How to Organize Your Pantry

I’m all about functionality, cleanliness and organization in our home.

Anything that makes life a little easier is better in my opinion, and a functional pantry is a must.

When we moved into our current home, like several of the other closets and storage areas, the pantry is a great space but lacking in functionality. I added it to our DIY list. Now, about six months later, and we have a functional pantry!

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Here’s a picture of our pantry pre-makeover. See all of the shelves on one side and all of the unused space on the other wall? Also this made it hard to see things in the back corner. I also hated the wire shelving which things fall through so I had to get creative with putting items in containers.

I’m going to walk you through:

  • Our Pantry Makeover
  • How to Organize Your Pantry to be Functional

Our Pantry Makeover

Before starting I knew there were a few things I wanted to include in the makeover:

  • No more wire shelving!
  • Leverage the use of the corner and wall space for more room
  • Make the shelving versitle width apart for different sizes of items
  • Something with a finished, sturdy look and feel
  • Generally speaking, easy to install
  • Basic functionality of where things could be stored in the pantry; more about this later in the post

My main tip is that it works for you and your family – as you design it and organize it this is the most important.

We decided to do this makeover during the Covid quarantine. I’m telling you that because neither my husband nor I wanted to make a trip to any home improvement store at the time, and we were going to need supplies! So outside of what we may have done by going and purchasing plywood/shelving and hardware, I started to look at more built in options that could be shipped to us.

Cost was a factor, but we also knew to get the look and feel we wanted, we would have to fork out a little more money than if we had just gotten plywood shelving. After some mindless searching online I started to come across the Easy Track Shelving Systems for closets and decided this was the answer! Plus, it was available on Amazon to order! My husband and I did some measuring and ordered what we needed.

The measurements for the back two walls of our pantry is 48 inches each.

The Easy Track shelving system only has certain sized shelving to purchase, so we had to puzzle piece together what would work best to meet our needs and fit the space.

 This was what we ended up ordering:

6 30-inch corner shelves

4 12-inch shelves

48 inch Vertical Panels

48-inch Rail Closet Storage

I also decided that while we had the pantry emptied I would redo the walls. Rather than painting them, I ordered InHome White Barn Wood Peel and Stick Wallpaper from Walmart. This worked perfect and is easy to wipe clean too!

Once the wallpaper was up and the shelving system arrived, my husband hung the shelving.

Because of the kit, he had everything he needed to hang them and it took less than a day.

With a 1-year-old, having everything in the pantry pulled out and spread around the kitchen is less than ideal. This made it super important that the shelving was hung quickly so that I could get everything put back to keep the toddler out of it all!

All I had to do was show my husband this “How to Install an Easy Track Closet System” and he was convinced! And I can justify, it is that EASY!

I highly recommend this as an option for shelving in your pantry if it accommodates the space you have to fit it in. While the size of the shelf options is limited, it looks nice, is versatile and is extremely sturdy. We were worried about it being sturdy at first but so far, so good! 

How to organize:

Although I was quick to get the pantry items back in the pantry, I wanted to take the time to clean out any expired items or trash and to also organize items to be functional in the new space!

Remember rule number 1, as you organize, it needs to function for YOU and your family!


Here are some things to consider when organizing your pantry:

  • Think about what is at eye level – I like to not be tempted to reach for “junk food” when I’m going to the pantry for a snack, so I put healthier options or options that I wouldn’t go to for snacking at eye level.
  • Think about overall visibility, if you can’t see it, then you won’t use it, which then becomes waste! I found way too many things in our pantry as we cleaned it out for the new shelving that I had completely forgotten about. We made jell-o later that day because I had forgotten about the box I had bought months ago. Using baskets and labels helps with this as well.
  • Use baskets/containers: Baskets are great for keeping things tidy and organized. Baskets for items such as potatoes and onions helps keep them more contained. Certain items such as cereal and chips not only are more organized in containers, but also keep much more fresh if they are put in a container after being opened.
  • Label: If you do have items in baskets, put labels on the outside of the basket. Especially if the basket is higher up on a shelf that you can’t see in it. This helps you quick glance in the pantry and see what you have on hand and helps with putting things in the same place every time so it’s easier to find. This probably comes from my restaurant days, but I also suggest that even for items that aren’t in a basket, turn labels so that they face out so you can see what it is easily, and it helps with the appearance of your pantry overall in looking organized.
  • Easy to reach snacks for kids: I don’t know about you, but I hate it when my oldest comes to me and wants a snack and I’m right in the middle of something. I make sure that there is one basket that is stocked with a few snack options for him to go to on his own if he needs something. I also keep the bananas and bag of apples here. (My thoughts on kids eating habits is an entirely different blog post that I’ll share with you another day)
  • Items to keep out of reach of kids: There are also things in the pantry I don’t want my kids (or husband) to be able to see or reach so I put those items up higher. Things like marshmallows, chocolate chips, large bags of chips or snacks that I reserve for sending to the babysitter.
  • More frequently used items verses less frequently used. Things that you reach for to make dinner or lunch or whatever it is should be where you can reach and see them easily. Also the things that you use less of can go on the higher shelves. We put paper towels on the top shelf, along with a basket of dishtowels because we want these items handy, but we also don’t need them every day or frequently. The other night at dinner my oldest spilled his water twice! I was thankful that the towels were handy! And on the Happy side, the floor was extremely clean after wiping up the second spill.

Having a well-organized, functional pantry not only makes you feel better, it encourages you to not waste food, refrain from aimlessly snacking and keep everything in its place for when you need it.

I’m so glad we found a way to DIY our pantry and make much better use of the space!

Have you recently made over your pantry or do you have a pantry that lacks functionality? Even if you can’t change around the shelving, I encourage you to use one or all of the tips I provided on how to organized and I can assure you, even if you don’t like the layout of your pantry, you will appreciate getting it more organized! Tell me what works for you!?

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