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How to Organize Kitchen Cupboards to Optimize Your Storage Space

Woman organizing kitchen cupboards with pantry items

No matter its size, your kitchen tends to be the heart of the home. As such, kitchens tend to have more organizational concerns than anywhere else in the home. However, cooking, eating and entertaining can all be made smoother by following these clever tips and tricks to organize kitchen cupboards. You’ll optimize all of your kitchen storage space and in the process, life will get just a little bit easier.


Step #1: Empty Your Cabinets  

“It has to get worse before it gets better” has never rung more true than when you see all the contents of your kitchen sitting on the counters. The first step to a better functioning kitchen is to create a blank slate. By removing everything from your cupboards and drawers, you’ll be better able to reimagine the space. For most of us, the last time we decided where items were placed in our kitchen was when we moved in. Now that you’ve lived in the space for a while, it’s likely you are better equipped to know where items should be stored to suit how you live. Tackling all of your cupboards at once can be overwhelming but it’s extremely beneficial, too. Take this rare opportunity to vacuum and wipe them down while they’re empty.

Emptying kitchen cupboards of their contents
Getty Images

Related: 12 Mega Organized Pantries We’re Totally Panting Over

Step #2: Categorize the Items 

It’s now time to group like-items together — place all of your pot lids together, your utensils, your canned goods and so on. As you move through this process, take inventory of what you have and discard or donate what is no longer needed. Check expiry dates of perishables and discard any items that are no longer good. Set the items that are closest to their expiry dates to one side — these items will be the last ones you place in your cupboards so they’re easily accessible. 

PRO TIP: Declutter your kitchen cupboards bi-annually. While you may not need to empty them entirely, evaluate each cupboard individually to purge the items no longer needed (if a Tupperware lid has been missing for months, it’s time to let go of its container). 


Step #3: Visualize the Space

When it comes to kitchen storage efficiency, it’s not about how much space you have, but how you manage it. Walking through your kitchen, determine the most logical cupboard for each of the categories you’ve created. The organizational system for your kitchen cupboards will be unique to your kitchen layout and how you live in it. Consider storing pots and pans near the stove, glassware and plates near the dishwasher, mugs near the coffeemaker and so on. Keep the most frequently used items at eye level and the heaviest items below waist level. 

PRO TIP: Use sticky notes to assign each cupboard to a category first — if you change your mind, sticky notes are a lot easier to swap than the cupboard’s contents. 

Organized food in a kitchen cupboard
Canadian Tire

Step #4: Invest in Storage Tools 

You don’t need to spend a fortune on organizational systems. Now that all of your items are assigned to a specific kitchen cupboard, determine your strategy for storing them. If you have to remove multiple items just to get to the one that you need, reevaluate things. For example, if you need to remove your salad plates just to get to your dinner plates, you may want to consider a dish rack similar to this Yamazaki Home Plate Holder. And if you need to remove all of your canned goods just to find the tomato sauce, investing in something like this 3-Tier Storage Shelf may be a good option. Most kitchens have an awkward cabinet or two — optimize this storage space with baskets or lazy Susan turntables.

PRO TIP: If an item is smaller than your palm, it should be stored in a clear bin or divider with similar items. 


Organized dishes on a kitchen shelf
Bed Bath and Beyond

Step #5: Put Items Away 

With your organizational tools now in place, it’s time to put items away in their assigned cupboards. Over the next few weeks, you may notice inefficiencies in your organizational strategy and need to make adjustments. Be on the lookout for cupboards that tend to get messy; it’s likely that is due to poor placement of items. Re-adjust them as many times as necessary — you’ll know you got it right when your kitchen cupboards start to look organized all of the time and are easy to maintain.

For more cleaning tips, check out all of our cleaning and organization content here.

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