How an Organized Kitchen Can Help Save You Money

September 11, 2017

Open up your pantry and get out your Tupperware. You're about to feel really good about yourself.

How to Organize Your Kitchen

Some people gain immense happiness from organizing things. They alphabetize for fun. They voluntarily spend money on Swiffers. I am not one of those people. And yet, I understand that a well-organized kitchen, a little planning ahead, and a stragetic bit of cleaning can equal big savings.

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So even if you're not one of those people that gets bursts of joy from scrubbing mystery stains off your stove burners or labeling your flours, you can still achieve every one of these organizational goals.

Hint: Sometimes it helps if you pop open a beer first. And nothing fuels the fire of organizational fury like a cocktail. Then you can organize your bar collection! Which, if you're me, includes a shot glass I use as a jigger and some tiny bottles of Bailey's that I do not remember purchasing.

But I digress. Here are five simple and strategic ways to organize your kitchen and save money, starting right now:

1. Cut down on food waste.

How to Store Your Cheese  How to Store Nuts and Seeds

Cheese is super expensive (how is that tiny hunk of Parmesan in the double digits?). This is news to no one. So when you invest in a wedge of Gorgonzola or a wheel of Brie, make sure to store it properly. Because nothing is sadder than throwing away a blue-fuzzed chunk of gold.

Nuts are another investment, but one can't be expected to lead a life without granola or pesto. So make sure to take care of your nuts and seeds because they care for you in return.

More: You can save leftover wine, too (but leftover wine has never been a problem for me).

How to Keep Your Produce Fresher Longer  How to Store Meat and Fish

Whether you're treating yourself to adorably misshapen tomatoes at the farmers market or stocking up on bulk kale for the week, here's how to protect your produce investment.

You can make seafood on the cheap, but make sure to store your haul properly before using it. The same goes for meat.


2. Designate a scraps container in your fridge.

How to Make Vegetable Stock

Another way to reduce kitchen waste (and save money and the planet) is to use your scraps. I find that keeping a Tupperware in the fridge where I can stick carrot ends and onion butts is a great way to keep everything in one place for when I need to make stock. And don't throw away those Parmesan rinds! Those should be in your stockpot as well.

Keep lingering bread ends in the freezer for breadcrumbs. Save bacon grease to fry your eggs in. And if you need more recipes on how to use up that ricotta whey or those apricot pits, turn to our resident kitchen–scrap guru Lindsay-Jean Hard. She has a whole column about it.


3. Maximize your pantry staples.

Pantry Organization

Amanda Hesser says that your pantry should be a "tool kit"—here's how to make it the cleanest, most organized one around. It's like your uncle's fly fishing kit, but full of beans and coconut.

If you don't have these pantry essentials, they're probably worth investing in. If you're skint, here's our broke guide to stocking your entire pantry with one hundred bucks.

Once your pantry in tip-top shape, it's easier to make budget meals. I guarantee you can make the majority of them right now, or just use them as inspiration and riff away.


4. Make leftovers better.

How to Use Leftover Couscous

Leftovers can either be a duty to trudge through—or they can be a challenge that makes you a better cook. Let's make sure they're the second one. If you need a little bestover inspiration, find out how to optimize leftover roasted vegetables, the dregs of your heavy cream, the extra quinoa and couscous, and even leftover fish. In pretty much any situation, throwing a fried or poached egg on there can only improve things.

And you can make leftovers on purpose, too. Cook these staples at the beginning of the week, and use them to make some jealousy-inducing Not Sad Desk Lunches.


5. Keep your space cleaner (for cheaper).

Pantry Cleaning Tools  How to Keep Tupperware Fresh

Lastly, it will be so much easier to keep your kitchen organized if it's clean. And if you can't afford to constantly stock up on cleaning products, turn back to that pantry you just organized! It's full of items that have a double life as cleaning tools for your kitchen. (In fact, there are so many, we wrote a follow-up post on it).

Don't neglect your kitchen tools, either. Take good care of them and you won't have to waste money on frequent replacements. The same goes for your Tupperware—because nobody wants to eat rice pudding out of a container that still smells a little bit like last week's tomato soup.

Do you have any tips on keeping your kitchen in tip-top shape? Reducing food waste? Optimizing leftovers? Tell us in the comments!


This article was originally published in 2015.

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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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A kitchen scientist and dog-lover. Someday I want to have you over for dinner.


Lulu April 10, 2018
Thank you for reminding me to go look in the pantry and organize...again.. I love your article but prefer glass jars over plastic and my scraps go into my vermiculture box, where thousands of worms make tea for my roses.
Margit V. June 27, 2016
I,too, am concerned about toxins via plastic-- why not educate your readers by basing these posts on current research concerning food storage, plastic or cans? It just seems to encourage ignorance to avoid topics concerning toxins, pesticides, etc., etc. so few of my acquaintances are aware of the "Dirty Dozen" produce list. And, they certainly do not examine changing their produce/fruit buying habits. They talk about the sale on strawberries in March, ignoring the fact that they are among the top fruits to get organic, or not eat them at all.
Marcy June 27, 2016
Is anyone concerned about the toxins in plastic containers unless labeled BPA free? I am and only use glass or BPA free containers. There's no mandatory labeling for this hazard and it's doubtful that grocery/restaurant containers are BPA free.
Sarah September 4, 2015
Been doing some of this same kind of thing for about a year now.I use glass jelly jars to store dry goods in. I also reuse glass jars that food products come in. Sometimes I pre-chop some veggies for the week. If I chop up some onion I'll store it in a glass jar so it won't stink up the refrigerator. I save all my bacon grease, chicken, beef what have you. I turn stale bread to bread crumbs. I save veggie ends for stock and just keep them in a plastic produce bag in the fridge. Instead of spending 5 0r 6 dollars on each kind of spice or herb, I buy them in bulk and store them in little plastic containers i got at a 99cent store.
vanessa September 3, 2015
Fact: I cleaned and rearranged my pantry and fridge last weekend, and our household grocery bill (for two) for the week was $25. Knowing what you have is worth the time and effort!
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Catherine L. September 7, 2015
That's so inspiring! I'm off to do that right now.
Michele B. September 2, 2015
I prefer to keep my leftovers in glass containers (i.e. Pyrex "rectangles" with snap-on lids). Because I can see what's in them I avoid those repeated episodes of "leftover amnesia" followed by penicillin growing in my fridge
Author Comment
Catherine L. September 7, 2015
That's a good point. I mostly have plastic quart containers from restaurants, and they can hide mold all too well...