How to organize a small pantry – professional organizers have these vital tips


Having a small and cramped pantry can be frustrating. It often feels like there’s never enough room to properly organize all your food items and kitchen tools. But with some strategic organization techniques, you can maximize every inch of space in your petite pantry.

Professional organizers have plenty of clever tips and tricks to make the most of a tiny footprint. Applying their methods can help transform your cluttered mess into an efficiently arranged storage space. A well-organized pantry not only looks tidier but also makes locating items quicker and easier.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll share expert advice on how to organize a small pantry. You’ll discover practical strategies to neatly arrange your shelves, bins, and baskets. We’ll also provide tips to edit down your inventory so everything fits.

With a bit of effort, your modest pantry can be utterly organized. Let’s explore all the vital tips from the pros!

Do a Deep Clean and Purge

Before trying to organize your small pantry, it’s wise to start with a deep cleaning. Take everything out and fully wipe down the shelves, walls, and floor. It’s easier to organize an empty and freshly cleaned space.

Next, you’ll want to purge items you no longer need. Be ruthless and get rid of expired foods, duplicate ingredients, and items you simply don’t use. Professional organizers recommend discarding any food that’s more than 6 months to 1 year old.

Sort through your pans, appliances, and kitchen tools too. Donate, recycle or trash anything that’s broken, worn out or hasn’t been used in ages.

Editing down your supplies to just the essentials will free up valuable real estate. This purge process is an important first step for small pantry organization.

Use Clear Storage Bins

One of the best ways to organize a tiny pantry is by using see-through storage bins. Stackable plastic containers are ideal for corralling food items and supplies.

Pros recommend uniform clear bins so you can easily see inside each one. Label the front of containers to identify their contents. This eliminates the hassle of opening multiple boxes to find what you need.

Invest in bins of different sizes to accommodate various items. Use larger bins for bulk supplies like rice, pasta and oatmeal. Medium bins can hold snacks and shorter ingredients. Smaller bins are great for spices, packets and jars.

Having everything organized neatly in matching clear containers will instantly make your small pantry look more organized. The clear visibility also simplifies locating specific ingredients.

Opt for Shelving Units

Another wise use of space is to install shelving units in your petite pantry. Freestanding units with multiple shelves provide vertical storage real estate.

Look for shelving that fits precisely within the dimensions of your existing pantry. The units shouldn’t jut out too far or leave wasted gaps on the sides. Measure carefully first to find the perfect sized shelving solution.

Ideally, seek open shelving with adjustable options. This allows you to customize the heights between shelves to accommodate larger items. Closed cabinet shelving can work too but reduces visibility.

Place your clear plastic bins on the shelves categorized by type. Put snacks on one shelf, baking supplies on another and so on. The vertical storage capacity will be a total game changer for your formerly chaotic pantry!

Use Tension Rods for Extra Shelving

Tight on funds for new shelving units? No problem. You can DIY extra storage using tension rods.

These spring-loaded poles extend to fit between opposite walls. Drape shelves or baskets over the rods to create instant shelving space.

Tension rod shelving is wonderful for small or awkward spaces that normal units don’t fit. Angle them diagonally across corners to take full advantage of every inch.

You can find tension rod sets with shelves included or purchase the rods separately. Cut wooden boards or use sturdy baskets to hold organized items. This is an affordable and customizable way to add storage!

Install Organization Products

Take advantage of organization products designed specifically for pantries and kitchens. These specialized items can optimize tiny spaces in clever ways.

  • Door mounted organizers – Hang storage bags, bins and shelves on the inside of your pantry door. This often unused space is ideal for tall and awkward items.
  • Pull out drawers – Install slide-out drawers for easier access to back items without digging. Great for storing tin foil, baggies and other kitchen sundries.
  • Turntables – Rotating turntables allow you to spin stored items to see everything. Helpful if items are stacked closely together.
  • Vertical dividers – Thin sliding dividers separate shelf space vertically to create compartments. Ideal for narrow shelves.
  • Multi-tier racks – Stack spices, cans and jars on space-saving racks with multiple shelves. Can be installed or freestanding.

There are numerous specialized products to maximize every cubic inch! Browse pantry organization systems to find the ideal accessories for your needs.

Store Food in Alternative Ways

Sometimes you just need more space for food storage. When your pantry shelving fills up, get creative with alternatives!

  • Use decorative baskets on countertops to hold bulk items.
  • Store lesser used items like seasonal baking pans in alternative closets.
  • Utilize underbed bins for overflow. Just label accordingly!
  • Repurpose an old cabinet as a mini-pantry for extra storage.
  • Hide items inside decorative ceramic canisters on the counter for easy access.
  • Use hooks on walls or the backs of doors to hang small bags and jars.

Don’t limit yourself only to your pantry for food storage. Scout out all the hidden potential storage spots in your kitchen and nearby rooms!

