Downsizing Tips – How To Organize A Pantry

Today’s START To Downsize article, Downsizing Tips – How To Organize A Pantry, is based on some very simple organizing methods which anyone can use successfully.

The picture, above, shows the top two rows of my pantry, BEFORE organizing…

…the middle two rows…

…the bottom row and the floor.

 Clearly, my pantry was not organized in the least.

When we moved into our SW Florida rental condo, we spent the first several weeks locating furniture for the master bedroom, living room and dining room.

Once my living spaces were in order, I decided I needed to get my storage areas in order, too.

I went to my START To Downsize library and pulled out “the messies manual” by sandra felton and began reviewing.

Sandra classifies the housekeeping level of “messies” into the following categories:

Housekeeping Level                    Telltale Sign

          0                                            No one CARES to enter your house.

          1                                            Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.

          2                                            If you had to, you could find at least one

                                                         clean towel.

          3                                            The dishes are clean, but stay out of the

                                                         upstairs bath!

          4                                             At least once a week, everything

                                                          is spotless — for a day.

          5                                              You can read a book without

                                                           overwhelming guilt.

          6                                              The minister’s wife can drop over

                                                           unexpectedly without panicking you.

          7                                               You can hold elaborate luncheons

                                                            twice a week and have everything

                                                            neat by 3:30 pm.

          8                                                You gave away the dog and made the

                                                             kids understand.

          9                                                 Your children aren’t allowed

                                                              downstairs except to eat (neatly).

         10                                                 No one DARES to enter your house.

My goal is to consistently maintain a housekeeping level of “6″; any higher, things get dangerously close to compulsive, and where’s the fun in that?

Once I determined my housekeeping goal, I turned to “the messies manual” heart of organizing:

  • Simplify by using the Mount Vernon method, where a room is cleaned by taking it one area or piece of furniture at a time, breaking a large, difficult task into smaller, more manageable tasks.
  • Sort by grouping and labeling.
  • Store by having enough storage places, keeping stored items visible, “containerize” belongings, labeling what you store, and storing in proximity to use.

I simplified by taking everything out of the pantry, then wiped down the shelves and vacuumed all the walls, corners and the floor.

I sorted everything by type: snacks, cereal, bottled water, storage bags, paper goods, etc.  This is also a good opportunity to check expiration dates and remove items which are beyond their recommended time limit.

While sorting, I found some items which didn’t belong in the pantry, so I relocated them to their proper homes.  There were also items which had somehow found multiple homes in the pantry, so they were consolidated into one location.

Once sorted, I stored like items with like items, and downsized others into right-size containers.


  • I grouped all zippered storage bags together, all foil and cling wrap together, and all sizes of garbage bags together.
  • I moved flour and sugar to the upper cabinet next to the stove, at their point of use.
  • I moved all bottled water, soda and instant drink mixes to one shelf, as well as the blender, which we primarily use for making smoothies.
  • I grouped paper towels, dishtowels and shop towels on one shelf.

Here are the results:

I completely freed up the top shelf, leaving room for future storage, which is always a plus!

There’s room for everything AND I can see everything.

Not only is the pantry’s top shelf empty, so is the floor – I already have a few ideas of what can fill those spaces…

One thing I still have to do is label the shelves so everyone else (i.e., my husband) knows where everything is or should be.  I’m thinking of some kind of hanging label, but haven’t found just the right thing yet…

Today’s “Downsizing Tips – How To Organize A Pantry” took me less than an hour to do and gives me a great feeling of accomplishment!  I’m well on my way to achieving that “6″ on the “messies” housekeeping scale…

…and if you have an idea on labeling my white wire shelves, I’m all ears!  Shoot me a quick note via Comments!


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One Response to “Downsizing Tips – How To Organize A Pantry”

  1. [...] found the information for today’s START To Downsize article, Downsizing Tips – Great DIY Closet Organizer!, at a workshop given by my local Home [...]

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