How to Label Jars for Pantry Storage

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Last week we overhauled our pantry – new shelves, fresh paint, and a whole new look.  I was going to do one big blog post on the whole process but when I posted this picture on Instagram I had so many questions on what I chose for my dry storage, that I decided to do a quick post on how I set it all up.  Go here for a full ‘tour’ of the pantry, but here’s a quick tutorial of what I did for the dry storage.  The best part?  Each jar is about $1 WITH the lid!  Chic and affordable pantry storage is my jam.

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After searching high and low for jars that didn’t have any logos or designs on them, I FINALLY came across mason jars at my local Wal-Mart.  Unfortunately they didn’t have the quart sized jar so I ended up purchasing them from Anchor-Hocking directly.  (Keep reading for links – I’ll link everything up at the end of the post.)

Once I found the right jar, I wanted a lid that didn’t have a ring or a rubber seal.  A two or three piece lid is a little too cumbersome for storage (for me) and I like the ease of a one-piece plastic lid.  Some other jars that I considered had a metal lid with a paper liner – like a cracker jar – that would work, but I really like a 100% dishwasher-able storage option.

Here’s my step-by-step process:

Buy jars

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Wash jars (I ran them through the dishwasher) and allow to thoroughly dry

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Use an oil-based marker to label jar – if you want a consistent look, make a template or use a ruler to keep the ‘label’ at the same spot on each jar.

QUICK TIP:  Use lemon essential oil to remove the marker if needed.  Just a drop on the surface will quickly remove the paint.

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Decide how you’ll label your jars – all caps, lower case letters – think it through and pre-write it out if necessary.  (This might sound tedious, but if you are taking the time to hand-label the jars, you will probably be annoyed if you don’t love the way it turns out.)

I wrote what was in the jar on the front

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Then I wrote cooking instructions and an expiration date (if needed) on the back

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Decant dry goods and apply the lid – if you have a powdery ingredient to transfer, make a funnel with parchment or waxed paper to make sure everything makes it into the jar

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Continue the process until you have your jars completed

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Arrange the jars on your shelf

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Sources:

Glass Jars – use any glass jar – I love the Anchor Hocking Mason Jars for this project.  They’re a slightly different shape and there isn’t any branding or designs on the sides, making it perfect for dry storage like this.  I bought some jars at Wal-Mart and some online at Anchor Hocking.  I also found them online at Farm & Fleet if you have one near you. (The jars through Anchor Hocking DID NOT have lids and the ones at Wal-Mart have a gold 2-piece lid.)

Lids – I always have these lids on hand for just about any food storage (I use mason jars for just about everything).  These Ball canning lids are my favorite because they seal extremely well, can be placed in the freezer, and are top rack dishwasher safe.

Marker – An oil-based paint marker is the most semi-permanent marker you can use for this project.  Choose a color or black or white – match it up with your kitchen or pantry.  I chose the white medium tip because it looks clean and it shows up the best with a variety of colored contents.

Psst….if you’re looking for healthier alternatives for your pantry, I love Thrive Market – most of the ingredients in my dry storage containers came from Thrive.  Check it out!

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Comments

  1. Love this idea. So much cleaner looking than labels. I use jars that I had purchased pasta sauce in but they are half this size. Larger would be better, but for now will change to permanent marker, and use the ‘free’ ones I have on hand. Will keep an eye out for larger ones though, and save the smaller ones for things I purchase smaller amounts of. I am so enjoying these emails. Thanks for the ideas.

  2. Lovely! Why I never thaught of marker ( always labels). Thanks for the idea.

  3. So simple but such a great idea – thank you!

    – Natalie
    http://www.workovereasy.com

  4. What did you do with the left overs from the boxes or bags?
    Diane

    • I didn’t have a lot of leftovers, but I just closed the bag and placed the bag behind the jar and will use that up first 🙂

      • I have a similar system to this and thought I would share what I do with leftovers from the boxes or bags. I have 2 white plastic milk crates in my pantry. One holds “open” packets with leftovers. The other holds new unopened packets (things I buy/stock up on while I still have enough in the glass jars). Hope this helps. Love this system, Becky!