Group Items Logically

No matter what organizing products or methods you utilize, be sure to group items logically. Keeping similar foods and supplies together makes everything easier to find.

Pantry pros recommend grouping by category, frequency of use or storage method. Some ideas include:

  • Shelf 1: Breakfast items like cereal, oatmeal, coffee.
  • Shelf 2: Baking essentials – flour, sugar, baking powder.
  • Shelf 3: Canned goods – veggies, beans, soups.
  • Shelf 4: Snacks – granola bars, crackers, popcorn.

You may also wish to put items you use most frequently on middle shelves at eye level. Reserve your top and bottom shelves for items used less often. Implementing a logical grouping system is key for a streamlined small pantry.

Invest in Multi-Purpose Organizers

Every inch counts when organizing a petite pantry. That’s why pros recommend multipurpose organizers that serve various needs.

For example, choose bins and baskets that stack well vertically to double up space. Sectioned turntables allow you to spin to access multiple items in one circular footprint.

Tiered shelving, hanging racks and door organizers also fulfill multiple functions. Find clever products that offer 2-in-1 or 3-in-1 storage capabilities.

Dual-sided inserts allow you to store items on both sides of shelves. You can even find specialty inserts to store foil, bags and razors vertically in wasted narrow gaps. Explore different inserts made specifically to maximize awkward spaces.

Establish Zones and Consider Flow

When organizing your pint-sized pantry, think about establishing zones or areas based on cooking flow. This will make preparing meals easier.

For example, keep baking items together on the top shelves. Position oils and vinegars near each other since they’re often used together

Place items you use most frequently, like main ingredients and seasonings, at arm’s level to for quick access. Reserve the bottom shelves for large pots and appliances that are only occasionally needed.

Also consider the flow of your kitchen. Position pantry items closer to work areas where they will be mainly used, like near the stovetop. Arrange items efficiently based on food prep sequences.

Planning your pantry layout based on cooking zones and flow will make a significant difference in your everyday experience.

Add Small Shelves Just for Spices

To save space, keep spices out of your main pantry shelving and store them separately. Mount a spice rack right inside the pantry door or on another wall.

These door-mounted mini shelves are the ideal size for holding spice jars vertically. Storing them out in the open makes spices far easier to access than if stuffed in a bin.

For even more spice storage, install floating wall-mounted shelves above eye level. Use one shelf for spice bottles and another row for seasoning packets.

Having all your spices collectively organized on their own dedicated shelves will make cooking much more efficient. It also frees up precious real estate in your main pantry shelving.

Use Interlocking Stackable Shelves

Another space-saving trick is to install interlocking stackable shelves. These thin metal or plastic shelves can be stacked vertically or arranged in customizable configurations.

The interlocking function allows the shelves to connect securely together in different positions. Create unique floating shelf towers to maximize awkward vertical spaces.

Use a stackable shelf tower in the center of a shelf to split one long space into two sections. You can also assemble the pieces in a zig-zag pattern to hold a variety of different sized items.

The modular nature of interlocking stackable shelves lets you rearrange the layout until you find the perfect setup. They’re ideal for adapting to the odd dimensions of tiny pantries!

Hang a Tension Rod To Double Hanging Space

Standard pantries often have one shelf rod for hanging items. But when space is limited, you need more than that!

Install a spring-loaded tension rod below your permanent hanging rod to double the hanging storage. These handy rods telescope to fit in place and provide instant extra space.

Use S-hooks to hang additional storage baskets from tension rods. You can find tall skinny baskets perfect for narrow spaces. These upright baskets are great for foil boxes, small appliances and bulk bags.

Tension rods also work wonderfully across the back of closet or pantry doors. Hang items you need quick access to like aprons, towels, plastic wrap and resealable bags.

This easy upgrade will accommodate more than expected and prevent clutter on the floor below.

Optimize Space Under Shelves

Take a peek under your existing pantry shelves. Is there wasted vacant space? If so, add storage there too!

You can find retractable slide-out shelf ledges designed to mount underneath. These will hold items while keeping them hidden and out of the way until pulled out.

Get creative and mount shallow trays or baskets upside down underneath shelves. They’ll be unseen yet still provide extra organizing capacity.

Another option is to hang S-hooks underneath and suspend short bins, mesh bags or canisters from them. This vertical yet unseen space is valuable hidden storage real estate!

Add a Freestanding Cabinet Nearby

When you’ve used up all available space within your petite existing pantry, consider adding a freestanding cabinet nearby for overflow.

Look for a slim-profile cabinet that fits in an out of the way spot, like next to the fridge or against a short wall. Avoid bulky cabinets that will clutter up the room.

Opt for enclosed cabinets over open shelving when possible. Having the additional storage space concealed keeps the kitchen looking tidy.

