14 of the Very Best (Most Practical!) Pantry Organizing Ideas

published Nov 3, 2021
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Holly's kitchen aid mixer and spice cabinet

Organizing your pantry is bit like setting up your library of dry food goods. Creating systems that ensure things are categorized and kept in the right place makes knowing what you have and retrieving it straightforward and simple.

With that in mind, here is a big list of pantry organizing solutions to help you achieve not the perfectly styled pantry of your Instagram feed, but a realistic one that serves you well, no matter its size, shape, or the kinds of containers you use.

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

1. Hang chip bags with pants hangers

Chip bags are tricky to store because they’re hard to see, they don’t stand up well, and you don’t want to squish the chips. You also want to be sure to eat them before they go stale! If you have wire shelves in your pantry, one way to keep your chips fresh and accessible is to clip them closed with pants hangers. Then, you can hang them from the wire.

2. Treat small bins or baskets as “drawers”

For items in smaller bags, such as dried cranberries, nuts, and shredded coconut, consider small baskets or bins like these. They will corral these easy-to-lose items. Plus, especially if you store them on a higher shelf, being able to pull out the whole basket means you won’t have to reach and shuffle to get what you want. Store items vertically, not on top of each other, for best visibility and access.

3. Make use of wall space with hooks

If you have any vacant wall space in your pantry, consider affixing Command hooks. You can use them to hang aprons or towels.

4. Throw a shoe organizer on the back of the door

A shoe organizer with clear plastic pockets generates storage space out of the thin air on the back of the door. It’s ideal for storing smaller items that tend to get lost, like boxes of food coloring or spices. Lower pockets are perfect for storing snacks, such as granola bars or meat sticks, for the kids to grab.

5. Take advantage of corners with Lazy Susans

Putting turntables in the corners of your pantry turns these potential dead spots into some of the most useful storage. Top them with bottles of oils or vinegar, or small items like baking soda, baking powder, and spices. Sort by category, and enjoy grabbing exactly what you’re looking for with just a slight flick of the wrist.

6. Double your shelf space with shelf risers

You definitely don’t want to waste vertical space, but if you merely stack things on top of each other, you’re going to end up with a frustrating mess of items. Instead, use shelf risers to create an additional shelf wherever you need one.

7. Hang shelf baskets to further use vertical space

While shelf risers are best for hard items like cans and boxes, these hanging baskets lend themselves well to storing more malleable items, like bags of rice and beans.

8. Repurpose jars for cost-free storage

Jars, especially large ones, are a wonderful way to store dry beans, rice, popcorn, and the like. The best part is: You don’t have to buy them! For uniform storage, save the same kind of pasta sauce jar or other jar. If you’re feeling really fancy, you can add your own labels.

9. Invest in modular storage

Modular storage allows you to employ as much depth, length, and height of each shelf as possible because you can stack, unstack, and slide containers easily. OXO containers are popular and great, but more economical options like this Kitsure Airtight Food Storage Container Set function the same way.

10. Don’t use round storage containers

They’re nice to look at, but they waste space. Instead, opt for rectangular storage, like the modular type discussed above, that you can stack and place side by side and in front of one another without sacrificing any space. The exception might be if you choose to repurpose jars for storage, but these are smaller than the large, round containers often used for ingredients like flour and sugar.

11. Label liberally

Labeling both prevents any pantry goods from becoming mystery items and drastically decreases visual clutter and overwhelm. Even if you can see through your containers, having a label identifies contents with no squinting or guessing. Use a labeler or, simply, masking tape and a Sharpie. You can also label shelves to differentiate between pantry “zones.”

Credit: Jason Rampe

12. Separate pantry areas into zones

So, about those zones: This is a higher level type of organization, and it will make a huge difference in the overall neatness of your pantry. Create zones in your pantry as much as you can. For instance, one area could be your baking zone and house items like flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, sprinkles, and pudding mixes. Another could be a whole shelf, half a shelf, or even a basket or baking sheet to corral similar items together.

13. Use magazine holders for produce

If you use your pantry to store onions, garlic, and other produce that doesn’t need refrigeration, consider a magazine holder. You’ll take up vertical space and ensure that your food is accessible, visible, and contained. Wire mesh magazine holders also allow for airflow.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

14. Tier cans and spices

Canned goods and spices are nearly ubiquitous pantry items. Storing them so you can see what you have is an important component of an organized pantry. To achieve this, consider can tiers and spice racks so nothing is hidden from view.

This post originally ran on Apartment Therapy. See it there: 14 of the Very Best Pantry Organizing Ideas