How to Organize Your Pantry for Less than $50

How to Organize Your Pantry for Less than $50
Written by Oana Schneider

According to, Americans wasted $27.1 billion worth of fresh vegetables in 2012. For the same year, the total worth of food wasted by households, supermarkets, restaurants and other food service providers is $180 billion. In 2013, Americans believed that 41% of the total US food production goes to waste, while individuals claim that they only throw away 18% of the food that they buy.

One of the main reasons for food wastage is that people tend to buy more than what they actually consume. If you’re short on any kitchen staples, you can easily run to the store to buy them instead of having stocks and stocks of food being left unused on your pantry. More importantly, if you have an unorganized pantry, you will never know what you still have so you end up buying more. This in turn leads to food wastage.

So what’s the solution to prevent millions of dollars’ worth of food from being wasted? Organize your pantry! If every household will organize their pantry to see what they actually have and consume the food before the data that they’re not good anymore, less food will go to waste.

The good news is that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to keep your pantry organized. In the next section, we will be dishing out tips on how you can organize your pantry for less than $50.

Techniques to Organize Your Pantry for Less than $50

The minute that you wake up, you instinctively go to the kitchen to brew coffee or fix breakfast. If you have a disorganized pantry, your first task may end up with you being frustrated, which is not a very good way to be productive throughout the day.

Another reason why you should not have a disorganized pantry is for you not to overbuy on kitchen staples. If you can’t see all the canned goods you have, for example, you might think that you still need canned tomatoes when making pasta. If it turns out that you still have three cans at the very back of a kitchen cabinet and it already reached its expiration date, you would already have wasted food.

The solution is for you to have an organized pantry without spending too much money. Check out our list of the top ways for you to organize your pantry for less than $50:

1. Assess the pantry and storage needs of your household

What does your pantry look like now? Can you see each and every item without having to take cans of stuff out? Or is it pretty organized now? Even if it is, you can still make improvements with how your pantry looks and the first step to take is to make an objective assessment.

If you cook for the family everyday for dinner, you’d want to have everything easily accessible. If you’re living alone and you don’t usually cook, having just the staples so you can quickly put together a small meal should be enough.

2. Empty out everything

If you have a pretty big pantry, empty everything out and start organizing things from scratch. This may sound like a daunting task but you will never know what you actually have until you take everything out. You would be surprised at how many of the same stuff you still have, or be disgusted by the amount of expired goods left unconsumed in your pantry.

3. Toss things out

Next, toss out everything which has reached or is almost reaching its expiry date. If you have multiple stocks of the same item, donate anything that you know you would not need. You might even stumble upon unopened vitamin bottles or supplements inside the pantry – something which you will not discover unless you have managed take everything out.

4. Sort and organize

After tossing out the things you don’t need anymore, start sorting and organizing. Use a storage container to place all your protein bars, nut bars and fruit bars. Use a similar storage container for snacks, breakfast items, pasta, dinner items, spices, and grains.

If you love baking, dedicate an entire container for all the items that you have for this task. If you have stocks and stocks of the same thing, plan your menu around such items for the next week. This way, you can use them up before they expire – and you can plan an entirely different menu the next time, without leading to food being wasted.

5. Start putting things back together

Once you’re done organizing, you can begin putting things back together. Line up the storage containers and label them for easy reference. Make sure that you can easily see everything because if you don’t see an item, you will never use it. If you don’t have much container space, buy racks with multiple shelves so that you can organize things much more quickly.

6. Use these cheap items to organize your kitchen pantry

When putting things back together in your pantry, here are some very cheap or practically costless items that you can use to make your kitchen more organized:

