If the kitchen is the heart of the home, and the pantry is the heart of the kitchen. Pantries are rooms or shelving systems either in or outside of your kitchen where you can store all of your dry goods, snacks, and beverages, usually items that don't need to be refrigerated (though if you have a spacious pantry, you can add a separate fridge). A pantry could be an entire room dedicated to food storage or it could be a small section in your kitchen.
If you realize you need a specific spice in the middle of cooking, rummaging through an unorganized pantry is the last thing you need. Keep your pantry clean and organized so that you can find anything you need in a pinch, using these ideas as a guide as you dive into your pantry organization projects.
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Store Food in Clear Containers
Clear containers, like glass jars, make for excellent food storage containers. Canning jars are airtight when you screw the lid on, which keeps your food fresh for longer and eliminates the risk of pests getting into your snacks. Clear containers also allow you to see your food, encouraging you to use it—and helping you remember when you need to pick up more.
You can purchase clear food containers at most big box stores and home retailers. Buy multiples of each size for good measure, ensuring that you'll be able to store all different kinds of foods while keeping the overall look of your pantry consistent. You can also reuse your old jars, like the ones from pasta sauce or pickles.
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By covering up your pantry or cabinet doors, you can hide the clutter that almost always comes with food storage. You can add frosted glass cabinet doors or these beautiful white ones from Tyler Karu Design and Interiors. This keeps your space muted, toning down the loud and disparate colors often included on food packaging.
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Bust out your trusty label maker and get busy making labels for everything in your pantry, but especially spices. If you like to cook, you likely have an array of spice jars cluttering your pantry or cooking area. Follow Anne Sage's lead to keep them tidy and organized with easy-to-read labels.
While you're at it, label practically everything in your pantry. Labels help you stay organized.
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Add a Small Sink
By installing a small sink in your pantry or prep area, you can quickly and easily wash produce right when you get home from the market. You can also use a sink to wash hands before food prep or to clean up quickly after an accidental spill. There's no doubt a sink will come in handy in your pantry.Continue to 5 of 43 below.
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Store food in baskets so that you can pull them out easily when you're in the middle of cooking or looking for a quick snack. That way, you won't have to rifle through all of your food to find what you're looking for.
You can even purchase baskets with rails, so that you can slide them in and out easily. This also allows you to install multiple baskets vertically in one cabinet space, meaning you can store more items.
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Utilize Extra Storage Spaces
If you don't have a dedicated walk-in pantry in your home, you can still find ample space for food storage. Install cabinets in any extra space you have. If you're low on cabinet space, you can purchase basic shelves or carts to add storage.
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Save valuable counter space by hanging produce in baskets, as shown by Black & Blooms. Hanging baskets are not only functional, but they also add an interesting style element, drawing the eye upward.
Make sure the hook you use to hang your baskets is nice and strong and be aware of its weight limit (which is usually indicated on the product's packaging). While you probably don't want to store melons on there, hanging baskets are great spaces for apples, bananas, avocados, potatoes, and more. You could even designate one set of hanging baskets as your fruit basket and purchase another for your vegetables.
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Place Cans on Risers
Putting your canned goods on risers better displays them so you can quickly see if you're in need of more when you go grocery shopping. They also allow you to grab what you need in a pinch. When you're feeling sick and just need a can of chicken noodle soup, rummaging through all your canned goods only to find you're fresh out of soup is a worst case scenario.Continue to 9 of 43 below.
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Store Like Items Together
Store similar items next to each other to make your pantry more intuitive. No more spending 15 precious minutes searching high and low for your favorite tomato sauce. Storing like items together will also cut down on food prep time because you'll be able to quickly grab everything you need for a recipe instead of taking time to search.
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Add a Wine Rack
Wine bottles take up a lot of space when not stored properly. A wine rack will solve this problem. And if you aren't a wine drinker, consider using one to hold other sealed beverage bottles.
Store them up high like this to free up counter space and display some functional decor.
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Keep a Consistent Color Scheme
By using the same color for all of your cabinets in both your pantry, kitchen, and laundry room, you'll create a more seamless environment in your home. Stick to a color scheme throughout your space that only consists of a few of your favorite colors. When you're going to purchase a new item, keep this color scheme in mind and avoid buying things that don't match.
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Add Bright Lights
Bright lights will help you see what food you have in your pantry easily. Install multiple light fixtures and change the bulbs regularly to maximize their brightness. To save energy, install LED lights.Continue to 13 of 43 below.
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Don't Forget Floor Space
When you organize your pantry, you're likely focusing on how to fit everything on your shelves. Don't forget that your pantry floor is essentially an extra shelf. Place baskets with heavy items on the floor, but avoid keeping anything loose or it will inevitably end up as a mess, contributing to unnecessary clutter.
