take EVERYTHING out of the pantry.. everything. Wipe down the shelves. Then start with a shelf that is about eye level or a smidge lower and start stacking your canned goods, group like items together.. stack cans on top of each other. This should make a BIG dent in the problem.
    I learned this years ago… I put things where they go and only where they go, and then you can always find them.. plus our pantry is a “built into the wall” kind of shelving system, with NO door, so exposed for the world to see.. makes me keep it nice looking!!!
    So, that is a thought, remove the pantry door!!! :)

  8. My stuff often sits on the floor until I have time and feel well enough usually days or weeks later to put it away. Problem is its now spread out of the kitchen and invading the living room. Guess I should get off here and do something about it but who wants to do that. :/

  9. Ashley B says:

    We don’t have a pantry but what we do have are cabinets out in our mud room that are up high and down low with a counter top. We use the tops ones for can goods(we go to aldi and stock up and it could last about 6 months) and the bottom is for excess items like cereal boxes, juice, etc that we don’t go through as fast. I so wish i had a walk-in pantry.

  10. Alyssa Francis says:

    @Theresa, It’s a major project, but I know it will feel so much better organized and clean! Thanks for your encouragement, Theresa.

  11. Expandable shelf organizers are a must for me to keep canned/jarred foods and spices organized. Here’s a link to the ones they sell at The Container Store:

  12. If I could just keep the kids out of the pantry I’d be fine!!!! LOL…here’s my “Don’t Do” list. DON’T depend on 6-inch-deep shelves to hold cases of canned goods. (It wasn’t pretty.)
    Barb S´s last blog post ..Birthday Bundt Cake- Chocolate with Caramel Glaze

  13. Bethany Goff says:

    So it sounds like I should be thankful I don’t have a pantry! lol My cupboards are semi-organized, but that is by necessity, since it is one tall, skinny, deep cabinet, and finding things would be impossible unless I have some sort of method to my madness! I have pasta and storage products on my top shelf; cereal/breakfast bars or pastries/oatmeal on the the next one; canned goods and condiments on the following; beverage mixes/coffee/tea bags, creamer, sweetener, and boxed foods on the next shelf, followed by crackers and snack foods (with extra things that don’t fit elsewhere behind!) and on the bottom shelf are chips and the canned goods that didn’t fit on the other shelf.
    That is my semi-order! How haphazardly they are put on said shelves is a whole ‘nother matter! ;)

  14. Mine looked like that, but I cleaned it a few weeks ago. It’s easy to get an out of control pantry. :)
    JamieAnne´s last blog post ..Slow Cooker Recipes…Spaghetti sauce

  15. Alyssa Francis says:

    @Barb S, Oh my! I can picture such a disaster at my house – LOL!

  16. We don’t have a pantry, so we keep our canned goods and unopened packages on a shelving unit in the basement, right at the bottom of the steps. It’s the heavy-duty metal kind, so it holds a LOT. The best thing about it is that all sides are open, so when it’s really full, we can look in from the back or side to count how many of an item we have or see whether something has wandered to the back while there are none of its kind in front.

    Here is our pantry confession: In a previous house, due to poor organizing, nobody knew we had two big cans of tomato juice until they turned into The Horror of the Porch!

  17. I had a pantry in my old house. The current one lacks a pantry and I miss it. I use some space in a spare room (far from the kitchen) for overflow but it doesn’t work very well.

  18. @Alyssa Francis, Hmmm I suppose that could make a difference. I’ve always had cereal at kid reach level and haven’t had a disaster yet, but for some unknown reason my kids have never been the destroy the cupboard type. My oldest is almost 8 now (youngest is just 3) so I like for them to have access…means I don’t have to get breakfast for them :)

  19. Hi – I really enjoyed this blog – which was sent to me by a friend to check out. I am laughing because my family’s pantry looks very similar – and we somehow still find things we forgot about. There’s 17 kids in my family, and growing up each of us had “pantry duty” – which is the overseer of the pantry who makes sure the stuff is in the right place. There’s a spot for everything but it has to be constantly cared for or it will fall apart! Which is why mom made it one of our chores. It’s great for kids to learn the value of food, shopping and taking care of a family that way, too. Thanks for the laugh! And, Good Luck!

  20. I need to stop confusing little bits of onion paper that sift through the onion bin with fairy dust!


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