Deep Pantry Organization Ideas
These more than 130 deep pantry organization ideas will take that frustrating mess of a pantry and turn it into to a functional and even lovely space in your kitchen. The best products and DIY ideas are included with the tips so you can tackle your pantry and create an organized pantry that works for your unique needs and budget.
Thanks to the military, I’ve moved into more than 25 homes in my life and organized the kitchens in many of those homes. I’ve faced every organizing challenge in my own home and those of my professional organizing clients. When you know the strategies to use to approach deep pantry organizing and the best products and DIY projects, you can make your pantry a pleasure to use. Really.
Whether you’re setting up a new pantry or doing a pantry makeover, these pantry organization ideas work equally well for any pantry space.
Challenges in organizing a deep pantry
- While a deep pantry can provide a lot of storage space, the deep shelves can be challenging to organize and use.
- The deep shelves make it difficult to see the items in the back of your pantry.
- It’s difficult to reach the items in the back,
- Items often get lost in the far back of the pantry.
- The lost items often end up expiring, which is wasteful and can be expensive.
- You have to move items in the front to be able to access item in the back of the shelves.
- The shelves become messy and disorganized because of how difficult it can be to access items on the deep shelves and in the dead space in the back or on the sides.
- It can cause frustration as family members dig through shelves looking for what they need and creating an even bigger mess.
How do you organize a deep pantry?
- Start with a fully stocked pantry, so do your grocery shopping first. This allows you to determine how much you need to organize and find space for.
- Plan your pantry organization.
- Familiarize yourself with organizing principles.
- Place heavy items lower on a bottom shelf and lighter weight items up higher.
- Place items that may leak or drip down low so they don’t drip down on shelves below.
- Place most commonly used items in the front of the shelves.
- Place most commonly used items at the height between your eyes and thighs.
- Place harmful items out of reach of children.
- Use the How to Set Up Kitchen Organization resources to guide you.
- Familiarize yourself with organizing principles.
- Install pull-out drawers to make it easy to see and reach all items, including those in the back.
- If you can’t install drawers, use deep bins or boxes to create pullout storage so that you can reach what is in the back.
- Pull everything out.
- Place them in categories.
- Place all similar items together.
- Place items in categories, such as breakfast, snacks, baking supplies, dinner, etc.
- Remove expired food items and throw them away.
- Remove items you don’t like and donate them.
- Make note of items you need to eat soon before they expire.
- Make note of items you have too many off and plan to eat them or donate.
- Place them in categories.
- Clean the shelves and entire pantry before putting anything back onto the shelves.
- Review the products and DIY ideas below to plan how to best organize pantry items for your unique space and needs.
- Place items back to make them easy for your family to use.
- Place items you use every on a daily basis in the front and easiest to reach area.
- Place items you rarely use in the more difficult to use areas.
- Place items you want your child to reach at their level within easy reach.
- Place items you don’t want your child to reach above their level.
- Consider the heights and mobility issues of family members to make it easy to access items.
- Adjust shelves higher or lower to maximize space usage.
- You can have additional shelves cut at the home supply store and purchase the shelving pegs if your pantry has adjustable shelving.
- Create zones of similar items.
- This makes it easy to find what you need and to know where it belongs when you put it away.
- It makes it easy to find all the items that typically go together, for example all the dinner preparation items are stored together.
- This helps you keep track of how much you have in each category.
- This helps you plan your meals and shopping list.
- This saves you money because you won’t purchase items you already have.
- Common zone are:
- Restricted snacks
- Gluten free
- Low sugar
- Baby’s Items
- Children’s Items
- Paper Products
- Once you set up your deep pantry organization, live with it for a couple of weeks and then make adjustments, if necessary.
- Don’t hesitate to change your organization system as your needs change (and they will change over time).
Deep Pantry Organization Products
All products below are clickable links to Amazon so you can see more about the specific products. Similar versions of many of these items are available at The Container Store, Bed, Bath and Beyond, Walmart, Target and the dollar store.
Pantry Organization Products to Install
These products are designed to turn any old pantry or cabinets into custom cabinets.
There are pullout shelves of every size and configuration that can be installed into existing spaces. These are ideal for deep shelves and pantries because it makes it easy to reach items that would otherwise be buried in the back hard to reach recesses. Always be sure to measure your pantry space carefully before ordering.
The pull out products come in a variety of sizes and designs to meet many different challenges of a deep pantry or cabinet.
Drawer and organizing products that do not require installation are a great way for renters to make a deep pantry more functional.
