Tips for an Organized Pantry – New Kitchen

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I shared our new kitchen reveal a few weeks ago. I still smile every single time I walk into my kitchen. Every. Single. Time.  I love everything about it. One thing that’s working really well for us is our new pantry cabinet. Before I had a pantry closet, but the new cabinet works so much better for us. I used some of my favorite tips for an organized pantry when I set it up and best of all, these tips won’t cost you a penny.

neatly organized pullout shelves of a pantry with 5 levels of shelves.

The pantry cabinet is located where the old pantry closet used to be. It has these lovely Shaker style white cabinet doors that are so very pretty.

close white wood cabinet doors with chrome bar handles.

Tips for an Organized Pantry

neatly organized pullout wood shelves of pantry cabinet.

Not only is the pantry very roomy, but it has wonderful pullout shelves. If you ever have a choice, be sure to pick pullout shelves for your pantry.  It makes everything in your pantry easily accessible, even the things wa-aaay in the back.  I was able to plan out the placement of each of the pullout shelves. It drives my husband crazy that the shelves are not even with each other and symmetrical, but I carefully planned what would go on each shelf and how much vertical space I needed to maximize my storage.  I planned the lowest pullout shelves so that I could place items on the fixed bottom of my pantry.  The carpenter told me that I was the first person he worked with that did that – everyone else put the pullout shelf just barely above the fixed bottom. Hmm. I figure that with my way, I got an extra shelf to put stuff on and more storage space is always good.

When I was planning the placement of my shelves, I knew immediately where many of the items would be placed using my tips for an organized pantry.

Place heavy items on the lower shelves and items that you want your kids to be able to access easily.  Place lightweight items on top shelves and items you don’t need (or want) very often.

close up of 2 shelves of neatly organized pantry with light blue baskets.
one shelf of pantry of stacked paper towel rolls, container of candy and 2 white handled baskets.

I placed soda boxes on the very bottom shelf because they’re heavy. You want to place heavy things as low as possible so that if they fall, they won’t hit you on the head or crush your foot.  I also placed the sandwich bread on the bottom shelf so that all my family can easily reach it and make their own sandwiches.  On the first level of pullout shelves I placed snacks. Again, I want my children to be independent by being able to reach their own snacks.  I place mom-approved snacks here where they can be easily reached. Snacks that require approval are placed out of reach.The lightweight paper towels went on the top shelf along with the candy stash (to make it less tempting). I also placed the two baskets with handles, which hold onions, garlic and potatoes on the top shelf.  On the rare occasion that I purchase a bag of potatoes that will make the basket heavy, I simply move the heavy basket to a lower shelf temporarily. 

Place Like Items Together

tidy pullout shelf with containers and canisters of food with red overlay stars on the lid of 2 containers.

Placing like items together makes your pantry much more usable for your family.  The shelf below holds snack foods. If my family feels like noshing, they simply pull this shelf out and know right where to look for a snack. This shelf is also lower in the cabinet so it’s more easily accessible. Placing like items together also helps you make your shopping list. You’ll easily be able to tell what items need to be restocked and what items you don’t need to purchase yet (no more over-buying).

Place Items Together that Have the Same Use or Purpose

pullout shelf with clear containers of cereal, oats and one yellow and blue container.

I placed all breakfast items together on this shelf.  The shelf is a bit higher in the cabinet because we only use it once a day. 

Place the Same Type of Items Together and Alphabetize Them

rows of neatly organized red cans of soup on shelf.

I placed all can goods on one shelf that’s a bit higher in the pantry. No one needs to access this shelf unless they’re cooking dinner, so it made sense to put it a bit higher and out of the way.  I organized all the cans alphabetically to make it easy to find exactly what I need.

Organize Smaller Items with Containers

light brown woven basket, light blue tray with bags of snacks and 2 containers of nuts on shelf.

Use containers to corral smaller items on a shelf. Containers keep smaller items neatly contained (pun intended) and easy to find.

