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15 Small Pantry Organization Ideas, According Pros

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15 Small Pantry Organization Ideas, According Pros

A small pantry doesn’t mean you can’t have the aesthetic, organized space of your dreams. There are plenty of clever ways to keep your food and beverages tidy, even when you’re working with limited real estate. Streamlining your pantry makes cooking easier and will keep you from buying duplicates of certain items. It will also help you see (and use) foods before their expiration dates arrive. To help you curate the perfect pantry, we spoke to organizing experts who shared their best small pantry organization ideas.

  • Nikki Bell, professional organizer and founder of Just Us Organizing, a service that offers in person and virtual organizing assistance.
  • Darla DeMorrow, certified professional organizer and owner of HeartWork Organizing, a commercial and residential organizing service.
  • Libra McGinnis, founder of The Organizing Genius, a service that offers custom storage solutions for closets, pantries, laundry rooms, and more.

Use a Turntable

It’s easy for things to get lost in a small pantry, especially as you add to it after trips to the grocery store. Keep everything in plain sight with clever storage solutions, like a lazy Susan turntable. “Turntables allow you to have full access to taller items that may get pushed to the back,” says Nikki Bell, professional organizer and founder of Just Us Organizing. “These also can be used to help keep categories together. For example, I keep all of my oils on a turntable.”

Adjust the Height of Your Shelves

If you’re able to, adjust the height of your pantry shelves to maximize underutilized vertical space. “By adjusting shelves you create the ability to stack products or place things at a more reachable height for children to help themselves,” says Bell.

Use Clear Bins

The Home Edit

While colorful bins and baskets look nice, clear bins are ideal because they allow you to see everything in your pantry, including when a particular item needs to be replenished. “Clear bins are also great for creating division and giving your panty a more cohesive look,” says Bell.

Stack Canned Goods

Stacking canned goods can be useful if you don’t have adjustable shelves in your pantry, but need to maximize vertical space. “Make sure all stacking is done on shelves that are eye level and below,” says Bell. “This will prevent you from pulling down an item onto your head.”

Sort Foods Into Categories

Sorting pantry foods into categories can make meal prep and inventory management easier. But make sure the groupings you choose make sense for your specific needs and eating habits. “If you only store one box of cereal at time, for example, you won’t have the shelf of cereals that some families have,” says Darla DeMorrow, certified professional organizer and owner of HeartWork Organizing. “You might, however, like to have the cereal, pancake mix, and peanut butter all stored together in a ‘breakfast’ grouping.”

Follow First In, First Out

First in, first out is an effective strategy that requires using up older products before new ones. “If you load your pantry from the front, you’ll accidentally always be using the newer products first,” says DeMorrow. “To avoid this, when you put groceries away, move the older item out of the way, load the newer item onto shelves, and then replace the older item in the front again.”

Decant Your Foods

Annie Schlechter

Decanting—taking foods out of their packaging and placing them into clear, uniform containers—has many benefits when organizing a small pantry. “You will always see when it’s time to replenish your item and will no longer overbuy,” says Bell. “Make sure you write the expiration date on the back of the new container.”

Keep Commonly Used Items Together

When organizing your pantry, keep commonly used items together. “This will save you time and help streamline processes,” says Bell. “For example, if you make a child’s lunch daily all of the contents for the lunch can be near each other and you can just grab and go during preparation.”

Use Drawer Dividers

If you have drawers in your pantry, dividers are a great way to organize the items inside. Dividers are especially ideal for organizing smaller packages that easily blend together, like tea, coffee, breakfast bars, and candy, says Libra McGinnis, founder of The Organizing Genius.

Label Foods

Kristen Prahl

Labeling is an effective way to keep your pantry organized, but you don’t need to go overboard. “Do label all dry goods, especially the ones that could be confused for something else like powdered sugar and flour,” says McGinnis. But, if it’s clear what a specific food item is, there’s no need to add a label.

Use Stackable Drawers

Stackable drawers will help you maximize vertical space in your pantry, while also keeping items sorted. “These are great for smaller snack items that come in bulky packaging like popcorn, breakfast bars, and fruit cups,” says Bell.

Use Over-the-Door Storage

Another way to maximize vertical space is by using the pantry door for additional storage. “Over door storage can double your space if used properly,” says Bell. “Depending on the door clearance you can add a thin spice rack to the door or one that holds larger items like beverages or canisters for sugar and flour.”

Install Sliding Shelves

Annie Schlechter

Eliminate hard-to-reach areas of your pantry by installing pull-out or sliding shelves. “This will allow you to see items in the back with ease,” says Bell. “You can either add a pull-out to sit on a current shelf or have pull-out drawers built into your pantry.”

Use Drink Organizers

If you keep beverages in your pantry, like seltzers or soda, consider using a drink organizers to save room and keep your drinks sorted. “You can either get them for your canned or your bottled beverages,” says Bell. “Aesthetically they are great, but the function is there also. No more bottles falling over as you grab a drink.”

Use Risers

If you have the vertical space, consider placing risers on your shelves to make it easier to see what’s in your pantry. “Use risers if you want to keep your cans at attention, lined in lovely rows, and easy to see,” says DeMorrow. “Risers literally elevate your look, and make it easy to group cans and spices together.”