These products provide the same benefits as the products above but are a bit smaller in size. The smaller pullout drawers work well for smaller items, such as granola bars, or spice packets.
They also come in a variety of designs to address different organizing needs.
Bins and Baskets for Deep Shelves
Bins and baskets function like a drawer on deep pantry shelves. The basket allows you to pull the items out so you can easily reach items on the back of deep pantry shelves. They also contain small items neatly together so that they don’t get lost in the back of a deep cabinet (no more finding one lost granola bar on the back of the shelf).
There are bins and baskets in a wide range of sizes, so measure your storage space and then carefully check the measurements of bins until you find what will work best for your space. If your shelves are deeper than the longest bin you can find, use that dead space in the back to store backstock of items (extra items, often still in boxes or packaging) you have organized in the bins.
Bins come a variety of materials so you can choose what goes best with your decor;
- Clear bins, usually in acrylic
- Wire baskets
- Bamboo or wood
- Plastic bins – if you’re on a budget, the dollar store has a large selection
When choosing organizing shelf baskets consider:
- What size container best fits on the shelf.
- Does the bin need to be easy to clean?
- Do you need handles on the bin to make it easy to use?
- Does the size of the bin fit the size and amount of the item you’ll store in it?
- What size container best holds the category of items.
- Do you want bins in a variety of materials to add visual interest?
- Is the bin sturdy enough to handle larger items?
- Is the bin versatile so that it can be reused as your needs change?
Best Lazy Susan’s and Turntables for Deep Shelves
A Lazy Susan or turntable is one of the best ways to make deep pantry shelves usable. It makes items in the back of the shelf space easy to reach with a simple turn of the table. They work exceptionally well in corners and awkward deep side shelves. Turntables also work well on upper shelves where you can reach items on the front edge of the shelf, but not farther back. Turning the Lazy Susan brings those items in the back to the front so you can reach them.
I personally use a 2-tiered Lazy Susan as a spice rack. It keeps all those small bottles easily accessible with a simple spin of the turntable. The 2 levels take advantage of the vertical space available between most shelves, even those that are not repositionable. You can use the spice jar you purchase or decant the spices into labeled glass jars to keep a uniform look.
These Lazy Susan products below are designed to be installed in the pantry or cabinet. The center ring is the Lazy Susan turning mechanism and can be used to create your own Lazy Susan by attaching it to wood, a favorite round platter or any round item.
Best Containers for Pantry Organization
Clients either love or hate the idea of decanting (taking items out of the packaging and placing them in clear containers) or hate it. You choose what works best for you, but decanting it good idea:
- To keep items fresh once the packaging is open, such as brown sugar or crackers.
- To save money since food freshness is maintained.
- To prevent pest infestation.
- To save space since excess packaging is removed.
- To reduce the visual clutter of many different containers and boxes.
- To easily see how much you have of an item (no more buying too much or not enough).
- To save money since you can see what you have.
- To save time making shopping lists since you can see how much you have.
- To make organizing easier with consistent container sizes to stack or fit on a shelf.
Jars and containers come in all sizes. Look for ones designed for the food items you need to store.
Mason jars provide practical and nostalgic organizing options. Many products you already purchase, like spaghetti sauce come in mason jars. I repurpose these for storage in my pantry and throughout my kitchen.
When you decant food items be sure to label the containers if the food item is not readily identifiable. For example, you don’t need to label chocolate candy but you do need to identify flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda.
You can use a label maker, chalk paint works on some containers or purchase customizable labels. You can also use my Kitchen Organization Mega Label Set. You can print out my labels and use packing tape for immediate labeling gratification or print them out on label paper if you prefer.
Products to Utilize the Vertical Space
Shelf risers are a great solution when you are not able to adjust and change the height of your shelves. You can place a narrow bin under the shelf riser to create a pullout drawer and two levels of storage.
Under-the-shelf bins also create another level of storage when you can’t adjust the shelf height. Don’t let that space just below a shelf go to waste – hang an under-the-shelf basket there to give you enough space to store items.
Tiered shelf risers are a good way to make canned goods visible and reachable even on deep pantry shelves. Shelf risers come in different depths, so be sure to buy ones that are large enough for the sizes of cans you want to store.
Place similar items together, with the same items behind each other. For example all the cans of beans are lined up front to back and all the cans of corn also lined up front to back and so on.
Shelf risers are also popular with smaller boxes items, such as boxes of pasta. They are also a good solution for spices.
Take advantage of the back of the door and side wall space by using door organizers. This keeps items easy to reach on the inside of the door or wall rather than buried in the back of the deep shelf.
