I think the thing that makes pantries attractive is visual uniformity and space. Pantries on Pinterest have stacks of products in multiples with matching labels and colors. Labels create a lot of visual clutter in a space… and we pay for the branding! But you can get a simpler, organized look while owning and maintaining less.
There are a few key elements to this strategy that make it possible. Overall, I like to store less and then I choose to shop and store in uniform glass canning jars with minimal labeling. (A post on zero-waste bulk shopping is coming!) I also like to buy in small quantities, using them up soon after, and keep on hand only what I use regularly.
As I store like with like, here’s my Lean Pantry by “section”:
Cereals and Grains: oats, buckwheat groats and chia, grits, rice, quinoa, and lentils.
Flours and Sweeteners: an all-purpose flour and a grain-free one (I mix gf versions of these), buckwheat flour for crepes, brown sugar, white sugar and honey!
Nuts, Dried Fruit and Baking: a nut or two, baking soda, powder and cornstarch, a dried fruit, and coconut.
Oils and Vinegars: apple cider vinegar, red and white wine vinegars, balsamic, rice vinegar and mirin, olive oil in a fusti!, a neutral high-heat oil, coconut oil (just for oil pulling at this point), plus a little jar of bacon fat.
Boxes and Cans: some type of tomatoes (a jar in the freezer for now), coconut milk, beans, pasta (I can’t find my favorite gf brand in bulk), broth (also in the freezer), vanilla and almond extracts, oh, and a box of mac & cheese for emergencies ;)
All put back along with a few things for Greg’s baking hobby.
Plus a drawer for Spices: I keep 12 on hand plus salt and pepper and then buy small quantities of other spices for specific recipes.
+ Another idea that really helps is to think variety over time instead of all at once. This concept is really important to Essentialism as you can’t always have everything at the same time but you can have whatever you want at some point. Bea at Zero Waste Home taught me to apply this to simple things like my pantry and I love it: to have one pasta shape at once, one or two types of nuts, one type of snack… and then rotate to another when those are gone!
How’s your pantry? It probably has some coffee or tea and maybe fewer jars of honey ;)