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Store Breakables High
Fragile vases and fancy glassware should be kept up high where your kids can't reach them and accidentally knock them down. This pantry rule of thumb is demonstrated well in this colorful pantry from Addison's Wonderland. And if you're still worried about your things breaking, consider hiding them away in a more stable spot where no one will mess with them.
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Display Items With Open Shelving
Open shelving allows you to better see everything you have. Plus, you can display all of your belongings for functional decorations. Mason jars filled with bulk dry goods look great on open shelving, but avoid displaying snacks with loud, colorful packaging that could make your space look too busy.
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Store Produce in Plain Sight
Store your produce in plain sight to encourage you and your family to eat it before it goes bad. If you place it in a dark cabinet, it could go weeks before seeing the light of day again. And by then, it's likely gone bad.
Bonus—fresh produce is gorgeous. Your farmer's market purchase isn't only delicious food, but it's also cute decor. But don't admire its beauty for too long—eat it while it's fresh.Continue to 17 of 43 below.
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Keep Cookbooks Close
A pantry is the perfect place to keep cookbooks. Store them on a shelf or in a drawer to keep them out of the way so that they don't clutter up the space, but don't keep them too far out of reach so you can grab one when you're ready to cook.
If you decide to display your cookbooks as decor, consider finding ones with covers that match your home's aesthetic. And consider adding a cookbook holder onto your pantry or kitchen counter to make your cooking experience even easier.
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Keep Snacks Within Reach
If you have hungry kids running around, make sure to place easy grab-and-go snacks where they can reach them when hunger strikes. They'll spend less time nagging their parents about being hungry and more time learning to serve themselves.
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Install a Sliding Door
Sliding doors are functional and stylish features that have become increasingly popular in recent years. Install one on your pantry entrance to keep the space separate from your kitchen while still allowing for easy access. Leave it open while you're cooking if you need to go in and out, but you can keep it closed most of the time.
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Plants help increase air quality and boost your mood. Adding greenery to your pantry will enliven the space and add an aesthetically-pleasing design element. While this isn't necessarily an organizational tool, it's a great way to spruce up the space.
Find plants with low light requirements if your pantry does not have a window. Alternatively, purchase a few faux plants. While fake plants have been a major no in the past, there are some convincingly cute ones on the market now.Continue to 21 of 43 below.
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Use Over-the-Door Shelves
Over-the-door shelves are wonderful space-saving solutions that we believe are necessary in any pantry, especially those that are on the smaller side. Hanging over-the-door shelves is renter-friendly, too, making them a great space-saving option for apartment dwellers.
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In pantry organization, it's helpful to have as many different containers as possible. Store different types of food in different containers and label them so that you can find them quickly. For example, one container can be full of packaged snacks while another can be used solely for your baking supplies.
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Hang Knives on a Magnetic Strip
Keep your knives out of the way while saving space in your drawers by hanging knives (and other metal cooking utensils, like ladles) on a magnetic strip on your pantry wall. You can purchase these handy strips at most kitchen retailers.
Some house guests may find a rack full of sharp knives intimidating, so keep these tucked away in the pantry or separate room if that's a concern. And be sure they're out of reach of kids and pets.
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Line Shelves With Contact Paper
Food shelves can get grimy quickly due to accidental spills. Protect your pantry shelves by lining them with contact paper or another type of shelf liner. When the shelves inevitably get spilled on, you can just replace the liner without worrying about damage to the shelf itself.
This pantry tip is also budget- and renter-friendly. If you want to make your space feel more like your own without breaking the bank, buy some contact paper. It comes in a wide variety of colors and patterns, so you can choose your favorite.Continue to 25 of 43 below.
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Keep Alcohol Separate
If you have a large pantry, you can make room for a bar area. Keep anything alcoholic here and let the kids know that it's off-limits. When cocktail hour hits, you'll be ready to mix a drink. And when it's time for a cocktail party, wheel your cart out so guests can serve themselves.
For those who don't partake in alcohol, you can still have a bar cart (and the kids can join in the fun, too). Stock it with seltzers, non-alcoholic syrups, and fun garnishes. The whole family will love it.
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Use a Bookshelf for Storage
Organizing your pantry doesn't have to cost a lot. Head to a nearby thrift store and look for a solid bookshelf. You can paint it or customize it how you'd like, then store your food on it in your pantry or food storage area. This is a great way to up your storage without breaking the bank.
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Keep Baking Ingredients Together
Store baking ingredients, like flours and sugars, in separate airtight containers and label them. Then when you're organizing your pantry, place all of your baking ingredient containers near each other. When you're ready to bake some chocolate chip cookies, you will be able to quickly grab everything you need without spending time searching for specific items.
You can follow this strategy for other ingredient types as well. Consider placing all of your taco seasoning ingredients together, for example, or place your breakfast favorites next to each other to make things easier on groggy mornings.
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Utilize Vertical Wall Space
Don't let the size of your cabinets limit you. If you need more storage space, convert your wall into a storage area with floor-to-ceiling shelves you can use. Take advantage of every space possible.Continue to 29 of 43 below.
