There’s something about seeing bags of candy dumped into plastic reusable containers that makes you think, “This will fix me.” At least, that’s one potential reason that exploring beautifully organized pantries is the new social media obsession. Photos of Khloe Kardashian’s obsessively organized pantry even went viral recently, which is great for people who want to know what rich people are up to these days.
The appeal is understandable: it’s satisfying when things look organized, and the sounds can be soothing. If that’s what relaxes you, that’s great. But having a meticulously organized pantry doesn’t have to be something we aspire to in our own lives. It’s fine to have a messy pantry.
I’m not saying to throw everything into a pile and apply no organization whatsoever. But focusing on aesthetic over functionality feels like it might just amount to a huge waste of time. Organizing your pantry, especially the way that these organization influencers do, is one more task to add to your plate—even though the whole point is allegedly to make it easier for you to find what you need. Unless your pantry is truly so massive that it extends beyond the horizon, alphabetizing the pasta just creates unnecessary work.
My pantry is not disastrous, but it’s not neat. It is full of treats and noodles and cans of beans. I have another area where I put cookies and miscellaneous sweets, like marshmallows I haven’t touched in six months and a tube of frosting that I will, on occasion, squeeze into my mouth. Overall, there isn’t a ton of extra space to devote to adding a tidy row of little jars of Fig Newtons or whatever. (Jars that, by the way, cost extra money to acquire and don’t make it any easier to locate the Fig Newtons. They already come in a bright yellow package!)
I like that I can stack foods on top of each other like a little Leaning Tower of Pisa. And let’s not forget that having an organized pantry means that you miss out on the thrill of shoving your hand into the abyss of dry foods and grabbing a surprise, like chips you forgot you still had. A clean pantry means that you will never have surprise chips.
Think about what else you could be doing instead of organizing your pantry. You could be going on a run, or lying down, or deciding to go on a run but then immediately deciding to lie down. You could read a book, or even pretend to read a book. After spending hours on a meaningless kitchen task, what could you really accomplish, other than a brief sense of satisfaction, followed by the feeling that it’s time to organize something else to distract yourself from whatever else you’re trying to avoid? Wait, now that I’m thinking about it that way, maybe it is time for me to organize my pantry.