  • Adhesive Hooks – Adhesive hooks are cheap and ultra-useful. Stick one inside the pantry door and use it to hang aprons, canvas shopping bags, etc. Inside the kitchen cabinet, you can place an adhesive hook to hang ladles, sifters, measuring spoons, egg beaters, kitchen scissors, and similar items with holes on the handle. You can even use one inside a shed or the garage and use it to hang cleaning tools. Somehow, hanging items on a straight line makes them look much more organized.
  • Baking Powder Containers – Relabel the containers of baking powder and refill them with kitchen staples like salt, baking soda, flour, sugar, corn starch, spices and similar ingredients. There are baking powder containers with built-in levels for measuring. These boxes take up very little space and will make things in your pantry much more organized.
  • Band-Aids – Instead of always running to the bathroom for the first aid kit when there are cutting accidents in the kitchen, you can keep a stack of Band-Aids in a drawer next to the sink.
  • Cake Pans – You can purchase cheap cake pans from a thrift store to organize your spices. Make sure that they’re the same size as your cupboard shelf so that you can pull out the spices all at once.
  • Cardboard Tubes – If you love baking, you can reuse the tubes inside the large packages of plastic wrap to store silicone baking sheets. Roll up the sheets lightly, insert into the tube and label.
  • Duplo or Lego Bricks – An alternative way for you to store cookie sheets or baking sheets is to use Lego or Duplo bricks. Stack the toys a couple of bricks high and you can easily use them for storage of such quite delicate baking material.
  • Flatware Organizer – Straws, chopsticks, skewers, plastic tableware – all these can be stored inside a flatware organizer.
  • Glass Containers – If you like following family recipes, store them inside glass containers so you can read the instructions from the outside.
  • Magnets – If you really don’t have much storage space, use the side of your refrigerator for stacking things up. Make use of magnets and place them inside plastic wrap, wax paper or parchment paper cardboard boxes. Making them stick to the side of the refrigerator does not require much space and makes them easy to find.
  • Magazine Holders – Instead of buying pricey cutting board racks, you can pay $5 or less for a magazine holder. Attached inside the cabinet with hooks, you can make those cutting boards easily accessible.
  • Jars – Place a jar by the stove and use it to store your measuring spoons in, along with the other kitchen tools that you always use.
  • Lazy Susan – Lazy Susan can be used to organize spices in the pantry, along with other small items. You can also use larger ones to store soup cans and other canned goods, or cereal boxes.
  • Plastic Salad Containers – If you have Ziplock bags with leftover cheese, fruits, veggies and other ingredients, you can store them inside a clear, plastic salad container.
  • Small-Lidded Containers – Like your home office, your kitchen would have a lot of knickknacks that you will need at a moment’s notice. Purchase a set of small-lidded containers and stack a line inside a kitchen drawer. Use it to store rubber bands, Band-Aids, twist ties, strings, and similar items that you will need during food preparation. Look for ones with the transparent lids so you can easily see what’s inside – saving you a lot of time in the process.
  • Whiteboard – If you store a lot of meat in your freezer, you can use a whiteboard to let you keep track of what’s in it, and until what date the food is good. You can also use a whiteboard which you can stick in the door fridge to list down the grocery items that you need.

With these easy-to-follow steps, you can organize your pantry for less than $50 in supplies – and enjoy having a cleaner, much more efficient kitchen.

About the author

Oana Schneider

Oana Schneider is a published author located in Chicago, Illinois, who currently works for as a communication specialist and blog editor. She writes about lifestyle, family budget, has a degree in Communications and advocates for women’s rights. Her future plans include getting a Labrador and losing a few pounds.


  • I’ve found that keeping like items together is really helpful indeed. It’s much easier to see what you have that way. I’m in need of a lazy Susan for my spices, so this was a good reminder. Some excellent ideas for repurposing items you may already have around the house as well. I’m planning to buy silicone baking sheets in the near future so I’ll definitely have to keep the cardboard tube tip in mind.

  • Wow that’s amazing! I’ve never thought you can do that for less than 50 dollars, I must of been doing it wrong, lol. Thank you for sharing this, really helpful.

  • Good tips! There’s nothing worse than trying to find a simple item in the pantry and then spending 20 minutes looking for it in futility. All you have to do to clean things up is learn to throw things away as far as I’m concerned. Nothing is worse than a cluttered or overstocked pantry, that’s for sure! That just creates all the other problems you can encounter.

  • I did this a couple of years back, but need to go back and re-organize and label my containers and trays. I do have my spices on lazy susans, and it’s very helpful. I’ve got them separated into sweet and savory categories, so I can quickly find whatever I need. My pantry has a few low shelves on top of one another, and it was difficult to see what was in the back, so I got some metal stove burner covers, the kind that span 2 burners, and turned them upside down. This way, they have a lip, and I store my canned goods on them, and can pull them out when I need something in the middle or at the back.

  • I did this a few years ago actually then the pantry cupboard went crazy. It is organized still but some stuff has no real place and some things may be expired. I have not even done my spring cleaning yet I was leaving this task for when I spring clean

  • It is a great idea, every year, to take everything out of your pantry and just take a look at what you actually have in there. You would be shocked at the things that can get pushed to the back, and many of them will spoil before you get the chance to use them. Whenever you buy new food from the supermarket, you should try to store it at the back of the cupboard, as this means that the things with the shortest shelf life will be used soon. By being organised in this way means that you are much less likely to waste any food, which will therefore save you a lot of money in the long term.

  • These are some great tips! It’s amazing how much can accumulate in a pantry over time. Taking inventory of what you have can be a big space saver and cost saver, as you can use the foods you had no idea you had in future recipes. Thanks for the great ideas!

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