Make Your Pantry Feel Twice As Big: How To Decant Pantry Items

How To Decant Your Pantry


There’s something so satisfying about a perfectly organized pantry. Neat rows of shelves with ingredients stored in matching containers makes cooking a fun task instead of a boring chore. Decanting your pantry not only makes it look great, but also maximizes storage in a compact space.

ryans tiny house

Hi, I’m Ryan

Not having a lot of space in my tiny home means that if I don’t have everything looking ridiculously neat, it can come off as cluttered. Decanting helped bring a lot of order and uniformity to all the different food packaging in my pantry.

ryan mitchell simple living expert

What Does Decanting Your Pantry Mean?What Does Decanting Your Pantry Mean

The word “decanting” may sound fancy or intimidating, but decanting your pantry is simply the process of removing items from their original packaging and storing them in jars or containers — usually clear glass or plastic ones for easy visibility.

Having a cohesive, organized look to your pantry can make food storage a source of satisfaction and be more pleasing to look at.

how to decant your pantry

Benefits To Decanting Your Pantry

Benefits To Decanting Your Pantry

As someone who lives in a tiny house, I am always looking for efficient ways to manage my storage. I found decanting to be a great way to organize my kitchen and maximize space in a small area.

Pantry Helps You:

Save  Money

Clear storage containers allow you to see exactly how much of one item you have left before you head to the store.

Stay Healthy

By having a visual of the items in your cupboard, you can make more conscious and healthy choices.

Save Time

Decanting saves you time in the long run by making it quick and easy to assess and access the items in your pantry.

Keep Food Fresh

Airtight seals on containers extend the shelf life of your foods you don’t have to worry about replacing stale snacks.

tiny house kitchens

What To Decant and What To Leave Alone

What To Decant and What To Leave Alone
When you’re getting started with the decanting process, it can be difficult to decide what needs to go where. I sat down with my friend Marie, a blogger and organizing expert, to discuss what items to decant and what to leave in its original packaging.

Organizing Baking Items

Organizing Baking Items

Since the packaging for many baking ingredients tends to be flimsy, these are the first things you should decant. This way, you won’t risk a bag of flour ripping and spilling all over the floor, and you know exactly how much of everything you have before you start a baking project.

Baking items to consider decanting

  • Flours
  • Sugars
  • Cake and batter mixes
  • Baking soda and baking powder
decanting flour and sugar

Dried herbs and spices are another good item to decant. Putting your spices in uniform containers can help you store them more efficiently.

Separating Snacks

Separating Snacks

If you have children, it is especially helpful to know how much of their favorite snacks you have left and what needs to be replaced. This way, there’s no fighting when you go to pack lunches and there isn’t enough to go around.

Common snacks for decanting

  • Goldfish
  • Gummy snacks
  • Breakfast bars
  • Nuts and trail mix
  • Popcorn
  • Chips
decanting trail mix and nuts
decanting a pantry pro tip
“Decanting chips can be up to your personal preference. Some people prefer to keep chips in their original bags and store the bags in a bigger basket or bin. If you do decant chips, consider using a strainer to sift out all the crumbs before you transfer them to a separate container.”–Marie Jackson, Organized Marie

Other Dry Goods To Decant

Other Dry Goods To Decant

There are a number of other dry goods that decant well and look nice when they’re displayed in your pantry.

Try decanting things like

  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Oatmeal
  • Cereal
  • Coffee
  • Quinoa
storing pasta and rice in containers

Decanting Liquids

Decanting Liquids

Decanting liquid pantry items is helpful for saving space. A lot of liquid items come in different shape and size containers, so decanting them makes the space more cohesive and harmonious.

Some liquids you can decant

  • Olive oil
  • Vinegar
  • Salad dressing
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Cooking wine
  • Soy sauce
decanting cooking oils

Non-Food Items

Non-Food Items

Decanting is a tool that can work for organizing all parts of your home, not just in the kitchen. Separating things into their own containers can maximize space and restore the aesthetic of your cupboards.

Non-food Items To Decant

decanting craft supplies

What Not To Decant

What Not To Decant

There are a few things that sound like they might decant well, but should probably just be left in their original containers to save your sanity. If you find yourself decanting the following, stop and leave well enough alone.

No Need To Decant These

  • Raisins
  • Syrup
  • Crackers
  • Mac and cheese
  • Cookies
store cookies in original packaging
decanting your pantry pro tip
“Avoid decanting cookies. As someone who has tried it numerous times, the chances of cookies breaking in half are very high and you end up with a canister full of crumbs.”–Marie Jackson, Organized Marie

Decanting sticky things like raisins and syrup can make your containers difficult to clean, and cookies and crackers break too easily. Mac and cheese boxes are typically portioned out perfectly for the ratio of noodles to cheese, so it’s easier to leave that as it is.

