We have all seen pictures and videos of amazing kitchen pantries, spotlessly clean, perfectly organized visions of shiny canisters or decorative mason jars with stylish labels filled to the brim with all kinds of foodstuffs. These aspirational pantries are designed to inspire and motivate us, but we are often left feeling inadequate.
Where do you even begin to sort through your kitchen pantry and transform it into the kind of space that looks fabulous and actually makes your life easier?
Our pantry storage ideas will ensure you will no longer be rooting around for the right jar of spice or run the risk of finding canned goods that went out of date three years ago.
Table of Contents
Kitchen Pantry Storage Ideas
There are four simple steps to making your pantry work for you. We have simplified the process into Edit, Maximise, Organize, and Maintain. The result is a practical guide to revamping your pantry and creating a clutter-free space that looks better, feels better, and works better.
First up is the edit. We take a look at your existing pantry situation and get rid of things. Summon up the courage to look critically at your pantry space. What immediately jumps out at you as a problem area? Perhaps things literally jump out at you, and you risk an avalanche of tinned goods and obscure packets. Get ready to purge the space, and don’t be afraid to get ruthless.
Cull expired or never-to-be-used items: most of us have a few expired items lurking in the back of the pantry. You might be surprised to find that you have been buying new items without using the old ones you have been storing in your pantry.
Later we will look at the importance of restocking the pantry shelves from the back to avoid this happening. Items you rarely use, like that obscure spice blend you picked up in a sale or the artisanal syrup you only needed a spoonful of for one recipe and never used again. Get rid of these items or find recipes that will enable you to use them.
Merge dwindling products (and note the offenders): if you come across almost empty packets, see if you can combine the contents. There is no point in having four or five different rice packets with less than a portion.
When it comes to dried pulses, grains, and seeds, you may be able to use up those last few spoonfuls by adding them all to a jar and using them in soups or stews. Note which products this happens with; it’s usually rice, pasta, grains, flour, and sugar – the big-packet items that we will later be decanting into more effective storage bins.
Identify the space invaders: tiny jars, utensils, miscellaneous food items, and boxes are the downfalls of every pantry. They take up lots of shelf space, yet it is nowhere to be found when you go looking for a particular item.
Work out which items are taking up more space than they should. If you have a lot of space between shelves, this is wasted space. However, this is good news; it means that you have the potential to store more and make better use of the available space.
Clean it up: it is always surprising how messy a pantry can get considering that everything you put in there should be sealed in its packaging. Give everything a good clean, and consider lining the shelves with a shelf liner or a non-stick mat.
Note which products create the most mess (here’s looking at the pepper grinder and jars of sweet stickiness like jam, syrup, and honey). Later we will look at how to store these without the mess.
The next stage is perhaps the most important; maximizing your kitchen storage potential and exploiting every inch of space to create an uncluttered pantry that makes life easier. Again, look critically at the storage spaces available.
Are you making the best use of the pantry space, or could you extend the shelving upwards or downwards to create extra storage? Do you have room for individual kitchen cabinets? Look at the sides of your cupboards, the doors’ insides, and the shelved area.
Think about how easy it is to see what is in the pantry and how accessible it is. We want to eliminate the avalanche risk and make everything instantly visible and easily reachable. Of course, it’s a bonus that this will also make the pantry look much more pleasing.
Shallow storage shelves: adding a shallow shelf or a series of shelves is a great way to make use of a small space and give you valuable storage for those small jars and boxes that were taking up so much more shelf space than they deserved!
Shallow shelves are small enough to go on the wall, the sides of cupboards, or inside doors. This shelving system is an excellent kitchen organization idea if you don’t have the luxury of a floor-to-ceiling, walk-in-pantry.
Inside pantry doors: the back of the pantry door is one of the most underused storage opportunities. This unused space is perfect for narrow shelves, storage racks, or hanging baskets for fresh produce.
Shelf risers: you wouldn’t want to attend a ball game where the seating was all on the level and you were stuck at the back, right? Shelf risers or adjustable shelves transform your shelves by giving you that tiered effect of seeing everything on the shelf without moving everything around. Ideal for small cans, spice jars, canned goods, and smaller boxes.
Rotating storage racks: the lazy Susan isn’t just for tabletops! Repurpose a lazy Susan or get hold of some rotating storage solutions to make it easier for you to use hard-to-reach spaces without taking everything off the shelf to get to what you want.
These are especially useful for pantries with corners; a revolving storage solution in that awkward corner space where things tend to get lost will revolutionize your pantry.
