Ask the Experts

Dear Organizing Coach: How Can I Keep My Kitchen Cabinets Uncluttered?

Optimize your messy kitchen pantry, and your whole life may just fall into place! (Or at least the dinner hour will.) Here’s how to do it.

Q: “My problem is simple: My kitchen cabinets are awful. I’ve been in this apartment for more than two years and I still can’t find a rhythm or flow. The pantry is essentially a really tall and deep cabinet with five shelves, which I refer to as The Abyss, because I often lose food in there. While the whole kitchen feels like a nightmare, I feel if I get this one deep cabinet figured out, the rest will fall into place. Any suggestions?” — CactusKicker

Hi CactusKicker:

I completely agree with your sentiment. Once you get this cabinet figured out, the rest will fall into place. And I have a great solution for you!

What you need is sliding pantry shelves or baskets. They are inexpensive, easy to install, and simple to use. You can find them at stores like The Container Store, Bed, Bath and Beyond, and Ikea. Or you can order them on Amazon. Regardless of where you purchase them, most are made of wire and shaped like baskets so that items don’t spill out the front or sides.

What truly makes them life-changing is that you can see what you own! Those items that are lost in the bottom of The Abyss will now be front and center. And when you see what you own, you save money by cutting down on unnecessary purchasing and save precious time not hunting down items you can’t find.

[From the FlyLady: Contain Chaos In Your Kitchen!]

Here are a few more organizing tips to maximize your space:

  • When organizing your pantry, group “like with like.” All baking supplies together. Spices in one zone. Cereals in another. You get the idea.
  • Keep items you use more regularly in your prime real estate. This means the cabinet space between your shoulders and knees. Items that are bulky or not used regularly can be placed on high shelves and accessed with a small step-stool kept nearby.
  • For an inexpensive and flexible storage option that will instantly maximize your space, hang a clear plastic shoe bag on the inside of your pantry door. This is perfect for corralling pet supplies, first aid items, or grab-n-go snacks.

Have fun and happy organizing!

And if you are looking for more tips and tools, please check out our website at We have tons of FREE resources, videos and materials on this subject.

Organization guru Leslie Josel, of Order Out of Chaos, will answer questions from ADDitude readers about everything from paper clutter to disaster-zone bedrooms and from mastering to-do lists to arriving on time every time.

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