Use this secondary pantry cabinet to store lesser used items like extra pans and platters, infrequently used appliances, table linens and bulk paper towels.

Designate zones within the cabinet shelves just as you did in your main pantry. This secondary storage hub will be a welcome extra organizing asset.

Strategically Store Bulky & Oddly Shaped Items

When trying to organize a tiny pantry, one of the toughest challenges is fitting bulky items and oddly shaped kitchen tools. But don’t despair – there are solutions!

First, look for tools and appliances that serve multiple purposes. For example, use an air fryer instead of separate appliances like deep fryer, convection oven and toaster oven. Multifunction tools save space.

For other essential but bulky appliances, consider keeping out on the counter or stored below with pans. Reserve your precious pantry space for foods and smaller tools.

Finally, use door hanging racks, tall slim baskets, and vertical organizers to store awkwardly shaped items like cookie sheets, cutting boards and silicone molds. Think outside the box to find specialized vertical storage solutions!

Purge Regularly

A key organizing habit for petite pantries is to regularly purge unused items. Perform a purge every 3-6 months to keep your space clutter-free.

Re-check expiration dates and discard anything past its prime or that you didn’t end up using. Donate unopened foods that you’ve had for ages but will never eat.

Ruthlessly get rid of any duplicate ingredients, extra kitchen tools you don’t need, and excess or expired pantry items taking up space.

Maintaining this regular purging schedule will keep your pantry tidy in the long run. A consistent purge every few months ensures things don’t gradually become overcrowded again.

How to Organize a Small Pantry – Professional Organizers Have These Vital Tips

In summary, organizing a small, cramped pantry may seem difficult but it very doable using these pro strategies:

  • First purge, clean and edit down supplies to essentials only
  • Use clear plastic storage bins to corral items
  • Install extra shelving units for vertical storage
  • Hang tension rods across corners for DIY shelves
  • Take advantage of space-maximizing organizers and inserts
  • Group items logically based on category or usage
  • Invest in stackable and multifunctional storage products
  • Establish cooking zones and flows when arranging items
  • Designate shelves just for spices and seasonings
  • Use interlocking stackable shelves for custom configurations
  • Double hanging space with lower tension rods
  • Optimize under shelf areas with slide outs or hanging bins
  • Add a secondary freestanding pantry cabinet nearby
  • Find innovative ways to store bulky and odd-shaped items
  • Maintain organization by regularly purging unused items

With some creativity and strategic planning, even the tiniest pantry can be transformed into a well-organized storage wonderland! Apply these tips from the experts to maximize every possible inch.

Frequently Asked Questions About Organizing Small Pantries

Organizing a petite pantry comes with unique challenges. Here are helpful answers to some of the most common questions:

What are the best organizational products for a tiny pantry?

Some of the top products include clear plastic bins, multi-tier shelving units, interlocking stackable shelves, tension rods, turntables, door hanging racks, under shelf slide outs, and specialized inserts.

How can I add more shelving to my small pantry?

Install freestanding shelving units, use tension rods with shelves or baskets, or mount wall shelves or cabinets above eye level. Under shelf slide outs and vertical stacking methods also add space.

What should I do if my pantry has wasted narrow spaces?

Take advantage of narrow gaps by installing sliding inserts to hold items vertically. You can also slide in hanging racks, mount spice racks, or use tension rods across the width.

How can I optimize the back of the pantry for access?

Slide out drawers, full extension pull out shelves, and turntables make back items accessible. Grouping by frequency of use also helps by putting rarely used items in back.

What are the best ways to store awkwardly shaped items?

Use specialized tall and slim baskets, door hanging racks, or vertical organizers like knife blocks, cutting board holders and upright cookie sheet racks. Get creative with vertical storage solutions!

How can I add storage if there’s no room left in my pantry?

Consider a freestanding pantry cabinet in an adjacent space, under-bed bins for overflow, using decorative covered canisters, or wall mounted racks and hangers in the kitchen.

Final Thoughts on Organizing a Petite Pantry

A small, cramped pantry doesn’t have to be a source of constant frustration. With some strategic planning and the right organizing tools, you can transform even the tiniest space into a highly functional area.

The key is to fully maximize what you have available by getting creative. Install specialized products, build DIY shelving, and find innovative vertical storage methods.

Group and label items logically based on cooking usage. Do regular purges to eliminate clutter. Establish efficient zones that align with kitchen work triangles.

It also helps to move lesser used items out into secondary storage spots. This leaves your prime pantry real estate available for staple ingredients you access most.

With a bit of effort and these pro tips, your modest pantry can be a model of organization. You’ll gain back time spent on prep by always knowing just where things are located.

So don’t despair over a cramped pantry! Roll up your sleeves and get busy purging, installing shelving, and neatly arranging your essentials. You’ll be amazed at the transformation. Enjoy the satisfaction of creating order even in the most challenging organizational scenarios.