How to Inventory Your Pantry

Reader Contribution by Tess Pennington
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It’s funny how a new year brings a renewed sense of purpose and goal-making, but also seems to motivate many of us to tidy the house up and get those closets organized. This could be in part to cold weather causing us to spend more time indoors for organizing. One area of focus I am concentrating on in my household is my prepper pantry. We typically use the food in our prepper pantry and rotate in more when needed. This year, we have used a lot of it and, in the process, things have gotten a bit out of sort.

If you are looking for ways to get your prepper pantry organized, here are a few tips to get you all organized for the new year.

Assess the clutter. The best way to see what you have and organize it properly is to take everything off the shelves. This is a great time to take out expired food, wipe off the shelves and start a new organizing system. As well, create a pile of food to donate. Usually, if we have any extra canned goods or boxed meals that my family is not interested in, I’ll set these aside for donating to churches and food pantries.

Any opened food boxes or food packets should be sealed in heavy duty zip-lock bags or placed in plastic bins. This protects your food sources from insect infestations.

Organize how you will group the food. Everyone has their own way of organizing. A person can group like items together such as soup, fruit, vegetables, meat, snacks, breakfast, baking needs, etc., or group them alphabetically. In my household, I am a big believer in large baskets and containers with labels. For my busy family having like items grouped together seems to work best for us. But, it really does not matter as long as it is organized to your liking. A labeling system is another great way to organize the pantry and seems to help other family members understand where things should go. Additionally, adding the date of purchase and expiration date to the label will save you some time in the future.

Can dispensers could also be used for frequently used storage items to save needed space and keep items rotating.  Hanging door spice rack is another space solution that could store teas and bulk spices. In addition, modular storage containers work wonders. Note: when buying in bulk, transfer the food into large plastic containers that can be stacked and labeled to save time and condense space.

Take inventory. Based on your categories, make a list that captures what is in your pantry. I broke mine down by the labels on my bins, and then I taped a hardcopy to the inside of my pantry door. I left a couple of blank spaces to add items by hand if I don’t have enough time to access my computer file. By having an inventory, you always know what you have on hand and what needs to be added to the grocery list.

Here is a free printable inventory list to use in your own pantry!

Another option of inventorying your pantry to create a food pantry spreadsheet adding the quantity of food, item name, and expiration date. This method helps you to see when the expiration date is so you can always have a fresh food supply.


Put the items back in. When you place your items back into your pantry consider grouping items that should be together near each other. For example, my top row is dedicated to spices (sweet and savory) and sauces. Another row is grouped by soups, baking items, and canned items. When I cook, these items are often together. When putting your items back in your bin, follow the Last In, Last Out rule. Put your oldest jarred and canned items in up front and your newly purchased items in the back. This will help cut down on expired items that escape your attention.

Look for more storage solutions. Those who are investing in a deep larder style pantry should utilize hidden storage space around the home. There are many who turn to utilizing unused space under the beds and closets for their long-term food sources, but there are some other space saving ideas to turn to, as well. Some of my favorites are using cardboard filing boxes and adding baskets to the top of your kitchen cabinet areas. When locating additional food storage areas in your home, look for cool and dry areas. If you choose an area that has dramatic temperature spikes, such as an attic, your food can spoil.

Some have even gone as far as to building extra storage spaces in areas of their home like underneath stairs. Shelves can be added for additional organization. Those that are planning on storing bulk water will need to get creative in their storage endeavors. It is possible though! Some store bulk water bottles behind couches or in the laundry room.

To conclude, having a well-organized storage area takes time, but if it is properly managed, your food pantry will be organized and easily accessible when you need it the most. Take a good hard look at your current organization strategy and make the necessary changes to get your food storage pantry prepped and ready to go.

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