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Decluttering | Kitchens & Pantries

Why Over-Stocking the Pantry Jeopardizes Keeping it Organized

Laura Coufal

About Laura

Who I am is a Southern California turned small-town, Midwest Mom. I am wife to Bruce and mom to my three girls. I am also dog mom to Ollie, our quirky Labradoodle.

Back when I first started my professional organizing journey in 2013, I had what I thought of as a dirty little secret. I have ADHD and although I am organized, and enjoy the process of sorting, and tidying. I knew that there were many others with ADHD who really struggled with staying organized. I had a case of imposter syndrome and mostly kept the fact that I had ADHD to myself. That is until I learned that there are other really successful professional organizers who have also learned to compensate for their ADHD the same way that I have.

I eventually realized that my need for order and simplicity actually stems from having ADHD as a way to compensate for my short attention span. So my gifts and my challenges are all ironically tied together to create who I am,  and I am able to relate to and help others as a result of this coping method that I have developed for myself.

I help women and moms with ADHD, but I also help those who struggle with clutter without having ADHD.  Because simplicity and less clutter are always at the heart of staying organized, there is much overlap when it comes to finding solutions to clutter and disorganization.

I am dedicated to keeping my life as simple as possible and to helping others do the same by teaching them how to declutter their homes, simplify their lives, and manage their busy families better.

I have been helping others stay organized since 2013.

It is my deepest hope that you will find resources here that will bring you closer to living a simpler, more intentional, and more peaceful life. 

always have



in your space…

…but let it be

as simple

as a daisy

in a vase.


Why over-stocking the pantry can make it difficult to keep it organized.

One of the most common organizing scenarios I find is pantries that have gotten out of control due to over-stocking the pantry.

Too much stocking up on food leads to inventory chaos.

The more stuff you have in your home, the harder it is to keep it all organized. The same theory applies to your pantry. Believe it or not, it is much easier to stay on top of buying what you need if you don’t stock up. Once you have multiples of everything at home, it becomes difficult to monitor what products you are actually running low on.

To better manage your food inventory, only replace the items that you are almost out of, and always use a grocery list. If you shop without a list and make guesses about what you need at home, you will end up with duplicates. Too many duplicates will lead to not enough space for everything.  Once you have lost control of your pantry, you and your family will give up on trying to keep the pantry organized…and this is where the trouble really starts.

Use caution when shopping at bulk food stores.

There are a few things I do actually buy in bulk, like toilet paper and energy bars…we eat A LOT of energy bars. But most of the food in our pantry gets used too slowly to justify stocking up, so I keep these purchases to a minimum. 

Be selective and intentional when you shop at bulk food stores. While buying in large quantities can save you money when it makes sense to do so, if you are not careful, you can end up spending more on groceries rather than less.

Over-stocking the pantry can lead to food waste.

Bulk food stores encourage you to buy everything big. When you buy perishable products in bulk, you risk having them expire before they get consumed. I have thrown out loads of expired food over the years while organizing pantries. Stick to buying products your family consumes rapidly and nonperishable basics like paper towels and toilet paper. 

Stocking the pantry with giant-sized food items comes at a cost.

Avoid buying giant-sized products just because you are out of it at home. Since bulk food stores do not carry small packages of anything, you’re forced to buy a giant-sized bottle of things like sesame oil.

Unless you use a large amount of sesame oil on a regular basis, you risk having it expire before it gets used. Expired food equals wasted money.  Also, if the bottle is so large that it won’t fit well on the shelf with the rest of the oils…well now you have another problem.

Shop Defensively.

Since sizes and quantities of products purchased in bulk are so different from regular-sized items, it is difficult to compare apples to apples when it comes to prices. We can be tricked into thinking that we are saving more money on bulk items than we really are, so be sure to do your math before you make the purchase.  

Just because it happens to be at a bulk food store, does not mean that it’s automatically cheaper. In my own experience, I have found that some things at bulk food stores cost less and some things do not.

Resist items that appear to be a bargain.

Everybody wants a bargain, but it’s not a bargain if you didn’t need it in the first place. Resist going overboard by carefully considering each item and whether or not you really need that much of a given product before you put it in your cart.   

Lots of bags of groceries.

Stop allowing sellers to entice you to buy more than you need.

As American consumers, we are constantly being coaxed into buying more and buying bigger, because it means more money for the seller, but we don’t have to be mindlessly wheedled into submission. We can’t even order a burger at a drive-thru without hearing, “Do you want to super size that?” 

Stocking the pantry with large-sized products also steals precious storage space.

This is perhaps the biggest negative to buying in bulk. If you don’t have a lot of space, don’t allow a 6 pack of giant-sized ketchup bottles to steal it, unless of course…you happen to run a burger joint out of your home. 

Larger non-perishables can be space hogs too, like paper towels, don’t buy a pack of 48 rolls unless you have plenty of space to store them in for 6 months. Before you decide to put something in your cart, consider whether or not you have space for it at home. It is frustrating to get home and not know where to put the things that you have purchased.

An organized pantry shelf.

Store all of your food in one place.

If your pantry is so full that it starts to spill over into a second location like your basement, you are likely to forget about what you have down there. Instead, store all of your food in one place and stop buying when your pantry is full.  

When if find myself tossing expired food, it is often because I am going through food stored in the basement, storage room, or garage. If you keep it in your kitchen, you are more likely to know what you have in there.

By shopping mindfully and resisting the constant coaxing to go overboard on sizes, you can save a considerable amount of money and keep your pantry inventory organized and under control.

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