If you’ve recently graced your kitchen with your presence or you’re spending more time in there recently, then you may have noticed that it can be difficult to have space for everything; additionally, merely just the ordeal of finding items in there can be a bit of a nightmare. Thankfully, your prayers can be solved with the simple task of organising food cupboards based on the below tips and tricks.

This article teaches you in a simple and straight-forward approach how to put some order on your kitchen cabinets to save space and time. Also, included are some techniques to speed up your meal prep marathons and tricks to avoid eating all the treats in sight. You may have already taken the challenge of tackling your fridge and freezer, so why not accept the challenge and do the same for your other kitchen storage areas? Let’s dust off the lazy Susan and jump straight in!

Organising food cupboards - food cupboard shelves.

Declutter

No matter what article/book/TV show on cleaning you follow, the first step of organising an area will always consist of decluttering. Before you start considering shortcuts to this step, it’s critical to remove everything, yes EVERYTHING from the cupboards. This is one of the most effective methods of freeing up space. Discard of any expired foods and items you don’t intend to use or, as Marie Kondo would say, items that don’t spark joy! While you’ve everything taken out, it’s a prime opportunity to give those shelves a well-needed scrub before you start putting items back in again.


Organising food cupboards - gloved hands cleaning counter

Categorise the foods based on type

Baking items

How often do you bake? If you consider yourself a baking connoisseur, you’ve recently taking it up and been making copious amounts of banana bread, or maybe you consider yourself the next Great British Bake Off winner, then you should probably store baking items at a reachable level. For all other people who buy a pack of flour with all the intentions in the world of using it, but it’s still sitting unopened a year later, then push these baking items, such as flour, bread soda and brown sugar, to somewhere out of the way, e.g. on a top shelf.

Canned foods

Tin cans, such as beans, tuna and even pet food, are generally compact and can be stacked on top of each other to optimise space shelf. Where possible, stack the same foods on top of each other, e.g. if you bulk buy canned tuna, then arrange them so that they’re all sitting on top of each other. You can also stack them relatively high, provided that you have the space. Double stacking is an excellent approach too if you only buy a couple of cans at a time. By doing this, you’ve a better idea of how much of each food you have, and they’re less likely to be neglected in the back of the press.

Organising food cupboards - food cans stacked on a shelf

Condiments and oils

All of these should be stored together so that there’s one centralised hub of taste. There’s a number of ways these could be organised; categorise them in terms of popularity, e.g. we all know ketchup will play the protagonist here along with perhaps mayonnaise or mustard. They could also be arranged in terms of use, e.g. store condiments used for making sandwiches together, such as jam or mayonnaise; for dinner, you might use gravy, curry powder or ketchup, so store these in their own basket/corner/shelf.

A neat trick is to sit them categorised on a lazy Susan. Additionally, if there are condiments that are used on a daily basis and don’t perish easily, they could be stored in a condiment caddy on the kitchen table, similar to how they do in restaurants.

Oils should have their own section too; for the foodies that may have an array of oils, this means storing the various oils and sprays together. These are sometimes best suited to lower shelves which have greater height capacity as oil containers can be slightly tall.

Herbs and spice rack

Herbs and spices generally are packaged in small packets or jars, so they can be easily mislaid and you may even neglect to think that you still have an unopened jar of chilli flakes at home. Avoid all of this stockpiling by dedicating an area to them. Many people invest in a spice rack so that they’re kept neatly stored in an organised fashion away for the other paraphernalia in the cupboards. However, simply storing them in a basket or even a cardboard box will also help keep the herb and spice families united. Ideally, keep the herbs and spices segregated and organise them in terms of most frequently used. You can also keep other flavourings and seasonings here, such as salt, and my current favourite, Season All.

Snacks and treats

Many of us endeavour to eat healthily and some of us even follow meal plans. For people who have a sweet tooth or are trying to adhere to such food plans, resisting the temptation to eat treats can be something that torments them everyday. Perhaps you have kids (or adult kids) who constantly reach for these items too. Obviously, it’s not always feasible to ban them from the house, but a trick to minimise such desires can include keeping these snacks out of eye level. Place them in an area or a shelf that’s difficult to reach. This way, they’re not constantly catching your eye (or that of your kids/adult kids). As the saying goes, out of sight, out of mind.

In terms of space, larger items, such as multipacks of crisps, could be removed and individually organised in a basket or box. This labelled basket could be placed on a shelf of your choosing. Similarly, smaller snacks and treats could be placed in a small basket, e.g. bars, rice cakes.

Organising food cupboards - spice rack

Arrange kitchen utensils together

The same principles apply to utensils as food. Don’t hold onto unused flashy kitchen gadgets and utensils that you never use. They often take up prime space that could be better used for other items, so the sooner you detach from these items, the better.