Getting Started Decanting Your Pantry

Getting Started Decanting Your Pantry
The end result may look amazing, but getting started on your decanting journey can be daunting. Taking things one step at a time and being patient with the process will help you get your pantry organized and efficiently working in no time.

Step-By-Step Pantry Organization

  • Step 1: Take everything out of the pantry and lay it out on the table. This way, you can take inventory of what you have and what needs to be decanted.
  • Step 2: Decide what you want to decant. Keep in mind what your needs are and what you use every day. Prioritize decanting things with flimsy packaging like flour and sugar.
  • Step 3: Wash out your containers. Making sure your containers are clean will ensure your food stays safe to eat, plus make them look nicer and help you see what’s inside them.
  • Step 4: Make a plan for the leftovers. Ideally there won’t be any, but set aside a “back-stock” bin so you are ready, just in case.
  • Step 5: Label each bin and container with a sticky note so you know what goes where. It’s good to do this before you make your permanent labels so you can rearrange things as you go.
  • Step 6: Lay out the labeled containers in your pantry so you know where everything will go and how it fits together. Take a picture so you don’t forget!
  • Step 7: Decant each item one at a time. Once you’ve poured the item into its new container, tape any instructions, expiration date, and nutritional info to the back if desired.
  • Step 8: Add any overflow items to your back-stock bin. Make sure if they are in their original packaging that it is sealed with a chip clip, rubber band, or lid.
  • Step 9: Make and add permanent labels to each container. Keep the look you want for your pantry in mind and choose labels that are appealing and fun.
  • Step 10: Put everything back onto the shelves the way it is in your photo. Then sit back, relax, and enjoy your newly organized pantry!

Types Of Containers Needed For Decanting

Types Of Containers Needed For Decanting
When choosing container varieties, it’s good to start with a set. This way you have multiple size options and they are cohesive. Keep in mind the look that you are going for, and pick a set that inspires you.

It is also good to keep your shopping habits in mind. If you routinely shop at wholesale stores like Sam’s Club or Costco, buy containers accordingly. You will likely need larger size containers to store bulk foods.

how to decant a pantry pro tip
“I like to buy containers that are from a brand that’s been around for a while. That way, I know I can build my set and it will all look uniform and stack together properly.”–Marie Jackson, Organized Marie

Buying The Right Quantity Of Containers

Buying The Right Quantity Of Containers

Planning out the number of containers you need all depends on the size of your pantry and the number of items in it.

how many decanting containers is enoughCount out the number of items you want to decant and remember that each item gets its own container. Are you decanting all of your dry goods? Only baking items? Maybe you just want a set of jars for your spices. Having a cohesive group of decanted items will make planning a lot easier.

Measure out the size of your pantry or cupboard so you know how much room you have to work with. The size, shape, and number of containers you buy will depend on how much space you have.

Decanting Container Suggestions

Decanting Container Suggestions

When you’re searching for the perfect set, it’s good to have a rough idea in mind of what types of containers you might need. Below, I’ve provided a breakdown of some suggested containers to get you started, but you’ll want to adjust for your specific needs.

Baking Set

  • Flour container
  • Sugar container
  • Brown sugar container
  • Powdered sugar container
  • Additional small container

Pantry Set

  • Tall pasta container
  • Short pasta container
  • Spice jars
  • Large rice container
  • Additional small container

Snack Set

  • Chip basket
  • Large snack jar
  • Medium candy jar
  • Popcorn jar
  • Additional small container

simple diet

Shopping List Guide

Shopping List Guide

So, you’re ready to head to the store, but you’re still a little shaky on what size containers you’re looking for. The chart below demonstrates a few commonly decanted items and the corresponding quart size container for each.

General Conversion Chart

General Conversion Chart

It would be great if everything was measured the same way, but depending on the item and where you buy it, you may find everything marked differently. Here’s a chart with some common conversions to help you avoid confusion.

Pantry Decanting Container Options

Pantry Decanting Container Options
There are a ton of good container options out there for your pantry. You’re probably trying to decide between several options, so here’s a quick summary of some the most popular brands.

OXO POP Containers

OXO POP Containers

Plastic, $$$, Stackable, Dishwasher Safe, Airtight

OXO POP Containers tend to be one of the most pop-ular options out there (pun intended). The button on top pushes down to engage an airtight seal and also doubles as a handle for the lid.

This is one of the larger sets available, and containers are modular and stackable for maximum storage in a minimum space.

