The First 5 Things You Should Buy to Organize Your Pantry, According to Emily Henderson

Emily Henderson in front of an organized pantry.

Courtesy of Rubbermaid

An organized pantry is truly a feast for the eyes with coordinating containers and gorgeous color schemes. But, if you're a bit lost on how to establish the pantry of your dreams, we understand. Between tight spaces or lack of motivation, your pantry can easily be forgotten when it comes to home organization—and we're here to help, along with a familiar face when it comes to design and keeping organized.

"I have a general obsession with organization—not because I am someone that is organized, but precisely because I'm not," stylist and designer Emily Henderson tells MyDomaine. "In order for me to live a happy and neat life, I have to take the time to organize. Once you have a system, then you can stick to it, and the upkeep becomes pretty easy."

Meet the Expert

Emily Henderson is a stylist, interior designer, TV host, and founder of Emily Henderson Design. She also is the author of STYLED, a New York Times bestselling book, and an avid DIYer,

In partnership with Rubbermaid, Henderson has been helping her followers get their pantries organized just in time for the spring cleaning season.

"Pantry organization is especially hard for me because I have kids, but Rubbermaid has a beautiful new pantry line that is stackable, modular, and very smart," Henderson explains. "You can fit a ton in the containers, everything is easily visible so you know when you're running low on something, items do not go stale, and it just makes being a mom a lot easier. Plus, it also looks pretty in your pantry."

I have a general obsession with organization—not because I am someone that is organized, but precisely because I'm not.

Ready to get decanting? These are the first five things you should buy to achieve beautiful pantry organization, according to Emily Henderson. 

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Clear Containers

Organized pantry with containers holding cereal and pasta.

Neat by Meg

The key to beginning your pantry organization journey starts with a bit of design. In order to get a neat and clean look—plus extend the shelf life of your favorite products—invest in a set of clear containers that will transform the look of your pantry, like Henderson’s current favorites, the Rubbermaid Brilliance containers. 

“I take the cereal and snack bars out of the box and put them in a container, and afterward, it just looks so good and I'm really proud of myself,” Henderson says. “If you want to, even decant your spices. Buy spices in bulk, like salt and pepper, and decant them in a way that feels beautiful and functional for you.”

Brilliance Plastic Food Storage Pantry Set
Rubbermaid Brilliance Plastic Food Storage Pantry Set $94
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02 of 06

Decanting Containers

Organized pantry.

Mike Perry

If you’ve ever obsessed over an organized pantry, it’s probably thanks to aesthetically pleasing containers that match and hold decanted products. Henderson explains that just about anything can be decanted, but there are some kitchen items that work better than others.

“Flour and sugar are always in need of decanting, but even things like snacks should get decanted as well,” she suggests. “This saves a ton of space, and it also gives us an idea of what we actually have left.” 

Buying in bulk can save packing and money in the long run. Henderson notes that she buys dried peppers, dried fruit, and nuts all in bulk, and stores a portion of them in airtight containers.

Rubbermaid Brilliance Plastic Food Storage Bulk Pantry Set of 3
Rubbermaid Brilliance Plastic Food Storage Bulk Pantry Set of 3 $41
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03 of 06

Baskets for Snacks

Pantry with white wire baskets and snacks.

Breathing Room Organization + Styling

If the phrase "pantry hierarchy," has you a bit confused, let Henderson clarify. “My pantry hierarchy consists of a few tiers,” she explains. “The bottom tier is where the snacks and cereals live—everything that the kids grab. These are very accessible shelves and the kids know to put back whatever they use here."

Keeping the most reached-for items on one shelf keeps the others looking as organized as possible. "Above the snacks are the cooking essentials that I grab all the time that I know I can keep organized, and at the very top are baking supplies," Henderson continues. "We're not a big baking family, so flour and sugar stay on the top, but you should organize in a way that works best for your needs.”

If you have a cabinet closer to the floor, this is a great place to establish a pullout drawer for heavy kitchen essentials, like large gallons of oil or bulk items.

04 of 06

Labels

pantry organization

 Neat By Meg

Labeling containers not only helps you remember what you have, but also establishes a home for each product. Getting labels for your containers and cabinets is as easy as visiting a site like Etsy or Amazon, which sell premade labels and templates to get that neat, visually pleasing look.

“I need structure, and so I have labeled every drawer in my home,” Henderson explains. “Every container needs to hold a variety of items in some cases, so create some flexibility by labeling generally. Don’t specifically say Cheerios, and write cereal instead."

Talented Kitchen Minimalist Pantry Labels Set
Talented Kitchen Minimalist Pantry Labels Set $15
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05 of 06

Stackable Containers

pantry organization

Spiff Organizing  

It's easy to let items fall to the back of the cabinet never to be seen again. Henderson suggests using your containers to maximize the underutilized vertical space in your cabinet.

“Stackability is extremely important because most people don’t have large walk-in pantries, so you need to be able to utilize height in smaller spaces,” Henderson says. “Having your containers be modular, stackable, and clear is really important—this will bring you closer to maximizing your space.”

Rubbermaid Brilliance Plastic Food Storage Pantry Grains and Coffee Set
Rubbermaid Brilliance Plastic Food Storage Pantry Grains and Coffee Set $23
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06 of 06

Bonus Tip: Add a Lazy Susan

Kitchen cabinet with lazy susan inside.

Mike Perry

“For sauces and other messy items, I use Lazy Susans that have compartments,” Henderson says. “Because certain items have a tendency to spill over, I keep messy things like syrup, honey, and peanut butter in a Lazy Susan standing up.”

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