How to Organize a Walk-in Pantry

If you’re not sure how to organize a walk-in pantry this article will get you started on the right track. Get the help you need for pantry organization that you can use to streamline where you store your food. 

How to Organize a Walk-in Pantry

Not all people have one, but I can safely bet that all people want one. 

A walk-in pantry.

When I was first married, we rented a home that had the smallest kitchen in, what I thought, was the entire world. It had a stove and refrigerator on one side and 3 upper and 5 lower cabinets on the other and that was it.

This was all the room I had for every supply my kitchen held. Not only did I NOT have a walk-in pantry but I had no pantry of any kind. Let me just say that I learned how to be incredibly creative in that first home. 

You may think that when I finally had my very first walk-in pantry all my problems were solved, but I’m sorry to say that is not what happened. Sure I had more space but I now had an entire new list of struggles. I officially had more room than I knew what to do with. So I did what most folks do when given room to store things. 

I filled it up. 

So much so that I turned my beautiful walk-in pantry into a chaotic unorganized mess. Food went in only to be lost for months, long past the use-by date. If you have ever gone grocery shopping, then you know firsthand just how expensive food is. Throwing away stale, expired food is not only frustrating it’s an incredible waste of money. The only way to fix that is to organize where you store your food. This includes the refrigerator, freezer, basement, and yes, walk-in pantry. 

Today’s goal is to help you look at the room you have so you can create a space that makes sense to you and the food you and your family eat. 

How to Organize a Walk-in Pantry

Before you get started, you first need to know what you have and how much room is available. Do a visual inventory of the space. If you see any parts that need to be updated or replaced now is the time to do it. What do you have and what, if anything, needs improvement on? 

  • Do you have enough shelving?
  • Is there ample lighting? 
  • Are you utilizing the walls to their best? 
  • Do you have organizers on the floor giving even more space to utilize? 

READ: How to Organize Your Pantry Floor

Declutter

Before you get in here and start organizing, you will want to sort through the food you have. Do a quick once over and remove anything that is stale, outdated, or an item you know your family will not eat. Going forward you will want to keep your pantry full of foods that are fresh and ones you and your family love. 

D/M Pro Tip: As you are sorting if you see any items you need to replenish take a minute to add them to your shopping list. An organized pantry and an organized shopping list go hand in hand. Each time you are creating a list you will want to be in your pantry making notes of anything you are running low on.

Your pantry will also guide your weekly menu. I love clipboards and find them helpful when I am in an area making a list. Go into your pantry and take a look at what you have too much of. Create a weekly menu using up items again assuring you are keeping your pantry streamlined and organized. 

The Main Setup

Prime real estate. This is a term I use quite often when I speak about organizing. Prime real estate is the area in a room that is easy for you to reach and utilize. Think from your thighs to your chest. This is the prime location where you will want to keep items that you use frequently.

When organizing a space the first thing we hope to do is create a setup that is easy to use and easy to keep up with. If it’s hard, you may find yourself and your family tossing things in without putting them all the way away.

Our goal is to change all of that. If you find a room or area that constantly has things lying out and not put away, it may be because your setup isn’t working. That is your cue to tweak what you have so you create a system your entire family will understand. 

And how do you do that? By utilizing your prime real estate. 

Take a look inside of your walk-in pantry at the shelves that are easy for you to reach. This is your prime real estate and where you will want to store any food pantry items you use frequently.

A few ideas are:

  • Ingredients needed for main courses
  • Ingredients needed for common side dishes
  • Breakfast items
  • Snack items

Prime Real Estate for Kids

If you have lower shelves or drawers, this is a great area to set up for your children. A snack drawer that is lower to their height is a great way to use all the space in your walk-in pantry. This will allow them to learn to fend for themselves, so to speak, and even encourage them to pack their own lunches and contribute to the family grocery shopping list. 

A pantry drawer that is full of organized snacks

Out of Reach Areas

Don’t think that those shelves way at the top are not useful. They are a great place to store seasonal items or extra paper supplies. A few ideas are:

  • Seasonal dishes
  • Picnic supplies
  • Extra paper towels or napkins
  • Coolers
  • Water bottles

The same holds true with the floor. So many times we use this area to toss things promising to put them away later and before we know it walking into our pantry is a hazardous task. Make a promise to put your pantry items all the way away each and every time you are in there. If you do this one tip you will never have a cluttered mess in there again. 

The floor is a great place to keep heavier items such as appliances, cases of water, bulk food storage containers, and even pet food. 

Streamlining Your Shelves

How you sort things out will all depend on what you cook and the food your family likes to eat. You can organize your food by ethnicity, diet, type of food, or a mixture of all three. 

If you organize by ethnicity, you may want to have baskets for:

  • Italian
  • Mexican
  • Asian
  • American
  • Greek
  • Polish
  • Danish
blue baskets on a pantry shelf labeled condiments and side dishes

If you organize by diet, you may want to have baskets for:

  • Keto
  • Vegan
  • Vegetarian
  • Gluten-Free
  • Plant-Based

If you organize by food type, you may want to have baskets for:

  • Main Course
  • Side Dish
  • Soups
  • Snacks
  • Drinks
  • Seasonings
  • Breakfast options

When organizing remember, labels are going to be your friend here but in the beginning, I want to encourage you to use temporary ones. Not all setups work so you will want to test things out for a bit before committing.

I would give things at least a month and see if your pantry is staying neat and put away. If so, you are good to create permanent labels. If not, you may want to try out another option and test it again. 

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Walk-In Pantry Organizing Options

When it comes to streamlining your goal is to make it easy to find what you need and to make it just as easy to put things all the way away. This means using organizers that are easy to use. 

Bins, wicker baskets, metal baskets, totes, trays, bowls, or drawer systems are all great options to use. Try to only use containers that require one step to use. What I mean by that is, using a bin with a lid to hold your seasoning packets might not be the best move. Having to open a lid to gain access is one step too many. Keep the lids off, especially on bins that are holding items you use frequently. 

a blue basket in a walk in pantry that is labeled soup

Extra Space to Consider

Not all walk-in pantries are large enough for all the things we hope to store inside. If you find yourself running short on space reconsider what else you have available. Can you hang an organizer on a wall to hold bags of onions or potatoes?

Do you have room for a basket below a shelf to hold plastic wraps and foil? Can you install a shelf up near the ceiling to hold mason jars? 

Remember, this is your pantry, and how you organize it is all up to you! Look around at what you have and think outside of the box a bit to create more storage. 

When looking to find ways for How to Organize a Walk-in Pantry that fits you and your family remember to set things up in containers that are sturdy and easy to use. Then put the food you use most often where it is easiest to get to.

Follow those two steps and you will streamline your kitchen pantry is a way that is easy to keep tidy and put away. 

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