5 Ways to Enhance and Organize a Pantry

Inside clean pantry
Your pantry doesn’t have to be perfect — it just has to be organized, so you can find what you need.

Organizing a pantry and giving it some style will make this space not just functional, but also efficient and visually pleasing.

Follow these tips to make the most of your pantry:

New wooden shelves for organized pantry
Nothing makes a pantry look complete like a new set of shelves.

1. Install More Shelves

If your pantry’s shelves are filled and you need more storage, look up! Always work to maximize your storage vertically, because there’s usually more space than what’s been used.

In addition, avoid placing anything — even if it’s neatly organized — on the floor. This makes the space appear open, bigger and prevents a cluttered appearance.

Finally, consider building floating shelves on any unused wall space, or repurpose everyday items — such as wicker baskets — into shelves, as a budget-friendly solution.

Organized pantry with blue bins for batteries, bulbs and rags.
These plastic blue containers stylishly stand out from other items in the pantry.

2. Add Bins and Racks

It seems like the family pantry is never big enough to store everything you need. Or, even if size isn’t the problem, disorganization makes it difficult to find what you need, when you need it.

That’s why bins and racks come in handy: you can use special storage methods for certain items.

For instance, store items such as batteries, rags and light bulbs in bins to separate them from cereals, snacks and sauces. Better yet, use bins that are the same color, and use that color throughout the pantry to give it an organized, consistent style.

To maximize storage for canned goods, install wire shelving upside down and slanted down toward the front. Place cans on their side on the shelf, so they roll to the front when removed.

To store rolls of sheet goods, such as plastic wrap and aluminum foil, punch in the perforated tabs on the ends of the box; then, hang the rolls on the inside of the pantry door with self-adhesive hooks.

To keep plastic grocery store bags neat and ready for reuse or recycling, attach a plastic bag storage container, such as the one made by SimpleHuman (model# KT1166), to the inside of the pantry door.

Organized pantry with blue plastic baskets resting on pantry shelves
These plastic baskets tie your chosen colored scheme together and make the pantry easier to navigate.

3. Mount Pull-Out Baskets

Some pantries have deep storage space, but if you’re not making the most of it, install some pull-out wire baskets to keep everything within arm’s reach.

ClosetMaid offers a number of systems, such as 14-inch-wide baskets, which are available at The Home Depot. For narrower doors, an 11-inch-wide model is also available.

To install them in your pantry:

  • Measure the cabinet opening’s width and depth
  • Buy wire baskets that fit the size of your pantry.
  • Center each wire basket’s base in the pantry opening.
  • Position the base in the pantry so the pantry door will close.
  • Attach the basket base to the shelf in the pantry.
  • Finally, insert the wire basket in the basket base.

There’s a simple version of this, too. Just group similar items (like all bags of chips) in small baskets and pull out the whole basket when you need something.

This especially works well for individually wrapped snacks.

Organized pantry with uniform plastic containers holding pasta, cereal and sugar.
This set of food containers looks much better in your pantry than commercial boxes would.

4. Trash Product Boxes

You can instantly control your pantry’s appearance with just one change: trashing all your pasta and cereal boxes and chip and sugar bags.

Replace them with plastic or glass containers that serve as permanent storage for pasta, cereal, chips and sugar (along with other things!)

This covers two bases: organizes the pantry and reduces clutter!

Think about it: many people buy cereal and just shove it wherever it can fit, and bags of chips and sugar get tossed around haphazardly.

All that changes when you systematically purchase cereal, dump it in the plastic container and throw away the box; purchase pasta, dump it in the container and throw away the box; and do the same for large bags of chips and sugar.

This simple change has an instant impact!

Organized pantry with labeled items on clear plastic containers
Labeling your containers removes all the guesswork about what’s inside them.

5. Label Containers

Having uniform, plastic containers for food storage is one thing, but the best pantry has the easiest access. That means not just seeing everything, but also being able to identify everything.

Labels are the easiest way to organize a pantry. Best of all, they can serve as decoration and information, and since they’re a permanent fixture in your pantry, you’ll want to make them as nice as possible.

So, if you’re feeling crafty, you can create labels and send them to your Cricut cutting machine — or just print them on 8.5 by 11 sticker paper.

If you’re not the type of person who likes to design, no problem! Sign up for Chelsea’s pantry labels — they’re free and printable.

Do you have tips not mentioned in this article? Share them in the comments below!

Further Reading


  1. Pantry storage ideas suggested emptying cereal, rice, other items into plastic containers. Sounds good on the surface but often there are cooking instructions and other relevant info on that box. I could tear off the box label and stick it in the plastic container – which leaves the best idea. Leave the doggone items in their boxes. Does anybody really care if they’re in plastic containers? Not me.

    • Definitely do what works best for your home and unique needs, Betty. 🙂
      We’ve also seen folks take cooking instructions and add them to cookbooks with makeshift sheet protectors.
      There are all kinds of ways to have practical, stylish storage solutions.

    • We’ve done that too. Back before diet, we would have the instruction label taped to the container, especially for pancake mix type stuff. The main reason for other containers, I believe, is that they take up less room. We have had our containers for years so it is not a large expense. As for stylish, that to me is not as important as efficiency.
      Thomas– To be stylish one has to give up room. those big baskets to me would seem to be inefficient, which would be not practical.

    • To each their own, but I live in Florida and don’t want to attract bugs. I feel like storing food items in air-tight containers is a very good solution. I do cut the instructions, off the box, and place it in my recipe file box.

      • Great point, Pamala. Airtight containers can significantly reduce a food item’s smell and the number of bugs lured to it.

  2. I do put all my pastas, cereals and such in containers, but I then cut any measurements or instructions off and put them with the container. I have also taken a picture of them and kept on my phone. Believe me, the organization does so much for me!!

  3. Our pantry is nearly 4×8, with particle board shelves attached to the walls on 3 sides. We store some stuff in containers, ad one shelf has small electrics and other small items, the others have canned/packaged food. Much of the cereal/other similar items are in plastic ceral containers, but when it is bought in bulk, only one bag of two will fit the container, so the box remains. On the floor are stored water bottles–gallons for tea/coffee making, everyday drinking, other items on the floor are small bottles of water for travelling…also overflow items for regular canned goods also on the floor. Batteries are stored in a drawer in another room, light bulbs are in the hall closet along with extra toiletries-bath/paper goods. Napkins are in the pantry as well. Attached to the wall by hooks are brooms, barbecue tools…

  4. Love pantry organization tips so here’s mine. If you’re not the best cook and can’t remember how long to cook which rice, pasta, etc… try cutting out the directions as small as possible and tape to the bottom or back of the cute container in which you put the rice/noodles. Works for me so I don’t over or under cook dried goods.

  5. I found out the hard way. Kept finding small bugs in my pantry. I believe they were mill bugs or something like that. Had to throw out all my pastas. Ended up using used glass jars to store my pasta in. No more bugs. But I like the idea of same size containers. Will not take up as much room as my mismatched jars.

    • Exactly, Elaine! Just changing your food storage can save it and prevent bugs from paying visits to your home.
      Glad this tip worked for you. 🙂


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