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Pantry Organization: Tips for a Creating a Healthy Pantry

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.

Pantry organization ideas - I've got several tips for creating a healthy pantry and moving all your storage containers to glass jars.

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.

Watch my pantry organization video by clicking below:

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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.

Pantry organization ideas - I've got several tips for creating a healthy pantry and moving all your storage containers to glass jars.

Pantry organization ideas - I've got several tips for creating a healthy pantry and moving all your storage containers to glass jars.

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:

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.

Pantry organization ideas - I've got several tips for creating a healthy pantry and moving all your storage containers to glass jars.

Pantry organization ideas - I've got several tips for creating a healthy pantry and moving all your storage containers to glass jars.

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.

Pantry organization ideas - I've got several tips for creating a healthy pantry and moving all your storage containers to glass jars.

Pantry organization ideas - I've got several tips for creating a healthy pantry and moving all your storage containers to glass jars.

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.

Pantry organization ideas - I've got several tips for creating a healthy pantry and moving all your storage containers to glass jars.

Pantry organization ideas - I've got several tips for creating a healthy pantry and moving all your storage containers to glass jars.

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.

Pantry organization ideas - I've got several tips for creating a healthy pantry and moving all your storage containers to glass jars.

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 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.

Pantry organization ideas - I've got several tips for creating a healthy pantry and moving all your storage containers to glass jars.

Some of my favorite ingredients, brands and snacks I keep in my pantry include:

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!

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51 comments on “Pantry Organization: Tips for a Creating a Healthy Pantry”

  1. This is awesome for my pantry thanks for sharing.

  2. Hi Lisa,

    Thank you for your video. Just wanted to ask if you find opening and closing the Weck Jars a problem or inconvenient. Does the rubber seal stay in place or do you have to position it every time you use the jar? Cheers, Toni

    • Hi Toni – you do have to position the rubber seal a little when you open/close the jars, but I’ve just gotten used to it. You could always get some of their wood pop on tops, or get the screw lids for the Le Parfait jars as well. :)

  3. Where do you keep cooking instructions for the items?

  4. Hi Lisa, thank you for this video! I’ve watched it a few times! I am wanting to switch to the Montana Jars and the 1.5 liter Weck jars for my bulkier baking ingredients, however even the largest Montana jar (specifically the wood lid) one will be too small once I buy a new bag of certain ingredients. Do you experience this? If so, what do you do for ingredients that would overflow the containers when you first buy them?

  5. Hi Lisa! Excellent job on your pantry. I am so inspired and will definitely refer to these tips for when I organize my own. I have a couple questions: do you have a favorite place (physical or online) that you buy organic nuts? And do you ever store nuts and/or flours in the fridge (or freezer) to extend shelf life?

    • Hi Allie – Yay, I’m glad my pantry gave you some inspiration for your own! I buy almost all my nut on Amazon and lately I’ve buying this brand: http://amzn.to/2H9iKXK. You can definitely store nuts/flours in the fridge or freezer and that’s a smart idea. I go through my nuts/flours every few weeks because I’m doing so much cooking and recipe development, but if you don’t plan to use yours as quickly then definitely opt for the fridge/freezer. :) x

  6. Hi Lisa thank you so much for all the info you have on your sight I love it !! would love for you to put out a grocery list . I know you have done a video on what you got in the pantry but a Lisa Grocery list would be so cool !

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  9. I’ve just come across your blog and videos. They are wonderful. I just tried paleo 2 weeks ago, and I can’t believe how much it has turn my life around. The mental clarity is amazing. I’m going to try to read and see all your suggestions. I am so excited. Anyway, I also want to try to clean up my tiny panty on a budget. Can you recommend where to buy the weck jars, or any of your reccomended glass jars, for the best price? Can’t beleive the motivation and clarity I have now, can’t wait to redo my food and storage in my kitchen.

