How to Make a Real Food Pantry

How to Make a Real Food Pantry
The nice thing about being a real foodie, is that it takes up so much less pantry space! And a pantry filled with jars of ingredients is quite beautiful. A Pantry should be a place that when you look into it, your imagination takes off. It should inspire you to cook Your pantry should be uplifting. Let’s make it that way!
I want you to pull everything out of your pantry. There are probably things that need to be tossed or composted, expired or unused items that you know you never will use. If you have non perishable food items with good dates, but you don’t eat that way anymore, please donate it to a food bank.

  1. Remove all items from the pantry space.
  2. Clean all the shelves.
  3. Toss old food. Anything that is expired or stale, or was gifted to you and you know you’ll never use.
  4. Toss duplicate items, or combine them. I’m not talking about the multiple cans of tomato sauce. I’m talking about the excess spices, or several half eaten cans of salted nuts that just won’t get eaten.
  5. Look at each item and ask: Has this expired? If yes, throw it out. Do I use this? If no, throw it out. Do I like this? If no, throw it out.
  6. Purge the junk food. Do you have food that makes you feel guilty or gross? Get rid of it.
  7. Put food items back  in an organized way: all can goods in one area, all pastas in one area, etc.
  8. Evaluate any non-food items. Do they belong in the pantry? Do you use them? Do they belong somewhere else?
  9. Toss any unused clutter.
  10. If there are items that don’t belong in the pantry, put them where they do belong.

Mason jars are perfect for a shelf full of dried goods. They work great for grains, legumes, dried beans, rice, oatmeal,  dried fruit, dried veggies, pastas, etc.
If everything is stored in clear containers, it’s easy to see when things are running low. At a glance, you can write down your grocery list.
Real food pantry basics:

  • Nuts, seeds and nut butters.
  • Baking ingredients Celtic sea salt, arrowroot powder, baking soda, aluminum-free baking powder, vanilla extract, etc.
  • Grains and flours, Rolled or steel split oats, rice, sprouted grain flours, etc. (or grain free options). Click here to purchase good quality grains or grain free flour.
  • Natural sweeteners, such as raw honey, pure maple syrup, Rapadura (sucanat) and molasses. Click here to purchase natural sweeteners.
  • Staples like pasta, canned sauce/tomatoes, potatoes, onions, garlic, organic fair-trade cocoa powder and fair-trade chocolate chips
  • Beans/legumes, such as black beans, navy beans, pinto beans and lentils
  • Dried fruits, raisins, cherries, figs, cranberries, etc.
  • Healthy oils, coconut oil and high quality virgin olive oil Click here to see where to purchase coconut oil
  • Canned/bottled/packaged items, we all need some quick-meal items to fall back on when we have a crazy day, so we aren’t tempted to order pizza.
  • Fresh fruit, most fresh fruit should be stored at room temperature. I keep these items in a fruit bowl on my hutch. See pictures here.

Have you been inspired to clean out your pantry? Leave a comment and let me know!

About Rachel Jones

Hi there! I’m Rachel Jones, and I founded Nourishing Minimalism in 2012 at the beginning of my minimalist journey. If you're looking for encouragement in your journey, I created a FREE Facebook Group - feel free to join me there: Nourishing Minimalism Facebook Group and I share videos each week on YouTube


  1. Jen on 03/14/2016 at 12:17 pm

    Hi, I’m new to your blog and have been both enlightened and challenged by it. I was wondering what your thoughts are in regard to the disaster preparedness ideas (enough extra food and stored water per person in your home to hold you through an approximate amount of time in the event of a natural disaster, etc.) It will be interesting to know if you do this, if it’s something that you’ve considered and how you made your decision about it, and, if so, how you implement it in balance with your minimalist lifestyle choices. I haven’t quite taken the full plunge into being a minimalist yet, but have been moving steadily in the direction of simplifying my life (which would definitely include different waves of purges over time.) Thank you for sharing your thoughts, ideas, and journey in this blog. I look forward to reading and learning more (and to continuing to progress on my own journey with it as well.) All the best to you and your family! 🙂

    • Mo on 07/11/2016 at 1:47 pm

      Hi Jen,
      Good question!! I am also going through a minimalist phase and I live in a hurricane zone. So I am at odds all the time. I’m interested to see if you get an answer. Can we be minimalist and prepared for disaster at the same time?

    • Sylvie on 01/09/2017 at 5:50 pm

      I have my emergency kit in a backpack in the closet by the front door. This past summer, I actually had 30 minutes to evacuate, Grab-and-go!

  2. Jennifer on 08/22/2016 at 9:38 pm

    I’m not a full minimalist (and truthfully never will be) but I will say I’ve researched a lot of about it (I find it very appealing) and most acknowledge that a minimalist has what is needed without having excess. Therefor in my opinion there should not be any issue with being both a minimalist and being ready for a disaster, especially if you live in an area prone to natural disaster that would leave you stranded for days.
    I’m working on putting together a whole/real food pantry and I defiantly have more than a weeks worth of grains, but I do plan to limit the variety to a few primary grains and legumes (that I’ll have in bulk) and a few secondary grains that get purchased in smaller quantity so that we have some variety. We aren’t prone to disaster here in central Georgia but should something happen as long as I have power I have food (and some that doesn’t require power).
    I would also suggest that if it’s just you and you are ill prepared for a disaster and suffer the consequences so be it (it was your choice if you have the space and means to be prepared but aren’t) however if you have others depending on you such as children or elderly family members then you do have a responsibility to be prepared to a basic extent – I’m no talking end of the world cut off for months prepared but have some extra canned goods on hand for an emergency.

  3. Kristen on 05/02/2017 at 7:57 pm

    I love your shelves! Did you make those? I am transitioning to putting all my pantry items in glass jars but they will all be in cabinets since we don’t have any free wall space for more shelves.

  4. Jessica on 01/09/2018 at 12:19 am

    Hi there Rachel,
    Happy Monday!
    I love the idea of storing my pantry items in sustainable containers. As a family we have started this process; a slow progression but progress! I’ve noticed that guilt has started to set in when I see how much waste is produced from my grocery shopping. Seeing all of the waste at once after transferring to the containers is eye-opening! Have you ever purchased from a no waste retailer? One in which you bring your own containers to fill?

  5. Linda Tyler on 06/07/2018 at 8:30 pm

    I love using Mason jars for storage. I have two shelves full of them. One for small and one for large. I use them all the time for storage and when I need a beverage glass I just use a small Mason jar. Storage is so much more efficent when one thing can serve several purposes.

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