How to organise your kitchen pantry, drawers and shelves

spacious pantry adjacent to kitchen with white white shelves


Posted February 15, 2024

From clever storage solutions to zoning your ingredients, simplifying your kitchen pantry and shelves can save you time, money and stress. 

Whether you're a busy parent, a single resident, or someone with dietary restrictions, having a well-sorted kitchen pantry can help streamline your grocery shopping, simplify your meal planning, and prevent food waste, which can help save you money.

You can spend less time rummaging through your pantry and more time enjoying your meals with our guide to organising and upgrading your kitchen pantry.

If you need help with any electrical or plumbing work for your kitchen makeover, get a quote from a qualified professional.

Transform your kitchen into a stylish and functional space | RACV Trades

Must-have items for kitchen pantry organisation

Having the right system can make a significant difference when it comes to transforming your pantry into a well-organised haven.

Picking the right storage containers

Choosing the right storage containers will help you maintain a neat and tidy pantry. Look for airtight containers that are transparent, so you can easily see what's inside.

Consider using stackable containers, which save space and to keep items easily accessible. Investing in quality containers will help keep your pantry items fresh, and may prevent pest infestation.

Importance of labelling

Labelling your pantry items is a simple yet effective way to keep order.

Use clear, legible labels to identify the contents of each container. This will not only make it easier for everyone in your household to find ingredients and other foodstuffs, but also build a habit of putting things back where you found them.

Labelling also ensures that items are used before they expire, minimising food waste.

Maximising vertical space and adjustable shelves

Make the most of your pantry's vertical space by installing adjustable shelves or using hanging storage solutions, either as a DIY job or with assistance from a qualified professional.

This allows you to maximise storage ability and keep items within reach.

wooden shelf of labelled cooking spices

Choosing uniform storage containers will help you maintain a neat and tidy pantry. Image: supplied

Start with a stocktake and set up the space

Once you have your shelving and containers sorted, find out what foodstuffs you have by removing everything from the pantry to be re-organised into zones.

Creating different zones for different types of food in your pantry can significantly enhance your organisation efforts. Here are some tips to help you define and set up pantry zones and categories:

Sort your items

Begin by sorting your pantry items into groups such as grains, canned goods, spices, and baking supplies. This will help you identify the different zones you need to create.

Use containers and labels

Use clear containers and labels to store your items within each zone. This will not only keep everything organised, but also make it easier to see what you have at a glance.

After getting your pantry goods organised into groups, it's time to optimise the space. 



A disorganised kitchen pantry can make you feel stressed when it comes time to cook. Image: Supplied

Set up your pantry zones

After grouping items, take it a step further by creating zones based on your lifestyle, keeping your most-used items at eye level for easy access.

  • Families can benefit from clear, stackable containers, labelled shelves, and restricted treats or snacks in harder-to-reach places.
  • Share houses may consider allocated spaces for each house member.
  • Single residents may opt for adjustable shelves and door-mounted racks to maximise space.

Regardless of your lifestyle, a well-organised pantry saves time, reduces waste, and makes cooking more enjoyable. Some pantry zone ideas include:

  • Savoury or sweet snacks
  • A coffee or tea section
  • Child or baby foods
  • Health foods and vitamins
  • Breakfast items
  • Frequently used items like oil, salt and pepper, and sauces 
  • Canned goods, packed foods like rice or pasta, and baking materials.

While you may want your pantry to appear stylish, above all it should be functional for you and your household, with an emphasis on practicality rather than aesthetics. 

Tips to prevent spoilage and contamination

Not all pantry items are meant to be neighbours. For example:

  • Keep onions and garlic away from potatoes to prevent spoilage.
  • Store flours separately from strong-smelling items like cumin to avoid absorption of odours.
  • For those with dietary restrictions, keep allergenic foods separate, and label shelves accordingly to avoid cross-contamination.
  • Keep open packets in airtight containers to avoid contamination. If you have multiple packets of the same ingredient, like rice, position them for use before use-by-date to avoid waste.
Clean orgasnised pantry

Placing items in clear, labelled containers makes them easier to see. Image: Supplied

Enhance your storage

Once you’ve organised your pantry items into categories outside the pantry (on your kitchen or dining table, for example) you’re ready to re-organise the inside of your pantry like a pro.

Enhance your newly organised pantry zones with added storage solutions like baskets, drawers, and tubs.

Tiered shelves, rotating trays, and spice racks can double your space and keep your pantry both organised and visually appealing.

Qualified professionals can assist with the installation of brand-new electrical or plumbing equipment, or general maintenance and repairs, to meet your household's needs.

Rotate to reduce waste

Once you have set up your new pantry categories, implement a first-in, first-out system to minimise waste.

Label containers with contents and expiry dates, placing older items towards the front for easy identification. Familiarise yourself with your pantry's contents to avoid overstocking.

Regularly rotate and check your pantry, ensuring you use items before they expire.

Maintenance is key

Consistent maintenance is key to a well-organised pantry. Regularly check expiration dates, set up a restocking system, and manage pantry clutter by disposing of unnecessary items.


Need some help around the home?
Get a quote with RACV Trades →