Master the art of kitchen pantry storage to make the most of every inch of space.

By Lisa Milbrand
Updated February 27, 2020

Your pantry shelving is the home base for your kitchen and a central part of kitchen organization, and as such, it deserves some knockout pantry organization ideas. Think about it: The pantry is where you store everything from spices and snacks to appliances and cookbooks, all likely in a compact space. It’s no wonder that the pantry is one of the first places in the kitchen that becomes out of sorts, with pasta and pistachios jammed in wherever someone can find the space—and where smart storage ideas and organization techniques are especially essential.

If you’re tired of cleaning up spilled oats and having three containers of baking powder because you can never find it when you need it, there’s hope. Try these pantry organization ideas to help you get an Insta-worthy system that truly works for you.

1. Start by taking stock

The first step in pantry organization is to do inventory. Pull everything out so you can give your shelves a good wipe-down, check for expired products, and cull your cookbook and appliance collection. (Now’s a good time to put aside any excess unopened, still-good canned goods and pantry items to share with your local charity, too.)

2. Group like items together

Use larger baskets or bins to corral similar items—like all of your pastas, cans of soup, or snacks—so you can easily see when you’re running low. You can also create themed baskets, like one that holds all of your baking ingredients, so you can simply pull out the basket when you’re ready to whip up a batch of cookies.

Clear baskets and bins let you see the contents and assess what’s running low easier, but solid-colored bins can help create a streamlined and more cohesive vibe for your pantry storage.

3. Plan with the rest of the family in mind

Let’s face it—your pantry disaster probably wasn’t caused by you. It’s your kids clawing through the shelves for snacks or your partner putting away the grocery haul without paying much attention to your system of carefully crafted pantry organization ideas.

“Keep the items they eat on a regular basis accessible so they don’t have to move things around,” says storing and organizing expert Emma Gordon of Clutter. “Save space by unboxing individually-wrapped items like granola bars, sunflower seeds, and chips and gathering them in a basket marked ‘Snacks,’ so your kids don’t have to tear apart the pantry to find them.”

Labeling can help solve the “put it anywhere” problem—make sure every bin and basket is properly labeled, and you can even use labels on the shelves themselves to make sure everything goes back to the proper spot, even when you’re not the one putting things away.

4. Put pantry essentials at eye level

Make it easy to reach the things you use daily by placing them right around eye level and stashing your rarely used appliances and foods closer to the top and the bottom of the pantry. You might also want to keep a stepstool handy to make it easier to reach the items on the top pantry shelves.

5. Upcycle your kitchen pantry storage

You don’t have to buy all the gear for pantry organization at IKEA or the Container Store to get a nice set of storage products: Keep an eye out for containers you can reuse and recycle from the products you’re already buying, such as quart- and pint-sized takeout containers, glass pasta sauce or jam jars, or even gelato containers. You can use cool labels to dress up your basic containers—and help save the planet, too.

6. Use every available inch

Don’t waste a bit of space in your pantry. Start by taking pantry items out of the boxes and put in your own sleek bins to maximize space and give your pantry a uniform look. Canisters for dry goods like flour, oats, and sugar don’t only look great—they can help you reduce the chance of spilling and keep pests like flour moths at bay, too.

Place small items like cans on risers and lazy susans to maximize deep cupboards and shelves, so you can easily see and reach everything.

There are plenty of pantry organization ideas for your door, too. You can put small wire shelves or an over-the-door organizer on the back to store smaller items like spices and sauces or use hooks to hang lunch bags, brooms, and dusters.

7. Keep your command center handy

Want to make keeping your pantry stocked even easier? Hang a shopping list near the pantry, so you can make note whenever items get low. Put your checklist in a glass frame, then use dry-erase markers to check off what you need—then just snap a quick pic when you’re ready to head to the store.