If you love a trip to the dollar store as much as I do, get ready for this pantry organization. This is a low-budget project you can pull off in one afternoon. No fuss, just results!
Although I’m an addict and a big fan of beautifully organized spaces, sometimes I can’t find a reason to spend hundreds of dollars on simple projects. This is not the picture-perfect pantry organization you are probably used to seeing on other blogs or magazines. But it’s real! So, if you’re hoping to find matchy-matchy labels on crystal clear containers, you won’t find them here. Maybe one day, but not today.
This is your regular mom, with an average-sized pantry cabinet, who on a lazy Sunday morning, decided to tackle the stockpile in a very short time and on a low budget. And when I say low budget, I mean dollar store organization at its best!
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Dollar Store Pantry Organization
That Sunday, I was going to make my bolognese sauce. I love Italian dinners on Sundays! The smell of tomato sauce simmering on the stove takes me to my childhood. And this is what the pantry looked like.
It was screaming for help. I could hear the bag of Goldfish, upside down, stuffed in a Ziploc bag, screaming too. Granted, I let it go for a few months, but my son getting snacks in and out of it every day didn’t help either.
But the problem wasn’t me being lazy, because hello? I love to organize! The problem was
I was lazy the system I had. I kept putting it off because I wanted to install pull-out drawers and beautiful airtight matching containers. Forget it; it wasn’t going to happen anytime soon.
So, that same morning, I grabbed my purse and went to my closest dollar store. I stopped waiting for the right time and proper budget to tackle something that didn’t necessarily have to be beautiful, just practical.
Today, I’m sharing my easy, no-fuss, and low-budget dollar store pantry organization.
Pantry Organization With Inexpensive Baskets
Who doesn’t love a dollar-store shopping trip? Really, for only $1 (at the time of this post), you can get so many baskets that can help you contain loose items that otherwise would be scattered everywhere. The reason I love baskets is simple: they help me define limits. And that is a pillar of organization that we all must follow.
Sunday wasn’t a good day to go to the dollar store because the shelves were empty, and they had very few white baskets, so I also grabbed some blue ones. The total for this trip to the Dollar Tree was $8. The smallest baskets are 3 per $1.
The baskets above, I purchased at Walmart a while ago. They are more sturdy than the dollar store ones, and I paid 97 cents!
The System to an Organized Pantry
I did the obvious to start my pantry organization with my new dollar store baskets. I emptied the shelves, sorted the food, checked expiration dates, threw away a few things (ok, maybe a lot!), and minimized cardboard boxes. Half of the bulk was boxes.
Here’s what I suggest:
- Empty the entire pantry and place contents on kitchen counters or a table.
- Clean every shelf.
- Discard any expired / old items.
- Discard as many boxes as possible.
- Sort food into groups (explained below)
How to Organize the Food in Your Pantry
It all depends on your lifestyle. This is not a sorting system that I follow down to a T. Sometimes, I have to play with my space, but it should give you an idea of organizing the pantry so you can find food quickly.
Update: I did a similar pantry organization (with dollar store baskets, too!) at my friend’s house.
For example, I use five deep shelves (and a separate cabinet) and sort food like this:
- Pastas and sauces
- Grains and canned goods
- Oils, dressings, other bottled goods
- Baking goods such as powdered sugar, flour, chocolate chips, honey, syrups, cocoa powder, and even cookie sheets and muffin tins. I keep all of these in a separate cabinet. This system works well for me because even though I am not a big baker, I like to have it all in one place, near the counter where I do my baking. You can see this cabinet organization in my post The Easiest Way to Organize Kitchen Cabinets.
Tips for a Low-Budget Pantry Organization
I am an impulsive organizer. Sometimes, I jump into projects out of desperation. Sad, but true. That is what happened that Sunday with the pantry. On the bright side, when you jump into projects quickly, without overthinking, you have to work with what you have, which saves you time and money.
I did not solve the storage issue in one afternoon with only $8. I have a few airtight containers that I have purchased throughout the years. So, the chances are that you might own a few sets too. Those come in handy if you know how to put them to work, along with a combination of baskets.
I compiled a list of my airtight containers and how I use them.
- Snapware 17 Cups capacity: because of its big capacity, I use one to store up to 4 lbs of rice (discard bag) and a second one to store small unopened bags of grains (beans, barley, lentils, quinoa, etc.)
- Bormioli Rocco Fido Clear Jars: good for ground coffee, leftover lentils or quinoa, orzo, ditalini, or any other small pasta.
- Better Homes & Gardens Flip Tite Acrylic Food Storage: I use these for powdered sugar, cornmeal, etc. Use for anything!
- Snapware Airtight Flip 15.3 Cup Capacity: because of the easy pour flip top, I used this one for pet food (when I had one) and refined sugar.
- Cereal Dispensers: perfect for pouring out cereal. When we have more cereal boxes than containers, we pour the cereal into a Ziploc bag, and a basket helps contain the bags in place.
Needless to say, as a mom and a housewife, you may know that Ziploc bags are your best friend when it comes to storage.
Dollar Store Baskets Can Keep Your Pantry Tidy
I am a basket freak. I solved my master’s bathroom closet hot mess with baskets only.
The big baskets from the dollar store help me contain:
- Unopened bags of chips or any other bulky snack bag.
- Loose Ziploc bags that hold crackers, cereal, chips, etc.
- Bottles of oil and vinegar. This is particularly good to keep oil spills from happening directly on the shelf.
The small baskets are great to contain:
- Quick oatmeal packets
- Small, individually wrapped snacks like graham crackers, mini muffins, fruit snacks, protein bars, granola bars, peanut butter cups, etc.
- Juice boxes, fruit pouches, etc.
This project proves you don’t need to spend a fortune to be organized.