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9 Tips to Organize Your Food Cabinets


Every home should have a well-stocked food cabinet! But unless it is well-organized, it can be pretty tough to find what you need. Use my tips to organize your food cabinets to help you meal plan better and even save a little money!

An organized food cabinet with labeled containers.

Are you tired of having a cluttered and unorganized kitchen? I’m always looking for ways to make my home feel calmer (spa-like even). An over-stuffed, messy cupboard is not the way to make mealtime feel less stressful.

I’m always looking for quick wins. Those are the things that don’t take all that much time but give you big rewards. I consider an organized food cupboard a quick win.

Aside from making a few main categories, there’s very little decision-making. It’s so easy!

How to Organize Your Food Cabinets

Organizing your food cabinets doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking. With a little bit of effort, you can easily transform your canned and shelf-stable foods from chaotic to neat and organized.

These quick and easy tips to organize your food pantry or cupboards can make meal planning easier and bring a more calm feeling to your kitchen.

Once you’ve put your system into place, it’s just a matter of keeping it in order. That can be easily done when you are putting new groceries away or even while making dinner.

Printable pages on top of an image of kitchen gadgets with text next to it.

1. Start From Scratch

Woman looking in an empty food cabinet.

I don’t mean throw everything out and buy all new. By “start from scratch” I mean it’s best to take everything out of the cupboard so you know exactly what you’re working with.

Make sure you have a large enough workspace to set things on as you begin to evaluate what you have in your cupboards. If your counter isn’t large enough bring in TV trays or a card table to create more surfaces.

You can also use your dining table as well, as long as you’ve decluttered it.

Once it’s empty, I give the cupboard shelves a quick wipe-down so it’s ready to go when I’m ready to put things away.

2. Throw Out Expired Foods

Food stored in the pantry or food cabinets (like canned goods and dry beans, etc) have quite a few great benefits. They are convenient, come in handy in emergencies, and usually have a pretty long shelf life.

But, because of the long shelf-life, it is easy to forget about it. I’m always surprised by the amount of expired food I have to get rid of.

I like to have a running grocery list handy while I’m getting rid of things so that I can make note of anything I want to replace. That way I will also keep in mind what I need to leave space for as I go about reorganizing the food cabinet.

3. Organize the Food

Woman's handing putting a container of flour back on a shelf in the cupboard.

When you are ready to put everything back into the cupboard you’ll want to come up with an efficient way to arrange your food items. You can do this in a number of ways including by date of expiration, by category, by size, or even by the user.

Organizing the food cabinet so that those items with the shortest shelf life are placed at the front, is an excellent idea.

I prefer to organize my food cabinet by category though. I group all the pasta together, I put the canned veggies in one area. I immediately know what direction to look in depending on what I’m looking for.

4. Make Better Use of the Space

Since everyone’s cabinets are different you should take a moment to evaluate how you can make the space work best for your needs.

Clear Containers

A unique storage idea is to place groups of cans in clear plastic containers. You can pick up storage containers pretty cheaply, then place a label with the category name on the front.

Using bins is a great way to keep you from buying more than your cupboard can hold. You will only buy what fits in those bins. The bins are easy to grab out of the cabinet so you can find exactly what you need.

Sometimes containers end up taking up valuable shelf real estate so I don’t use them except for on the very top shelf.

I keep all my baking supplies in one big container. It’s easy for me to take down and find just what I need without having to grab a step stool and find that tiny bottle of vanilla at the very back of the shelf.

Vertical Space

I also try to utilize the vertical space as best I can. Risers make it easy to see what is at the very back of the shelf. I also love to use foldable shelves to create another base to set things on if the cabinet is particularly tall.

Try to figure out what kinds of organizing products can make use of “dead space”. While there are “container stores” out there I find those very expensive. I always look to Amazon and Walmart to give me ideas that are the most affordable.

In fact, Walmart carries a line of organizers from The Home Edit!

Lazy susans are another great way to make ingredients accessible by spinning so you can easily see everything on the tray.

I use all of these ideas to organize my spice cabinet as well.

5. Make Use of the Doors

And since we are talking about maximizing our space, can you add any holders to the doors? Something like this. Look at your local organization store or on Amazon to find those gadgets that can help you achieve your goals.

Don’t overlook those spaces that you previously thought were unusable.

6. Store Dried Foods in Containers

Organized jars of dry goods on a shelf.

I’m not a person who likes to transfer food items to a clear container for no reason. That can get expensive. But in the case of dried foods, it makes so much sense!

Not only will it help keep everything fresh, it just looks so much more organized. Plus I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to clean up my kitchen after a spill of small elbow macaroni. Yikes.

Food storage containers are available in a wide range of sizes and designs and they can really make food cabinets appear so much more organized.

So, instead of having opened packets of spaghetti, cookies (like Fig Newtons) and cereals, place them into plastic food storage containers.

7. Create a Back Stock Area

I only have one full cabinet in my kitchen to store food. So I created another space in the garage to hold anything over that. While I try not to buy multiple of the same ingredients, it happens.

I keep one inside and anything extra out there. I don’t like to run out of spices (you would not believe how much chili powder we go through) so I keep backups of my favorites in the garage pantry.

It takes up just a few shelves in a storage unit in the garage. But it gives me so much piece of mind to know it’s there. I also keep anything I don’t use very often like baking mixes.

Keep in mind little critters may also enjoy this backstock area. I make sure to keep things that won’t attract them and aren’t easy to nibble through like canned goods and jars of things. Bags of rice has been hit or miss.

8. Take Inventory

Once you’ve gone through everything, consider making a reusable inventory sheet that you can hang inside the cupboard door. It will show you what you have and what you need to add to a grocery list. 

This really only works if you will get in the habit of crossing things off as you use it. But if you can make it a system, it could make shopping from your pantry to come up with dinners much easier.

And of course, it can make putting together your grocery list a breeze. 

9. Refresh Regularly

Once you have organized your food cabinets once, they should be fairly easy to maintain. Go through the cupboard once a month (or once every few months) and see if anything is expired or needs to be rotated out.

If you want to make cooking and meal prep easier, then you need to organize your food cabinet. By taking the time to declutter and reorganize your food storage, you’ll be able to find what you need quickly and efficiently.

Plus, a well-organized food cabinet is more aesthetically pleasing and can help reduce stress levels. So what are you waiting for? Get organized today!

Shop all my favorite Kitchen Organization products in my Amazon shop.

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