Ah, the pantry. That secret room that holds all your overflow food and cooking ingredients… the one where food continually reaches its expiration date before you are able to use it, and you have to fight with cans, cartons, bags, and boxes to get the latest shopping trip’s items inside. The one where sometimes you’re afraid to open the door… Yes, that one.

Why is it that a pantry is so tricky to organize and keep neat? Is it because we are always in a rush to get to the next task on our to-do list rather than organizing and giving careful attention to the supplies at hand? Well, the good news is that a little careful planning and a few pantry organization ideas can go a long way to a neater food storage system in the long run. Consider these suggestions to help you make the most of your pantry space.

A kitchen pantry shelf with jars of dry beans, pasta and flour.

Store your dry ingredients in jars for easy access when cooking.

Small Pantry Organization Ideas

The small pantry leaves a lot to be desired in terms of practical organization. The good news is that you can easily maximize on the small space with a few creative organizing tips for the pantry.

  1. Place baskets on shelves. You can place the baskets directly on the shelves or make use of hanging baskets that attach to the shelf above and hang down. Opt for wire baskets that allow you to see exactly what’s inside at a glance.
  2. Organize the baskets by each food type. Label different pantry organization categories for each basket, keeping together like foods, such as baking ingredients, pasta and sauce, dressings and condiments, candy and treats, and so forth. (This helps you to know whether you really need to buy that box of macaroni and cheese that’s on sale or if you already have five at home.)
  3. Consider adding storage shelving to the pantry door. If you have a door that swings open, you can install a set of door shelves so your pantry door offers a similarly convenient storage setup as your fridge door.
  4. Create a snack basket for your kids. Place it at child level with a selection of granola bars, crackers, and other munchies your kids will grab for when they’re hungry. Bonus! They’ll be more independent, able to help themselves to snacks as needed.
  5. Group together smaller items like spices and seasoning packets. Place these items inside plastic containers with lids, labeling the outside and keeping them from scattering all over your pantry. Stack plastic containers as necessary.
  6. Use a small wastebasket as a convenient holder for wraps and foils. Forget having that roll of aluminum foil falling on your head as you wrestle out a box of cereal from your top shelf. Instead, place all the food storage wraps upright into a small wastebasket much like you would store gift wrap.
  7. Always put your items in the same part of the pantry. This will be a huge win in terms of keeping from overbuying or forgetting what you already have.
A wire pantry basket containing a bunch of yellow onions.

Store onions and potatoes in wire baskets.

Walk-in Pantry Organization

The contemporary kitchen pantry may no longer be an undersized, hidden closet with little room for creativity. If you are fortunate enough to have a remarkably enviable walk-in pantry in your home, count yourself lucky. Walk-in pantry organization may not even be an issue for you, depending on the size of your space and the size of your family. Still, here are a few tips for organizing a larger pantry.

  1. Go wild with built-ins. If your home boasts a large pantry, consider building it out with special shelving and cubbies to keep your food ultra organized.
  2. Aim for floor-to-ceiling storage. Take advantage of the space you have by stretching your storage possibilities from the tippy top to the very bottom.
  3. Ditch the packaging. Bottle up your ingredients in mason jars or airtight containers for quick and easy access when cooking. Affix a round yard sale sticker to the bottom with the expiration date or apply a label with any cooking instructions as necessary.
  4. Use a Lazy Susan in the corner spaces. The spinning action makes it easier to reach each item and make use of the available space.
  5. Place your lesser used items in the harder-to-reach spaces. Keep the items you use on a regular basis where you can easily reach them.
  6. Store potatoes and onions in wire baskets. Toss the plastic bags or netting and leave your onions and potatoes where you can grab them at a moment’s notice.
  7. Store small kitchen appliances in large spaces. If possible, store your large kitchen accessories like your trusty food processor, your fair-weather crock pot, and your massive juicer beneath the bottom shelf in the walk-in pantry. This keeps them easily accessible without cluttering up your kitchen.
View of a person using a smart phone shopping list app to make a list for replenishing the pantry.

Take note of what you need to buy at the store using a smart phone shopping list app.

Remember, organization is a big piece of the battle, but sometimes changing process can go a long way to improvement. Take note of what you still need as you organize your pantry and start using a magnetic memo pad or an app on your smartphone to keep a running list of what you actually need to buy at the grocery store. Resist the urge to buy something just because it’s on sale unless you fully believe you need it or will use it in the near future.

Do you have any helpful pantry organization tips? Be sure to share them in our comments below. We hope these tips bring neatness to your pantry and ease to your cooking adventures!