5 Simple Steps to Small Pantry Organization

pantry organization with modern jars and baskest

Joel and I moved into a home with a kitchen that was too small for most of my pantry organization ideas. I had visions of a kitchen with my dream storage space. I imagined the look of a modern pantry with easy access to any item that I needed. For two people who love to cook, we should have knocked out a wall to create a larger pantry. We cleaned the pantry that we had and used bare wood shelves. They looked unfinished and not in a cute way. We had food boxes thrown everywhere and it was hard to find anything.

You are more likely to maintain pantry organization when you have a system in place.

Joel and I wanted to make the layout of our homework for us, so I challenged myself with the pantry. I wanted to find a place for every item that we keep with modern ways to store them. I started brainstorming and realized that the pantries on Pinterest do not stay that way. Real families with real pantries are messy and disorganized. It takes work to keep up with your pantry organization. Yet, HAVING something to organize is the first step. If you’re as inspired by aesthetics as I am, once you organize your pantry, it will make you a happier chef. I find it visually appealing, easier to locate items, and easier to take a quick stock when we are low.

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pantry organization with glass jar containers

Pantry Organization In 5 Simple Steps


Remove everything from your pantry and wipe down the shelves. Assess your items checking for freshness and expiration dates. Toss anything that has expired and donate anything that you don’t plan to use.


Make a note of every remaining item. Divide the items into categories based on relevant use. Your pantry organization will vary depending on the items that you use to cook. You can use the method that I am using in this outline and add your own categories where necessary. Food that you use frequently will be placed on the bottom shelf. The shelf above that will be for baking items. Cooking items will be placed on the next shelf. I consider cooking items to be ingredients that would you pair with other items to create a dish. The top and final shelf is reserved for overflow and stock items. These are the items that I buy in bulk to reduce my trips to the grocery store.

pantry organization ideasmakeover
modern pantry organization ideas


It’s frustrating when you are working on a project, but have to stop mid-way through due to a lack of materials. Joel and I have learned from our renovating days to think through projects before we start. Here is a list of how I decided on what size jars and bins to buy from top to bottom for our pantry organization project:

Top Shelf –

  • The top shelf is the hardest for me to reach. We keep extra stocked items on this shelf as they are the least used. I bought these baskets on Amazon which can also be found at IKEA. They come in packs of three on Amazon. I decided to store top-shelf items in baskets to make it easy to grab several items at a time. A few of the jars that I purchased were too tall for the bottom shelves, so I placed these at the top as well. The taller jars are used to store items that I use less frequently such as teabags.

Second Top Shelf –

  • Working my way down to the second-highest shelf, I use this shelf for cooking items. The focus for this shelf was to find jars to place pasta and rice in. We keep multiple kinds of pasta and rice at all times which creates a messy look from the boxes and bags. I made notes of the volume from each box and bag to determine the size jars that I would need for this shelf.

Middle Shelf –

  • I needed so many jars for this shelf. This is my baking shelf which means I have several kinds of flour, sugar, and baking substances. I wanted to buy large jars that had wide openings for me to easily scoop the ingredients with my measuring cups. The largest jars that I could find within my criteria at a reasonable price were these jars from IKEA. I added a basket for odd items such as sprinkles and baking nuts.

Bottom Shelf –

  • This shelf holds the items that are frequently used. We keep them on the bottom shelf for easy access. Items on this shelf include mixed nuts, our bread box, chips, and oatmeal. These are the items that we cycle through the most in our home. I bought these jars from IKEA to use throughout all of the shelves.

Below Shelving –

  • We keep our recycling in our pantry as we are collecting it. I wanted to find white bins for this space. They needed to be large enough to hold a good amount, but small enough to fit in the bottom. I bought these bins at IKEA and I love them! I also keep a burlap bag to store paper grocery bags along with these hanging baskets for onions, garlic, and potatoes. They help keep these items perfectly organized. Be sure not to store onions and potatoes together! The onions cause potatoes to start going bad. They act against each other.

Once you have purchased your baskets and jars, clean them and fill! I filled my jars before I made my labels so that I could easily switch them if certain foods fit better in another jar.


pantry makeover
pantry storage space ideas
minimalist food labels


I used my Cricut Explore Air to create the labels for my jars using the font Raleway in Photoshop. You can easily do this in Canva if you do not have a Photoshop subscription. I use the $9.99 per month Adobe Cloud Photoshop subscription. This gives me more flexibility for all of the projects that I create, but I love Canva as well. After I created the labels in Photoshop, I set my Cricut to the vinyl setting and used white vinyl to cut out the labels. I used transfer paper to directly place them onto the jars. It was easy and took no time once I made the labels in Photoshop. If you are worried about expiration dates, you can write them on the bottom of the jar using a dry erase marker. Also, if a box requires instructions that I don’t know from memory, I don’t switch it from the box. For example, we keep Trader Joe’s Cornbread in stock and I keep that in the box. If you would like specific details on how I made the labels, leave a comment below with your question! If you do not want to make your own labels, I love the look of these labels by The Dwelling Company on Etsy.

ikea white baskest with wood handle pantry ideas


Once you have filled your jars and containers, it’s time to organize your pantry. It has taken me several weeks to find the best flow. It’s okay to continue finding the correct balance for your family based on the items you keep in stock. I will continue making adjustments and improvements as I break in my new system.

You’ll need to tidy your pantry just like any other room.

As I mentioned earlier, the photos of beautifully organized pantries do not stay that way. You have to replace items, tidy up, purge, and maintain your pantry just like any other room or closet in your home. This pantry makeover was a great start for me. I will be moving items around to find the best pantry organization method for our space. It has improved the overall look of our kitchen and has given us a clean space to create the food that we love.

Additional Pantry Organization Tips


The gap between the back of the door and the shelves is a great source for pantry organization. I added clear bins to the inside of our pantry door for sherries and sauces. There was a lot of negative space behind the door and I wanted to utilize it to free up shelf space. I replaced the bins holding the bottles for these bins with screws. The bottles have weight and need more support than the beeswax wrap and foil. I tested it out and sure enough, a bottle broke. I have linked both styles of bins in the shop photos above.


We keep all of our spices in a drawer beside the oven. This places them in an area that makes them easy to grab while cooking. If you want to keep your spices in your pantry, I recommend these spice racks with these jars. You can make or buy these cute labels specifically made for spices!

Keep in mind there are several items that need to go in the refrigerator after opening. Be sure to check your labels!

A few samples of these items include:

  • Chocolate syrup
  • Ketchup
  • Some peanut butter brands
  • Teriyaki sauce

eco friendly beeswax wrap
pantry door organization
More Pantry Organization Ideas

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    Kaytee lauren is a blogger in search of the best Amazon finds


    Kaytee Lauren is a home blog made to inspire you to create a more intentional living space through curated and functional home aesthetics filled with the best Amazon finds, modern decor, and bits of a slower paced lifestyle.

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    1. How wonderful! I have so many herbs and spices, they overload my spice cabinet. That is a nifty solution, so practical, and so sweet of your hubby! Happy cooking!

      Posted 11.30.20Reply
    2. This is super helpful. Love the clear jars and containers––really helpful to see what you actually have!

      Posted 10.12.23Reply