7 Steps to a Supremely Organised Pantry

by Carlisle Homes

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A great kitchen is never complete without a supremely organised pantry. Learn how to organise your pantry by decluttering and optimising functionality.

There’s something extremely satisfying about a well-organised pantry. It creates a sense of calm and order in the kitchen and saves you precious time searching for items when you’re cooking (it also means you’re less likely to double up at the supermarket, so you save money too).

Upgrading your home to include a butler’s pantry is the ideal option as it gives you a dedicated room to house food staples, cookware and benchtop appliances so you can keep the main part of your kitchen clear and clutter-free. But if you haven’t got the space for a walk-in pantry, don’t despair – there are still plenty of things you can do to organise your pantry or wall cabinet.

Read on to find out the best ways to organise your pantry.

1. Have a mix of drawers and open shelves

If you’re designing a pantry from scratch or upgrading your existing set-up, we have some pantry ideas for kitchen storage. Start with a mix of open shelves and drawers of different sizes. Use the shelves to store jars, canisters and glassware so they’re easy to access, and use the drawers to keep items such as utensils, cutlery and large pots organised.

Adjustable shelves are a smart option in your pantry as they allow you to customise shelf heights to suit the items you need to store. The right shelf depth depends on what you need to store, but as a guide, you’ll want them to be a minimum of 300 millimetres to house plates and platters.

When it comes to drawers, consider paying a little more for quality, full-extension runners as drawers will be more pleasant to use and they will fully extend towards you without risk of coming off the runners. Ensure that you keep pots and pans sorted in similar sizes so that they are easy to take out and put away. No one likes pulling out five pans to get to the one at the very bottom. Learn more about the kitchen upgrades that really make a difference here.

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A variety of storage options is a must for your pantry cupboard organisation – a mix of open shelves and drawers of different sizes works best. This will ensure all your kitchen items can be stored neatly and accessed easily, and preparation spaces will remain free from clutter. 

2. Upgrade to a butler’s pantry

If you have an open-plan kitchen, a separate butler’s pantry can be a game-changer. Include plenty of pantry drawers and shelves to store all of your food items and cookware, but also ensure you install a sink, dishwasher, and any other appliances that you use. Having these appliances hidden away in the butler's pantry allows you to keep your main kitchen and entertaining space clean and pristine, and also gives you somewhere to pop dirty dishes and glassware until you're ready to clean them. Discover eight secrets to a well-functioning kitchen here.

For an added level of pantry cupboard organisation and extra functionality, include one or two runs of benchtops at least 600 millimetres deep (or 450mm, if you won’t be including a sink and dishwasher) where you can prepare any meals and use all your benchtop appliances, an additional sink where you can leave pots to soak, and a second dishwasher or dishwashing drawer. If you’re an entertainer you may wish to include wine storage and a wine cabinet here too.

3. Declutter your pantry

If you’re reorganising an existing pantry, one of the best ways to organise your pantry is to start with a thorough declutter. Pull everything out of the pantry and give every surface a good wipe down. A sprinkle of bicarb of soda will also get rid of any lingering odours.

Go through every food item, throwing out (or emptying and recycling) anything past its use-by date or that you haven’t used in the past 12 months. Wipe down every jar and canister before returning it to the pantry.

Use this time to assess whether your current pantry set-up is doing its job effectively. Ask yourself how you want to organise your pantry; do you have any wasted space where you could add freestanding shelves to make use of the height of your pantry? Or would it make more sense to decant items such as rice or pasta into a clear jar or canister so you can easily locate what you need while cooking - you can also decant multiple packets of the same product into your canisters to save on storing multiple boxes of the same item, giving you even more space!

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Keep your entertaining area pristine and functional for family and friends to mingle and enjoy, even during meal prep. An adjoining butler’s pantry is an ideal inclusion for pantry organisation in your open-plan layout. 

4. Get more from your space

Is your cabinet or wall pantry bursting at the seams, making it impossible to find anything? A great way to organise your pantry is by adding clever storage inserts. Shelf risers and clip-on shelves can double your storage space for tins, packets and spices, making use of the height of your pantry and essentially doubling your storage. Other storage boosters include carousels (or lazy susans) where you can keep sauces and condiments under control and making them easy to access in the heat of cooking preparation or handy pull-out baskets to keep your bulky items organised. You can even purchase swing-out corner units that turn ‘dead’ corners into usable storage.

5. Organise items by category

One of the best and easy ways to organise your pantry is to make items easier to find by grouping them according to category. Store all of your baking goods together, your cans and jars together, spices together, cereals together, and kids’ snacks together. If you're using baskets or other storage solutions, ensure that you store each category in its own basket or trug and label it for easy identification.

Another pantry idea for your kitchen storage is to allocate items based on how often you use them. Those items that you use daily, such as olive oil or cereal, should be stored between eye and knee height for easy access, and keep items that you use less frequently, like flour or baking soda, on the upper and lower shelves. Keep a small step ladder or stool nearby for when you need to access infrequent items that are stored on higher shelves.

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6. Invest in quality canisters

While it’s tempting to pick up cheap containers at the supermarket, it’s worth paying more for better-quality styles – not only will they look more attractive on your open shelves, but they will generally have a better-quality seal so that your food stays fresher for longer.

Opt for clear, modular canisters so you can see at a glance what’s inside. Plastic is lightweight and durable, but glass canisters will generally create a more stylish display. You can choose containers and canisters of different shapes and sizes, but to create an attractive and cohesive-looking display, make sure they’re all from the same set. If you opt for cannisters that are opaque, make sure you label them to make it easy to find exactly what you're looking for.

And if you have dry goods that need to be scooped or measured, or you want the kids to be able to access their own after-school snacks, be sure to include a few scoop-style jars with wide, angled openings.

7. Interior lighting

Another pantry idea for the best kitchen storage is good lighting! Whether your pantry is a whole room or a single cabinet, good lighting is crucial so you can find what you’re looking for – particularly if the space is small or there’s no natural light. Look to include overhead downlights or directional spotlights and LED strip lights under shelves for maximum visibility.

Plan to prepare food in your butler’s pantry? A few downlights under your overhead cabinets will create practical task lighting. And if you tend to enter your butler’s pantry with your hands full a lot of the time, you may find a light is an everyday lifesaver.

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Practical task lighting in your butler’s pantry will create the perfect preparation station, particularly if it’s a smaller area with little to no natural light. Consider directional spotlights under shelves to maximise visibility and your pantry cupboard organisation.

These seven steps are some of the best ways to organise your pantry and are key to getting the best out of your kitchen storage. So if you're renovating or building a new home? You’ll find all the inspiration you need at our Carlisle display homes, which boast practical and beautifully appointed butler’s pantries, plus loads of innovative pantry storage ideas.

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