Pantry Organization: Tips for a Creating a Healthy Pantry
Updated Mar 18, 2020
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Create a healthy pantry and easily find ingredients (even if your pantry is small) with these glass containers and pantry organization ideas. You can customize all your jars and containers with handwritten labels using a water-based paint pen. Watch the video below to see how I do mine.
One of the lovely things about moving is that you’re forced to go through everything you own and assess if it’s worth keeping. Now, some people probably dread this (and I’ll admit it’s a ton of work), but in the end I actually find all the purging freeing. As in, my life just got heaps more “white space” – which gives me a sense of calm and satisfaction.
On my recent move I got rid of and/or donated quite a bit of stuff. As I’ve gotten older I’ve realized I don’t like clutter and my style has morphed into a more minimalist, warm modern, Scandanavian-esque, yet rustic, SoCal neutral vibe. Clean and white makes me happy.
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My entire apartment still needs furniture and decor, but as a foodie person it only made sense to tackle my kitchen first. Especially as that’s where I spend 80% of my time. A few years back I moved all my pantry dried goods into BPA-Free containers, thinking I was doing good. But now I know that BPA-Free plastics can be just as harmful as BPA, if not more. So on this recent move I ditched the plastic altogether and moved everything to glass.
Pantry organization: moving everything from plastic to glass
My number one goal on this pantry makeover was moving everything from plastic to glass. I didn’t want bulk goods and raw ingredients hanging around inside all that plastic. I also found that my former plastic containers weren’t as airtight as they claimed to be. I don’t know if it’s because of the pop-top mechanism, but I had several batches of nuts go rancid quickly in those old containers.
My new glass containers are Weck jars and I’m absolutely loving them! Ironically, they’re even cheaper than the plastic, which, I would have never guessed. But here’s what I love about them. First, the cylindrical jars are big enough for bulk ingredients, but you can still grab them easily with one hand. This was an important consideration for me, as I tend to grab things quickly. Second, the tops are 100% airtight with the gasket and clips so food stays fresh.
I use an assortment of Weck jars in everyday cooking (you’ll see them frequently in my recipe photos), but for my pantry organization I stuck to four sizes for one primary reason – the lids were the same size. The cylindrical jars line up uniformly next to one another and the mold jars (due to their slight taper) stack neatly on top of each other. This allows you to maximize storage space top to bottom.
Here are the exact pantry jars I used:
- 1.5 Liter Cylindrical Jar (974)
- 3/4 Liter Mold Jar (743)
- 1/5 Liter Mold Jar (742)
- 1/4 Liter Mold Jar (741)
Another great thing about these glass jars is they’re dishwasher safe. So if you want to swap ingredients or clean them out, just toss them in the dishwasher. I used the glass lids and gaskets that came with the jars as I wanted that guaranteed airtight fit for my nuts, seeds and berries, though you can find cork lids as well.
Large countertop jars for my flours
Because I’m gluten-free, I use several different types of flours in my baking, such as almond flour, tapioca flour, coconut flour and cassava flour. Initially I wasn’t planning to leave these flours out on my countertop, but after I found the gorgeous Montana Jars with acacia wood lids, I knew they were too pretty to hide.
These jars are perfect for flours as they’re large and the opening on top is wide, making it easy to get measuring cups in and out. The wood lids also match my barstools and wood floors, so everything tied together beautifully.
Here are the exact countertop jars I used:
If you can’t find these jars on Amazon, you can also purchase them at Crate & Barrel.
Customizing your pantry organization with glass jars and paint markers
One of the things I had the most fun with as I reorganized my pantry was writing labels on all the glass jars. I saw this post a year ago which inspired these glass jars and handwritten labels – and I knew I wanted to do the same. My handwriting isn’t going to win any penmanship awards, but the labels definitely make finding your ingredients easy. Especially as my pantry is quite dark inside.
Sharpie makes two types of paint markers (an oil-based and water-based), so make sure you purchase the water-based paint marker. These come in a variety of colors, but sticking with my minimalistic approach I went with white. I also used a medium tip, though you can purchase a fine tip as well.
If you write your label and make a mistake, you can quickly remove it with a paper towel and rewrite it. The paint marker dries after about a minute, then it won’t smudge off. But as it’s water-based, you can still remove it in the future with a little water and a scrub sponge.
Pantry organization: my wood basket and snack containers
In the video above you saw that I store my sweet potatoes, onions and garlic in a wood basket. It has handles on each end which make it easy to lift, but it’s also long and narrow so it’s great for a small pantry. I tend to just slide it in and out when I’m looking for ingredients. To ensure that the bottom doesn’t scratch my pantry shelves, I added small felt furniture sliders to the bottom.
I purchased my basket at Target, but if you can’t find it, these wood baskets are similar.
The plastic snack containers are similar to the wood basket in that they’re narrow and have a handle, again making them easy to pull in and out. I also love that they’re not too big, so my bars and fruit strips stay upright.
Pantry ingredients and food
Creating a healthy pantry means sticking to whole food ingredients as much as possible. Unfortunately, I can’t use those bulk bins at Whole Foods or other markets (due to potential gluten cross-contamination), but I do buy pantry staples and organic bags of items such as cashews, almonds and chia seeds, then transfer them to my glass jars.
Just remember that fresh pantry ingredients, such as nuts, seeds and berries are best eaten within a few months. So it’s a good habit to not buy too much.
I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t have snacks and munchies (remember: eating healthy isn’t about deprivation), but I do my best to purchase snacks with clean ingredients and from brands with an ethos aligned with mine.
Some of my favorite ingredients, brands and snacks I keep in my pantry include:
- Wild Planet Tuna
- Organic Coconut Oil
- Organic Avocado Oil
- Organic Coconut Milk
- Organic Honey
- Organic Maple Syrup
- Organic Coconut Sugar
- Raw Cacao Powder
- Simply Organic Vanilla Extract
- Organic Apple Cider Vinegar
- Epic Bars
- Alter Eco Organic Truffles
- Vital Proteins Collagen – make sure to read this post on collagen
And here are items always in my kitchen:
I hope you enjoyed this sneak peak in my pantry. And hopefully it provided a little inspiration for your own pantry organization. If you’d like to see more lifestyle videos like this on my YouTube channel, let me know in the comments below!