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Store Items in Tall Cabinets
Install floor-to-ceiling kitchen cabinets to hold all of your items with ease. Add over-the-door shelves to up your storage space even more. This will allow you to store more goods without having to crowd everything together.
Another great space-saving tool for tall kitchen cabinets like these ones is to install pull-out shelves.
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Add a pop of color to your pantry or kitchen by painting your cabinets. Use a shade of blue for a calming effect or opt for a warm yellow for the ultimate cozy vibe. Try to match your kitchen cabinets with your pantry cabinets to keep everything looking seamless instead of busy.
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Add an Island
For extra counter space, add a kitchen island to your pantry or food prep area. Use butcher block to make it even more convenient for prepping food, because you can use them like a built-in cutting board. Wood butcher block counters also give off a warm and natural look, making any space look cozy.
Keep in mind that butcher block counters do require sanding and oiling at least twice a year to keep them looking nice and functioning properly.
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If you don't have a separate pantry dedicated to food storage, you may need to rely on counter space to store things like spices. Even if you do have a pantry, sometimes its easier to store spices next to your stove for easy access. But containers come in all shapes and sizes and spices come in all different colors, so they can look pretty busy on your counter. Instead of leaving them out in the open to clutter up your space, hide them on a shelf with a sliding door over top.Continue to 33 of 43 below.
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Store Items in Drawers
Drawers are great storage solutions—they hold a lot of items while keeping a low profile. Consider adding a chest of drawers to your pantry to hold things like spices and utensils. Alternatively, you can essentially build in your drawers for a more seamless look. Some historic homes already have built-ins, which is a huge bonus.
Drawers aren't the best place to store fresh produce, however, because they hide them away where you could forget about them and let them go to waste. Instead, store things like utensils and nonperishable items in your drawers.
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Hang Things on Hooks
In any pantry, storage is key. Add as much storage as possible to take advantage of any nook and cranny you have. Hooks are a great storage addition to help you accomplish this. Use them to hang your grocery bags, sacks of produce, utensils, and more. You can even use your hooks to hold decorative items to make your pantry feel more like home.
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Organize by Size
This may seem obvious, but organizing your pantry items by size helps everything look nice and tidy. Keep small things, like spice jars, in a small drawer and larger items, like your canisters of flour and sugar, in larger cabinets. Not only will organizing your containers by size make your pantry look less cluttered, but it will also help you create an intuitive system so that you can find items a little more easily.
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Use Pedestal Plates
Pedestal plates are typically used to house and display cakes and cupcakes, but you don't have to own a bakery to utilize them. Pedestal plates instantly make spaces look more refined and you can put almost anything on one. Put snacks on a pedestal plate and use it as a convenient grab-and-go snack space. If you're using it to hold perishables, like baked goods, make sure to get one with a glass lid.Continue to 37 of 43 below.
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Stack your food containers to utilize all the vertical space in your pantry. You can also accomplish this by using tall containers for bulkier food items, like cereals. Stack as much as you can, but make sure the containers are stable to avoid an accidental spill. It's generally easiest to stack short, wide containers. Some containers are specifically made to be stacked, which makes this storage strategy safe and easy.
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Don't Overfill Containers
As tempting as it may be, try to avoid overfilling your food containers. Overly full containers can make your space look cluttered and filling them too much may lead to a mess when you go to open your container. Avoid buying way too much of one ingredient that you hardly use—it will just go to waste.
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Use a Lazy Susan
Lazy Susans are amazing space-saving additions to pantries or other storage spaces. They allow you to store multiple containers in one space while still giving you the ability to browse through them to find what you need without physically moving each container out of the way. Add one or two (or more) Lazy Susans to your pantry to significantly increase your storage capacity.
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Use Candy Jars
Give your pantry a vintage look by storing your packaged items in old-style candy jars. This will allow you to keep your snacks organized, which is especially helpful if you have a family member with different dietary needs than the others. If you decide to store these up high, make sure you get clear jars so that you can see what's inside before you pull it down.Continue to 41 of 43 below.
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Curate Reusable Containers
If you do plan to remove foods from their original packaging to store them in reusable containers instead, try to curate the containers you're using, particularly if you're upcycling old jars. Maintaining a cohesive look will help reduce visual clutter in your pantry, and—if you select clear containers—you'll be able to see all your food.
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Think Beyond Food
The pantry might be your go-to storage spot for food, but don't be afraid to stash other items in the space, too. Small appliances and cooking tools—especially the ones you don't use very often—can easily be moved into the pantry to clear up space on countertops and in kitchen cabinets for the items you use more often.
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Carve out Pantry Space Wherever You Can
When push comes to shove, your pantry doesn't have to be immediately next to your kitchen. If space in your kitchen area is tight but you need more storage space (and don't mind carrying ingredients or tools back and forth when needed), consider repurposing a rarely used closet or a corner of your basement for pantry storage.