Flash in the Pantry: 8 Ways to Make Storing Less Boring!

the pantry

Who says the pantry has to be a catch-all black hole for prolonging that shelf life? That’s what high school lockers are for!

It’s time to take stock in our most commonly used household storage nook, and make it as inviting as a vintage general store (with a modern green twist, of course).

Open pantries offer easy access for the organic gardener and cook, but also should look tidy since they are exposed to your visitors. Mine is en route to the powder room. Yep, that’s country life.

I find it’s easy to arrange a cool display of dry goods, serving dishes and other odds and ends containing them in boxes, baskets and jars. Not an organizer? Just read Catherine Pond’s The Pantry, chronicling the history of keeping every can and tin in its place.

I have staged many pantries of homes, finding prospective buyers are sold on nicely organized utility spaces, especially when they also reflect some style with a pop of color, especially red. Yes, panache even extends to the shelves of rice and cereal.

Here are some ideas for ordering and celebrating your own healthy green pantry:

First, sort by category: If you haven’t done so already, clean and designate shelves for categories, i.e. stack tea and cereal boxes side by side on one shelf, canned goods on another, bulk items like rice, pasta and beans on another. Make sure the opened items remaining in original packages are well sealed to preserve them. I use painter’s tape to reseal cardboard boxes to keep items fresh.

container store

Reuse glass mason jars: Mason jars from pasta sauce, jams and other goods are great to reuse for storing and displaying dry goods from quinoa and baking ingredients to various herbs and spices. I love reusing an array of food jars in my pantry because they look cool and help extend the shelf life of the dry goods.

stevie rocco mason jars

Reuse plastic take-out containers: If you are stuck with plastic, spare the landfill and clean out some of the small containers to store items. Below, they work well when reused for cake decorating sprinkles and beans.

la fattina pantry

Store packaged items in boxes: You can recycle your old shoe or gift boxes or locate eco-friendly storage to place on the shelves along with the jars and cans. Boxes, especially those with fun patterns from the Container Store and other organizing outlets, add flair even when the cupboard is bare.

container baroque box

Canisters add flavor: Mix in canisters (an easy second hand store or garage sale find) to hold organic flour, raw sugar, baking soda and other items you use for baking those healthy treats every day after work (yeah, right). I have a collection of canisters given as gifts or found in various towns. I love how they look in an open pantry, especially red ones like these from Amazon. These are also great for animal kibble which you might want to buy in bulk to avoid the large paper bags.


Stackers for shelving help you squeeze more in and add depth: Locate metal stacking shelves, like this one from Oraganizeit, to lift and separate cans and other packages. These work really well in both small and large pantry nooks.


Baskets add charm and warmth: Good natural fiber storage, like these water hyacinth nesting baskets from Cultural Elements, work well for onions, potatoes and other perishables, especially in an enclosed pantry. These fresh foods tend to last best in darkness and under wraps. Baskets are great for all loose food items and add that creature comfort organic appeal.


Design tip: Remember, even if your pantry consists of one cupboard in your apartment kitchen, you can still make it look fun and appealing – you might even hang cups on hooks inside.

pantry with plastic

For me and many of you, ordering clutter reduces stress. When I don’t have to spend an hour searching for taco mix, I don’t scream as much on taco night. Can a neat pantry save on therapy? Try it and see.

Each week here at EcoSalon, the editors choose a post from the archives that we think you’ll love. This original post can be found here.

Images: The Book Depository, Container Store, Stevie Rocco, La Fattina, Container Store, la fattina, Organizit

Luanne Bradley

Luanne Sanders Bradley is the West coast Editor at EcoSalon and currently resides in San Francisco, California.