A tidy kitchen pantry can give you a tiny sense of order and calm and it helps with meal planning as well. No more repeat purchases of dried soya beans when two packs are rapidly reaching their sell-by date at the back of a cupboard. But how best to arrange a kitchen pantry so that it looks good and works practically? Here, I suggest some simple, sensible solutions.


Before you can organize your kitchen pantry, you need to do a big clear-out. Remove any out-of-date foods (yes, we all have a few herb jars from 2015) and also pull out any foods that you know you will realistically not use. Rather than sorting out your wardrobe, be honest with yourself and question whether you will use the tinned fruit you bought for a recipe you now can’t find. Instead, deliver them swiftly to a food bank where others will be very pleased to have them.


Now you have the foodstuffs and equipment that you want to store, organize them into categories – dried pulses, jars, boxes of cereals, snacks, and so on. Within the categories, organize the foods by sell-by dates with the longest at the back of the shelf, rather as a supermarket would do. If you organize the shelves like a shop front, you will soon realize what you are over-buying.

Store for taste

Cool, dark larder cupboards can be useful for storing items that would otherwise need to go into a fridge. Use a bottom shelf with a marble base for storing vegetables like onions, garlic, and potatoes in wire baskets, as the marble will naturally keep the produce cool. Tomatoes, for example, will taste infinitely better straight from the larder as opposed to the fridge as will avocados, apples, and oranges.

Packaging decisions

Decant what you want into glass jars or Tupperware, but don’t get carried away with swapping packaging in order to create a photogenic Insta-moment. You don’t need tins of baked beans in wicker baskets. This is about making life as logical as possible. Glass jars work well for things that you want to keep air-tight (like coffees, teas, and dried goods), whereas wire baskets work better for fruit or veg, where you don’t restrict the airflow. Disappointing as it might be for lovers of Kilner jars, square containers are more space-efficient on a shelf. For fiddly items such as bags of crisps, I recommend baskets. Empty a multi-pack of crisps into a basket so they are easy to access.


You need to be able to see foods to know what you are running low on and also to inspire you to use them. My golden rule is to always have healthy foods at eye level and keep naughty treats out of direct sight. It is a simple strategy but it is very effective when you are trying to eat well. Even in the fridge, I will store berries in glass containers at eye level and move the cheese elsewhere

Name it

The easiest way to label the foods that you are decanting is to cut out the product label and sell-by information, slip it into the top of the jar and stick it on the underside of the lid. Alternatively, use a white chalk pen on the jar: It works a treat – quick to do and easy to wipe off again. For the seriously committed, I suggest a Dymo Labelmaker. Ultimately, a kitchen pantry is working cupboards. Organizing them will make them look good but they need to make practical sense as well.