Organize Your Kitchen Pantry

Good organization and clever storage solutions create a user-friendly pantry that keeps clutter off your kitchen counters.

Open Pantry

Open Pantry With Window

A well-organized pantry doesn't have to be closed away behind a door. This smartly designed pantry keeps all cooking essentials close by and creates a beautiful focal point for the kitchen. Photo courtesy of Closet Maid

By: Jeannie Matteucci

When designed correctly, a well-stocked pantry can be a great feature in your home. Whether you have a pantry cabinet, a closet pantry or a hybrid pantry that combines the best features of both types, taking the time to organize the layout and create efficient storage makes daily living a whole lot easier.

Pantry Options and Ideas for Efficient Kitchen Storage

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"I love pantries because it's a pleasure to cook and stay on a diet with an organized pantry," says professional organizer Kate S. Brown, CPO, owner of Impact Productivity. "It allows you to plan your meals and stick to an eating plan. If a pantry isn't working well, everything gets harder, from simply making a meal to grabbing a healthy snack as you head out the door."

If your pantry feels stuffed with items you don't really use, it's time to give the space a makeover. Think about what you want to store and how often you use each item. If cleaning out your entire pantry seems too overwhelming, focus on cleaning one shelf or section at a time. Take a few moments to clean off dusty cans and sticky stains. Pay attention to corners and remove crumbs, spilled spices or discarded bits of cereal. Before you load the pantry back up, consider how an improved layout can make your pantry more user friendly.

"For a full walk-in pantry that's like a small room, I try to design in some counter space for unloading grocery bags," says designer Mark T. White, CKD, CBD, owner of Kitchen Encounters. "The storage below can be used for bulky items like large dog food bags, or drawers for items you don't want sitting out, like extra stockpots."

Make sure to keep the items you use daily, like breakfast cereal, pet food and snacks for the kids, at an accessible level. Lighter items you access occasionally, like paper towels, can go on the top shelves. Brown says storing paper towels on their side can help save space.

For practical and safety reasons, heavy items should be stored on the bottom of your pantry. And make sure to group like items together so you can easily find them and know how much you have before you head to the store.

Red Wine Cellar With Storage Space

Red Wine Cellar

A pantry isn't just for storing food, cookie sheets, mixing bowls and canisters, storage racks for wine bottles also keep your kitchen organized and clutter-free. Photo courtesy of Closet Maid

Tips for Creating and Utilizing Pantry Storage

  • Create organized zones with specific sections for baking goods and supplies, breakfast items, spices and snacks.
  • While some homeowners like glass containers, they can break and pose a danger. If using plastic containers, look for containers free of Bisphenol A (BPA).
  • Store spices in airtight jars or tins on easy-to-access racks. Label each container and include the "best by" date so you don't waste money or use outdated spices. To make spices easy to find, Brown likes to arrange them alphabetically.
  • Store glasses with the shorter ones in front and taller ones in the back so you know what you have available for the next dinner party.
  • Whenever possible, go for adjustable shelves that allow you to change the configuration of your pantry as your needs change.

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