How to Organize Pantry Shelves

8 Clever Pantry organization ideas and tips.


Do you struggle to find food in your pantry? Or buy duplicates when you already had that food item? I can relate!

In this blog you will be inspired to eliminate your food waste and save money by learning clever ways to organize your pantry shelves so they feel bigger! And as a result you will be able to find everything in your pantry easily.

PLUS! the bonus will result in your pantry looking gorgeous when you are done! Here is what we will cover. 1. Start with a clean slate 2. Take inventory 3. Purchase clear containers 4. Buy spice rack 5. Utilize doors 6. Use baskets on shelves for odd items 7. Make a kid friendly shelf or drawer 8. Label

“Let your dreams be wings”

— Tiffany Nguyen

Feb. Issue of Free Monthly E-Magazine Newsletter

This is the first of many “How To Organize” Idea Blogs and when I have completed the series, I will reference them all in one organized post so they are easy to refer back to. (how neat is that?)

Here are the 8 clever ways to organize your pantry shelves.

1. Start with a Clean slate

This step may seem obvious, but before you can organize, you need to make a mess! And pull everything out, because I guarantee there will be items lurking in the shadows that will surprise you. And more than likely, those items will need to be thrown out! Expiration dates are a real thing.

But all joking aside, it is important to pull everything out and start your new organizing task from scratch.

Follow us on Pinterest! To view this in detail, the board and items are listed below.

Evaluate, what items can store well in clear plastic containers, group items in size categories, and also determine if you want your shelves to also have categories. One shelf could be all baking, another shelf may be snacks, another could be dinner ingredients, and most definitely create a kid friendly shelf. We will go into detail on that further down. So continue reading.

One last important element when starting with a clean slate, is you now have the opportunity to wipe down the shelves that are full of crumbs. So carpe diem wiping those shelves clean!

2. Take Inventory

A comprehensive organizing project always takes inventory of what you have and what you are keeping. It is important to do this so you have an order to where it all will go once it is time to put it back on the shelves.

When it comes to food, it is even more important to know your food inventory, so that next time you gather your ingredients for dinner, you are not caught by surprise that you are missing an item. I love to make lists, and an inventory list is a clever and efficient way to know how many boxes of items you have left of a food item.

I’ve created one for myself and I am happy to share it with you! If you need a jump start on your inventory list, download Your Free Inventory Template below.

“Dream incubation is the review of your dreams and the intentions to allow them to help you process your complicated emotions and thoughts.”

-Tiffany Nguyen Feb. 2022 Sanctuary Interiors Magazine- issue 1. tranquility

3. Purchase Clear Containers

The clear containers are what is going to take your disheveled pantry and will make it a thing of beauty! Most all clear containers have air tight seals. And they come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Square, rectangle, cylinder, short and tall.

The uniformity of the design of the container is the key to making your pantry beautiful. So choose one brand and stick with it. If there is a mixture of types of containers, then you are, visually, back at square one.

Clear containers are essential

The reason the containers you will find when you shop are clear, is to show you the contents the container for ease of locating. And they mimic the beauty of glass jars. Envision an apothecary full of spices and herbs in clear vessels. What a visual wonderment! So will be your pantry full of grains, dried fruit, cereal and more with it’s textures in their matching containers. This design gives the visual eye a relaxed and symmetrical aesthetic.

You can find these containers at a variety of places. I found mine at Costco, and buying a bulk pack is the best deal. So a box of 6-8 containers will save you money versus buying each box individually. You can also find containers at Sams Club, Target, Walmart, The Container Store, and other places carrying home goods.

designed by Sanctuary Interior Design & Bath

The items that store the freshest in these containers are dry foods. Cereal, crackers, chips, pretzels, grains, flour, pancake mix, and yes even dog food. Any wet or oily foods can be stored in their original jars or uniformed mason jars.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I will add a little personal preference in our household is the cereal and goldfish must remain in their original packaging. I have very astute food connoisseurs in my home and they can tell the difference when they are stored in a plastic container. So be flexible and allow for some items to be in boxes, shuffled into your plastic containers. Or placed into baskets (read further on)

Photo by monicore on Pexels.com

4. Buy a Spice Rack

Did you know you can buy spices in bulk at your local health food store? And a spice rack with glass jars are the perfect way to store them in an orderly and beautiful fashion.

