8 Zones Every Organized Pantry Should Have

Turn your pantry from disaster zone to a perfectly zoned space for your food.

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Organize your pantry (at last!)

One simple strategy—creating and, yes, labelling, zones—significantly reduces meal prep time. Follow this guide for an organized pantry that prepares you for any situation, from busy weeknights to unexpected houseguests.

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Zone 1: Home remedies

Avoid rummaging through the entire pantry when a cold or the flu strikes. Prepare one bin with proven comforts: chicken noodle soup, ginger tea, saltine crackers—even antacids. Use a clear, plastic bin so you can easily see what supplies you have in stock.

Check out our best old-time home remedies.

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Zone 2: Holiday fixings

Reserve the hard-to-reach corners of your pantry for seasonal goods like pumpkin puree, gravy mix, and cranberry sauce. Since you don't use seasonal goods year-round, store them in woven baskets to keep the food hidden and your pantry from looking cluttered (even if they're all the way on the top shelf).

Here are 10 pantry essentials you should never be without.

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Zone 3: Staples

Store dry goods like pasta, beans, and rice in clear, airtight canisters to easily gauge when you need to restock. Arrange canned goods on graduated step organizers so each label is visible. Every six months, check expiration dates and donate food you may not finish in time. (Psst—these pantry essentials have the longest shelf life!)

Check out more pantry organizing tips from the professional organizers.

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Zone 4: On-the-go eating

Purchase a bin with three compartments to save time when you need to bring breakfast or lunch with you. Stash breakfast bars in the first compartment. Store microwavable soups, individual bags of nuts and dried fruits, and other lunch foods in the second. Keep utensils and napkins in the third. You can stack the drawer units side by side or on top of each other if your pantry has more room vertically.

Working in cramped quarters? Find out 15 ways to squeeze more storage out of small spaces.

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Zone 5: Weeknight meals

Plan ahead for stress-free evenings: Sort ingredients for a week’s worth of easy dinners into separate bins, organizing by meal (for instance, store taco fixings in one bin and spaghetti fixings in another).

Here are 10 things you should never store on the kitchen countertop.

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Zone 6: Baking and spices

Arrange spices on a two-tier turntable, with cooking spices on one level and baking spices on the other. Use a larger turntable to easily store and find cooking oils. Keep sugar, flour, and other baking goods in stackable canisters or labeled plastic bags.

If you love this zone-based approach to organizing the pantry, you won't want to miss these clever home organizing hacks.

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Zone 7: Kids’ area

Remove individually-wrapped children’s snacks from their boxes, which take up precious space. Store in baskets with fruit, crackers, and other age-appropriate treats on a low shelf, within reach of little hands.

Looking for more inspiration? Marvel at these before-and-after shots of impressive home organization makeovers.

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Zone 8: Guest treats

Place specialty goodies in one basket. Whether they’re your mother-in-law’s favorite biscotti, artisanal chocolates, or fancy crackers for the cheese tray, you’ll be prepared when guests stop by unexpectedly. Use baskets with labels so your family knows these snacks are reserved for guests.

Now that you know how to organize your pantry, check out these kitchen organizing ideas for clutter-free living.

Originally Published in Reader's Digest