Are messy kitchen cabinets stressing you out? Today’s post is all about the best way to organize a kitchen pantry cabinet or closet. These tips would work for a large walk-in pantry too, but they’re especially helpful for a reach-in pantry where every inch of cabinet space counts. Keep reading for small pantry organization ideas to help you save storage space!

More posts about our pantry:

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1. Keep Track of Expiration Dates

An easy first step to keeping your kitchen pantry organized is to toss expired items. In the process of completing our pantry makeover, I realized that some of our dry goods had expired. To avoid this in the future, I labeled my containers with expiration date labels! In addition, I set reminders on my phone to buy dry ingredients such as flour, grains, and oils.

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2. Group Similar Items by Category

Secondly, I find that it is easier to keep track of what is in our pantry cabinet if I organize food items by category. It is important to assign zones for different types of food and stick to them. For example, the right side of this shelf is for snacks.

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Here are some examples of pantry zones I created for similar items:

  • Easy access snacks
  • Cereal + breakfast items
  • Flour and oats
  • Sugar + chocolate chips
  • Canned goods
  • Dry pasta
  • Bottles of oil
  • Paper products
  • Extra storage + refills

3. Decant Dry Goods Into Airtight Clear Containers

The majority of my budget for our pantry makeover went towards food storage containersClear containers make our pantry both beautiful and functional. It was an investment, but now all of our pantry items are in plain sight and easy access!

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I chose these BPA free plastic containers, but you could also use glass containers or mason jars. Most importantly, I find that I am more likely to cook if I don’t have to dig around to find dry ingredients.

Related: Best Pantry Storage Containers + Organizers

4. Matching Labels for Kitchen Pantry Organization

If you already have food storage containers or are planning to add them soon, don’t forget about labels. These minimalist adhesive labels are perfect for small pantry organization! The set comes with 180 labels that are easy to read and wipe clean. (Or, you can use a label maker.) Finally, clip on tags allow you to use labels on baskets and bins!

flour containers with minimalist labels

Need expiration date labels? I used these ones on the backs of the containers.

5. Easy Access Kids Snacks and Granola Bars

I recently decided to organize all of our kids snacks in easy access clear bins on the lower shelves of the pantry. These stackable bins are a great option for fruit snacks and cups, and this divided bin holds our granola bars. You can also use lazy susans! Now my kids can find a snack without rummaging around in the kitchen pantry. 

organized kids snacks for easy access on the go

Side note: Easy access bins are perfect for the bottom shelf of your refrigerator as well!

6. Free Up Storage Space with Pantry Audits

Another great way to keep a small space organized is to do regular pantry audits. In the past, I sometimes purchased or held onto items just in case. Doing an audit (of any space in our home) helps me to be more mindful of what we actually use and enjoy.

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If you find it helpful, you can write down a list of everything in your pantry. Circle the foods that you love and prepare often, and prioritize those items when grocery shopping and organizing.

Related: Organizing Ideas for an Intentional Home

7. Use Large Storage Bins for Refills and Back Stock

When planning your kitchen pantry organization, you will want to designate a place for refills and extra storage. For our space it made sense to keep a few large baskets at the bottom of the pantry. We use them for bags of chips that would difficult to decant, as well as cereal backstock. 

large baskets for refills and backstock

Pro tip: Free up pantry space by recycling cardboard boxes immediately, and just keep the inner plastic bags to save space!

8. Replace Wire Pantry Shelves

If you have a builder grade closet style pantry, it can be a good idea to replace wire shelves. I decided to install inexpensive track shelving which has been more practical for us because boxes and containers do not tip over. The wooden shelves also just look nicer, in my opinion!

how to replace wire pantry shelves

Related: Replace Wire Pantry Shelves on a Budget

9. Utilize the Pantry Door for Extra Storage

Need more storage space? Try using hanging organizers on the back of cabinet doors! I love over the door pocket organizers for organizing all around the house. Here is an example in our craft closet. Or, try a door rack for spices.

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10. Enlist Family Members After a Grocery Store Visit

Finally, this last tip is slightly different but worth mentioning! After the grocery shopping is finished, we like to have our kids help stock the pantry. They actually enjoy opening all of the cereal and granola bar boxes and finding where everything belongs. In addition, then everyone knows where to find their favorite pantry items. Win win!

Did I miss any important pantry organization tips? Share your favorite storage solutions in the comments below! Happy organizing!

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4 Comments

  1. I love your pantry! How much space do you have between shelves?

    1. Thanks so much Ashley! There are 13 inches between each shelf.

  2. Stephanie says:

    Hi! Where did you buy the storage ware? Specifically the stackable “easily accessible “ ones!?

    1. Hi Stephanie! Here is the link to the stackable easy access bins! In case you are looking for anything else, you can find all of our pantry storage containers linked in this post. Hope that helps! 🙂

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