    • I’m so thrilled for you Keala that you’ve adopted healthier eating and are reaping the rewards. Mental clarity is a wonderful thing, isn’t it? :) As for the Weck jars, I buy mine online (linked above), but I’ve also seen them sometimes at Home Goods or Crate and Barrel on sale. Have fun organizing your pantry and kitchen! :) x

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  12. Okay, so your pantry isn’t a whole lot bigger than mine, yet you seem to have enough space whereas I do not, even though you have a lot of things in there that I keep elsewhere: nuts and seeds in the freezer, maple syrup in the fridge, baking stuff in a high cupboard because I use it so rarely, and snacky stuff not at all. Keeping flours on the countertop would be great if I had space, but where do you keep your legumes (lentils, split peas, and assorted beans, both dry and canned)? And the celiac-friendly grains such as quinoa (I’ve got several different kinds), and millet? And tea? I also have oats (regular, steel-cut, and quick) and spelt, which you may not be able to eat, so that may be part of the puzzle, and a selection of rice and buckwheat pastas. Still, you’ve inspired me to get rid of some of the stuff that I’m realizing I never use… And I love your labelling tip!

    • That sharpie pen is the best, isn’t it?! As for space, I don’t eat many grains and legumes, which reduces the bulk of many items you mentioned. Even though they may be gluten-free I find that my body doesn’t always respond favorably to them. So that keeps out many of the items that you mentioned, though I do have rice, lentils, oats (I only keep regular) and a few cans of beans. I also don’t usually keep any GF pastas and opt for zucchini noodles or other veggie noodles. I try to go as fresh and seasonal as possible and view my pantry items as playing a supporting role, rather than being the bulk of a recipe. Hope that answers your questions! :)

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  18. I’m in the process of renovating my kitchen and converting an unused half bathroom into a pantry/closet. You’ve inspired me to get rid of all those mismatched plastic (unhealthy!) containers and get glass for all my bulk items. I’ll be going to IKEA to check out their glass jars and I’ve ordered the marker too. This will be a beautiful and simple way to keep my paleo & gluten-free kitchen organized. Thanks for this pretty and inspirational post. Loved the video too! Keep them coming please. :)

  19. I’d been looking for something just like this! Couldn’t find anything that would fit perfectly or Look nearly as put together. Love it times a million. I’ll have to save this and recreate it!

  20. Thanks for the video, Lisa! My storage is a mix of plastic & glass so now I’m thinking I should change to all glass – thanks for the info. Here in the UK we use Kilner-style glass jars, very easy to open and air tight. But I’m going to look for the Montana jars on Amazon UK because they look good. There is a current trend for copper items here in the UK and the Montana jars would look good with those.

  21. I’ll be moving soon so have pinned this to refer to when I come to organise my new pantry. Love those jars and I love your style. I’m dreading the move, it’s big one, returning home from being overseas for 10 years. Things will be going quiet on my blog front soon as I start to have a real purge. Can’t wait to get rid of loads of junk & clutter. :)

    • Moving from overseas really is a big endeavor! I’ve done it a few times…and it’s all those move that probably prompted my minimalist style. ;) But you’ll feel so good after getting rid of the junk and clutter. Best of luck to you Gillian! :) x

  22. What a good point to move everything to glass. I love the look of organised cupboards… I think I have some work to do in my house :)

  23. I dream of having enough cupboard space to fit everything into and when I do get it, them I’ll be following suit and making it look awesome. Great tip to get the lids the same size.

  24. Love all those glass containers! I agree with you, I much prefer to get rid of clutter and have a simple, clean-looking home.

  25. Reinventing the wheel! I have been doing this for years, it’s not rocket science, just common sense.

  26. what a wonderful canisters you have there! lovely info!

  27. I definitely loved this pantry organization video! Excellent, useful tips. And I’d love to see an apartment tour video as well, if it’s not too much trouble to film. Love your decor style! :)

  28. Wow, this was a really good video! Thanks! Very inspiring, I would love to see your apartment and maybe get inspired on simplifying even more. I love love loved your white maker! I’m ordering one right now!
    Where do you get your cassava flour? It’s expensive on amazon!

    • That white marker is magic! You’ll want to start labeling everything – ha! And I do purchase my cassava flour on Amazon. I buy Otto’s brand and while I know it’s not the cheapest, the quality is the best I’ve found. Some readers have complained that other brands have been gritty or don’t bake well. So I pay the premium for quality (it also lasts quite a while). :) x http://amzn.to/2nNC9ay

  29. Wonderful! I love these pantry ideas.

  30. Thanks! I have been looking for glass containers, and will follow your lead!