Organize Your Pantry with Glass Jars and Contact Paper (plus free printable!)

UPDATE: Since I originally wrote this post in 2013, it have been viewed more than 55,000 times! I also lost access to the original template I had provided BUT I now have a new, better template which is linked to at the bottom of the post and provided free of cost!

Has your pantry taken on a life of its own? Do you fear spaghetti night because you know as soon as you open the door to your pantry, bags and boxes will threaten to avalanche and leave you buried alive? Are you putting off organizing your pantry because you just can't afford the fancy do-dads you want to make it perfect? Make excuses no more, friends because I tamed my pantry beast for a paltry $1.

I had tons of different bags of bulk foods, boxes open and half full crammed onto my shelves and precariously perched on top of each other. It. was. ugly. No, there are no before shots (you don't really want to see them anyway).

But the after is so nice. Everything has a place and most things have a label:

My favorite labels, of course are the pretty, swirly ones on the top shelf. I even have a free printable template that you can download (below!). 

Where'd I get all the jars?
I started using just extra quart size canning jars. Anything that was in a bag in the pantry but could fit in the quart jars went in. I also saved all of my glass jars from store bought foods for several months to build my collection. I just soaked off the label, gave it a good scrub and gave it a new home in my pantry. I did eventually purchase some large 1.5 gallon and half gallon jars but most of the jars are re-purposed food jars.

Why not chalkboard labels?
With chalkboard stuff everywhere, there was a temptation to try and make these chalkboard style. I'd seen a tutorial online of someone who had just painted contact paper with chalkboard paint to make chalkboard labels. And I thought about it. But at the end of the day, it was just a lot more work than I wanted to put into this project. 

What if I change what's in the jars?
That's the beauty of contact paper! The contact paper just peels right off. I actually cut out a small stack of extra labels so if I switch out the contents of a jar, I can just peel the old label off and put a new one on. Tracing and cutting out the extra labels was way less work than painting a whole roll of contact paper with chalkboard paint (plus, no need to worry if it will flake or chip off later).

(if there was extra contact paper not big enough to make a label, I cut it into a square or rectangle to copy down things like cooking times or instructions and put it on the back of the jar)

If you're itching to organize your pantry, too, save some time and download my free printable label template instead of having to find the shapes yourself. There are a whole range of sizes so you can pick one that's the right size for your jar.

Download the FREE Printable Label Templates Here

To use them, just print them onto the BACK of contact paper that you have trimmed to be 8.5 x 11 inches. You can see this same technique demonstrated in this post about how to trim vinyl (or contact paper) without a fancy machine!

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  1. Hi,
    Thanks so much for the template. I love the shape and also the fact that you added different sizes as well.
    I will say, though, you gave me my laugh for the day maybe even for the month. :-D You dropped the "r" in pantry when you saved your template to 4shared. Not sure why I would want to label my knickers but.... whatever strikes your fancy!!!! lol
    All the best,

    1. This made me LOL! I hate the word "panties" anyway, so this made me really chuckle. Cute template design. I have a Stampin' Up punch that is a similar shape...can you use a paper punch on contact paper??

    2. Yes! You totally can. Easy peasy.

    3. Yes! You totally can. Easy peasy.

    4. Yes! You totally can. Easy peasy.

  2. Ha! That is too funny. This post has been viewed literally thousands of times and you are the first person to say anything about it

  3. I use plain black contact paper, it will act like chalkboard contact paper. It really works! I use it with a punch or cut labels out with my Cameo (electronic cutter). The punch is so versatile that I use it a lot. I got my contact paper from Amazon and still have gobs left!

    I also use the wet erase chalk markers, I get them at Hobby Lobby or Joann's. Bistro markers, they work great and will not smear until you get them wet to erase them. Here is a link to some of my uses of these labels,

  4. Awesome! Love the versatility of these. I use them everywhere, don't need to have a computer handy, just my paper, scissors and sharpie. Thanks


  5. Love the ideas! Did you realize it says panty label and not pantry label? It is on the next page where you go to download the label. He he. Made me giggle!

  6. Your labels might actually work with wet/dry erase markers. If that is not durable enough, try permanent marker on a scrap piece of contact paper & see if alcohol will get it off when you want to change the label.

  7. Love these cute labels. Thanks for all your great comments.

  8. Chalkboard paint will work on glass. That is what I did. Takes minutes to apply, you just have to let them dry several hours before writing on them.

  9. Where did all your matching lids come from?

    1. The jars with silver lids and little handles are from IKEA. The plain white lids on the canning jars are "storage lids" from the canning section of the grocery store.


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