Marie Kondo reveals her golden rule for keeping a pantry tidy all year round

It all starts with an effective declutter

Marie Kondo has revealed her golden rule for decluttering and organising food in a pantry or food cupboard, and it all hinges around the expiration dates.

If you're lucky enough to be able to brainstorm pantry ideas in your kitchen, the last thing you want is the space to turn into another messy room. Even if you only have limited kitchen storage ideas to work with, according to Marie Kondo the key to keeping the space tidy is always being able to see the expiration dates.

pantry with green cupboard and glass jars

(Image credit: Future PLC/Carolyn Barber)

Marie Kondo is a Japanese-born organising expert who sprung to fame in 2010 as the author  The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (opens in new tab), (opens in new tab) available on Amazon (opens in new tab). The best-selling book proved so popular that it lead to two Netflix original shows including Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. (opens in new tab) Over the last decade, the professional organiser has helped homes across the world tidy up with the KonMari method.

Speaking exclusively to Ideal Home to promote the latest edition of her new book  (opens in new tab)Joy at Work (opens in new tab) Marie Kondo said her top tip for decluttering and organising a pantry is to start by checking the expiration dates.

marie kondo with white table and books

(Image credit: KonMari Media, Inc)

'First and foremost, check the expiration dates. Discard anything that has passed its expiration,' she explains. But the focus on the expiration dates doesn't stop there, she explains that to maintain a tidy cupboard they need to also remain visible on the shelf.

'Store the items so it’s easy to check the dates periodically and group the food items by similarity –pastas in one section, flours and grains in another,' she recommends. 'Be sure to store each item vertically so you can see them all in one glance.'

Lakeland (opens in new tab) has a great range of cupboard storage solutions, including a staggered shelf organiser (opens in new tab) to make it easier to organise your cupboards so you can easily see the dates.

If you have any items that are fast approaching their expiration date,  Marie Kondo suggests having a 'borderline stock clearance campaign' on her website KonMari (opens in new tab). This simply means trying to create a meal using any of the ingredients that are about to expire.

shelves contains glass jars and plates

(Image credit: Lakeland)

Part of the KonMari method is about decluttering mindfully. While the KonMari method teaches that you shouldn't keep hold of times that no longer serve you - and that out of date olive oil really isn't serving you - you shouldn't just get rid of an item for the sake of clearing space.

If a bag of pasta is due to go out of date in one day, it will serve you and the planet better to turn it into a delicious dinner that evening, rather than throwing it straight out when organising kitchen cabinets.

All that is left is to get tidying, and maybe brainstorm a few dinner ideas.

Rebecca Knight
Rebecca Knight

Rebecca Knight has been the Deputy Editor on the Ideal Home Website since 2022. She graduated with a Masters degree in magazine journalism from City, University of London in 2018, before starting her journalism career as a staff writer on women's weekly magazines. She fell into the world of homes and interiors after joining the Ideal Home website team in 2019 as a Digital Writer. In 2020 she moved into position of Homes News Editor working across Homes & Gardens, LivingEtc, Real Homes, Gardeningetc and Ideal Home covering everything from the latest viral cleaning hack to the next big interior trend.