We will show you how to organize the pantry for your kitchen in a few quick steps. This step is arguably the most enjoyable part of the process; putting everything together so that it best meets your needs. How you organize your pantry will depend on your lifestyle.
If you rarely bake, don’t be seduced by aspirational images of shiny glass jars of flour and sugar! Instead, think about the products you use most and the ones you need to keep but don’t necessarily need easy access to, and implement a storage system based on the frequency of use.
You may be surprised how often you move a rarely used item out of the way to reach an item you use frequently. An essential part of the process is simply knowing how well your pantry works for you.
Small appliance storage: Small appliances like blenders, coffee grinders, weighing scales, and other kitchen gadgets don’t need to be on the countertop. You can access these appliances much more quickly if you place them on a wheeled trolley or a wheeled stand (the kind designed for plant pots is ideal).
This way, you can keep them on the floor or a low shelf of the pantry and wheel them out whenever you need them. Alternatively, you can utilize a kitchen pantry cabinet to store small appliances.
Pots and pans storage: If you need to store pots, pans, or oven trays, avoid crashes by using purpose-made pot stands or simple tension rods that allow you to ‘file away’ your trays. Pots and pans can also be hung up, so consider a hanging rail that uses space higher up in the pantry area that would otherwise be wasted.
Ease of access: Place your most-used items at eye level where it is most comfortable to reach them. Larger jars and heavier packets should be placed lower down, so they are more comfortable to lift (and there is less risk of pulling them down on top of yourself!). Items that you rarely use can go up on higher shelves. If you have extended your storage to the ceiling (a good idea to maximize your storage potential), then a sturdy folding step will be helpful.
Storage containers: One of the best investments you can make for pantry storage is a good set of containers that fit well together. Round jars may look good, but square ones make better use of the available space. It is up to you to decide whether you opt for Instagram-worthy containers or a more practical option.
Make sure that you match the size and style of your container to the product you want to keep in it. Would it be helpful if it had a handle so you can easily decant your cereal? Would it be better to have a scoop to get enough rice for one person quickly? Do you need scoops for things like coffee or sugar? These can be a significant investment in saving you time.
Labels: you can use a glass pen to write on the container or get creative and choose printed labels, blackboard labels that you can write on, or get yourself a fancy label maker. It isn’t just about aesthetics, though – labeling your containers helps sort your items and makes you more likely to keep them organized. Wipe-off surfaces or easy-peel stickers are always a good idea, so you can easily change the labels.
Baskets: you can group smaller packets, sauces, and condiments in storage baskets. Depending on how you cook, you might have a basket for BBQ condiments, another for decorative baking items, or one for snacks. Baskets can be placed on shelves or attached underneath to make use of the underside of your shelves. Baskets are great for vegetables as they allow air to circulate easily.
Trays: Trays are ideal for messy items or those often used, such as salt and pepper or other condiments. Keep breakfast things – spreads, conserves, jams, etc. on a tray and lift them out when needed. This action will make mornings more manageable and keep your shelves cleaner for longer.
A well-ordered system is designed to be easy to keep up with, but it will need a little maintenance now and then to keep it looking fabulous. Once you have your pantry in order, the last thing you want is to have to do it over and over again.
Better to spend a few minutes each day than have to overhaul the whole thing from scratch each month. Getting everyone in the household on board with where things stay will also save you time (and arguments!).
Date order: put new things on the back of your shelves in order of date to ensure you use the oldest items first. You can stock up on items when they are on special offer and not accidentally let current items expire. Taking a few extra minutes when putting away the groceries to ensure that food items are in date order could save you money, reduce food waste and keep your pantry looking great.
A shelf a week: each week, wipe down one shelf and edit the contents, getting rid of anything that is empty or expired, cleaning up any crumbs or spills, and ensuring that everything is where it should be. By only doing one shelf each week, the work is manageable, and you will avoid the need to do a major edit.
Treat yourself: allow yourself some nice things to keep your pantry organized and feel more enjoyable. For example, you could purchase nice pens and labels, some pretty baskets, or some washi tape or fabric to prettify the edges of the shelves.
List it: include a small noticeboard or notebook to note down what you are getting low on when you edit your shelves. These items make shopping much more manageable and ensure you never run out of your pantry staples.
One Last Thing
Forget the images on social media that provide a snapshot into a fantasy life where everything looks perfect. Homes are for living in! Honey jars will be sticky, packaging will get torn, and the rice will run out! Your pantry is there to feed you, not to be gazed at.
The aim here is to make your pantry work for you, to make sure you have all the space you need for the food you want to store, and to make it quick and easy to find what you want. If it looks gorgeous, that’s a lovely bonus.
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This post was originally posted on Hello Sensible.