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8 expert-approved storage solutions to organize your kitchen

Have a messy kitchen? You’ll wish you knew about these tips and tricks sooner.
Illustration of a pot holder, spoon holders, a knife block in a kitchen, a bamboo drawer with separators and storage containers for leftover food
TODAY Illustration / Amazon
/ Source: TODAY

Attempts to organize the kitchen can easily become a hot mess. Between the pantry, cabinets and the dreaded junk drawer, this might be an even tougher job than your closet.

But if decluttering is on your agenda, then you’re in luck! Meghan Murphy, executive editor of Good Housekeeping, stopped by TODAY back in 2019 to share her best tips for tackling it all.

How to organize the kitchen pantry

Begin by taking stock of your pantry or the cabinet where you store your food. What products do you use and which ones haven’t you touched in years? Murphy recommended tossing or donating all of those canned goods, spices and sauces that haven’t been touched in a while. It’s also important to check expiration dates.

Now that you’re left with just the items you use, it’s time to get organizing. To make this part easy, Murphy recommended:

  • Clear canisters: Store dry goods in clear containers so that they stay fresh and you can see when you’re running low.
  • Tiered storage: Place your spices in "stadium seating" so that you can see them all at once.
  • Lazy Susan: This not-so-lazy tool is a great way to make it quicker and easier to see the items you use often.
  • Baskets: Place all the miscellaneous items and small electronics in baskets, but be sure to label them, so you know where everything is when you actually need them.
  • Snack station: If you have a door, you can create a snack station! Use baskets or an over-the-door organizer to keep everything in its place.

How to organize pots and pans

Just like the pantry, Murphy said it’s important to begin organizing cabinets by taking a look at what you have. Dump or donate the pots and pans that are damaged, have a pitted surface or haven’t been used in years. If you cook frequently, nonstick pans need to be replaced every five years, according to Murphy.

When it comes to storing, the Good Housekeeping kitchen appliances lab found that stacking is the preferred method. Murphy advises using a paper towel or plate between each pot or pan, so they don’t scratch. Then, steal a trick from office organizers and use a magazine rack as a divider for the lid.

How to organize the junk drawer

This one can be a doozy to declutter because the junk drawer is essentially a mishmash of things. (We’re guilty, too!) Murphy recommended that you begin by figuring out what you actually put in the drawer. Then, go out and buy the appropriate containers for each item.

If you find your junk drawer filled with lots of odds and ends, Murphy says an ice tray is a great way to keep everything from buttons to batteries in their place. For larger items, use a bowl or saucer without teacup.

Murphy has another good hack for the plastic bags that take over that area underneath the sink. Get an empty paper towel roll and simply pack them inside. If you want to recycle them all together, just push them inside the roll and recycle the whole thing.

If you want to spruce up your kitchen with new organizational products, TODAY also asked organization experts and chefs for their favorite tips and gadgets.

Best kitchen storage & organization products, according to experts

Royal 10-Piece Airtight Food Storage Containers

“There is a real enjoyment in opening your cabinet and seeing uniform containers clearly labeled and organized,” said professional home and office organizer Rachel Brecher, who is the cofounder of JR William, a company that makes acrylic trays and boxes. “Cereal, flour, beans, kids' snacks, coffee and even tea bags are all products that should be put into canisters and labeled.”

Clear, airtight, BPA-free, stackable bins like these Royal ones or these popular models from Rubbermaid make it easy to see the contents inside at a glance, keep foods fresher longer and can be used to create upward storage when kitchen space is limited.

Seseno Stackable Plastic Food Storage Bins

“Clear storage is a must,” said Amanda Walker, a certified nutrition coach who blogs at “When fruits, vegetables and other food items are visible, their colors can increase your senses, thus increasing the likelihood of their consumption.”

These highly-rated storage bins from Amazon are designed to organize clutter, contain messes and allow cooks to easily see what's in their fridge and freezer. The eight-piece set are also uniform in size, making them great for stacking.

YouCopia StoreMore Adjustable Cookware Rack

“Lids for pots and pans can be annoying,” said Claudia Sidoti, head chef and recipe developer at meal delivery service HelloFresh. “Depending on the size of your kitchen, I like adjustable lid racks that sit inside a cabinet to keep things in order! Having them all visible makes it easier to find everything you need to start cooking.”

The YouCopia rack also stores pans, trays, cutting boards and baking sheets. Plus, no installation is required!

Yamazaki Home Rin Magnetic Key Rack

Do you bring in mail and set it on the counter never to be looked at again? (TODAY's Dylan Dreyer admits she does the same thing.)

“The kitchen often ends up being a major clutter zone for mail, magazine recipe tear-outs and even stacks of old newspaper,” said feng shui expert Tisha Morris, author of "Clutter Intervention: How Your Stuff Is Keeping You Stuck." “This can quickly lead to a desire to not even go into the kitchen or use it to eat healthier meals and spend time with the family.”

She advises tossing anything that's been sitting out for six months or more. “If it’s necessary to keep, put it away in an organizer or mount a drawer under a cabinet for storage,” she suggested, using a product like a mail organizer, which can be mounted on a wall and also has hooks for keys and other things.

Kapoosh Bamboo Knife Block

Storing knives in a drawer can be a dangerous habit that’s also bad for knives, said chef Robert Ramsey of the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City.

“As the clutter builds, it's easy to cut yourself when you reach in the drawer to grab a knife,” he added. “It also dulls the blades by allowing the knives to rub together. My favorite storage solution is a universal knife block that can hold any size knife, because it doesn't have slots,” he explained, recommending the Kapoosh Bamboo Knife Block as his top option.

Joseph Joseph Nest Utensils Set

“Almost every major brand has space-saving versions of their products,” said Brecher, recommending the Joseph Joseph nest utensils set. Buying these space-saving versions of products can help avoid clutter in drawers and on counters in kitchens with limited storage space.

This creative set of kitchen tools uses a magnetic handle to hold a slotted spatula, spaghetti server, slotted spoon, solid spoon and ladle together. Plus, it's dishwasher-safe.

Bamsira Bamboo Kitchen Drawer Dividers

Messy drawers pose a problem in many kitchens.

“Create a system in your large utensil drawer the same way you do with your silverware,” said Kirsten Fisher, founder and CEO of Imagine Home Organization. “Slotted spoons and spatulas tend to get unruly when not provided boundaries. I use bamboo drawer dividers to create sections for each type of utensil,” she said, suggesting the Bamsira bamboo kitchen drawer dividers, which comes in a set of four.

DuraHome Takeout Containers

Taming Tupperware with mismatched lids can also be a common challenge. “In restaurants, we don't use Tupperware; we use recyclable plastic 'deli containers,’” explained Ramsey. “They are cheap, clear and completely standard in size; no more searching for the right top, because there is only one size and shape!”

He said the containers they use range from 8 to 32 ounces, stack easily and can be reused five to 10 times. “You can see what's inside, and if you send a friend home with leftovers, you never have to worry about tracking down your missing Tupperware,” he said.

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