How to Create a Minimalist Pantry For Your Kitchen

Have you ever considered creating a minimalist pantry for your kitchen? If so, here are some helpful tips from Bri, a Registered Dietitian and fellow minimalist! 

A while back, I wrote a blog post about my simple eating philosophy. It quickly became one of my most read posts and I started to receive a lot of requests from readers looking to learn more about minimalism in the kitchen. 

Fortunately, around the same time I was lucky to connect with Bri, a fellow blogger, minimalist AND a Registered Dietitian—and I knew I had to introduce her to my readers. 

She graciously agreed to write a guest post and today I’m excited to share these tips and resources with you. Keep reading to learn more about minimalism in the kitchen and creating a minimalist kitchen pantry.

"How to Create a Minimalist Pantry For Your Kitchen" in a white box with clear containers on shelves containing pantry staples.
This is a guest post written by Bri from the Frugal Minimalist Kitchen.

Keeping a minimalist pantry can conjure up a few different ideas. It might look like a minimalist pantry filled with simple ingredients perfect for eating a minimalist diet. Or it might look like a perfectly organized, Instagram worth pantry filled with mason jars.

These are all examples of a minimalist pantry. Remember there is no one right way to be a minimalist! Find what works for you and your family and make the most of it.

Benefits of a Minimalist Pantry

REDUCED FOOD WASTE

Practicing pantry minimalism ensures you eat the food you have before it goes bad. Food doesn’t get shoved to the back and forgotten about because you only have what you use. The cupboards aren’t jam packed with more than you need.

MORE ORGANIZED

Keeping fewer ingredients and in the amounts you will use helps keep you organized. You will better be able to know what you already have in your pantry and be less likely to buy duplicates (or forget to buy something you needed!). 

There are fewer things to keep track of AND fewer number of items to sort through and count when making your grocery list. In addition, your cupboards won’t be jam packed and overflowing. You’ll have what you need, but not what you don’t.

SAVES TIME

Maintaining a minimalist pantry can save you time spent preparing meals, shopping, cleaning, and organizing. 

  • Save time preparing meals: in an overstuffed pantry, you might spend 30 seconds to find a spice for a recipe. If the recipe calls for 10 different spices, you would spend 5 minutes just looking for the spices you need! Your time is too precious to be wasted on looking for things.
  • Grocery shopping: imagine digging through the cupboards to see if you have ___, ____, and ____ before you head to the store. If everything has a place and is organized, you won’t have to search at all to see if you have it or not! Simply open the cupboard door and see what you’re looking for in a glance!
  • Organizing (and reorganizing): simply put, if you have fewer things, you have fewer things to get messy and fewer things to reorganize. Remove the unnecessary things to make room for just what you need and use.

While it may only save a few minutes here and there, that time really adds up! Even 10 minutes a day adds up to 1 hour and 10 minutes each week (or over 60 hours a year!). That’s an extra hour to spend time with your family or to take time for yourself. 

These extra few minutes here and there are often part of the reason why a recipe that says 30 minutes often takes 40+ minutes to make!

SAVES MENTAL ENERGY

Saving time in the ways listed above will also save you mental energy. Most of us don’t have the time to search for things we’re looking for, and we certainly don’t have the mental energy for it! 

How frustrating is it to know you have something but can’t find it? Having a minimalist pantry helps you avoid these kinds of frustrations. Peace of mind is absolutely precious so no need to fetter it away on searching through disorganized and overstuffed cupboards.

With fewer items comes less decision fatigue. For example, deciding what to make for dinner becomes easier when you only have 1 or 2 types of pasta to choose from instead of 1 of every kind of pasta. 

I recommend having 1 short and 1 long pasta on hand so you can still make a variety of meals without having to store so many different varieties. Most likely you aren’t going to cook pasta 7 nights a week, so why do you need 7 (or more) varieties on hand each week? You can have penne this week, and pick up rotini for next week and rotate like that.

Minimalist pantry shelves with clear containers holding nuts and crackers.

SAVES STORAGE SPACE

With fewer items, you may need less storage space. Depending on your kitchen, you may be able to get rid of an extra free standing shelf, or get rid of the “overflow” food storage in the garage or another closet. It may even prevent you from having to renovate your kitchen to create more storage space!

SAVE MONEY (MAYBE)

A minimalist pantry will likely save you money, but it depends on how you approach it!

