Total Pantry Makeover

When it comes to healthy eating and meal planning, an organized pantry is key. I hired the absolutely amazing women behind the blog, website, and business the Home Edit (Joanna and Clea) to help me organize and beautify my pantry, and it was one of the best things I’ve ever done. Just looking at my new and improved pantry once we’d finished brought tears of joy and relief to my eyes. It wasn’t just because my pantry was suddenly glam (though that was great) but also because I could finally find things! And now I am saving money because stuff isn’t hidden behind other stuff, and I can see what I have, so pantry items are no longer going bad because they’re forgotten.

Total Pantry Makeover Photographer: Amy Neusinger

To organize, we used clear canisters, baskets, and a few other containers, all in various sizes, to organize foods by category. And then, in addition to the physical makeover, we also swapped out processed pantry staples for their healthier versions. Seriously #pantryporn.

1. Clear, airtight storage containers are best for a variety of foods, especially loose ingredients, baking ingredients, pastas, and grains. They come in large, medium, or small sizes, and are excellent for storing the following

Healthy Swaps:

  • Flours:  We use whole wheat flour, such as spelt or kamut, instead of enriched, bleached white flour, which has been refined and stripped of minerals and other nutrients.
  • Pastas: We use whole wheat pasta instead of regular white. And we empty bags of pasta into airtight containers. Even tall spaghetti noodles fit in the right container, and it keeps the pasta easy to reach and fresh.
  • Cereals: For mornings when we are on the run, cereal is an easy go- to. We stock a variety of the lower- sugar Kashi cereals and Udi’s granola.
  • Grains: We tend to stock quinoa, millet, brown rice, gluten- free oats, and buckwheat (actually not a grain at all and totally gluten- free!) for healthy wheat alternatives. We empty the bags and place in storage containers for ease of use. That way you don’t have to mess with rubber bands or worry little bugs will get into your goodies. Quinoa is probably our favorite alternative to white rice, and it takes less than fifteen minutes to cook. Brown rice is great too. It takes longer to cook but can be made in big batches, frozen, and heated up quickly later.
  • Sugars: We tend to use coconut sugar because it’s unrefined, non- GMO, and good for baking.
Total Pantry Makeover Photographer: Courtney Cohen
  • Nuts and seeds: Whole or chopped raw nuts and seeds rather than their roasted or, worse, sugar- or salt- coated counterparts. We usually have sunflower seeds, chia seeds, walnut pieces, or sliced almonds because they can be added last minute to almost any snack.
  • Supplement Powders:  We stock these mostly as smoothie boosters, such as vitamin C powder (for immunity), spirulina and wheat grass (for protein and vitamins), maca powder (for energy and a libido boost!), and raw cocoa powder (in place of highly processed, conventional cocoa powders).

. Medium-size baskets are ideal for the following items:

  • Extra Stock: Extra bags or boxes of pastas, grains, cereals, and baking items that haven’t yet been opened and poured into airtight containers we’ll organize in the baskets. 
  • Sauces and stocks:  I try to choose smaller batch brands of bottled pasta sauces, and before buying, I always read labels to make sure there’s no added sugar or a high- sodium count. The same goes for boxed vegetable and chicken stocks.
  • Oils, vinegars, salad dressings and condiments:  I organized these together in their own basket. My rule of thumb when it comes to pre-made dressings: the fewer ingredients the better. I look for preservative- free, natural, simple blends. For condiments, I look for organic versions of ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, and so on and stock those whenever possible.
  • Breakfast Basket: We have a basket filled with our specialty breakfast ingredients that we tend to pull out on a Saturday or Sunday. It has pancake and waffle mix, muffin mixes, boxed cereals, and maple syrup.
  • Dry Snacks: These include kids’ snack bags of crackers, pretzels, popcorn, granola bars, trail mix, and so forth.
  • Veggies: Bags of potatoes, onions, and garlic like a cool, dark space to preserve freshness and prevent sprouting.
  • Beverage Baskets: These are used to organize beverages, such as juices, natural sodas, sparkling water, and some of the kids’ drinks.
  • Boxed Nut Milks: While we do drink a little milk, we always have almond and sometimes cashew milk for cereals and smoothies. We choose the unsweetened versions. They are a great alternative to dairy, naturally low in fats, rich in omegas, and seriously delicious.
  • Canned Items: Look for low-sodium or no-salt-added canned tomatoes, soups, and legumes instead of the alternatives with preservatives and tons of sodium. Try to choose cans that say "BPA-free," which aren't lined with this suspicious chemical. 
Total Pantry Makeover Photography: Amy Neusinger
Total Pantry Makeover Photography: Amy Neusinger
Total Pantry Makeover Photography: Erica Hampton
  • Spices and salts: If you don't have a spice rack, a basket of spices is a great option. We use Himalayan salt, sea salt or gray salt instead of conventional table salt, which is denatured and stripped of natural minerals.
Total Pantry Makeover Photography: Amy Neusinger

Feeding a family can definitely be daunting. But now that I am a mom of three, I feel like I am just starting to hit my stride in the kitchen. I think what’s most important is to try to keep things simple for your family and to make healthy eating easy and to help our children build good relationships with food. Food is such an integral part of our family lives and is always there at important events and gatherings. We should learn to love food, respect where it comes from, and enjoy the act of making it for our loved ones. I know that it takes time and rolling up your sleeves, but there is something so rewarding about cooking for and feeding the mouths you love a good meal. Maybe you’ve already got all this mastered— but if you are more like I was, start digging in (literally, to the foods that grow in dirt) and finding a few recipes that you enjoy making and your family enjoys eating. Give it your best, get your kids involved occasionally, and bon appétit!


Majority of my pantry organization supplies are from The Container Store... they should pretty much sponsor me at this point, I'm that obsessed! If you guys have any pantry organization tips, let me know in the comments below!