pantry organization help?!

Kelly RyanMay 4, 2014

so our kitchen is 95% done. I started putting things back in the cabinets/drawers. Our pantry is 16 inches deep and about 30 inches wide (I don't remember exactly). It goes about 3/4 wall up the wall, then there is a 2nd more normal size cabinet above it. I'm feeling VERY frustrated trying to organize my food. 16 inches is very deep! Any tips or tricks to not have it be a big black hole? I put kids lunch stuff (lunchboxes, water bottles, tupperware containers used for packing snacks, etc) all on the bottom (read that yesterday from another poster and really liked that idea - thanks if it was yours!) but all other shelves feel like a big mess. I do plan to hit Target for some storage containers/dividers and things but is there anything specific I can get that will help?

I don't want to feel frustrated every time I open the doors. Our old pantry had the tiny can size shelves inside the doors - I hated those but at least it made the regular shelves not quite so deep, which I now realize was much easier to organize.

I'll take any tips you have! Please help me not be annoyed at my brand new kitchen lol

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it is deep for a pantry - mine is 18" deep!

I line up like items from front to back (canned goods) on 1 end of a shelf (mine are 3.5' wide). The other end has pasta and other dry goods.

my shelves are about 14" apart so I had 10" shelves put in above 2 of them - that divided those shelves giving the deep shelf abt 9" in hgt and the 10" shelf about 5" in hgt. I use the skinnier shelf for tiny cans (blk olives, grn peppers, tomato paste, etc) AND extra mugs since it's 3.5' long!

The higher up shallow shelf will be for extra paper towels, dish soap etc. Things I can reach with my long handle grabber and not be injured when it falls on me...

I have 2 lower 18" deep shelves I use the left side of them for 2 ltr soda bottles and water jugs. The right side for my blender, nuwave oven, and I have a 3 drawer plastic thing where I keep seldom used (but needed) utensils and blender/slicer parts. The right side of pantry is next to the utility room and doesn't cool as much in the summer so I try to keep food items on the left.

I'm going to find (or have made) 2 boxes (on wheels) for the floor area for recycle and empty water jugs (to refill).

you could get a container thingy to put things in that you could then slide out a bit. I'm going to get a few myself. similar to what shows on amazon but probably cheaper type at W.

Here is a link that might be useful: container

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 9:11PM
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For about $1 each, I bought a bunch of clear plastic containers about the size of shoe boxes at WalMart. I tossed the lids. I put them on my pantry shelves with the length running front to back. That way I can pull one out entirely and set it on the kitchen counter if I need to rifle through the contents. Before I got this system in place, we had some unfortunate breakage with vinegar bottles, etc toppling to the floor while trying to get something in the back. Now I can use every inch of the shelf space right up to the edge.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 9:32PM
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I just gave my pantry a makeover and did the same thing PhoneLady, got 4 of those containers, they work really well to keep things organized, visible and easy to get to.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 10:12PM
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"clear plastic containers about the size of shoe boxes "

that's a good idea. just what I need for my 'mix' packets.

I use those boxes on my closet shelves for small stuff like scarves, belts etc

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 12:15AM
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Bins will be your pantry's best friends. The squarer the edges, the better; that way things will stand up properly in them. Avoid containers with angly sides or rounded corners if possible. Those are great for nesting in the store on their shelves, but not so great for organizing straight sided food items.

There is a woman named Alejandra that has great ideas for organizing pantries, and pretty much everything else in the house, too. You might get some good ideas from her site.

It sounds like you already have your shelves installed, but my mom was telling me about seeing someone using wire shoe shelves for cans in the pantry. It sounded like a neat idea. Something like this: (found on Pinterest: Queenofthehivemomof5, owner of, stores her canned food item stockpile on wire shelving units in her garage. Using shelf holders designed to hold the shelves at an angle for shoes in a closet and shelves spaced closer together this allows the canned food items to be stored and roll to the front of the shelving unit as they are used. The shelves, shelving brackets and entire system was bought at Home Depot.)

Here is a link that might be useful: Alejandra's ideas, about 1/2 way down the page.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 4:49AM
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Those are just regular wire shelves, installed upside down and with front lower than back. If we used more canned goods (well, I do use a lot of beans in the winter but just store them on bookcase-like steel shelving in the basement) I'd put one of my pantry shelves like that, but we tend to use more things in boxes, bottles, and jars (plus bulk goods like flour, sugar).

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 7:03AM
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I found several rectangular plastic storage bins, like you use for storing food, at second hand stores. No lids, but I don't need them. I like rectangular rather than square, allows me to store things like sauce and gravy mixes. Hubby insists we have to keep left over honey, ketchup, mustard from take out, I stored those in fridge butter keeper in small food storage, without lid, handy. Canned stuff is on middle shelf, easier to see tops, and i have wire rack that elevates three rows. I keep veggies together by type, easier to see what I have for shopping. Heavy things on bottom, sugar, coffee, cat food. Or you could use a brick or two. I've done that too, cheap.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 10:58AM
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16" is really deep! I would definitely use bins of some kind to keep like items together.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 12:29PM
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What types of item are you storing in your pantry? I have a food pantry and a nonfood pantry, both of which are the size of a small coat closet, 24 inches deep by 36 wide. In the food pantry I do not store cereal or crackers - they are in the kitchen, along with packets of mixes, any baking stuff unless it's a refill item.

Top shelf in the back right is the extra paper plates, bowls, cups, stuff I don't need everyday. In the back left are bags of chips. Across the entire front is all of my organic flours in plastic storage containers, nuts, berries, oats, stevia, etc. Also along the right side is the extra flour and regular sugar.

Main shelf straight in is mostly canned goods, and they are arranged in rows front to back by like item, but then they are placed in a 'U' shape on the shelf putting everything in sight and reachable. The right side has any boxed items like mac and cheese, etc. The middle of the shelf contains 'junk' stuff like snacks, candies, etc.

Third shelf front to back left is pet food/supplies, across the rest of the back is extra paper towels. Front middle is more snacks like applesauce packs, pudding, anything for packing lunches. Right and center row middle is all the extras, like honey, vinegar, ketchup, salad dressing, oil.

The floor is storage - the whole back is canning jars (not all of them, but a lot) The rest is extra canned goods. I have canned soup, veggies, etc then any bottles of juice or 2 litters of coke.

It may sound a bit messy, but it always looks neat and I can always find things. On grocery day I will restock my kitchen from the pantry, rotating as needed and refresh the pantry. You may not be utilizing your space as i do, but at least you have an idea of a deep pantry. I did not pick it, but I have to live with it!! Good luck organizing!

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 2:26PM
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