pantry staples

a beginner’s guide to decanting: how to organize your dry goods into containers

organized Kitchen

Today I’m gonna share a beginner’s guide to decanting, and how to organize your dry goods into containers. You may have watched The Home Edit on Netflix… or you’ve seen pictures on Pinterest and Instagram of someone’s beautiful pantry with clean shelves lined in uniform containers.. and now you have the itch to go on a big trip to The Container Store and give your pantry a makeover. But where to start?

To organize your pantry, and get your dry goods into containers, here’s what you need to do:

  • Make a list of items that you keep on hand on a regular basis.
  • Take measurements of inside the pantry.
  • Make a list of how many containers you will need of each size, and go shopping if needed.
  • Pull everything out of your pantry.
  • Organize food into categories.
  • Transfer food into containers.
  • Merchandise your pantry!

Make a list.

It is important to make a list of things that you keep on hand on a regular basis. You don’t need to give permanent real estate to items that you don’t keep on hand normally. If you’re not sure where to start with a list of your pantry staples, check out the list of things I always keep on hand: pantry staples .

Measure your pantry.

Sure, you want to keep items in containers that are the appropriate size for what they’re holding, but you also want to use containers that make sense for the space that you have.

Get your containers.

For this step, you don’t have to go out and spend money on new containers! You can start by saving jars and take out containers. Look at one of my spice drawers, and how I organized it by saving Simply Organic spice jars!

To make a list of containers that you will need, you’re going to need to consider the food that is on your pantry staples list, and the space that you have measured.

Here’s a quick guide of the OXO containers containers that come in their starter pack. Check out the dimensions / volume to compare to other brands!

4.4 qt, 6.1″L x 6.1″W x 10.5”H

big square lid, medium height

good for holding:

  • 5 lbs flour
  • confectioners sugar
  • bulk items

2.8 qt, 6.3″L x 6.3″W x 6.7”H)

big square lid, short height

good for holding:

  • 4 lbs sugar
  • 4 lbs rice
  • bread crumbs

.6 qt, 6.2″L x 4″W x 3.4”H

rectangle lid, mini height

  • quinoa
  • lentils
  • tea bags

2.7 qt, 6.25″L x 4.15″W x 9.9”H

rectangle lid, medium height

  • 5 lbs rice
  • dry beans
  • 1 lb pasta

2.2 qt, 4.1″L x 4.1″W x 13”H

small square lid, tall height

  • spaghetti
  • sleeve of crackers
  • cookies

1.1 qt, 6″L x 6.1″W x 3.4”H

small square lid, short height

  • box of soup pasta
  • 1 lb brown sugar
  • sugar cubes

.4 qt, 6.1″L x 29″W x 3.5”H

small square lid, mini height

  • spice mix
  • baking soda
  • baking powder

Pull everything out of your pantry.

Now is when the real work begins. To get your pantry completely organized, you need to start with a blank slate. Take everything out of your pantry, including any additional food that you have in your cupboards, and spices. Throw away any expired food.

Organize food into categories.

It is important to categorize your food before putting it into containers, or before you start putting food back onto your shelves. By organizing everything into categories, you will be able to see how much space each category will need, and it will be easier to visualize what kind of containers you should use for each item. Generally, you should keep similar shapes for each category, so that they all fit and stack nicely. Here are the categories that I use in my pantry:

  • spices (kept in a drawer)
  • baking items
  • nuts / seeds
  • oil / vinegar
  • condiments
  • grains
  • canned items
  • snacks / misc

Transfer food into containers.

This is the fun part! Transfer your food into containers and label each container. For items that you may need to keep directions, ingredient lists, or expiration dates, cut out the important part of your packaging, and tape it to the bottom of your container.

Merchandise your pantry.

Now it is time to put everything back into your pantry. Keep items that you use most frequently in easy-to-reach areas. If you have any “back stock” food, (things that didn’t all fit into your containers, or duplicates), keep them all together in a “back stock” area, to keep your normal food storage less cluttered.