How to Declutter a Kitchen Pantry

Finding ways How to Declutter a Kitchen Pantry will get you one step closer to your pantry organization goals.

Clutter and food. It’s not something you usually pair together. But here’s the thing, if you have food you are not using because you have too much of it or you do not have an organized way to store it, then you are most likely wasting it and that is what clutter is. 

Stuff you have that you do not use. 

How to Declutter a Kitchen Pantry

The answer to keeping food out of your clutter category is to set up food storage areas that are streamlined and organized. Areas such as your pantry, kitchen cabinets, refrigerator, freezer, and even your root cellar if you have one. But before you even do that, there is one important step to do first. You will need to sort and declutter all the food that you have. 

Decluttering all of your food can be a pretty big and overwhelming project so let’s break it down just a bit. 

In this article, we are going to walk through how to declutter the dry food that you are keeping in your kitchen cabinet or walk-in pantry. This may still be a bigger-sized project but just work on it one step at a time and you might find it easier to get through than you first realized. 

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How to Declutter a Kitchen Pantry

Step #1. Pre Work

First things first. Set up a sorting area that gives you enough room to really spread out and work. I like to use a kitchen table for this but if you have only a small one you can use the kitchen counter, a folding table, or set up a blanket on the floor. The trick is to choose a spot that you can leave and come back to if needed. 

If you decide to use the kitchen table, give your family a heads up that take-out or cereal is on the menu for tonight’s meal so you can work without the pressure of a ticking clock. Be sure you have the rest of your sorting supplies ready as well. 

Step #2. Purge and Donate

Next, you will need to gather up all the dry food that you have stored in your kitchen. Do an initial sort as you go weeding out the food you will not be putting back in once you are finished decluttering. 

  • Toss – Anything that is expired, stale, or spoiled
  • Donate – Anything that is still good to eat but you know your family will not eat. 

Step #3. Sort

I find it is best to sort things out into categories as I go. Later you may want to move things around streamlining your categories to fit you and your family’s dietary needs. For right now, here are a few basic ideas to help you get started. 

  • Main Course
  • Side Dishes
  • Soup/Beans
  • Breakfast
  • Snacks
  • Fruit
  • Drinks
  • Seasonings
  • Pasta/Rice

As you start a new category, use a post-it note or index card to label. This will help you to continue sorting more easily. 

This may take you the longest to get through, so don’t get frustrated if the clock is ticking and the progress you are seeing is small. Once you get the sorting done the (super) hard part is over.

Why is sorting your food into categories so important? Because it will help you to organize things more efficiently. If you find you have quite a bit of gluten-free food for your son, you may want to label a container GLUTEN FREE so he can easily find the foods he is okay to eat. 

If you have young children that want to get snacks to eat on their own, you can set up a basket for each with their name on the label. Fill it up with their favorites using small snack baggies to proportion things out in an amount that fits their age. 

Step #4. Keep Track

While you are sorting you might see you are running short on a few things, keep a list close by so you can add to it anything you see you need to purchase the next time you are at the store. The best part of having a streamlined food storage area is you will be more efficient with your shopping. This will save you a nice amount of money because you will no longer be tossing food or buying items you already have 3 of. It will also save you time while you are at the store because you will be armed with a pretty efficient shopping list. 

Each time you are getting ready to head out to the store, go into your pantry armed with your list and a pen. Look at what you have on your list and double-check that you actually need more of it. Then look at the containers in your pantry and see where you may be running a bit short. Add any items to your list. This one tip will be a huge game changer going forward. 

a women making a grocery shopping list while standing in her kitchen pantry

What should you keep and what should you donate? 

This can be a bit tricky so let’s talk about it for a minute. 

Have you ever been online playing around when suddenly you see a photo of a recipe that looks so amazing you can actually taste it? It is something you have never made before but the directions look easy enough. So you print it out and take it with you to the store and purchase all the ingredients on the list. Once home you put the newly purchased supplies into your pantry and go about your day, completely forgetting all about them.

Now you are sorting through things and in your hand, you have a bottle of miso paste and a can of bamboo shoots. You may be asking yourself, why on earth do I have this? What on earth is it? If you are, that is your cue to donate it to the food pantry or a family friend that might be into stirfry more than you are. 

Please do not be tempted to keep things simply because you paid money for them. Give them to someone that will use them and move on to the foods you are keeping because you enjoy eating them. 

Step #5. Clean 

There is nothing easier than cleaning a pantry that is completely empty! Take some time to wipe things down from ceiling to floor so you have a clean slate to organize. 

a woman cleaning a counter with a glove and rag

Step #6. See Things for the First Time

This is the easy and fun part of decluttering your pantry. Now that you have the area empty, I want you to go inside and take a look around. See this space as if you are for the very first time. Look at the entire area and imagine what bins of food would do best where. If you see an area that you may need to purchase an organizer for, make a note on your shopping list to grab that item the next time you are out. 

Step #7. Organize

When it comes to organizing a pantry, your goal is to make it easy for you to find the food you need and just as easy to put new food where it belongs. The goal is to keep things put away so how you batch the food will depend on how you cook. 

I like to have things by dishes meaning I have a bin for Italian, Asian, American, etc. This is how my head works so this setup fits me the best. I would suggest trying one way of sorting your food and see how you do. After a few weeks if you see you are still keeping up with it, then you have a pretty good setup in place, good for you. If, however, you are finding food in the wrong bins or are still in shopping bags on the floor, this is your cue that you may need to try a new setup. 

You can get more tips on organizing a pantry below. 

How to Organize a Walk-In Pantry

How to Streamline Your Pantry Floor 

Storing Appliances in a Pantry 

When it comes to decluttering your kitchen pantry you might be a little overwhelmed at the size of the job. Take a deep breath and just work on one step at a time and before you know it you will have another area in your home neat and free of clutter. 



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