Use Pretty or Sentimental Containers for Organizing

Shop through your house and find boxes, baskets and containers that you already have and love.  Use containers that are pretty or that hold memories for you to make you smile every time you open your pantry. Using containers you already have is both earth-friendly and budget-friendly

Use an Easy-to-Clean Tray to Organize Potentially Messy Items

bottles of spray and syrup next to wire basket and clear container with white and black overlay arrow pointing to side of clear container.

Use a plastic or metal tray to hold any containers that may drip or spill so that any mess is contained, too. Using plastic or metal makes cleaning a mess up easy. 

Label Items

2 clear containers labeled "pasta" and "rice" next to blue canister of bread crumbs.

Label containers that someone (uh, my kiddos) may wonder what the contents are.  I don’t like to over-label things, but there are definitely times when you should label your containers.

Use Repurposed Containers for Organizing

blue container with colorful clips on wood table.

I love to use recycled packaging and containers to organize. It’s free organizing and is better for the earth.  If you start looking at those items you’re chucking into the recycle bin, you’ll find all kinds of organizing containers.  This blue bin originally held fresh mushrooms. Look for the red stars on items on photos in this post and you’ll see all the repurposed containers I used.  If you repurpose containers that originally held food you know that it’s made food safe quality materials. Please don’t repurpose containers that held products that were not food products.

Use Square or Rectangular Containers

4 clear square canisters with nuts and snacks on wood table.

I like to use square or rectangular containers.  They maximize the storage space on your shelf. To learn more about not wasting organizing space, check out my Square Rules Organizing tips.

As you’re putting your items away in your pantry, be sure to check the shelf life of spices and herbs so that you can clearly mark the containers. That way you know when you need to use them by and when it’s time to replace them.

neatly organized pullout shelves of a pantry with 5 levels of shelves.

Which of these 10 tips for an organized pantry work for you in your pantry?

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  1. Susan, If I am dreaming of an lovely organized pantry it would be just like yours. Really Helpful tips that you are thanked for sharing. I have no pantry I just store my dry goods in kitchen cabinets yet I still can follow your tips.


    1. Sweet, it’s been over 25 years until now when I finally got my dream pantry. I’m so glad you like it, too. Start dreaming of your own and some day you’ll have a dream pantry, too.

  2. Hi Susan – I could read this post all day. Seriously. And I totally get you wanting your space a certain way and measurements. #greatminds I’m in a pantry coma right now. When can I come over and admire it in person? So tell me… now that everything is perfectly organized the way that you want… do you ever just look in your pantry and smile? Just because? Thanks so much for sharing! Hugs, Holly

    1. Holly, you know me so well. I often just stand looking in my pantry and smile…for a long time. You’re welcome anytime. I’d love to show off my pantry and kitchen to you.

  3. Susan, you have done such a great job in organizing your pantry. I love the pull out drawers and if I ever redo my pantry, that would be the number one thing I would want. I can’t tell you how many times I have had to throw things away because they got lost in the back! To me, throwing things away is like flushing money down the toilet! One thing that I always do is keep my flour and mixes as close to the floor as possible. When my kitchen gets warm, the little bugs that are in the flour like to hatch! Yuck!!! Thanks for inspiring me to organize my pantry.

    1. I’m with you, Cynthia, those bugs gross me out. Thanks for the smart tip about storing flour and mixes lower in the pantry. I can’t tell you how much I love those pull-out drawers. Get as many of them as you can when You redo your pantry.

  4. I’m having problems navigating to find a simple worksheet that keeps an inventory of my pantry items.

    I like to use one to go shopping with.

    Each time i click on a Kitchen section that I think it is in it sends me to an organizing page. I just want a printout to take shopping.

    Thanks, I also tried typing in pantry lists but nothing came up. Do we have to be really specific in the search bar??

    1. I actually haven’t published one yet. I have it on my editorial calendar for the next 2 months. I’m going now to email you the checklist directly so you don’t have to wait for the printable to be published, Mo.

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