Having an organized pantry is the first step toward a well-functioning kitchen. A cluttered pantry can make cooking and meal planning unnecessarily hectic and stressful. If you’d like to tidy up and enjoy an organized kitchen, here are 11 food pantry storage ideas.

Declutter Expired Items

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Clearing out unnecessary clutter will give you the space you need to organize and transform your kitchen pantry. Rather than randomly disposing of things, start by emptying your shelves one by one to carefully check food quality and expiration dates. For food without dates like fruits or vegetables, be mindful of signs that could indicate expiration like strong smells or texture. Once you’ve cleaned out your pantry, give each surface a proper wipe with warm water and a cleaning cloth.

Related Article: Complete Guide to Storing Food in the Fridge

Categorize by Section

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Arranging your pantry into sections can help you stay organized and easily locate what you need when you need it. The categories for pantry food storage can be unique to you and your family’s eating habits, but separating items by type, like dry goods, healthy snacks, breakfast foods, and canned goods is a place to start. Consider adding dividers or separating by pantry zones, placing items closer or further from reach based on how often you use them. Additionally, keep labels facing out when possible, so it’s easier to see everything.

Optimize with Storage Bins

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Using bins for pantry storage is a systematic method of organizing food items. Storage bins come in various sizes and can make the process of categorizing and labeling products easier. Those with pull-out handles provide easy access to items, even when in the back of your pantry. If you lack space, stackable storage bins can fit together, which maximizes pantry space. Whether you have open shelving, cabinets, or pull-out drawers, storage bins are a universal solution that can support your pantry’s design. Some bins are even designed to be spill and leak-resistant, so you won’t have to worry about package vulnerabilities from oils, sauces, or juices.

Use Glass or Clear Containers

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Even if your pantry is relatively clean, boxes, bags, and even opaque bins can make it feel visually cluttered. Consider placing frequently used items into glass or clear plastic storage containers instead. Using clear containers like mason jars for food storage can be more aesthetically pleasing and help preserve food’s freshness with airtight seals. This process also makes creating a shopping list easier because you can more easily see what you have in stock and avoid overbuying things.

Store Loose Items in Baskets

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Using baskets for storage is a great way to efficiently organize miscellaneous pantry items like coffee pods, tea bags, or cereal bars. Baskets provide a fast and easy way to reduce clutter and break up the monotony of other pantry storage containers. Since smaller items are typically used on the go, storing them in a basket makes them easy to grab as you run out the door or prepare your morning coffee.

Add Pantry Labels

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There’s no reason your pantry can’t be functional and attractive. Labels are a useful addition that helps ensure everyone can keep up with the pantry organization system. Purchase vinyl labels from a craft store, or make your own using a die-cutting machine or label maker. Aside from labeling storage containers themselves, you can also affix shelf labels to identify your pantry categories clearly. This way, no one will get confused about which items belong where.

Maximize Shelf Space with Racks

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The best way to maximize storage in a small kitchen pantry is to add racks for spices, coffee pods, and more. Rotating racks, frequently referred to as a turntable lazy Susan, allow for quick access to boxed items like baking powder or corn starch that may get backed up in your pantry corner. They also make it especially easy to sort through and see spices at a glance, so you don’t needlessly repurchase them. You can even use racks to organize other small items like oils or powders.

Related Article: How to Store Wine Properly at Home

Elevate with Tiered Shelves

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Tiered pantry shelving is both visually appealing and convenient for storing smaller bulk goods like spices, jars, and cans. This option allows you to neatly arrange, display, and take regular inventory of your items. Additionally, since these shelves come in smaller sizes, they’re easy to move around as your pantry fills up. Tiered shelves are a small, yet effective way to free up cupboard space and add vertical function and charm to your pantry.

Use Over-The-Door Storage

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While width and depth are important considerations when organizing your pantry, there are several ways to use vertical pantry space to your advantage. Over-the-door storage organizers, including everything from wire racks to repurposed shoe caddies, are a practical way to get the most out of your pantry space without over-filling your shelves. You can also build custom pantry shelving into your door for a more naturally integrated storage solution.

Utilize Hooks & Hangers

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Pantries with wire racks or gapped shelving are a great way to add hooks and hangers to better utilize your vertical space. Kitchen hardware like skillets and spatulas can be hung from pantry hooks and placed out of the way. Sturdier hangers can support bowls or pots to hold fruits, vegetables, or other non-packaged perishables. If you’d like to decorate your space while reducing kitchen clutter, consider hanging equipment from pantry pegboards. Repurposing clip hangers to hang snack bags is another simple DIY pantry organization idea that seals out moisture while saving shelf space.

Related Article: Hiring a Professional Organizer to Help You Declutter

Keep an Inventory List

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Keeping tabs on what you have can help eliminate food waste and give you a clearer vision of your pantry organization’s plans. Consider creating a pantry inventory list of items you use frequently or like to keep on hand, so you can quickly restock when necessary. There are multiple ways to make a food inventory sheet, including attaching a chalkboard pantry door, using a kitchen whiteboard, or simply jotting down items on sticky notes. Inventory lists are also a great way to determine how much space you need to prevent your pantry from becoming overstocked.


Do you need more space while decluttering your pantry? Life Storage has locations across the country with affordable storage solutions and handy features that can help. Find monthly storage near you!

This post was originally published 06/09/2023 and last revised on 03/08/2024 with updated information.

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