  5. I’m wondering if you have a creative idea for storing the “left overs” that don’t fit in your jars? I use jars too but always seem to have a little bit extra in the bags after transferring to jars.

    • I didn’t have a lot of leftovers, but I just closed the bag and placed the bag behind the jar and will use that up first 🙂

  6. I use half-gallon or gallon jars for my dry goods storage. Since I have an embroidery machine, I made tags with it and tied them with a piece of jute around the top of the jar. I used fabric to match my red, white and yellow theme of my kitchen. I mostly use the gallon jars for my cannisters. Half-gallon jars also work, but a 5-pound bag of flour or meal will fit nicely in a gallon jar.

  7. In addition to the white canning jar lids I found that the blue plastic lids from the Aldi brand mayo works perfectly on the jars. Some peanut butter jar lids work fairly well too but not as nicely as the mayo lids. And they’re free!

  8. deb rowley says:

    I love the plastic mason jar lids from Ball. You can get them for wide mouth and regular mouth jars. I also want to comment on a previous post and give you a hug if I could! I have stoneware every day use dishes and read the post on cleaning them. I bought Bar Keepers Friend as you said was the best and my stoneware now looks like the day we received it at a wedding gift 33 years ago! I didn’t realize how badly discolored they were from metal marks and dishwasher use. Thank so much clean mama, I have new dishes again!!!

    • Yay, thanks for sharing Deb!

    • Bar Keepers Friend is a friend indeed! My new best kitchen friend is Weiman Stainless Steel Cleaner in a spray can. I first uesd Weiiman 50+ years ago, when it was used as standard in the furniture store in which I worked. When my new dishwasher came, it came with a sample packet of the stainless steel cleaner. and I’m in love all over again.

  9. Donna Becker says:

    Thanks for featuring the paint pen for the labeling function. I hadn’t seen them before. I don’t label dry items that are easily identified in my canning jars, but will use the pen for labeling dry mixes!

  10. Every new house,(I am currently redoing one now) I redo the builder’s generic pantry shelves for better efficiency because they waste too much space or they are just 1/2 – 1″ too short for some items! I put less used large appliances & platters on end on the highest top shelf.
    I have huge 12ct 15″ lazy susans for category canned/jarred foods, and I measure the height I need for the 12-15ct 1 gallon staples… I usually gain 1-2″ per shelf x5 generic shelves equals another shelf! The bottom/floor area – do you store wine on their side in a wire wine rack (measure the rack), is it for Costco sized items… how high off the floor do you need that first shelf?
    For large pantry staples such as flours, sugars, rice, beans, grain, etc. I bought 1 gallon jars from:
    Specialty Bottle (206) 382-1100 · 3434 4th Ave S Seattle, WA 98134; http://www.specialtybottle.com/
    They have many other bottles, jars & metal tins & they ship.

    For smaller quantity items, I select from my collection of cute jam jars & baby food jars, pickle jars, & pasta sauce jars (look like canning jars).
    Pickle & Pasta sauce jars are perfect for that remaining extra after filling the gallon jar & look fine sitting in front to be used 1st.
    I use smaller lazy susans, some double-decker for spices (alphabetical), oils & vinegars, baking, international & BBQ rubs, etc. in cab near stove.
    I keep two large white lidded buckets on floor of my pantry- 1 for large bags of rice too big to jar; other for bags of flour, bran, et al for my bread machine.
    THEN I make labels on Brother Labeling machine.

  11. What size jars did you use? Also…do you have the same jars for spices? Or smaller ones?

  12. Hi,
    I am trying to find this jar but no luck. Would you mind sharing the link from anchor hocking so I can buy it online.

    Thanks

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