Before&After: Pantry organization

In this week’s Before&After, I worked with a family of 4 to reorganize their pantry. We were excited to get started because she had to wait patiently to get through the first 3 KonMari categories before tackling this problem area.

With every new client, I work with them on creating their vision of the ideal lifestyle. And cooking with her family was high on the wishlist for this mom of two. Even though she found it overwhelming to tackle this project, we unpacked the pantry thoughtfully, creating different areas in the kitchen for the types of food she had. Please note that we didn’t work on the cookbooks with the other books because her home has multiple floors and it was physically too much to move everything to one place. So we are joy-checking the cookbooks with the pantry. And since she already had the practice, it was much easier to go through during this session.

BEFORE: Pantry


This pantry is below a staircase. this is the right side of the pantry. The shelves are next to a curved wall.


In her pantry, we found multiples of the same item, expired products, barely used grains and spices. She did feel wasteful to throw food away, and we did set aside ones she can give away. I asked if she felt less guilty getting rid of the food that already expired? Because if she came across food that she doesn’t enjoy eating or cooking, those items are just waiting to expire in her pantry. That’s a waste of space just to delay feeling guilty. We also made sure that all the edible part went into the compost bag which gave the food a new purpose, and the packaging went into the recycling. It also helps to empty out the food containers to take inventory of what you have, see if they also spark joy. And sometimes certain containers can move to a new home to be helpful elsewhere.


In a family with young kids, it’s helpful to create areas where they can learn to be more independent. In this pantry, we created a shelf with breakfast foods. This not only allows the kids to serve themselves. It also promotes the family to make breakfast together in the morning if they all know where to get the pancake mix and syrup.

AFTER: Pantry


Because they had snacks that came in boxes and some that came in bags, we dedicated one shelf for the boxed crackers and cookies to be filed like books by height (You can also file them by the type of snack if that’s what you prefer.). All the chip bags lined up helped them to stand upright. This tip shows that you don’t need any fancy containers to make a neatly organized pantry.


The spices are on a stand that has 3 tiers. People tend to buy spices as needed and not pay attention to the brand. Unless you get a complete set or buy new containers to have a uniformed look, you can place the same brands next to each other and still have a very clean and organized set up. Other bottles of special spices and meat rubs were placed in a tray in order by height.

Always place heavier items on the lower shelves of the pantry both for safety and to give the feeling of anchoring the shelves. We’ve put the beverages and wines on there, grouping bottles of similar size or shape together (again, it’s your personal preference if you want to put them by order of type).

My client also had a large tea collection. (Second shelf from the top right) We repurposed 2 tin cookie containers to consolidate 6 opened boxes of teas. I always recommend taking the individual packed tea bags out of the box so you’ll always know when you are running low. It’s also easy to offer guests tea when they can select from a variety presented to them. The same idea goes for the children’s snacks to be taken out of the boxes and stored in a low bin. This allows easy access and a visual reminder when it’s time to replenish.

AFTER: Close-up



The breakfast section, oils, vinegar, mustard, and other international flavors.


These are new containers we got from IKEA (365+ series). We love the bamboo lids. They can work for dry food such as the nuts and dried fruits. But they can also work in the fridge to store fruits, veggies, leftovers, or even use to serve food. 


We also got the clear plastic containers with white flip caps to hold the pasta and rice. They also work for opened snack containers, even liquids. 


We also placed the extra bags of flour, sugar, bottles of salt, and extra drinks in the “dead corner” of the shelves. They are next to the category they belong to so they don’t get forgotten. And now the pantry isn’t so packed, they are still very visible and within reach.

My client was so pleased with the result, she wanted to hang out in her pantry! And I’m excited to check back with her to see how the organization has helped with her meal planning? If she’s inspired to cook any new dishes, or having that vision of her cooking with her family more come true? I hope you’ve enjoyed this Before&After. If you have any questions about what we’ve done, or about your own pantry. Feel free to comment.


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