The Ultimate Pantry Organization In 8 Steps!

by Chris 'The Kiwi' Ashenden - 2 years ago

Let this be the year that you clear out the junk food in your pantry for winter and start January with only fresh, clean, and wholesome foods. Pantry organization doesn’t need to be difficult.

You can make room for foods that fuel your life and make you and your family healthier in the New Year, in 8 easy steps .

A well-organized, attainable, and clean pantry will keep you on the right track to sustaining a nutritious diet, keeping you in good health the rest of the year.

When cleaning out the pantry, think of it as you would when you cull your clothes closet. If it doesn’t make you look good, you never wear it, then get rid of it!

It’s the same when organizing your food. If it isn’t healthy for you, or you never eat it, then get rid of it!

Top Benefits Of Pantry Organization

Save Money!

A pantry organization overhaul is a great way to save money on shopping.

According to Business Insider:

“Eating out, which is typically far more expensive than cooking at home, accounts for 43% of the annual food expenditures for the average family”

Having your pantry in order also keeps you conscious of the items you have available for healthy recipes.

Having these items accessible will help you to cook at home and not eat out. When you’re aiming for a healthy diet in the New Year, this is also a great time to deep clean the shelves and reorganize.


Healthier Eating

Did you know that you are more likely to stick with healthier food choices if you can quickly find the right ingredients in your pantry?

Let’s face it, many of us open our pantry unable to find that one ingredient we need to make a meal, so we give up and eat out instead.

This is where pantry organization comes in.

In a study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition it was discovered that your eating environment matters.

“Dining in home-like environments engenders better food choices.”

In other words, when you eat at home you face less temptation and eat more real food.

Lead author of the study and McGill University professor, Laurette Dube supports the idea that the home is an important place to establish an association between healthy food and positive emotion:

“That environment can serve as a reminder of that association and motivate people to choose healthier food that can make them happier.”

Eight Steps To Your Pantry Organization Overhaul!

At Athletic Greens, we value healthy eating, and clean whole food ingredients, so we put together eight steps to help you master the pantry you have always dreamed of for this coming year.

Donate Or Discard Food Items

Stop staring into the abyss of cluttered shelves and crumbs everywhere. The task of pantry organization and cleaning a space like a pantry closet can be daunting.

One of the main concerns is figuring out what to do with all the discarded food. The best method when purging pantry food is to create two piles that can go into boxes or bags. One is the trash pile the other is the donate pile.

Donating the food from your pantry is an act that will help others, as well as make you feel comfortable with discarding food you just won’t use.

Many of us hoard packaged foods and canned goods because we feel bad about throwing them away. The donation process solves that problem.

Follow the easy discard steps below:

  • Go through your shelves and start overhauling your food in two piles.
  • Donate non-expired items you don’t want to your local food pantry or charity.
  • If you will never use something unopened on the shelf, then donate it.
  • Expired items that are also opened should be discarded and NOT donated. (More on expiration dates below.)
  • Healthy expired items – put on the shopping list to replace.
  • Throw away pened foods you won’t ever eat. Otherwise, opened food just attracts critters. (Other opened foods like healthy grains or almond flour – we will explain how to store further down.)
The Junk Food Purge

The next step to cleaning out the pantry closet is to examine your food inventory through the lens of health.

Attack your pantry organization with gusto.

Do a major sweep of all your shelves and dump all the bad foods that provide no health benefits or nutrition for you or your family.

The usual suspects on this list are:

  • Processed Foods – items heavily manufactured not off the farm or from scratch – pre-made baking mixes, instant foods, dehydrated items. These items usually have a large ingredient list with words you can’t understand.
  • Packaged High-Sodium Items – snacks, salted items, high-sodium soups, and sauces.
  • Sugary Foods – Cookies and candy, sugar-filled protein bars, sugar cereals, Pop Tarts and packaged pastry.
  • Highly-Refined Carbohydrates – Potato chips, crackers, enriched pasta, enriched flours, bagels, enriched bread, and muffins.

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All the items listed above provide zero nutrition and are diet sabotage. This pantry organization purge is an easy sweep because you scan what is bad for you, and then put it in the appropriate pile, eliminating pantry clutter quickly.

Remember, junk food is usually what we snack on when we feel stressed. For any real change of staying healthy this winter and feel fit, you need to get serious about getting these kinds of foods out of the house.

If you have little ones around, they tend to fill up on junk food and not eat dinner! Start making a list of healthy snacks to replace the bad ones you remove for the kids as well.

Select items such as natural and organic popcorn, nuts, fruit, and snacks with limited, whole ingredients.

The Label Purge

The third purge should be a review of all food labels so you can reach your diet and health goals.

You may have missed some deceptively packaged foods that at first glance appeared healthy.

To get your health on track, educate yourself on what are good vs. bad ingredients to establish a healthy and nutritious diet.

Ingredients such as hydrogenated oils, high amounts of sugar, and trans saturated fats should be avoided at all costs so always check labels for these contents.

Labels will indicate how many calories per serving as well. Be aware of small servings with a high caloric intake.

This can be time consuming, but it’s a crucial stage of any good pantry organization project.

Checking the ingredients is important when it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, so let’s scrutinize food labels more and read them carefully.

Nutrition Fact Labels And Marketing Gimmicks vs. Real Ingredients

Nutritional labels are a part of determining your food choices. According to the Eat Clean Diet® by Tosca Reno, if you are reading a label, and you don’t know what it is, then don’t eat it.

Beware of low-calorie packaged foods with lots of long chemical-ridden ingredients.

Many new marketing gimmicks like to use the phrases “gluten-free” or “vegan,” but if it’s full of sugar or sodium, then those statements are meaningless.

