Sort: A Real-Life Example You Need to Explore

Conquering Your Pantry with the "Sort" Phase of 5S

Here is a personal example of why the sort process is so important. I’m going to use this pantry shown below to specifically identify what to sort, or remove, from this area. If you don’t have a pantry, any food storage area will do.

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Out with the Old, In with the Tasty: 

Are you struggling with a cluttered pantry? If you’re hunting for ingredients more than cooking, it’s time for a change. Let’s apply the “Sort” phase of the 5S technique to transform your kitchen chaos into an efficient culinary haven.

Grab a trash bag and become a food detective. Examine each item in your pantry. While a passed “best by” date doesn’t guarantee spoilage, it often means less flavor and potency. Dispose of expired spices, old jams, and any questionable items. This step is about reclaiming space and ensuring quality.

Address stale snacks and half-eaten cereals. Stale food won’t improve with age. Donate unopened items, compost the compostable, and toss the rest. This decluttering will benefit your taste buds and health.

Bonus Round: Kitchen Gadget Horde

Tackle the rarely used kitchen gadgets. Consider donating if you haven’t used an item in a year. This stage is about making your kitchen spacious.

The “Sort” phase is a crucial start to a pantry makeover. Get ready to tackle the next phases of the 5S makeover for a kitchen that’s not only organized but also shines with efficiency.

Stay tuned for insights on the next 5S phases, where we’ll dive into “Set in Order” and “Shine” for a truly efficient kitchen!

Tips for Organizing This Pantry (pictured below)

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Remember that in this first step we are only trying to ‘sort’ out what we don’t need. 

Bottom Shelf

  • Non-transparent bin: Anything could be hiding in this thing, including crumbs that attract rodents. Get rid of it.
  • Empty Tupperware:  The back center has an empty container with a lid that takes up available space. Get rid of it.
  • Pots and Pans: These may need to be stored here but not mixed with the food. If you need the shelf for food, then get rid of them.
  • Trash bags: There are two boxes of trash bags, both unopened. These are not food items and should be stored elsewhere. Get rid of them.

Middle Shelf

  • More trash bags: On this shelf is a third box of trash bags. Out!
  • Appliances: Again, these may need to be stored here, but do not mix these in with the food.
  • Non-transparent bin: Anything could be hiding in this thing, including crumbs that attract rodents. Get rid of it.
  • Cardboard folded double: Anything that takes away from your vertical space should be removed. If you need something to make the shelves solid on the bottom, then use a much smaller piece of cardboard or a very thin wood panel. Cover it with shelf paper if you wish.
  • Empty bag of chips: No one is going to eat these. Get rid of them.

Top Shelf

  • Non-transparent bins: Get rid of them.
  • Bins that only hold one product: No reason for these.
  • Trapezoid shaped bins: You lose space between these bins which is only going to create a space to cram “stuff”. Out!


Sorting your pantry is more than just cleaning—it’s the first step to loving your kitchen again. You make room for new, exciting ingredients by eliminating old spices and stale snacks. This not only makes your pantry look good, but it also makes cooking fun again. 

Imagine easily finding everything you need for a recipe without any clutter. That’s what sorting does—it prepares you for happier, stress-free cooking. And don’t forget, this is just the beginning! Stay tuned for our next posts, where we’ll explore more ways to organize your personal space.

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