Pantry organization can give you a 'designer' space on a Dollar Store budget, says professional organizer


Recently, model and television personality Chrissy Teigen shared a photo of her pantry on Instagram. Over 1 million fans admired her beautifully laid out dried goods, canned foods, snacks, and more.

As arranged by celebrity organizer Ria Safford, the pantry features clear containers, spinning turntables, and labels galore. These are all vital components of a well-ordered kitchen, says Sarah Grace, certified professional organizer at Embrace Your Space NYC.

"Who would want to cook in a messy kitchen?" says Grace. "I think a lot of times, people become habitual Seamless orderers because they're too tired to cook in their kitchen and they don't feel like it's set up in a way that works for them."

If you enjoy being in your kitchen, you're more apt to cook or prepare meals, which can save you up to $1,600 per year. But it doesn't have to cost you a lot of money. In fact, you can get many or most of what you need from places like the Dollar Store.

To make your kitchen more appealing so you can save money and cut down on food waste, create an organized space that you want to spend time in, says Grace. Here's how.

Pantry organization ideas to get you started

Grace says the key to an organized kitchen is uniformity: Picking one color for the pantry can "really tie everything together." Clear containers like glass jars or plastic tubs are a favorite of hers because you can see right through them and get a visual sense of what you have in stock. Stackable containers also make it easy to save space.

"When you look into the space, you want it to be easier to scan. So if you can cut down on the visual stimulation and have a uniformed look, you're going to be able to see what you have more easily."

While shops like The Container Store are a mecca for organizers, they can be quite pricey. Grace says you can create the same kind of system with comparable items from the dollar store or Amazon.

If you don't want to shell out a ton of cash on new storage containers, Grace says color-coding your items can also be an effective way to keep your pantry neat and make items easier to find.

"If you have different bags of chips, or different beverages, arrange them in color order," says Grace. "That's another way to kind of make it feel like you have a designer pantry without having to spend money on actual container."

We tried meal prepping and buying lunch to determine which method is best

Video by Jason Armesto

Don't be afraid to invest, but make sure you'll see a return

Getting organized can be a huge time and money-saver in the long run. Still, a whole new kitchen organization system can cost anywhere from $100-$1,000, depending on the size of your space and the level of detail you put into your system, so "we want to make sure that we see a return on our investment," says Grace.

"That means making sure that our cooking equipment doesn't fall into disrepair because it's all shoved in the same cabinet or letting all the food expire because we can't see what we have."

Having designated shelf space or drawers for all of your ingredients and cooking utensils helps keep them in good condition, and will help your equipment last. Those items will also be more easily accessible.

Remember to make sure your cans, boxes, bags, and bottles of food are all grouped together by category and kept where you can see them. Americans toss out almost a pound of food per day, according to a 2018 study. Keeping your pantry organized is a surefire way to cut down on food waste. When everything is neatly laid out, and you can take stock of what you already have in one glance, you can easily check your pantry for ingredients, then choose recipes based on what you already have.

You may also feel more inspired to prepare creative meals at home and jazz up leftovers from your refrigerator.

People become habitual Seamless orderers because they're too tired to cook in their kitchen and they don't feel like it's set up in a way that works for them.
Sarah Grace
professional organizer

Hold yourself accountable to your new pantry organization system

Getting organized is only half the battle. Once you have a system in place, you have to maintain it, which can be a challenge if you have a large family or small kids who frequently raid your cabinets.

To keep your new system clutter-free, Grace suggests limiting the number of items you keep in your pantry. Don't over-buy. Make sure you purge your pantry every few months, too, removing items that have reached the end of their shelf life or that you no longer use.

And stick a label on everything so that family members know what's what.

"I'm a really big fan of labels, especially when multiple people are using the items in your pantry," Grace says. "It makes it easier for people to find what's there and also for things to find their way back when they're done."

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