Operation Pantry Makeover – Bin Method

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Operation Pantry Makeover – Bin Method

A few years ago when I started really couponing, I realized that my pantry was not working for me.  I was having a hard time finding items I had bought and things were getting lost in the abyss that was my pantry.  After reading some organization blogs and brainstorming with my husband (a master organizer) we decided on a plan.  First we wanted to do something relatively inexpensive and something that would help with the problem of not finding what I had just purchased.

We decided on a “bin method”  for organizing the different types of products.  We came up with a dozen different categories. Some categories such as baking needed more than one bin. You have to determine which bins will work best for your family – these are just the ones that we found worked best for us.


  • Breads
  • Baking
  • Pastas
  • Grains & Rice
  • Drinks
  • Breakfasts
  • Cereal
  • Snacks (granola bars, fruit snacks, chips)
  • Paper products
  • Condiment extras
  • Canning supplies
  • Hot drinks (teas, coffee, cocoa)
  • Produce (potatoes, onions, etc – items  that don’t need refrigeration).


Next we had to decide on our bins – we wanted something large enough to hold large cereal boxes, but it also had to fit on the shelf with no over hang. I toyed with the idea of making my own covered boxes using a method similar to these covered cardboard storage boxes.  But I didn’t have the same enough of the same sized boxes and I worried that pulling them out often might tear the cardboard.

I then thought of pretty baskets to organize the pantry but I needed about 15-20 bins so that was going to be way too expensive.

Finally we decided on Ikea’s plastic bins that come in red, white or royal blue.  They were cheap, sturdy and the perfect size. I looked on their website to find them, but they didn’t have them there; however we found them located in the store.  The price has gone up from $1.50 when I first purchased them to $1.99 now.  Still a great deal!

We used Rubbermaid bins from Walmart for our baking essentials – sugar, flour, brown sugar, etc.  I also really liked the basket look so we did get a few of those for certain items such as our recycling.  We also use a few drawer bins that we already had around the house for dog treats and our boys’ asthma supplies.


After we purchased the storage items we needed,  I made labels on the computer – nothing fancy,  just a simple word document. I printed them off on cardstock and cut them out the same size. Using double stick tape we attached them to the bin.  Maybe one day I will make chalkboard tags or something cute like that but for now these work!

It has been two years since we first redid the pantry and I have to say – it is still working! Once a year,  I go through and wipe down the shelves and clean it out. I have changed a few items, added some more bins, replaced some labels, but I am super happy with it!  The best part is I can find the items I have purchased.  Knowing what you have and where it is located is really important when it comes to saving money. This way you can grow your stockpile in a reasonable way and make sure you are providing meals for your family with your stockpile.


Check out what we did with our toy room using the same Ikea baskets, too!

So, what are your best tips for organizing your pantry & your grocery stockpile? 

By contributor Sarah


  1. Great ideas! We live in a townehouse and I really struggled with all the bathroom stuff until I saw on pinterst someone using a hanging shoe organizer. I have 2 now, one on the back of my bathroom door with all dental, hair and skin care products that I accumulate. Another on the wall near my pantry with seasoning packets, salad dressing and smaller packaged items.

  2. I use $5 Rubbermaid stackable bins from Ace in my garage for things like sugar/flour, cereal, pasta and other boxed foods. We keep Post It type things on the lids so we know what is inside which works great. I’m thinking of inventory sheets on clipboards for the shelves and chest freezer to better keep tabs on stuff. Love the shoe organizer idea for packets.

    1. Love these ideas & I never thought of the shoe organizer for seasoning packets & such – what a great idea! And inventory lists would definitely help with stockpiling, so you know how much more of an item you need when it comes around on sale.

  3. What is the aproximate size of the bins you used in the pantry? My pantry looks to be very similar to yours. Id like to try this method. Thanks for the post.

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