Organizing A Simple Pantry


Sometimes the littlest changes can bring the biggest results.  Switching out wire shelving with wood shelves was a game-changer for our pantry.  I always look for simple systems and ease of use when planning out a new system and the pantry was no different. One of the biggest frustrations for me in our kitchen were the shelves in the pantry.  The wire shelving wasn’t stable enough to hold glass storage containers and it wasn’t functioning the way I hoped.  I know it’s a little detail and the shelves were fine, but by adding something like stable shelving, it completely changed how I could organizing the space.  The concept is simple – add wood shelves (we hired this out), new storage solutions, more space, and an additional shelf.  Want to take a peek?

Here’s the before:

Keep Food Storage Easy - Create Different Zones via Clean Mama

The during – everything was removed, holes were filled, and the space was painted.


Once the shelves were in I used Post-It notes to plan the space:


Then I lined the shelves with plastic shelf liner (non-stick) to protect the surface of the shelves:shelf-detail-clean-mama

Next was the fun part – filling the space.  I used 4 basic organizing items in the pantry – acrylic bins, glass mason jars (this post has a couple sources and details), acrylic turntables, and acrylic tiered storage.  I chose all clear storage because I like being able to see everything at a glance and I find that it’s easier for the kids to grab their own snacks and gather supplies and food for their lunches.


Once I had the space planned out I filled jars and bins and placed everything into the pantry.  Then I arranged and re-arranged and lived with it for a couple weeks, tweaking it a bit for out needs.  And here’s where it’s at today – I’m sure it’ll be tweaked a bit but as of right now we’re loving it.  I added labels to the picture so you can see what’s where – the shelves aren’t actually labeled 🙂


One of the reasons I wanted to add wood shelves was so we could add turntables for baking and cooking supplies – I love this feature.  Not only does it make it easy to access, it frees up so much space.  I also love the tiered storage for canned goods.  I could put the canned goods on the second to the top shelf and still be able to see everything.  (The crock holds potatoes and/or squash and the basket holds grocery bags.)


I separated the baking and cooking supplies on the middle shelf – this is also where I put the majority of the glass storage. I like having all the cooking and baking supplies grouped together.

Here are a couple more views:


See that narrow shelf at the very top?  I keep bags of flour and ‘overstock’ of vitamins and Halloween candy up there 🙂


So that’s the pantry redo – 6 shelves and the whole pantry gets a new life.

I labeled the glass storage jars (and I love how this functions) – check out this post for all the details and sources.


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  1. I LOVE it! My pantry has wooden shelves, but they’re very deep and almost unusable. I just added wooden pull-out shelves this summer and it’s made a huge difference. I too have floor space and added a 3 inch high wire cart on wheels so I could put my extra bags of floor, potatoes, etc. The wheels enable me to pull out the cart so I don’t scratch my hardwood floor.. The whole remake has made a huge difference in how we use the pantry. I love your blog and follow you every day.

  2. It looks great!!! We did this same thing over Labor Day weekend. It is a game changer. I love having solid shelves. No more containers tipping, or crockpot feet getting stuck between the wires (I had the tighter mesh shelving.) And the shelves are going to be installed in the garage, so they’re not going to waste.

  3. Karen Clinger says:

    This is just what I needed to see as my current pantry set up is driving me crazy! Thank you.

  4. My pantry is narrow but 22″ deep. 🙁

    • Mine is narrow and 11 inches deep… this just isn’t a possibility. I am considering keeping all my baking flour(gluten free) in the outdoor freezer just to have a bit of space.

  5. Ah I would love to have a pantry this size to fit everything in! My pantry has to be in multiple cabinets and spaces which makes things a bit difficult!

  6. I was wondering where you purchased the shelving that you used for your pantry?

  7. I love this!! I want to go home and do this right now!! Do you happen to know the size of the wood shelves (width/thickness)?? It looks fabulous. I might just have to do this!! My wire shelves just aren’t doing it, and I feel stuff gets lost! Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Thanks Jessica! All the shelves are 16” wide except for the very top one which is 12” wide. They have a false front and sides to make them look look thicker than they are – you can see that if you look real close in the pics 🙂

  8. Michelle G says:

    Mine too Jennifer! We have an old house. My overflow goes in back closet! Waaahh!

  9. This looks similar to my pantry. We took the closet in the third bedroom and turned it into a pantry. Granted it isn’t as organized as this one. And I think the shelving in ours is farther apart. How far apart are the shelves in your pantry? I do have glass jars for storage, but everything is spilling out into the room. Yes, we have too much products in too little of space. Hubby is a bargain (over) shopper.

  10. We have a cabinet pantry which is deep, shelves close together and hard to see anything. On top of that I have too much food, bits of this and that, cereal, canned tomatoes, soups, baking supplies and snacks. In my basement I have a pantry under the stairs for overflow. This is a long and narrow closet with a wider boxy end. Here are all my canned goods, condiments, cooking supplies, beans, and appliances that are now t used very often. We put down a tile floor, painted it tangerine, white wood shelves (left over from putting in Elfa shelves in the bedroom closets). It works, downstairs is better than the kitchen one, but not ideal. So far I haven’t come up with a better plan. I also have a lot of dishes, that I solved by putting in a “butlers pantry/closet” in one of the bedrooms. I inherited all my grandmothers good China, that makes three sets plus my own.

  11. Where do you keep new packages of the things you store in clear containers? Do you wait until you’re completely out of granola before buying more, for example? Or just pour the new on top of the old?

  12. The three tiered shelves you show with jars and cans on them don’t look the same as the ones on Amazon that the link takes you to. Those say they are spice racks and some of the comments say they are not for cans. What are the dimensions of the ones in your pantry?

  13. Love it. I have those wire shelves, and cannot stand them. Why do builders use them, anyway? Cheap, I guess. You had your wood shelves professionally installed? Who would I look for, to do this? My husband isn’t handy at all.

  14. What basket/shelf system did you use on your pantry doors? I’ve been hunting for a good pantry door system and your’s looks like the kind of sturdy I’m looking for!

  15. Hi Becky, May you please let me know the distance in-between your 6 shelves please? The length/width of the wooden shelf too ? I am homebound for a week taking care of a family member and would love to surprise them with their pantry when they feel better. Thank you for sharing.

  16. Amy Siles says:

    How wide is your pantry?

  17. Cristina Smith says:

    Consider your lighting when choosing shelves: I turned a deep, narrow closet into a pantry. Along one wall I installed Elfa wire shelves and did it myself. I like the shelves because they are easily adjustable. I did try solid shelves but in this case there is just one overhead light in the closet, and the solid shelves made for dark shadows. The wire shelves let more light through. You will want good lighting to see your stuff!

  18. My closet is 4 ft. wide, there is 18″ from the floor to the first shelf then 16″ between each shelf. But I end with only four shelves instead of five. Can’t figure it out, sure could use one more shelf. What did I do different?

  19. Jennifer Casazza says:

    I love the clean look of your pantry shelves! You said you hired it out. Did he install something that can be purchased or did he build it himself? Love your blog!

  20. I’ve looked at sooo many ways to organize the pantry and this is by far the best, most practical way!!! I’m getting the stuff to do mine!

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