How to organise your pantry well: Tips from two Malaysian working mothers

Storing food items in clear, labelled jars is one of the tips on how to maintain an organised pantry space. Photos: Nurul Ashikin Amran

One thing that engineer Nurul Ashikin Amran, 31, learned from the first movement control order (MCO) last year is not to stock up too much groceries.

Kuala Lumpur-based Ashikin said now, instead of overbuying food items at one go, she restocks them every week.

Ashikin says it's useful to have labels for each basket, canister or jar stored in the pantry.

“I will list down the menu for a particular week and only buy the necessary food items. By doing this, the food is always fresh, ” said the mother of a 13-month-old girl.

In addition, Ashikin’s kitchen and pantry are very well-organised, as photos on her Instagram readily reveal.

“I read a lot of books on organising home items since our kitchen is small and the space for food storage is quite limited.

“One thing that is useful is to have labels for each basket, canister or jar stored in the pantry. That ensures things are stored in the right place, and we don’t throw things here and there, ” said Ashikin.

She lists down the benefits of an organised pantry.

“The most important thing is there is no food wastage. With an organised pantry, you will know how much food is left and only buy things that are necessary.

“Other than that, it is like therapy. You feel more calm looking at your pantry and it feels so good to see that everything is so organised!” she enthused.

With an organised pantry, you will know how much food is left and only buy things that are necessary, Ashikin says.

Ashikin also thought of her young child when arranging her pantry.

“I’ve placed my daughter’s snacks at the lowest level of the pantry so she can easily reach for them on her own, but of course, under my supervision.”

Since she renovated her kitchen last June, Farhanis has been able to maintain an even more organised kitchen and pantry area at her home in Shah Alam. Photos: @anissyamimi

Another organised mum is Subang Jaya Math teacher Farhanis Syamimi Zoolkafli, 33.

The mother of three children aged four, eight and nine renovated her kitchen last June, allowing her to organise the space the way she wants.

Farhanis loves labelling her herbs, oils and dry food items.



“I was a fan of organising stuff even before the pandemic. This MCO, I have my own pantry with a labelling system that is more organised.

“I love labelling my herbs, oils, and dry food and I like to keep them in clear jars so that I know when to stock up, ” said Farhanis, who has been ordering groceries online due to the increasing number of Covid-19 cases in the Klang Valley.

The avid cook and baker added that her kids enjoy helping her in the kitchen.

“Having an organised kitchen and pantry really helps me with meal planning, grocery shopping and packing. It saves me time and money too.”

She also gets her kids involved in packing and storing the groceries.

“They have fun doing it and it occupies their time as well. And my preschool girl can now easily read a few items on the labels.”

She has this advice: “Be disciplined. Organising a pantry requires practice and diligence. It is not a one-time job, but a journey.”

Here are some tips shared by the mothers on organising your pantry:

Farhanis' three kids often help her with the packing and storing of groceries.

  • Take out all the food from the pantry shelves and drawers

  • Divide them into groups like spices, snacks, baking items, cooking paste and pasta grains

  • Remove the packaging as much as possible and store the food in jars, canisters or any transparent container for visibility

  • Label each canister and write the expiry date on the bottom of canister

  • Put things back in the same place after taking them out

  • Assess your pantry items weekly to check on what needs to be restocked

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