Pantry Organization Ideas from the Pros

An organized pantry not only improves function but also elevates the look and feel of the space.

Today I’m excited to bring back my favorite organization pro, Emily Maiocco from Next Level Organizing.

Emily just finished our pantry and it came out perfect!

So, I asked her to share her best pantry organization ideas here today.

pantry organization ideas and top product picks

The Best Pantry Organization Ideas

Here’s Emily with some of her favorite tips and tricks to help you achieve pantry organization bliss!

Choose containers which make sense for how you live and the space you have.  

If you keep a lot of grab and go snacks in your home, open top containers allow for easy access by hands big or small.

As a result, bulky packaging can be discarded for less clutter.

open storage bin for pantry
Stacking Bamboo Bins

We recommend you use a variety of containers for different types of foods and spaces as needed. 

Not only can this improve function (hello turntables!!) but they also add visual interest in the space.

organized pantry shelves
turntables and wire baskets

Label your categories.

While this may seem like an easy step to skip, I highly encourage you not to. 

Because, adding a label clearly communicates to anyone who uses the space exactly where to find what they’re looking for and where to put items away.  

Pantry shelves with labeled categories
pantry shelves with pantry bin labels

Choose label names for how you look for items in broad terms. 

This will all depend on your specific inventory but these are some of our most used labels:

  • Dinner
  • Pasta
  • Grains
  • Potatoes
  • Onions
  • Bread
  • Breakfast
  • Snacks
  • Nuts & Dried Fruits
  • Crackers
  • Sweets
  • Baking
  • Baking Mixes
  • Decorating
  • Drinks
  • and last but definitely not least Backstock!
pantry in kitchen cabinet with shelves

So, if you have space on your pantry floor or higher shelves, these are great spots for backstock items.

This can be anything from bulky bags of unopened chips, to extra cereal boxes and basically anything that is a duplicate of what is kept in other more accessible spots.

However, if the pantry is not an option for your back stock items, look to other spaces such as in your garage, basement and other tucked away spots.

Utilize your doors to maximize space.

There’s a few great products for your pantry door.

In particular, we recommend this one, in order to maximize your pantry storage options.

using pantry door for storage

Keep your corners accessible.

Another great pantry organization idea is to add turntables or containers so items don’t get lost in dark corners.

turntables in pantry
wooden turntables

Decant some of your dry goods into lidded jars if it makes sense for your family.

glass jars in pantry
storage ideas: glass jars with lids


Time needed: 5 hours.


  1. Take it All Out & Sort
    I know I know, no one wants to do this but I promise this step is key to your success! Clearing out the space is the first step in any organizing project. It’s particularly important in a cluttered pantry. Not only does it give you time to review your inventory, it also helps you start with a clean slate. If you have food in other cabinets of the kitchen, be sure to empty those spaces as well.  This will give you the full picture.

    Sort by Use – As you pull items out, be sure to sort. This can be how you use them or think to look for them. Sorting by category will be extremely helpful later in the process when you’ll plan for placement. Also check expiration dates during this step! You can make a grocery list of items you need to replace. Think about what you’ll need to leave space for in the pantry. For unexpired items you won’t use or eat, consider donating them.

    pantry storage ideas and best bins to buy

  2. Give It a Good Scrub.
    Now that your pantry is empty, use this time to wipe down the shelves and sweep the floor. It’s also the perfect time to for repairs like replacing warped or broken shelves, or add missing shelf pegs.

  3. Plan Out Your Zones
    This step can often feel the most daunting, but here are some helpful things to consider.
    First, who will be accessing what: If you want your kids to have access to snacks, be sure to set aside a lower shelf or a bottom drawer or cabinet in the kitchen. On the other hand, consider what you don’t want kids to have access to, or what you don’t need frequently – those items can be stored up higher.
    Consider what categories may work better out of the pantry: The whole point of organizing is to make your life easier. For example, if you make daily shakes, keep your shake ingredients by your mixer in the kitchen.
    If bulky appliances are taking up too much space in your kitchen, move them to the pantry. Alternatively, If you’re working with a small pantry, take an entire category like baking or breakfast and place it in a kitchen cabinet. 
    Create Zones on Shelves: Keeping similar categories together makes it easier to find what you need. EX: create a dinner zone by keeping canned goods and sauces by pastas. You can also group specific items together by meal, like Taco Night! 

  4. Contain
    While it’s very tempting to purchase the product first, keep this as the last step. Since you’ve taken the time to sort out unwanted items and planned out zones, you can now see the reality of the category sizes and decide the best way to contain them. Open baskets are an easy option and hide unsightly packaging. Baskets without a lid are much more user friendly.

    We love decanting dry goods when it makes sense to do so. It may make sense for you to decant if your family always has a certain kind of dry good on hand, particularly in multiple quantities. Eliminating multiple boxes of the same item will help cut down on clutter. This includes cereals, nuts, pastas, rices and grains. Containers that stack allow you to utilize the vertical space on each shelf as well.

  5. Label
    Labeling may be one of the most important steps in the process! This is what allows everyone in the home to maintain the system you put in place. It’s important to point out that creating a zone is sometimes all the “containment” you need depending on your space.

  6. Take a Step Back & Adjust
    Take time to assess the big picture. EX: Are there off season/lesser used items that would make more sense in a clear container up high, instead of taking up valuable real estate at eye level? Do you want to play with your storage containers a bit for a more visually pleasing look. Now is the time to do it!

Pantry Organization Ideas Conclusion

Most important of all, keep in mind that your pantry (and all organizational systems) should evolve with you as your family grows and changes.

Not only do systems change naturally with our needs, they also may evolve seasonally.

Systems that work well for your family during the school year, may need to change a little to function better for your summer schedule. 

If a system is not working for you, don’t feel defeated!

Finally, even in my own home, I have to remain flexible about moving things around until it works best for our family’s needs. 

Thanks for having me here today on The Zhush!!!

Additional Organizing Tips and Inspiration:

Hope you loved all of these great pantry organization tips!

If you’re looking for even more inspiration and ideas to get your home organized, be sure to check out these other posts by clicking on each title below-

Eight Amazon Products Professional Organizers Swear By.

How to Organize Your Important Paperwork.

Closet Organization Tips From The Pros.

How To Keep Your Kitchen Counters Organized


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Leave a Comment

1 Comment

  1. Lean wrote:

    This makes me want to buy organization shelves and start organizing. Thank you for the ideas!

    Published on 4.6.21 · Reply