How to Organize Your Pantry

by Kimberly Kimbriel

Taking your pantry from that embarrassing closet you’d never want a guest to see to a photo-ready organized space takes a lot of work. And containers, lots of containers. So, we turned to The Container Store for a step-by-step guide to organizing your shelves full of foodstuffs.

Clean It Out The first step is to remove all of the items inside — set a staging area on a dining room table.

Discard and Donate This is the perfect time for a purge. Discard out-of-date items and donate nonperishable items that you won’t realistically use to a local food bank.

Measure Your Shelves Be sure to measure the depth of your shelves as well as the space between them. This will help you determine which organizers will work in your pantry.

Line Your Shelves Line all of your pantry shelves with a heavy-duty liner that will make cleanup of any spills much easier.

Select Your Organizers Transfer pantry staples such as sugar, flour and rice into see-through canisters. This will help preserve freshness, and it will be easier to see when you’re running low on an item. Stackable canisters will help you utilize all of the space between pantry shelves.
Group like-items together in small bins and label the contents. For example, group containers of baking soda and baking powder in a single basket. Canned goods can quickly get “lost” on deep pantry shelves. Stacking cans one in front of the other is just not practical. You’ll forget what you’ve got stored in the back because you can’t see it. Choose a tiered shelf organizer that provides you with a full view of your canned goods. Another option is a gravity-fed can dispenser, or even a Lazy Susan.

Make Use of Your Floor The floor is a good place to store larger items such as bulk food storage containers, pet food in an airtight canister or baskets of often-used items such as onions and potatoes. Utilize the full space between the floor and your lowest shelf by choosing stacking bins or baskets.

Don’t Forget the Door If you have a door in your pantry or kitchen area, don’t neglect that often-wasted space. An elfa Door & Wall Rack is designed to fit onto the back of a door, and the system’s flexible baskets provide extra storage space for canned goods and other dry foods, cleaning supplies and bottles of soda. The rack will ease the overcrowding in your cabinets and make it possible to have everything at your fingertips.


Kimberly Kimbriel is a buyer for the Kitchen Department at The Container Store. With the company since 1998, she was named one of the Home World Business Impact Merchants in 2011 and 2017.