pantry organization ideas

Pantry Organization Ideas to Streamline Kitchens and More

A place for everything, and everything in its place.

Have you ever visited a friend and opened their pantry doors to find an extremely organized space? If so, you can attest that it’s almost breathtaking. They’ve aligned bottles of oils, and beautiful jars contain nuts and dried fruit. Clear, labeled containers hold pasta and grains. They may have even gone so far as to color-coordinate each shelf.

Of course, we can’t all be Marie Kondo in the pantry. That is to say, don’t feel bad if your pantry has become the place to store, well, everything, from food to mail and kitchen appliances. You are definitely not alone.

“A cluttered pantry can make meal preparation stressful and frustrating, while also leading to food waste, which means money waste,” explains Blair Mohr with The Organized Mommy Co.. “If you’re tired of digging through piles of food to find what you need, it’s time to declutter your pantry. Once you have, be sure to shop your pantry or do inventory before heading to the store so you don’t end up with duplicates (AGAIN) and waste money (AGAIN).”

So, how do you get started sorting it out and regaining control of this important organizational space?
Let’s take it step-by-step with these 10 pantry organization ideas. You can create a pantry that captivates you and your family and friends, whether that’s in your rental property in Atlanta, GA, or in your forever home in Orlando, FL.

Fair warning: Once you’ve organized your pantry with these organization ideas, the rest of your kitchen is sure to follow.

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1. Clean out and declutter

Albert Einstein said, “Out of clutter, find simplicity. From discord, find harmony. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” So, consider this an opportunity to bring harmony to your home with unique pantry organization ideas. As most humans, you’ve probably thought about organizing your pantry a hundred times. You may have even started with a shelf only to find yourself waylaid by one of life’s many other demands.

There’s one way to ensure you create the pantry you’ve seen in Better Homes & Gardens and on Pinterest. Start by cleaning it out entirely. Merissa with Savvy and Sorted notes the importance of prepping, decluttering, and sorting your pantry before you start getting ahead of yourself. “Clean and dry your chosen containers thoroughly. Use this opportunity to clean your cabinets and drawers as well, ensuring a fresh start for your pantry overhaul.”

expired, multicolored pasta

2. Decide what to keep, share, and discard

This is the time to check for expiration dates and be brutally honest. While it was very nice of your friend to give you wagon-wheel-shaped pasta made out of lentils when you were on a legume craze, will you really ever use it? For items like this that are still good and unopened, consider putting a box together for the local food bank or homeless shelter.

Empty your pantry completely, discarding expired items. Group similar products together, such as baking supplies, snacks, and canned goods. Decide what needs individual containers and what can be grouped in baskets,” Merissa continues.

This is also the time to think about what doesn’t belong. Is there a better place for your kitchen appliances, like next to the stove? Would you use your herbs and spices more if they were in a beautiful spice rack on the side of a cabinet? Can you make an organized space in your cabinets for your Tupperware? Do you have room on your bookshelves for the cookbooks?

3. Gather like-minded products

Yes, opposites attract, but creating order from chaos is key in decluttering. One of our best pantry organization ideas is also the simplest: Place similar products in separate piles so you can see what you have to work with and how big your storage containers (the organizer’s guru) will need to be. Condiments and sauces in one pile, grains and starches in another, and unrefrigerated produce in its own little group.

pantry organization starts with sorting like things, as pictured here

4. Get in the zone with pantry organization

This is when it starts getting fun if you’re Marie Kondo. For us mere mortals, it may get slightly interesting. Zones are the areas in your pantry dedicated to the specific items you’ve grouped together. But it gets better. You can also group items based on your lifestyle and the unique way you use them in your everyday affairs.

Do you love baking? Consider a basket or bin that holds all your baking items. Now, you have everything you need from your pantry when it’s time for morning cinnamon rolls or banana bread.

Do you regularly entertain? Consider creating a basket designed for last-minute get-togethers. A bin with a few bottles of wine, bagel bits, water crackers, olives, and napkins will go well with the triple creme brie and Italian dry salami you keep in the fridge.

Are you an organized chef who prepares meal plans and shops once a week for food items? Good for you. Consider separate bins that contain the things you need for each meal. You can even label them according to the day of the week.

5. Keep it simple

To keep things simple, organize by general categories based on what you have without getting too specific. An example of common categories includes the following:

  • Dry foods (pasta, rice, grains, and beans)
  • Baking (flour, sugar, sweeteners, cornstarch, baking soda, etc.)
  • Canned foods and jars
  • Boxed meals
  • Breakfast foods (pancake mix, syrups, jam, granola bars, cereals, etc.)
  • Condiments and sauces
  • Oil and vinegar
  • Unrefrigerated produce
  • Snacks
  • Nuts and dried fruit
  • Beverages (juice, tea, coffee)
  • Pet foods
  • Bread (Note: If you live in a humid, hot environment, it’s best to store bread in a well-ventilated area, i.e., not your pantry.)

