11 Ways You May Be Wasting Pantry Space

Kitchen storage space is prime real estate that should be maximized to its full potential. Whether you have a large walk-in pantry or simply keep your non-perishables in an upper cabinet, using the space efficiently is key.

Optimize Your Storage

1/12
Empty pantry in a kitchen

A kitchen pantry can be a thing of beauty, or the stuff of nightmares. If it always takes you five minutes to find what you’re looking for, or sachets of spices tumble out every time you open the door, it’s probably time to reorganize. Save time, money, and space by avoiding these potential pantry organization pitfalls.

istockphoto.com

Expired Products Are Taking Up Room

2/12
Close up of a can with a December 2012 expiration date

The first step in reorganizing your pantry is removing all of its contents and disposing of spoiled products. Keep in mind that when it comes to canned and dried goods, expiry dates aren’t nearly as strict as they are with highly perishable foods like meat and dairy. If a pantry item still looks and smells good, it’s likely safe to use.

Related: 14 Pantry Goods That Basically Never Expire

istockphoto.com

It’s Over-Crowded

3/12
Plastic food storage containers shoved into a pantry

If you’ve discarded expired and unused products and your pantry is still overflowing, consider storing some items in another part of the kitchen. Infrequently-used tools like holiday cookie cutters can likely be stowed away elsewhere. Items that your family uses often like coffee grounds and tea bags can be kept somewhere they’ll be even easier to access, like in pretty jars on the counter.

istockphoto.com

You Haven’t Adjusted The Shelves

4/12
empty pantry with shelves of different heights

While this isn’t true of all kitchens, many pantries have adjustable shelves that allow you to create a custom system to best suit your household’s specific needs. Simply raising a shelf by an inch or two can make room for multiple layers of canned goods to be stacked on top of one another so no vertical space is wasted.

Related: 14 Instant Fixes for a Total Pantry Makeover

istockphoto.com

Products Aren’t Categorized

5/12
Spices and other dry goods organized in a pantry

One of the simplest ways to organize a pantry is by grouping like items together. It will be easier to find what you need if all your baking ingredients are on the same shelf, and products that are often used together are stored together. Even if you rarely use a product like avocado oil, you’ll be able to find it quickly if it’s stored alongside your other cooking oils.

istockphoto.com

You’re Not Using Storage Containers

6/12
Bags of dry goods in a pantry shelf

Bags of sugar, oats, rice, and pasta are difficult to store efficiently and their contents are at risk of spilling out if they’re not closed properly. Invest in appropriately sized storage containers (available on Amazon) for grains and baking essentials to keep them organized. Containers with air-tight seals also help to keep food fresher longer, reducing waste in the long run.

Related: 8 Pantry Pests That May Be Invading Your Stay-at-Home Stash

istockphoto.com

Your Containers Aren’t Labeled

7/12
Containers labeled in a pantry

By using storage containers made from glass or translucent plastic, you’ll be able to easily identify most of your dry goods. Some products, however, are still easy to mix up. Make sure to label all your containers so that you don’t accidentally use rye flour when you were looking for whole wheat. If you’re not proud of your penmanship, consider purchasing pre-made labels (available on Amazon).

istockphoto.com

You Don’t Have a System for Spices

8/12
Spices on a spice rack

It’s easy for your pantry’s organizational system to break down when it comes to spices. Because they’re sold in both sachets and a variety of different sized jars, it can be difficult to keep them all straight. Spice racks are handy but typically only have room for 12 to 20 different spices. Avid home cooks who like to experiment with different cuisines will therefore find most spice racks insufficient for their needs. One simple and inexpensive solution is storing your spices in 8-ounce deli containers (available on Amazon) which can be labeled using a label-maker or with pre-made label stickers (available on Amazon).

istockphoto.com

You’re Using It For Non-Food Items

9/12
Pans hanging on hooks against a subway tile backdrop

While large walk-in pantries likely have plenty of room to store cookware and small kitchen appliances, the average home pantry is best devoted solely to edible items. Try to find another space in your kitchen for your pots and pans, and feel free to get creative with your storage solutions.

istockphoto.com

You’re Not Using Pull-Out Organizers

10/12
Empty pantry with pull out drawer organizers

If your pantry has deep shelves, accessing the items at the back can be a challenge. That’s where pull-out organizers come in. Consider installing metal drawers that slide out (available on Amazon), allowing you to easily reach everything on each shelf. An even simpler solution that doesn’t require installation is placing clear bins or baskets on the shelves to corral similar items together.

istockphoto.com

You’re Not Prioritizing the Most-Used Products

11/12
Woman pulling cereal box out of a pantry

While some pantry staples like olive oil, canned diced tomatoes, and boxes of pasta are used on an everyday basis, other items shouldn’t be taking up room on your pantry’s most easy-to-access shelves. Store the items you use the most frequently at eye-level so that they can be quickly grabbed when working on a time-sensitive cooking task.

istockphoto.com

You’re Not Utilizing The Back of the Door

12/12
Pantry showing back of door organizer

If your kitchen storage is limited, it’s important to use every available inch of space. One location that’s often neglected is the back of the pantry door. In fact, this is an excellent spot to store often-used items because they’ll be easy to access. While you can DIY a storage solution for this space, there are also products specifically designed for this purpose (available on Amazon).

istockphoto.com

Don't Miss!

1pixel

Get the help you need for the home you want—sign up for the Bob Vila newsletter today!