Many of these over-the-door organizers can be attached to a side wall. But there are also wall organizers that work well to take advantage of every inch of space to make things easy to reach.
DIY Solutions for Deep Pantry Shelf Organization
- If you’re handy, check out the tutorials on This Old House and Family Handyman. They both have a wealth of ideas for kitchen organizing projects.
- There are also simple DIY solutions that even the beginner level DIYer can handle.
- Use a repurposed box. You can decorate it so it matches your décor.
- Repurpose glass jars and plastic containers food came in. You know these are food safe since you purchased food in them and they are often similar to the exact item being sold in The Container Store. Why not save the landfill and your budget?
- You can use items such as spaghetti sauce jars, popcorn containers, snack containers, candy containers and drink mix containers.
- Look for ways to repurpose packaging you would otherwise throw away or recycle. This is one of my favorite organizing hacks.
- Check out my Instagram Stories to see how I repurpose items in my own kitchen and pantry.
- The ideas I shared in Organizing My Kitchen Drawers for Free can work for deep pantry organization, too.
- In the same way, the ideas I shared in Organize Under the Kitchen Sink for Free can be adapted for a pantry.
- These free Recycled Bottle Organizers could be a great solution to organize small items in your pantry.
- I shared my favorite free (and some are surprising) organizing ideas in Organize Your Kitchen for Free with Repurposed Items.
- You can decorate a tin can to match your kitchen décor. The one on the left is a metal can that held peanuts. The can on the right held cookies.
- Repurposed packaging of all types can be used.
- Wood fruit crates, such as a clementine crate, can be decorated with a fresh coat of paint and decoupage or stickers to create bins to hold pantry items.
- Plastic food containers can be decorated to create a uniform pantry design for versatile storage solutions. The can on the left was a breakfast drink container, the middle container held cocoa powder and the container on the right was a cornstarch container.
- Plastic containers that produce come in can be used as organizing bins.
- Use holiday containers, bowls and platters that just sit on a shelf most of the year.
- Check out your local yard sales, thrift stores and online marketplaces. There are always many organizing products being offered. You can repurpose items to create inexpensive pantry organization ideas that are as lovely and functional as the expensive full-price versions.
Expert Tips for Deep Pantry Organization
- Place lighter items and less frequently used items on the top shelf.
- Place items you don’t want young children to reach on the higher shelves.
- Place heavier items and items that may spill or drip on the lower shelves.
- Place items you want young children to be able to access on their own on lower shelves.
- Place items you use most often in the front for easy access.
- Place items you use most often on shelves between the height of your eyes and hips. This is the easiest to reach area and that makes a huge difference in keeping items you use daily easy to access.
- Place the tallest items in the back and shorter ones in the front. This prevents smaller items from being hidden in the back of deep shelf.
- Label items in container that are not immediately identifiable.
- Label shelves when you want family members to know where to find and put items away.
- Label zones if there are items in the back of the deep pantry shelf that are not visible.
- Place backstock items behind the organized items when possible. When there’s not enough space, place them on the floor or upper shelves.
- Place larger items on the floor, especially if they are heavy.
Looking for more pantry organization ideas?
- Pantry Organization – 13 pantry organization tips, my favorite products and DIY ideas all combine to help you make your pantry organization work for your unique needs and space.
- How to Create a Healthy Organized Pantry – When you create a healthy, organized pantry with these 6 tips, you make it easy for the entire family to make consistent healthier food choices.
- Tips for an Organized Pantry – 10 tips for an organized pantry that you can do for free. These are organizing tips I used in setting up the pantry in my new kitchen.
- 6 Tips for an Organized Pantry and Food Cabinet – An organized kitchen makes your day-to-day life much easier. These easy-to-use tips for an organized pantry are inexpensive and make a big impact.
Other kitchen organization ideas you might have missed
- Easy Decluttering Tips for Kitchen Counters – 5 decluttering tips for your kitchen counters that are for busy people who want more calm and more space in the heart of the home – the kitchen.
- Kitchen Organizing Ideas – 40+ kitchen organizing tips, DIYs and products
- Organization Tips for Kitchen Utensils – Keeping your spatulas, spoons & other utensils neat can be tough, but you’ll find something to work in these 10 organization tips for kitchen utensils.
- Kitchen Organization Labels Mega Set – Set contains 90 pages of labels for your refrigerator, pantry baking supplies and snacks. The labels come in 5 styles, 3 colors and one color combination.
Be sure to pin these deep pantry organization ideas so you can easily find them again when you’re ready to organize your pantry (or reorganize it).