Most kitchens will arrange similar cutlery and crokery together. However, if such items are consuming too much space, you could invest in some extra shelves or racks to hold your plates. Mug trees are a common way to relenquish a whole shelf consumed by mugs. It might also be no harm to scan through your crokery and discard with chipped or cracked items.

For people who batch cook or engage in meal prep, they probably have a collection of food containers. Opting for collapsible tupperware or ones that are stackable will reduce the amount of space that they occupy. Arrange them with their lids in order nearby (I usually sit the stack of containers on the stack of lids) and find a corner to store them all neatly together to save time routing around for them.

Organising food cupboards - kitchen bowls on shelves

Utilise cupboard doors

Many people neglect to consider the opportunity to hang items from their cupboard doors. Hooks on doors and towel rails are nifty ways of hanging items and saving space for other utensils to be stored. For instance, towel racks can be used to hang spray bottles by the trigger. Hooks can be used to hang large bulky items, such as pans and pots from.

Hang a shoe pocket organiser or even a rack from the back of a cupboard door. It can hold an array of various items, from fruit and vegetables to bottles, chopping boards and snacks. Just be cautious not to overload it.

Organising food cupboards - kitchen utensils hanging on hooks

Transfer items to the necessary storage containers

Certain food items can be difficult to store based on their packaging. For instance, pasta and rice often comes in large bags which can be bulky, and after a while they tend to tear and spill out. Transfer them to plastic or glass containers to ensure they are sealed and also to make storing them easier. Opt for square/rectangular-shaped containers so that they fit better with the corners of your shelves. Don’t forget to label them along with their expiry date.

If you’re arranging similar items into baskets, do so now before you shelve the basket. Labels on baskets are also a simple aid to identifying what and where everything is at a glance.

Organising food cupboards - food in glass jars

Locate items based on their use

If you have already categorised items based on type, you can further organise them so that they’re situated in close proximity to where they’re needed. Obviously, precedence should be given to frequently used items, that means storing them at eye level, whereas less-commonly used items can be pushed to the back of the cupboard or to a higher or lower shelf.

Furthermore, you could consider positioning food items near to the cooking utensils they will be using, e.g. storing coffee and tea near to the kettle. You could also store breakfast items, e.g. cereals, on or near the breakfast island (if you’re lucky enough to own one).

Organising food cupboards - kettle coffee maker in kitchen

Summary

  • Step one is always to declutter
  • Detach yourself from unused kitchen gadgets and discard them
  • Organise food based on frequency of use
  • Arrange frequently used items in easy to reach locations
  • Store small miscellaneous items in a zip lock bag
  • Store less frequently used items in higher shelves or towards the back of the cupboard
  • Stack similar canned foods on top of each other as opposed to unstacked to save space
  • If transferring foods to baskets or containers, label them appropriately
  • Keep snacks and treats out of sight or on more difficult to reach areas to minimise temptation and emotional eating

The only challenge left now is to remember where you put your food and how to sustain this newly-found state of organisation.

If you haven’t already, then you need to learn how to store food in a refrigerator. Or maybe you’ve lost your cool with the lack of freezer organisation and space. This how to save space in the freezer article is packed with tips and nifty tricks to optimise the area available in your freezer and is guaranteed to banish your freezer storage headaches.

So, do you consider yourself on par with Monica Geller after reading this article? Will you be investing in a lazy Susan or baskets and racking? Have you any storage hacks to share or even before and after pictures? I’d love to learn about them in the comments below.

Sources

DIYbunker. 2020. Kitchen Cabinet Organization: 17 Hacks To Start Organizing Now. [online] Available at: [Accessed 30 May 2020].

Home Storage Solutions 101. 2017. How To Organize Pantry, Spices & Food Storage Areas. [online] Available at: [Accessed 30 May 2020].

Kloss, K., 2017. 10 Steps To Solving All Your Kitchen Cabinet Organization Woes. [online] ELLE Decor. Available at: [Accessed 30 May 2020].

Categories: Blogs

16 Comments

  • Prav · 30/05/2020 at 12:53 PM

    Those are wonderful tips. I am sure I can’t get it done all by myself. I will ask my wife to read this post and hopefully get our kitchen in order 😀

      Sharon · 30/05/2020 at 7:42 PM

      Hi Prav,

      Well that’s one way of getting out of the task. Either that or make a complete mess of it so she has to fix it.

      I wish her the best of luck anyway.
      Sharon

    Christy · 30/05/2020 at 1:03 PM

    I soooo need to do this! Thank you for the motivation!

      Sharon · 30/05/2020 at 7:43 PM

      Hi Christy,

      Glad you stumbled upon the post so. Let me know if you’ve any queries on it.

      Sharon

    Habib · 30/05/2020 at 1:33 PM

    Wow! what an amazingly useful article! I absolutely loved the way you explained how to organise your kitchen food/items as per frequency and usage. I’m highly motivated by this.