Avoid preservatives such as:

  • Artificial sweeteners and processed sugar and corn syrups
  • Hydrogenated oils
  • Enriched flours and breads
  • Sodium nitrates
  • Food coloring
  • Long chemical names and lists

Move your pantry contents towards a whole food diet and keep only canned goods, snacks, packages, or ingredients that support that concept and have limited contents.

As you go through your shelves, make a list of healthier alternatives to things you remove. Think of your pantry organization as a long term project, and make life easier for your future self by being thorough from the get go.

Expired And Unopened Items

Just because something is expired doesn’t mean you can’t use it. The “Expires By” date on most shelf foods are a suggestion.

No need to panic the minute the expiration date arrives and throw your paprika away, it’s probably fine for several more meals.

The “Sell By” date is the term used for stores to know the last date they can sell or stock the item.

The term “Best if Used By” is the terminology for the quality of the food and its peak date.

According to WebMD, canned goods with high acidity last about 18 months or longer. Canned veggies with low acidity, in some cases, can last up to five years.

An article in Time Magazine highlights that Americans are throwing out food too quickly because of these proposed dates.

Make sure to smell and check items that may have more shelf time after a sell by or expiration date.

Keep in mind that oils can go rancid after about a year, so buy often. Nuts can become stale after about three months depending on storage methods, so its best to use an airtight container for those.

Herbs can dry out over time so check the dates for expiration and keep them in mind as you continue to use the herb. Don’t go too long past it.

Sometimes we forget, and herbs sit in our collection for years. Herbs lose their potency, so keep them fresh and use them for delicious cooking.


Cleaning The Shelves

After culling the food items, keep them out of the pantry until you clean and organize your storage.

Wipe down the shelves with a non-toxic cleaner. Good Housekeeping has several non-toxic cleaning recipes for the home. An easy and all-natural cleaning recipe is one part vinegar, three parts water, and a dab of dish or castile soap.

Any empty containers that you want to use for reorganization give a good wipe down.

While cleaning everything, think about organization. Do you have jars, baskets, and bins on hand? All jars and containers can be hand washed or put in the dishwasher.

If you don’t have any storage organization, you can find affordable options online or at any kitchen utility store. Just be sure you utilize glass or BPA free plastic for airtight options.

Consolidate Items, Organize, Store, And Track Inventory

Storage Options

One way to track ingredients and know what you have in stock is to store items in clear containers as mentioned above.

For glass options, Weck Jars or Mason Jars are great, and you can quickly label them with a sharpie water-based paint pen. Make sure to mark the date on them as well. Martha Stewart has some storage suggestions as well.

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Flours, Herbs, And Seasoning

After deciding what you are keeping for flours and herbs, you can start storing and labeling.

When running low on flours, you can even mix some and label it as one concoction of flour.

Cassava flour, rice, tapioca, coconut, and almond should all be on the list to keep around for healthy cooking and baking. Discard enriched or bleached flours.

Keeping all these items in stored containers will help deter moths, bugs, and mice as well.

The same organizational methods can help with herbs and seasonings but with smaller jars or containers.

Organize seasonings in a way where you can see them quickly, or even alphabetically. That way you know what you have in stock for shopping and recipes.

Quinoa, Rice, Bean Pasta, And Legumes

If you have items like quinoa, rice, legumes or bean pasta store those in jars as well.

Sometimes you may have three bags of opened pasta at once. You can throw the remnants in a jar together for soup you will make later.

Oatmeal, grains, and nuts should be stored in a glass container or BPA free plastic as well.

Storing these items this way will help you be sure you know what is available for breakfast. You will use more often if you can see what you have, and it will save you money.


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Shelf Methodology

A great way to organize your shelves is to put the baking, herb, and recipe ingredients needed for cooking in one viewable location on the shelf.

For recipe planning, have the basics like herbs, oils, grains, healthy pastas, and beans on hand to throw dinner together in a pinch as well as for making shopping lists.

Place healthy snacks for the whole family in the line of sight so everyone will make better choices.

Items that you don’t use every day, place in a less accessible shelf area. Any indulgence, like dark chocolate, put on a hard to reach shelf and out of sight. It’s only there for those chocolate emergencies!

Put healthy snacks such as granola bars low in sugar or fruit in those comfortable to reach places, especially for the kiddos.

Bin, Basket And Storage Organization Tips

  • Canned Veggies, healthy low sodium soups, and canned beans – put on the shelf or in a bin where they can be accessed easily for cooking.
  • Healthy snacks – put in a basket that the whole family can access and see.
  • Olive Oil, Vinegar, Cooking Wines – place in a basket or box within easy grabbing reach for cooking.
  • Herbs and Spices – store in glass containers with proper labels for cooking.
  • Rice, Quinoa, Bean Pastas – store in glass jars or containers for cooking.
  • Baking Items, Healthy Alternative Flours, Oats – store in glass jars for easy baking.

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Shop, Restore And Enjoy Clean Food!

Time to shop for those clean foods and put those healthy replacements in your new pantry where the whole family can see them.

Remember that not all calories are created equal. If you choose nutrient-dense, whole foods over packaged and processed ones, then you will naturally start to eat fewer calories.

For health and weight loss, the experts at the Mayo Clinic recommend…

“Eating more plant-based foods — fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Strive for variety to help you achieve your goals without giving up taste or nutrition.”

Where To Store Your Athletic Greens?

Before opening, store your Athletic Greens on a cool pantry shelf. Our product is so potent and fresh that once you open it, you will need to store it in the refrigerator.

To take your pantry purge to the next level, why not give meal planning a go?

We’ve written a whole article on it, and we’ve also created a handy meal planning template to get you started. Download it free below.