Kitchen Pantry Organization | How to Declutter Your Cabinets

If there is one place in the home that I organize religiously, it’s our kitchen pantry. I try to keep our kitchen cabinets as tidy as I can, but every January I like to embark on a giant kitchen pantry organization project to start the year fresh. Today I’m sharing my tips and storage solutions for kitchen pantry organization to help your declutter your cabinets (and keep them that way).

Small kitchens without a walk-in pantry (like my home in Los Angeles) can get cluttered pretty easily, but these solutions and organizing methods will work on any kitchen size.

Kitchen Pantry Organization | How to Declutter Your Cabinets | Charmed by Camille
Kitchen Pantry Organization | How to Declutter Your Cabinets | Charmed by Camille
Kitchen Pantry Organization | How to Declutter Your Cabinets | Charmed by Camille

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How to Declutter Your Cabinets

Prepping for Kitchen Pantry Organization

Take It All Out

Yes, you read that right. I like to start any big organization by removing everything. Open your cabinets and drawers and remove everything onto your counter. This means all food, pots and pans, and small appliances.

Toss Expired Items in Your Kitchen Cabinets

First, you need to make sure that before you work on your pantry organization, you toss any expired items. If an item doesn’t have an expiration date and you can’t remember where you may have used it as an ingredient for something, that goes, too.

By clearing out expired items first, you can be sure that you’re organizing fresh items and giving everything its appropriate space.

Separate Pantry Items Into Categories

Once you’ve gotten rid of all old food, take a look at your remaining inventory and break things up into categories. This can be as generic as Snacks, or as specific as Nuts.

Here are a few categories in our pantry:

  • Breakfast
  • Snacks
  • Bars
  • Nuts & Seeds
  • Baking
  • Pasta & Grains
  • Vitamins

Do a Deep Clean

The last thing to before you start putting stuff back into your kitchen cupboards is to do a deep clean. Wipe all shelves, drawers, doors and handles with a wet wash cloth and cleaning spray. This is also the perfect time to clean and refresh any kitchen appliances that you usually store.

Kitchen Pantry Organization | How to Declutter Your Cabinets | Charmed by Camille

Organizing Your Food

Source Bins to Contain Categories

After you create your pantry categories, you’ll be able to see how much space to allocate for each. I like to have large, clear bins for each category. The Snacks category in my pantry takes up a lot more real estate on our shelves than Vitamins, so it gets a much larger bin.

When picking out your bins for your kitchen pantry organization project, be sure to measure. This includes the width of your shelves as well as the depth. Clear bins come in all sorts of depths and heights, so this is a critical part in organizing. By measuring, you can be sure something isn’t too deep for your pantry. This also saves a lot of back and forth with returns or store visits.

Our cabinet shelves are adjustable, and most clear kitchen bins are never too high for a pantry, but it’s always good to check the height, too. I prefer bins that are at least 6” tall so that you can carry or move them without the contents falling out.

I’ve been slowly transitioning to these bins because they’re 10” and fit perfectly right to the edge of our shelves without peeking over them.

Use Clear Canisters to Keep Items Fresh

Other than making your pantry have a more streamlined and cohesive appearance, clear food storage canisters help keep things fresh.

I don’t put everything in a clear canister, but I’ll usually use clear canisters for items that may get stale quickly (cereal), or larger packaged goods (flour and sugar).  I like this clear container for cereal, and use OXO POP containers for pasta, baking ingredients, and nuts.

Another reason to use your measuring tape? If you plan on placing a lot of canisters inside of a category bin, you’ll need to be sure that the bin is large enough.

Keep a Section for Back Stock Items

What is pantry Back Stock? Back Stock is anything extra that doesn’t have a home in your new, nicely organized space.

Maybe not all of the flour fits into your container for it. The remaining flour in the bag is Back Stock. You don’t need it right now, so it can go have its own home until you need to refill. I purchased spice jars to decant my spices so that my cabinet has a cohesive look. Any spices I don’t totally empty go in the Back Stock bins. Finally, if you refilled something you were running low on but have not emptied it yet – Back Stock. You do not need 2 identical strawberry jellies in your fridge. Finish the opened one first, and put the extra in Back Stock so you don’t have doubles or triples taking up prime real estate.

My only exception to this is for canned goods. I have dedicated space in my pantry for canned goods, so I’ll stack multiples of the same item there. But, if you don’t have space to do that, the Back Stock system obviously works for them!

PRO TIP: Put items you use less frequently on higher shelves and items you use regularly closer to eye level. I house my Back Stock bins on the highest shelf in our pantry. That’s because I only reach for them when I need to refill/replace something, or before a grocery run.

Use Labels for Easy Identification

Once you have everything nicely in its dedicated space, the last step in pantry organization is labeling! This makes it super easy to identify whatever you need. If you’ve done all of the work of nicely categorizing your pantry, you want to be able to look at a bin and know exactly what’s inside of it without having to reach into it.

I made my own labels, but Etsy is a great resource for a variety of pantry and spice labels. You can also buy these pantry labels from The Home Edit collection at The Container Store if you want a handwritten look.

Don’t get too caught up in labeling everything so specifically. If you’re constantly be re-labeling it’s not really a sustainable organization method. While some of my clear canisters always contain the exact item inside (cereal, sugar, oats, etc.), my other canisters don’t. For example, I may have walnuts in a container one month, but the following month it could house cashews. It’s okay to label these as a category: Nuts. The same goes for rice or pasta. Unless you are a couscous fanatic who always has couscous on hand, label the canister Pasta. (Then you can put penne in there one day if you decide to get wild!)

Spice Labels, Kitchen Pantry Organization | Charmed by Camille

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Other Tips for Kitchen Organization

Utilize Lazy Susan Turntables

On higher shelves that may be just out of sight, use a lazy Susan turntable. In some instances, spinning the turntable to see your things may work better for you than pulling out a bin every time to want to grab what’s up there.

You’d be surprised how much you can fit onto a lazy Suzan. I also like this divided version in case you want to break something into special sections.

Use Vertical Space for Pantry Organization

I use a spice rack riser so that I’m not sifting through the cabinet and so I can easily grab spices while I’m cooking. Depending on the size and layout of your pantry, you can also use risers for canisters, canned goods, pasta sauces, etc.

I also like these chrome cabinet shelf inserts. They instantly add another shelf without any drilling and help avoid heavy stacking. If you have a cabinet that houses both very tall and very short items, use one of these shelves to place over the shorter items and utilize that empty space.

Stack Things Vertically

Technically pans and lids aren’t food items, but often times they’re part of pantries. Instead of stacking everything on top of one another (which always ends up in a noisy mess), stack them vertically in a rack like this. Not only does this save space, it’s a lot easier to sort through what you need.

I have these stackable wine holders in my fridge, but they also work for water bottle organization depending on your space.

Less is More on Open Shelving

If you have open shelves or kitchen cabinets with glass, treat these as display areas like bookshelves. Less is more here, and I recommend avoiding these areas as usable space while you’re organizing. Instead, curate these spots but highlighting special items like these:

  • A collection of mugs
  • Cookbooks
  • A fancy casserole dish
  • A few water glasses for easy access (instead of your whole collection)

Organizing is so therapeutic for me. I always love finding new pieces and hacks to make a home more organized, decluttered, and functional. I hope this helps to make your kitchen pantry a pantry that you love

Nice to Meet You

Hi, I'm Camille! I'm a bi-coastal blogger splitting my time between LA and NYC and sharing elevated, yet relatable ideas so that you can achieve your most stylish life.

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