Spice rack

Removing your spice rack from your counter can eliminate clutter and free up usable space, creating a clean beautiful kitchen. Hiding as many appliances and items is the most efficiently in your pantry and cupboards. Plus! most spices’ freshness last longer in a dark storage space.

You can buy a small rack and screw it onto the inside of your pantry doors, as show above. Or you can buy a rotating carousel and place it on your tallest shelf.

Another option is this stand up spice rack. Hang it from the inside of a pantry door, or stand it up on a shelf.
Organize your spice using science! Buy a magnetic spice rack and hang the back board on the inside of the pantry door.

5. Utilize Doors

Just as I share with you in the spice rack section, your doors can be utilized to store items as well. Small 6″ deep baskets can be hung for small items, or a spice rack.

This will take some planning and attention to detail, as you do not want to hang a tall spice rack that spread beyond a shelf level. Then when you close it, due to it’s depth, it hits the shelf and the pantry door does not close.

Hang short baskets and items in between shelves for an easy functional door operation.

Do not hang heavy items such as fruit, or grain. This will pull on the door jam and the door will eventually hang crooked and not close properly.

Photo by Skylar Kang on Pexels.com

Installing 3″ deep shelves have the exception that then can stretch over a span of multiple shelves, such as a 6 shelf spice rack. You may also hang a shelf or basket at the bottom for each reach and storage of tin foil, cling wrap, and sandwich bags.

This is a great example by Maria Louise Design below.

photo credit Melissa Louise Design Pantry Door Organization Ideas

6. Use Baskets

Hold farm fresh eggs or small root vegetables in basket

For large items that are odd sized and don’t fit in plastic containers such as, onions, garlic, paper plates, napkins, yams, even bottles of condiments, all can be organized in baskets.

Garlic and onions store well in dark places in a basket
photo credit: BLOG View more basket pins HERE

You can place as many baskets as you want. But for the best visual aesthetic, place the baskets on the floor and bottom shelf. They are a large scale item and hold weight and ground the pantry at the bottom. Plus the items in them are going to be heavy and should not be on the top.

On the note, the visual aesthetic should be according to scale, small containers and small items should be placed on the top shelf, ie spices and small cylinder containers, baking soda, soup cans.

Medium to large sized plastic containers should be placed on the second and third shelf down holding pretzels, cereal, flour, sugar, using a small wire basket for peanut butter jars, chocolate or dried fruit in bags.

And large heavier items in baskets such as paper plates/goods, onions, potatoes, bottle waters, wine bottles, and the giant goldfish tub. Shown below.

Arrange items smallest to largest from top to bottom

7. Make a Kid Friendly Shelf

Kids love to help in the kitchen, and they love their independence to choose their own snacks. Set aside a shelf for your kids or grandkids to easily reach their favorite snacks. The ideal location would be the bottom shelf (not the floor). Or if you have a drawer under your pantry like me, then give them that bottom drawer. Or half of that drawer, if you have grandchildren who visit often.

Kid loves strawberries!

Or put the snacks in one basket on your bottom shelf! Kids love strawberries more than most packaged foods anyways.

8. Label It

To make your pantry far more organized above the rest, label all your containers with custom stickers. Choose your favorite font, either: Script (Apricots), Corporate (Lexend Exa, DM Sans), or Typwriter (Courier Prime). All fonts were pulled from Canva.com, where you can create your own labels as well.

Save the single label as one image, upload that image and copy and paste onto an 8.5×11 size blank template into the format of labels you purchased for your printer.

IF that’s too complicated you can find free label downloadable links in my Pinterest Board HERE

photo credit from Southern Trunk BLOG

This concludes the blog on how to organize your pantry shelves and 8 clever pantry organization ideas and tips.

Was this “How to Organize Pantry Shelves” helpful? Comment below with your review and questions.

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Our goal is to be helpful, add value, and inspiration! We appreciate you. Comment below any questions or comments you have.

I would love to answer your questions on our new podcast airing March 2022. So ask anything!!! (in the comments below)


Tiffany Nguyen
Author & Designer

OCSIB Blog is for sharing design education & inspiration with you.

Tiffany Nguyen is a mom of two, business partner with her husband, and Interior Designer at OC Sanctuary Interior Design & Bath. As a homeowner she understands the importance of keeping your investment in good condition. She loves Coastal Farmhouse Chic style, writing about home renovation and interior design, and living a family oriented, healthy, and grateful life.

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