16 Ways to Maximize Your Pantry Space

When cupboards are a jumbled mess, finding ingredients can take as long as cooking dinner. Why waste precious time rooting around for paprika or penne? Keep even the smallest pantry organized with these clever storage tips and smart, space-saving products.

By: Catherine Strawn

Photo By: Tidy Tova, TidyTova.com

Photo By: Tidy Tova, TidyTova.com

Photo By: Jules Frazer, SugarShoots.com

Photo By: Jules Frazer, SugarShoots.com

Photo By: Jules Frazer, SugarShoots.com

Photo By: Michelle Drewes, MichelleDrewes.com

Photo By: Michelle Drewes, MichelleDrewes.com

Photo By: The Home Edit, TheHomeEdit.com

Photo By: The Home Edit, TheHomeEdit.com

Photo By: The Home Edit, TheHomeEdit.com

Photo By: 11 Magnolia Lane, 11MagnoliaLane.com

Photo By: Rubbermaid

Photo By: ClosetMaid

Photo By: The Container Store

Photo By: Ikea

Photo By: Cooks Innovations

Go Above and Below

A tip from professional organizer Tidy Tova: Max out your vertical storage by adding undershelf baskets. They instantly multiply your cabinet’s capacity and create designated areas for different types of ingredients.

Open the Door to More Storage

Take full advantage of the backs of cabinet doors by installing wire racks, suggests Tidy Tova. Keep spices, oils and often-used condiments here so they’re handy.

Put Your Stamp on Spice Storage

Not enough room in the cupboard for all of your spices? Put them on display! Stylist Janna Lufkin and organizer Elizabeth Goodsell discovered that a vintage stamp holder perfectly fits the small jars.

Double Up on Duties

Cake stands don’t get everyday use, so put them into service as two-tiered storage, like Lufkin and Goodsell did. Small items, like ramekins and sauce dishes, can sit both on top and underneath.

Smartly Stash Food Containers

With various sized bins and a range of lids, it doesn’t take much for your collection of leftover holders to get out of hand. Lufkin and Goodsell say to group bottoms, then stack lids vertically with the help of a plate rack.

Sort by Category

Gathering like items guarantees you’ll be able to find what you need, advise the organizing pros behind Neat Method. Start with basic groups like baking, breakfast, grains and snacks.

Pick a Clear Winner

The Neat Method pros can’t get enough of OXO containers. “They help you use the full height of your shelf, ensure food stays fresh, and did we mention they’re dishwasher safe?!” To track expiration dates, apply stickers to the bottoms.

Add a Base Layer

Here’s a trick for making the most of deep shelves from Clea Shearer, cofounder of The Home Edit: Line up boxes and jars of food on top of a bin, basket or serving tray that’s not in everyday rotation. “Pull out the whole container to access anything in the back,” she says.

Think About the Kids

Put children’s snacks on the bottom pantry shelf, Shearer suggests. This makes it easy for them to help themselves without accidentally knocking over, say, a nearby bag of flour.

Cut Out the Excess

Save space by throwing out packaging, advises Shearer, who recommends transferring items like granola bars and wrapped crackers into labeled bins. Or, shop in the bulk section when possible to skip cardboard boxes altogether.

Build a Snack Station

A narrow strip of wall space is the ideal spot for single-serving bags. To create her custom holder, Christy at 11 Magnolia Lane glued curtain hooks (minus the rings) to a strip of painted wood.

Hang in There

Open bags of chips or pretzels always getting lost on your shelf? With Rubbermaid’s hanging clip, snacks can dangle freely — and avoid getting crushed to oblivion.

Go for High Visibility

If you’re redoing your pantry, choose wire shelving and drawer bins, like these from ClosetMaid. They let you see exactly what’s located where, even on high, hard-to-reach spots that solid shelves would obscure.

Take It to the Next Level

To squeeze every last square inch out your cupboards — and still be able to easily access what’s in back — install a tiered shelf, like this bamboo option from The Container Store that expands to fit the width.

Give Each Place a Purpose

Designate a specific spot for the items you buy most so there’s no question where things go when it’s time to unload your grocery haul. Ikea’s Ivar labels slip right onto the front of shelves.

Corral Beverages

Sometimes bottles and cans won’t store upright. If that’s the case, turn to the Fridge Monkey, a rubber mat with a series of grooves that keep stacked cylinders from rolling away.