Jan. 26. 2018
Home & Garden
Written By:
McKel (Hill) Kooienga
McKel Hill Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

McKel Hill Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

Founder of Nutrition Stripped and the Mindful Nutrition Method™

What’s in my pantry? It’s time for a long-overdue pantry tour with healthy organized pantry tips.

I love organizing anything from my office, home, to the pantry — it keeps my type A personality happy. I’m also well-prepared for whenever the mood strikes for a new recipe to create! Learn how to create a healthy organized pantry below, and read about the items that I consider to be “essentials” for keeping this important space functional and beautiful.

A few years ago, I interviewed my friends over at The Home Edit, the genius women behind the insanely popular home organization brand. One of my biggest takeaways from the interview was the collection of items that Clea and Joanna said every kitchen needed:

  1. A consistent style of jars
  2. Turntables for awkward spaces and tight corners
  3. A 3-tier step for cans or spice jars
  4. Large bins for bulk items

Fast forward a few years, and I’ve heeded their advice. Keep reading to get a full run-down of my healthy organized pantry and how it works for me.

Making a Case for Pantry Organization

A healthy organized pantry is a wonderful thing, and not something just for the type-A personalities! A clean, tidy and smartly laid out space:

  • Offers quick access to ingredients
  • Keeps healthy food staples stocked
  • Makes cooking at home fun and easy

Over the years, I’ve found that storing everything in airtight jars like mason jars or containers like these glass ones with bamboo lids is a must, all with labels to correctly mark what’s inside. Remember, you want this space to be beautiful AND functional, so labels are necessary to make the pantry work for you.

Grains and flours can be especially tricky to identify if you have a lot of them and aren’t used to using them. I created my own chalkboard lids where I write with a chalk pen every time I change out that item in the jar. Typically I’ll keep the same food ingredient in the jar and just refill it, but sometimes I completely switch it out — this is where chalkboard lids come in handy with labeling. Here’s a set of mason jar chalkboard labels available on Amazon if you don’t want to take the DIY route.

The Top Shelf

What’s a pantry without a spot to store your favorite snacks?! Snacks usually get a bad rap, but they can still be nourishing when consumed and enjoyed responsibly, and when they’re made with high-quality ingredients. I do, however, prefer to keep them a little out of reach to keep snacking to a minimum when making a meal would be better.

To keep things organized, I store all the snacks in these white metal baskets that allow me to see what’s corralled in each basket. I love the look of them, and they keep the top shelf from getting cluttered and disorganized. Here’s a similar option from Amazon with the same vibe but in plastic.

Some of my favorite snack brands include Siete, Mary’s Gone Crackers, Brad’s and Purely Elizabeth.

The Top Middle Shelf

The top middle shelf — the most direct view when I open my pantry — is where I store nuts and seeds in jars. Nuts and seeds are some of my favorite snacks, and they’re typically a great addition to a lot of dishes too. Be strategic about what you put front-and-center on a shelf like this; you want nourishing ingredients to stay top of mind and in clear eyesight!

I store nuts and seeds in mason jars to keep things uniform. Mason jars are incredibly affordable, durable and simple. Each set of mason jars easily fits on these wooden lazy susan turntables, which make it easy and fun to store these frequently used foods. Here’s a stainless steel option from Amazon as well.

I like to keep plastic to a minimum, both in my pantry and refrigerator. If I ever have excess nuts and seeds, I keep them in their original packaging— or mason jars again if I have a ton of room in the freezer — until it’s time to replenish the jars in the pantry.

My stash of adaptogens like ashwagandha, cordyceps, reishi, and cacao nibs also call the top shelf home. They’re quick additions to morning smoothies, protein balls, and my Coffee Elevated. I like to keep them in clear eyesight as a reminder to use them as much as I can!

The Bottom Middle Shelf

Like I mentioned above, keeping grains and flours organized, functional and easy-to-use requires consistency and well-marked labels. I stick to storing them in mason jars to keep things consistent, labeling them with chalkboard labels again, and corraling them all in clear plastic bins like these.

My flour stash is usually well-stocked since I practice a gluten-free lifestyle when cooking and baking. You can generally find these flours in my pantry: coconut flour, almond flour, almond meal, coconut sugar, AP gf flour, brown rice flour, and oat flour. I’ll also store mason jars filled with legumes and beans on this shelf.

The Bottom Shelf

I like to store meal ingredients here; think soups, broths, coconut milk, nut butters, and other packaged items like smaller snacks. When I’m in cooking mode, I know to find all of these important recipe components in one place.

With these items, I use clear plastic bins to keep things easily visible and corralled together. Here’s a similar option from Wayfair.

The Spice Shelf

I use spices in almost every dish, smoothie and beverage I make — so having a functional spice shelf is important to me. I store all of my glass spice jars on this small bamboo stackable shelf from The Container Store. I love the look of it; the bamboo compliments the other organizational details and keeps items easy to access.

Similar spice jar options include these jars with silver lids and these jars with black lids, both from Amazon.

Protein Powders, Superfoods, Etc.

This is one of my favorite spots in my pantry; maybe it’s the vibrant colors of spirulina, bee pollen or strawberry powder. You’ll find this stash on the left-hand side when you enter my pantry. I keep these fine powders, superfoods, etc., stored in these beautiful airtight glass canisters from The Container Store. They feature airtight silicone gasket lids and have a secure, tight fit. They’re fun, easy, and make me happy to look at!

Let’s Hear — And See! — It

If you’re like me, seeing an organized, tidy space is incredibly inspiring and it makes you want to rush out and do it yourself! As you tackle healthy pantry organization at home this week or next, be sure to tag Nutrition Stripped on Instagram with the specific hashtag #NSHealthyShelfie to spread the good, healthy, organized vibes for the rest of the NS Community to see! We’ll be sharing them as we see them — so get to organizing! We can’t wait to see what you come up with.