The 10-piece starter set includes the following:

  • 2.8 qt. container
  • 2.7 qt. container
  • 2.2 qt. container
  • 4.4 qt. container
  • 1.1 qt. containers (2)
  • 0.6 qt. containers (2)
  • 0.4 qt. containers (2)

One complaint I found was that while the pop lid is airtight in theory, water is sometimes able to seep through the seal. This is also one of the most expensive options, so it is not easy to build up your collection without dropping quite a bit of money.

I did, however, find a lot of praise for these containers. The brand has a lot of variety when it comes to different sets and accessories. There are a lot of different size options so you never have to worry about finding a container that fits whatever it is you are trying to decant.

Many people swear by the OXO Pop set because it offers a lot of size and set variety. They are also stackable to help you maximize storage space in your pantry.

Progressive International Prepworks

Progressive International Prepworks

Silicone/Plastic, $$$, Dishwasher Safe, Airtight

Progressive International Prepworks comes as a six-container set with each piece made to store a specific item. This is nice because it provides you with some guidance on what to decant and how to store it.

There are also accessories for each item that comes with its respective container. For example, the flour container has a leveler, the brown sugar container has a terracotta disc to keep your sugar from drying out, and the powdered sugar container has a sifting spoon.

The entire set includes:

  • A flour keeper
  • A sugar keeper
  • A brown sugar keeper
  • A powdered sugar keeper
  • Mini-keepers (2)

Containers for pasta, coffee, cereal, and grains are sold separately. Each lid latches shut with a silicone gasket that keeps the container airtight but can be removed for easy cleaning.

One flaw reviewers found was that the sugar container, due to its pour spout, doesn’t seal perfectly airtight. This set is one of the more expensive options on the market, but many found it worth it due to the added accessories and item-specific designs. This is ideal for people who like the guidance of an item specific set and want to invest in building beyond the six-container starter kit.

Rubbermaid Brilliance

Rubbermaid Brilliance

Plastic, $$, Dishwasher Safe, Airtight

Rubbermaid Brilliance pantry set includes four containers (eight-pieces total with lids). As far as I can tell from reviewers, each container is perfectly airtight with no sealing issues.

The set includes:

  • 16 cup (4 qt.) flour holder
  • 12 cup (3 qt.) sugar holder
  • 6.6 cup (1.7 qt.) pasta holder
  • 3.2 cup (0.8 qt.) all-purpose container

The main complaint I found with this pantry set is that the pasta container is too short to hold uncooked spaghetti at only 9.25 inches tall. However, you can purchase additional sizes that are taller.

This set is modestly priced, and while it doesn’t have item-specific design, this actually allows more flexibility for people who are looking to decant things at their own pace. The airtight seal guarantees that decanted items will be kept fresh and pest-free.

Overall this is a good choice for a starter set because it doesn’t limit your item choices and it is not too expensive to build from. The versatility is good for people who are looking for variety in their decanting.

Weck jars

Weck Jars

Glass, $$, Dishwasher Safe, Airtight, Environmentally Friendly

Since they are traditionally used for canning, Weck jars are about as airtight as you can get. Lids are leak-proof so you can feel comfortable decanting liquids as well as pantry items. The Weck 760 Jar set linked here comes as a pack of six 5.4oz (0.17 qt.) jars. Lids, gasket rings and clamps are included.

While there are several different varieties of Weck jars, they typically come in sets of the same size, so there is not a lot of room for variety. Glass jars are not necessarily kid-friendly, so decanting items that children will need to access frequently could lead to broken glass.

Because Weck jars are primarily made of glass (although some sets have wooden lids), they are environmentally friendly as well as very aesthetically pleasing. Many people choose to decant with glass jars because they give your pantry that Pinterest-worthy look.

Ikea 365+ Food Jars

Ikea 365+ Food Jars

Glass, $, Environmentally Friendly, Dishwasher Safe

These jars are some of the least expensive on our list, although they don’t come in sets. There is a ton of variety as far as shapes, sizes, and types of containers, so you have a lot of options. The containers are made of glass, making them more environmentally friendly than some of the fully plastic options. However, the lids are made of plastic.

The downside here is that since these don’t come in pre-determined sets, you have to put in the work to build your own. There are also mixed reviews about how tightly the lids seal and the ability to stack.

Ikea 365+ Food Jars are nice to look at and inexpensive to buy. If you are looking to customize your own kit, then these are a good product to try.

ProKeeper+ Canisters

ProKeeper+ Canisters

Stainless Steel/Silicone/Plastic, $$$, Dishwasher Safe, Airtight

ProKeeper+ canisters are another product of Progressive International. The nine-piece set comes with five containers and four accessories.