If you were buying only the super budget pantry foods like ramen and boxed mac and cheese, but now want to switch to a mostly whole foods pantry, you may end up spending more. The benefit of course is the added value you’re getting for your money by buying quality ingredients.

You will likely save money if you had been buying whole food pantry staples, but just more than you needed. An overstocked pantry can result in food waste if you can’t use it all in time!

You’ll probably end up spending more if you decide to remodel your pantry and buy brand new matching storage containers. On the other hand, having a well organized pantry with clear containers that make everything visible will likely save you money over time by reducing food waste and duplicate purchases.

You will save money if you know what foods you have and can easily create meals at home instead of ordering in multiple times per week!

Read about keeping a frugal minimalist pantry.

How to Create a Minimalist Pantry

If starting a pantry from scratch, get the basics and slowly add only as you need something.

If you have an overflowing pantry, try a pantry purge challenge, and a no-spend grocery week to eat up what you have.

Consider donating unopened foods you don’t want. Compost anything that has gone bad and reuse or recycle the packaging to reduce waste.

Don’t stock up on multiples of every food. Just keep as much as you will use within a certain time frame. 

If you’re purely focused on keeping the most minimalist pantry possible, you’d just have what you’ll use in the next few days and get groceries once or twice a week. 

If you’re equally focused on keeping a minimalist pantry while also saving money, you might buy enough to last you until the next sale.

If you want to be a pantry minimalist in order to simplify your routines, you’d have it well organized and keep everything you need on hand, plus a bit extra to avoid last minute grocery runs.

Take note of anything that didn’t work for you or you didn’t like and avoid buying it next time. This can include specific foods or specific brand names.

Clear containers on minimalist pantry shelves containing pantry staples.
ClearMinimalist pantry shelves with clear containers holding nuts and crackers.

Minimalist Pantry Staples

Minimalist pantry staples are simple foods with minimal processing and ingredients. This is a starting list for a healthy western diet. Feel free to use it as a starting point and add/remove until it suits your specific situation. Create your own list that is perfectly suited to what you eat.

Every family has different preferences and that’s ok! Minimalism should be 100% personalized and will look a bit different for everyone!

Here is a basic list:

  • Nuts & seeds
  • Grains
  • Canned tomatoes/sauce
  • Coconut milk
  • Canned fish
  • Beans & lentils
  • Fruit (canned/dried)
  • Breakfast cereal
  • Nut butter
  • Crackers
  • Flours
  • Sugar
  • Baking supplies 
  • Cooking oil
  • Vinegar
  • Herbs & spices

If you’re looking for a comprehensive pantry staples printable checklist, you can download a printable pantry staples checklist at Frugal Minimalist Kitchen.

Whether your goal is to have an Insta-worthy pantry, or just simplify your life, focusing on keeping a minimalist kitchen pantry will help you achieve your goal.

Bri is a Dietitian who has moved 17 times in 8 years. During each move, she got rid of more stuff and slowly became a minimalist. She realized that fulfilment in life doesn’t come from things. Wanting less naturally lends itself to buying less which makes it easy to live a frugal lifestyle! She combined her interests of minimalism, frugal living, and spending time in the kitchen to help people simplify and save money in the kitchen at Frugal Minimalist Kitchen. You can also find her on Facebook and Instagram.

More Minimalist Living Resources

If you’re interested in learning about minimalism outside of the kitchen, here are a few more resources that will help.

FREE DECLUTTERING GUIDE

Subscribe using the form below to receive your free copy of Mindful Decluttering, an decluttering guide and workbook for beginners. This is the step-by-step method that helped me go from shopaholic to minimalist!


Also, be sure to bookmark this minimalist lifestyle guide—you’ll find all my best blog posts about minimalism, decluttering and simple living in one place! 

How do you apply minimalism in your kitchen? Do you have a minimalist pantry? Let us know in the comments!

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4 thoughts on “How to Create a Minimalist Pantry For Your Kitchen”

  1. Thanks Bri & Jen – timely post! As I struggle to eat up my pandemic supplies 🙂 Even though I only bought food that I do eat, it was still more than what I would normally have in my pantry. Pre COVID19, I shopped weekly for fresh food but I’ve survived shopping less frequently in the past weeks. Need to find a balance between less frequent shops and therefore having more food on hand

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