6. Select your pantry organizers

Some people use clear bins for their transparency, allowing them to see items quickly. Others favor baskets with handles for their country-esque aesthetics. Chips find a great home in a rectangular basket, making them easy to grab and put back. The extreme organizer may select different colored bins for various categories. And, if you’re eclectic in nature, you can enjoy the benefit of all different types of containers as long as they’re purposefully designed and implemented.

Pauline Callejas with Personal Mini Storage recommends taking into account the size and function of your pantry to decide what containers are right. “Use small bins or baskets to store snacks and treat them as grab-and-go stations,” Callejas recommends. “Tiered shelf organizers are great for maximizing space and visibility, especially for smaller items like spices and canned goods.”

It’s important to keep in mind that you don’t need to spend a fortune on new pantry containers. “It’s okay to keep some of the items in their original packaging, while others will present really well and keep longer in repurposed glass jars,” Ania, of The Sane Mum, suggests. “There are two items I regularly buy in glass jars which I like the shape, lid, and size of, so I always keep those and recycle all the others. That makes for a classy, uniform look without breaking the bank.”

For dark corners, consider Lazy Susans. “Lazy Susans are your friend,” shares Laura Paulson with Living Order, LLC. “Olive oils and spices can easily get lost in the corners or the back of shelves. Putting those items in a lazy susan keeps things from hiding in the back, and makes accessing them much easier.  Works great for pouched items like rice and smaller snack items like protein bars and bags of nuts.” Glass mason jars add a country feel and are another great option for grains, pasta, and beans. Larger jars can hold flour, sugar, and pancake mix. Airtight, BPA-free plastic food canisters come in many sizes.

Don’t forget to take advantage of door space as well. “Adding shelves to your cabinet doors is a fantastic way to add space for narrower items, like spices,” Lauren Gilberthorpe, creative director recommends. “This solution is especially useful for small cupboards or kitchen corner cabinets, optimizing what would otherwise be wasted space. For ease of use reaching any top cabinets, consider integrating a foldaway step ladder into your pantry organization to gain access to higher shelves as well.”

Labeling jars and containers is one of the best pantry organization ideas.

7. Labels are your new best friend

“Labeling bins and containers can significantly streamline your pantry organization,” Victoria from Made Minimal explains. “Labels help everyone in the household know where items belong, making it easier to maintain order and quickly find what you need.”

Of course, if you’re a scribe at heart, you can add a personal, handmade touch. Write directly on glass and plastic containers with wet-erase markers, or add some color by writing on decorative washi tape. You’ll also find reusable stickers and self-adhesive labels designed for pantry storage. You can label your baskets with reusable, dry-erase clip-on labels.

These labels identify major categories as well as individual items. Make sure to include the expiration date for items you’ve decanted, whether pasta, cereal, or rice. Labels go a long way in ensuring your family can find the items they’re looking for and put them back in their correct location when they’re done.

Pantry organization ideas: sort like items onto shelves

8. Finding the right spot, for everything

Keep items you regularly use in easy reach and store occasionally used items on a higher shelf. Any things you’d like to keep away from the kids also go on the top shelf. Remember, nothing is set in stone. As you use your new-and-improved pantry, you’ll discover the perfect locations for your categories.

One of the most important considerations is making sure you buy the space you have. In other words, a small pantry may limit your trips to Costco but will make you much happier whenever you open the doors.

Finding the right home for kitchen appliances can be tricky. Scott, Founder of Docking Drawer, recommends the smart and functional solution of adding in-drawer outlets. “Add pullout shelves in your pantry to enhance the accessibility of microwaves, toasters, and other small appliances. Docking Drawer in-drawer outlets are designed with cable management arms that guide and protect the power cord as drawers and shelves move in and out, offering a solution for keeping appliances safely connected without sacrificing functionality. Powered appliance pullouts in the pantry are a great way to keep appliances connected and within reach, without cluttering kitchen countertops.”

9. Take into account your everyday life

If you have young children, take a look at your pantry from their vantage point. Then, set up a little basket just for them, maybe with their favorite cereals and snacks. Consider including a few spoons and plastic bowls. Little ones love the feeling of self-mastery that having some independence brings.

It’s also important to consider the current season and what you’ll be reaching for most. “I would say have your reader set up their pantries for their current season, if they do a lot of grilling and eating outside have them create a box or bin filled with paper products like plates, cups, and plastic utensils so they can grab one tote rather than searching for each item every time,” Katelyn, founder of KMD Creates, suggests.

10. Quick touch-ups

Once you experience an organized pantry, there’s no going back. So it makes sense that one of the best pantry organization ideas is upkeep. Nichole Harvey recommends regularly reviewing and purging to build the habit. “Make it a habit to periodically go through your pantry to check for expired items or products you no longer use. Set a schedule to do this every few months,” Harvey suggests. “Removing expired or unwanted items helps keep your pantry clutter-free and ensures you only store what you actually need and use.”

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Create a pantry that makes you smile

Life gets busy. Creating an organized pantry with these pantry organization ideas makes finding what you’re looking for quick and easy. It also helps you remain mindful of what you have in stock and what to add to the grocery list. Not only do you save time, but you also save money.

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