    I have a added your website to my favourites and will surely get back to it for more amazing ideas.

    Many Thanks
    Habib

      Sharon · 30/05/2020 at 7:44 PM

      Hi Habib,

      Thanks so much for your feedback. It’s good to hear that the approach suits you, hopefully it works for everyone else to.

      Glad to be of service and thanks for the comment.
      Sharon

    Greg · 30/05/2020 at 1:45 PM

    Thanks to your my freezer, refrigerator, and now my pantry is organized. Your post help me stop procrastinating these task, so… thanks for getting my butt up off the couch and doing something worthwhile 🙂 I was going through my drawer of plugins the other day and found that I had electrical plugins for cooking utensils that I haven’t owned in years. I cannot believe that those things just kept getting back in the drawer and even after I moved. Those things are a little sneaky..haha
    Thanks for all the great tips and keep it up.

      Sharon · 30/05/2020 at 7:45 PM

      Hi Greg,

      I’m delighted to hear that. I’m sure you felt productive after doing it. That is such a common thing to happen. Some people justify holding onto random items for fear that they might need it one day, but decades later, they still have never found a need for it.

      I’m glad you got to apply it to your plugin drawer too.

      Sharon

    Minaher · 30/05/2020 at 2:27 PM

    Very useful information! I just re-orginised my kitchen yesterday and now I see I could have done an even better job! I never seem to have enough space for all my bits and bobs in the kitchen. I love to cook and love kitchen gadgets! My problem is I have too many of them! I probably should listen to you and get rid of some. Your advice on keeping snacks and treats out of sight made me smile first, lol. There’s no shelf high enough, I thought, to stop me. But, on second thought, it’s really worth of trying. Thank you for excellent tips.

      Sharon · 30/05/2020 at 7:47 PM

      Hi there,

      You’re too kind! Well you could always go to the extreme of storing them out in the car or outdoor storage area, laziness might be enough to entice you not to bother with them. Or just don’t buy them. Have a go either way, I’d love to hear how you get on. If that doesn’t work, there’s also a mindful eating post that might help curb your cravings.

      Sharon

    Kenny · 30/05/2020 at 3:01 PM

    Some really helpful tips there, considering the dismal state of how I lumped all the condiments, canned foods, teas, and stuff together. I’ll start decluttering and hopefully able to follow through the process and end up with a respectable food rack. Thanks.

      Sharon · 30/05/2020 at 7:48 PM

      Hi Kenny,

      Thank you, I’m happy you found them of use. Fingers crossed, just power through it and you’ll have it done in no time!

      Sharon

    Andy · 30/05/2020 at 3:22 PM

    Hi, I think you are imagining a perfect world over which you have total control. In my case I am lucky if I can find anything any time I go to the food cupboard as my spouse has an irrepressible compulsion to reorganize every cupboard at least every week. OK I exaggerate. Having said that I did introduce one or two organizing features in our kitchen that have survived her perpetual reorganizing. I made, as in constructed from wood a spice rack that fits in one of the kitchen drawers. That was about 9 years ago now and it is still there and we still use it. So that was a great success and actually organizes a space that would otherwise get very messy as it could only contain utensils or other low profile items. Another suggestion, as you say keep oils together – we find that putting them all on a small tray is a great way to control the inevitable drips and dribbles. I agree the organized approach is best and your article has many excellent ideas. Thanks and best regards, Andy

      Sharon · 30/05/2020 at 7:50 PM

      Hi Andy,

      Wow, I wonder has she something in common with Monica Geller! If that was me, I think I’d be investing in my own shelf. That sounds as if you were ahead of your time.

      Great tip, it can be very messy to clean up oil spills, so at least storing them on a plate contains the mess.

      Sharon

    Partha · 30/05/2020 at 5:20 PM

    Hi Sharon,

    Oops, about 3 weeks to late for me, although in truth you have given me a number of ideas.

    So, I finally decided to declutter the kitchen a few weeks back (it’s amazing the things you’ll find to do with our current “semi-lockdown” situation), and firstly I have to say I found it extremely therapeutic.

    There really is nothing like clearing and cleaning, throwing things away, and leaving a space neat and tidy, to make you feel accomplished.

    However, if I’m being completely honest, this was more of a thorough clean, as opposed to organsing things.

    The kitchen is definitely has far less clutter and more room, so I guess my next step is to actually implement some of the things you’ve alluded to here.

    Thanks Sharon, and as always a great read.
    Partha

      Sharon · 30/05/2020 at 7:52 PM

      Hi Partha,

      You’re ahead of the curve so! I completely agree, it’s so much less stressful as well if everything is organised as opposed to clumped up in a big mess. You’re already over half-way there so, the cleaning can take quite a bit of time! I hope you cleaned the containers too.

      Sharon

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