These include:

  • 4 qt. flour container
  • 2.5 qt. sugar container
  • 1.5 qt. brown sugar container
  • 2 qt. powdered sugar container
  • 1.5 cup (0.4 qt.) mini container

The accessories are:

  • A flour leveler
  • Terracotta disc
  • Dusting spoon
  • Mini dusting screen

Like the Prepworks set, the downside here is price. Progressive products are some of the more expensive ones out there, but they are also some of the highest quality.

The seal on the ProKeeper+ containers is as airtight as advertised, and buying sets from an established brand means you are able to continue building as your pantry needs change.

Decanting Container Labels

Decanting Container Labels

Labeling your containers is a fun way to build the aesthetic of your pantry. It is important to include the name of the item so you know what is in the jar, but beyond that you can be creative.

labeled decantersA lot of packaging has expiration dates, instructions, and nutritional info that you might want to keep. You can include this on the label if you like, or cut it off the box and tape it to the back of your containers or store it inside with the contents.

Label makers are a no-brainer solution for creating your decanting labels. Marie’s go-to tool is Brother’s P-Touch Label Maker. This is a cool option because it is easy to use, inexpensive, and has multiple different font options. This way, you can really customize your pantry.

I’d recommend avoiding chalk labels. While it may seem convenient to erase and rewrite labels as the items in the container change, chalk will leave a ghost of itself behind and, over time, the label will look messy. A better alternative if you need labels that are easy to switch up might be washable glass pens or dry erase markers.

At the end of the day, you want labels that will make you excited to open your pantry. The whole point of decanting is to have a well-organized, aesthetically appealing approach to food storage. Keeping up with any new organizational tactic is all about staying inspired, and your labels are a great way to make you happy to continue your decanting journey.

organized marie

“Labeling is your road map. When you take a trip, you have directions to get you back to your destination — labels make sure everything goes back where it belongs.”

– Marie Jackson, Organized Marie

Pantry Decanting Ideas

Pantry Decanting Ideas
Sure, decanting your pantry can save space and help you shop more efficiently, but at the end of the day you want your project to look nice too. There are a lot of different ways to personalize your pantry, and your technique when it comes to organization should be all about the look that you like best.

Decanting can be a tedious task, so you want an end product that makes you glad you put in the work and willing to keep up the effort going forward.

Decant Into Jars

Decant Into Jars

Separating your pantry items into jars is a unique and artistic way to organize. You can use jars for colorful items like candy or sprinkles, or you can go with a more neutral pallet by decanting almonds, pasta and sugar. Either way, decanting with glass jars is a great way to create a charming pantry.

Play Around With Stacking

Play Around With Stacking

If your end goal is to save space, try stacking different sized containers until you’ve found the balance you need. Using a stackable container set opens up room in your pantry or cupboard and helps things stay organized. There’s also something satisfying about seeing a perfectly stacked row of containers.

tall and short stacks of pantry items

Vary Your Container Sizes

Vary Your Container Sizes

Not only do different pantry items need different sized containers, but varying the height and width of your containers adds interest to the look of your pantry. Try tall, thin containers for pasta, and shorter, wider containers for flour or oats.

Organize With Bins

Organize With Bins

Some pantry items need organizing, but you want to leave them in their original packaging. Bins or baskets are a great way to make your pantry neat and appealing without losing the added convenience of the original packaging. This method works great for things like chips, fruit snacks, mac and cheese or breakfast bars.

Tips To Keep In Mind When Decanting Your Pantry

Tips To Keep In Mind When Decanting Your Pantry
Decanting your pantry should be a fun and satisfying process that ends with a good looking and more organized kitchen space. Because there are so many different types of things you’re going to be organizing, there are a lot of details to consider.

Here are some tips and trick I’ve learned over the years.

Ensure Canisters Have An Airtight Seal

Airtight containers ensure your food doesn’t go bad. This may seem like a no brainer, but making sure your containers are as airtight as advertised will save you from throwing out stale or spoiled food, plus keep unwanted pests out.

Buy Easy-to-Use Containers

Choose containers with an ergonomic shape that are easy to pick up. Remember that you will still be using these items every day. You want containers that don’t just look nice, but function the way you need.

Stick To A Brand You Like

Containers from different brands may not fit together well, so find a company that has a lot of quality items you want to build your collection from in the future.

Create A Back-Stock Bin

In a perfect world, all of your items would fit neatly into the jars or containers you bought. However, overflow is an inevitability, so create a back-stock bin or basket to house the overflow containers out of sight until they can fit into their respective jars.

Avoid Decanting Sticky Things

Raisins, syrup, chocolate chips — all these things seem like they’d look great decanted, but when items are sticky, containers can get murky and difficult to see through, and cleaning them is a pain.

Your Turn!

  • What types of containers work best for your household?
  • What got you started on your decanting journey?
1 Comment
  1. I feel so inspried to decant my pantry now! Thank you for the tips. -Sarah

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