How to organize a pantry with deep shelves – 6 expert tips for efficient storage and a better kitchen

If your deep shelved pantry is making tidiness a challenge, these professional organizers have a few tricks up their sleeves

Walk in pantry with shelving
(Image credit: Mowlem & Co)

Is there anything more satisfying than an organized pantry? When it comes to meal times, knowing exactly where to find all your ingredients really does make life easier. Yet, when your pantry has especially deep shelving, organizing your groceries requires a little extra pre-planning. 

Deep pantry shelves are a blessing and a curse. Yes, they offer more storage for your non-perishables and all those kitchen goods you want to hide out of sight, but the seemingly endless abyss at the back of your pantry can make it difficult to reach the things you need. And trust us, you're not the only one to find out of date tins you didn't even know existed back there... 

When it comes to how to organize a kitchen, we all know that an efficient food storage system underpins the smooth running of the rest of this functional space. Not only does it make it easier to find what you need for prepping meals, but it limits food waste too, helping your weekly shop go that little bit further. 

That being said, knowing where to start with any organization task can be overwhelming. And no, tackling your pantry is more than a five minute task - you'll need to dedicate some time if you want the job to be done properly. Fortunately, these organization experts are on hand to share their top tips on how to organize a pantry with deep shelves for the efficient kitchen for your dreams.   

Lilith headshot for bio
Lilith Hudson

Lilith is an expert at following news and trends across the world of interior design. A strong believer that a tidy home is a happy one, she's committed to helping readers organize their spaces through sharing practical tips and guides. For this piece she asked professional organizers their advice on how to organize a pantry with deep shelving.

1. Designate the shelves

Pantry storage ideas by Blakes

(Image credit: Blakes)

Rule number one of any organization task: make designated space for the things you need. This kitchen storage idea will make it far easier to find what you're looking for when it comes to busy mealtimes. 

When thinking about how to organize a pantry, you might want to consider organizing by meal occasion. 'My breakfast items are all on one deep shelf, including the toaster and an open basket for the bread,' says Sue Spencer who offers a professional decluttering service at A Life More Organized (opens in new tab). 'Main meal ingredients are on the next shelf – pastas, rice, tins, etc – then a sweets and treats shelf above that.' 

While this approach is naturally intuitive, it's important to consider what makes the most sense for you before designating the shelves. Would storing appliances like a toaster in your pantry work best for you and your family, or do you use them so often that they'd be better suited to the countertop? Do you prefer to have your tea and coffee caddies within easy reach of the kettle, or would you like to hide them away from sight? Arrange your zones to suit your individual needs (especially if you typically cook the meals!) 

2. Place things you use least in harder to reach places 

We shouldn't need to elaborate too much on this common sense pantry storage idea, but follow your instincts - don't store objects or food stuffs that you depend on daily at the back of deep shelves!

'Store things you don’t use regularly in harder to reach places such as the back corner. That way they won’t get in the way of things that you use everyday,' says Sue. 

If you struggle to reach the top shelf of your pantry, use it for things you use infrequently - this might be baking ingredients or extra linens. The same goes for the bottom shelves. Save your knees the strain and use this area for heavier items you use infrequently, such as casserole dishes. 

Ensuring you have a space for backstock can also help you to reduce your food waste. 'Placing extra of the same products behind what you are currently using is always a great way to organize pantries with deep shelves,' says Holly Bly, organizer and blogger at Organize With Holly (opens in new tab)

3. Use storage containers and baskets

Small pantry by Neptune

(Image credit: Neptune)

If there's one thing organizers swear by, it's storage containers. Placing similar food stuffs such as pasta and rice in designated containers won't only help you find what you need, but it will make the inside of your pantry more aesthetically organized thanks to the stylish storage ideas that are now available. 

'Baskets or plastic tubs are great to use for storing individual packets like sauce mixes and snacks together on the shelves,' explains Sue. We love this set of four seagrass storage baskets on Amazon (opens in new tab) for a rustic farmhouse kitchen idea.

These come in especially handy when you have deep shelves, too. As Sue adds: 'If the baskets are the full depth of the shelf, it’s perfect as this allows you to make full use of the space.' 

For the same reason, Holly suggests measuring containers before you purchase them. 'This way, your investment is guaranteed to serve your purpose.'

4. Decant your groceries

While on the topic of containers, a nifty storage hack for your pantry is decanting certain food produce into different containers. Transparent ones, like these glass mason jars from Amazon (opens in new tab), are a great as you'll be able to see exactly what's in there without a need for labels. 

'Decanting once you come home from the grocery store may save space, preserve freshness, and give a less cluttered appearance,' explains Holly. 'Another advantage of utilizing clear containers is that you can, at a quick glance, assess how much you have which may simplify shopping prep and prevent overbuying.'

You might think decanting is a faff, but as Holly points out, it really can make your life easier further down the line when making those last minute shopping lists. And then the aesthetic benefit of being met with a beautiful matching set of containers every time you open your pantry. 'Decanting removes visual clutter from packaging so you can see what you have and it can look pretty at the same time.'

5. Purchase a shelf riser

Sage green kitchen with concealed pantry

(Image credit: Roundhouse)

While they offer more storage space, the main issue with deep shelves is that you struggle to see what's hiding right at the back. If this is a common issue with your pantry, consider purchasing a shelf riser for stacking tins and packets at the back of your deep shelves. 

'Kitchen organizers like shelf risers make it easy to see what’s at the back of the pantry and I always store the spare items under the riser so it doesn’t clutter up the front of the shelf,' explains Sue. 'Again, to make life simple, I put the things that aren’t used as often at the back and more frequently used items go at the front.' 

There are an array of different shelf riser options available online, but we think this extendable shelf organizer from Amazon (opens in new tab) is the best option because you can adjust it to fit the size of your pantry. The bronze detailing also gives it a modern look. 

6. Install pull out shelves or gliders 

If you're able to, it might be worth installing roll out shelves or gliders in your pantry. Modern storage solutions like these allow you to access what you need with ease. 

'Deep pantries are particularly tricky because it's hard to see and keep track of what is in the back,' Holly remind us. 'Installing pull out shelves or gliders is one of the best solutions to overcoming this common issue.' 

If installing a pantry idea like a glider isn't possible or it looks as though it will be costly, you can make a similar storage solution on a budget. 'Using carousels in pantries has become popular as it allows you to easily access items that are stored further back,' says Sue. 

That said, she warns us that they can often take up more space than the storage they provide. 'The one place where carousels are useful is in tight corner cupboards as they really do help you to access hard to reach items.' 

If you have the space, a tiered storage carousel like this one available at Amazon (opens in new tab) might be worth the investment. Otherwise, try a smaller lazy Susan with just the one tier, like this one, also from Amazon (opens in new tab)