How to Organize Your Pantry by Zones for Simple, Effective Food Storage

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food pantry shelves
Photo: Cameron Sadeghpour

Designated zones turn a jumbled pantry into a streamlined food storage area. Zoning your pantry helps you see what food you have, what you need to restock, and where the groceries belong. Learn how to organize your pantry in zones for efficient meals and snack times.

01 of 08

How to Organize Pantry Zones

food pantry shelves
Cameron Sadeghpour

Divide your pantry into zones to keep your food organized and reduce meal preparation time. First, identify food and cooking categories that suit your lifestyle (such as weeknight dinners, portable lunches, and baking). Next, designate an area for each, with the most often-used zones in easy reach. Finally, label each zone to keep the sections straight. A pantry door organizer ($39, Bed Bath & Beyond) might be a suitable place to store after-school snacks for kids.

02 of 08

Pantry Zone 1: Impromptu Entertaining

pantry baskets
Cameron Sadeghpour

The best pantry organization ideas anticipate your food-related problems and emergencies. Stock a selection of fast-fix appetizers, napkins, toothpicks, and trays in baskets. Store them on a top shelf so they're not taking up room where everyday products should go. When guests arrive, pull a basket down and you're ready to get the party started.

03 of 08

Pantry Zone 2: Baking Supplies

pantry baking supplies
Cameron Sadeghpour

There are a lot of kitchen pantry organizers on the market, so choose ones that make sense for each pantry zone you create. Keep dry ingredients in clear, airtight containers ($55, Target) that stack neatly and show you when your stock is low. Place mixes, frostings, and other ingredients on a nearby shelf. You can use pantry shelf risers ($11, The Container Store) to stack ingredients on top of each other in an organized fashion.

04 of 08

Pantry Zone 3: Easy Weeknight Meals

pantry food bins
Cameron Sadeghpour

Meal planners will love this small pantry organization tip. After grocery shopping, put a week's worth of dinner fixings front and center in sturdy mesh bins. Attach a label and the recipe. Divide each bin by meal, so when it's time to start cooking, everything you need will be right there. Instead of doing this at the top of each week, you can also keep the bins stocked with your family's go-to meals like spaghetti and meatballs or chicken noodle soup.

05 of 08

Pantry Zone 4: General Food Storage

pantry canned vegetables
Cameron Sadeghpour

At some point in your pantry organization plans, you'll have to make room for general food staples that have long shelf lives. Group food by type (veggies, fruits, soups, etc.) and arrange in rows on the shelf. Use stair-step shelves ($9, Target) to put the back row of cans in view.

06 of 08

Pantry Zone 5: Lunch on the Run

pantry quick lunch organization
Cameron Sadeghpour

Kitchen pantry organizers should make room for non-edible products, too. Store lunch items, utensils, napkins, and bags together to make packing easier. Place them in a basket with handles so you can grab everything at once during busy mornings. This arrangement also makes preparing weekend lunches a snap.

07 of 08

Pantry Zone 6: Quick Breakfasts

pantry breakfast shelves
Cameron Sadeghpour

The Container StoreKeep morning meals in an easy-access spot so you can find everything you need even in a pre-coffee haze. Breads fit in an undershelf basket ($12, The Container Store), and a double-decker turntable ($12, Walmart) makes the most of a corner. Save the shelf space for boxy items such as cereal, pancake mix, and instant oatmeal. Use can also use this pantry organization idea to create a convenient coffee station for your morning brew.

08 of 08

Pantry Zone 7: Tools and Appliances

hanging kitchen utensils pantry
Cameron Sadeghpour

Don't take up precious shelf space with your cookware. Instead, hang bulky or seldom-used utensils from hooks mounted on the wall or back of the door. If space allows, store specialty appliances in the pantry, too. Your most-used cookware should remain in your kitchen.

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