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  • Writer's pictureMelisha Meredith

Organization for a real food kitchen

Updated: Oct 19, 2023

This past year, I’ve reorganized some things in our kitchen and food storage and wanted to share what I’ve found. If you are changing the way you are eating, drinking, preparing food, etc., you may need to do some rearranging as well. Eating real food means you’ll be buying more whole food ingredients and you’ll need to know what to do with them!

Don’t hesitate to make your new whole food kitchen more functional and practical. You’ll use it and enjoy it more!

How to organize your real food kitchen

Bulk Foods:

We buy some bulk grains and beans. They come in sturdy paper bags, so they can just be stored in those bags, but the bags are awkward, heavy and unstable. Their odd shape makes them tip over easily. Not the best long-term option. So, I needed a new solution!

I ended up with 5 gallon, food-grade buckets and gamma-seal lids. Now, I know that may not seem very exciting! But they make that bulk food area more accessible, less aggravating and tidier. That makes me happy!

The gamma seal lids are a twist-off lid that creates a tight seal. The lids that some of the buckets came with were horrible. They hurt my hands and were hard to get on and off. So, the gamma seal lids have been so nice!

The food grade aspect is important. I honestly don’t love that I’m using plastic here, but the food grade bucket is not supposed to leach toxins into the food stored in it and they are temperature controlled, so they don’t get heated.

I have asked for leftover buckets at bakeries, and received different sizes for free or just a few dollars. The lids on the other hand, can be a tad pricey. Right now, you’ll be paying about $15 per lid.

Water Bottles:

I love them and I hate them. Can you relate?

First, we ditched all our plastic cups after deciding those weren’t a healthy option. I only have two in the house now that I use to water small plants. Then I got rid of our plastic water bottles. (With the exception of some squeeze bottles my boys use occasionally for sports.) So, our cup cabinet is now glasses, stainless steel cups and stainless water bottles. The water bottles were so darn clunky. Mismatched sizes, heavy bottles, and random straws made them hard to organize. They kept falling over and creating a domino effect!

I found a solution online that has been working well for us. This water bottle organizer has three levels and sets all your water bottles horizontal.

I love that nothing hides on the back of the shelf and you can open the cabinet and see all your options at once. It also accommodates the variety of sizes in our water bottle collection. Lastly, it takes advantage of our shelf height and uses up the space much more effectively! Something small like this that makes daily life easier is a no brainer!

Other Dry Goods:

What about nuts, seeds, baking supplies, popcorn kernels, oats, dried fruit and the like? These often don’t come in packaging conducive to using often. In my experience, the packaging is hard to open and close, maybe doesn’t reseal and isn’t see-through so you aren’t sure how much is left. And if you are cooking for yourself more or eating healthier, you are likely buying and using these items more than ever!

The key here is storing them in food that is both practical and safe, avoid plastic.

I actually use a variety of containers for this, mostly glass storage containers.

I have some taller glass cylinder containers with lids that I use for some nuts and fruit.

I use Mason jars for some seeds and baking supplies.

I use a few stainless steel containers with lids for corn kernels and steel cut oats. The draw back with these is you can’t see through them, so you need to label them.

I have a few half gallon and gallon size glass containers with lids that hold oats and rice (we take this much out of the bulk bins and keep in the kitchen, refilling as needed).

I've also been known to hang on to glass jars from things like marinara sauce and jelly to use for storage. They work well and don’t cost you any extra.

The nice thing about using glass to store food is that 1) glass is inert so there won’t be any transfer of chemicals or harmful substances from the container to the food - unlike plastic, and 2) you can see through glass so you know when you need to buy more. I was worried about using glass with my kids, but breakage really has not been much of an issue.


I hesitated to talk about this in an “organizing” post, but when you are cooking - you have to deal with leftovers. We don't have near as many these days with teenagers, but it’s still a thing sometimes!

Avoid plastic as much as possible. I have a couple plastic containers that get used for things that might be used by a kid, will not be heated or hold hot food, or that might need to travel. But in general, avoid plastic. No one wants plastic chemicals leaching into their food, right?!

What to use instead:

  • Glass Pyrex with lids

  • Silicone containers

  • Stainless steel containers

Glass is what we have the most of because it can go in the microwave if needed. And for the other reasons shared in the previous section.

What do you use to organize your real food kitchen?

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