How to organize canned goods in your pantry

Make your canned goods pantry friendly with these easy storage concepts.

The other night I was startled awake by a racket of twangs coming from the kitchen. The crime scene consisted of my food cans rolling around the kitchen. I think I might have even caught a glimpse of the tail of the culprit slinking out of the kitchen. Only while placing them all back into my pantry did I realize that my furry culprit alone was not to blame. Stacking my cans one on top of the other haphazardly was a disaster waiting to happen.

I have been longing to buy a canned food organizer for a long time now. I am talking about those big industrious vending machine types, but I have always been humbled by the realization that my pantry is just not big enough for it. Canned foods take up the biggest space in my kitchen. My children love Indian food, and keeping lentils, pulses, and coconut milk at the ready is a part of my cooking game. Canned foods are a staple part of my pantry and keep the rest of the family alive when I am out of commission. I have noticed many times that my cans frequently roll over to the back and forever disappear into a black hole only to turn up during my infrequent organization marathons.

I decided to tackle this problem in one fell sweep by organizing my canned goods away from the danger of it being knocked over by a stray cat or child.

canned food products

Before you start off

Take an inventory of your cans categorizing them by date and types of foods. Maybe you can place corn and its affiliate products in the same category, or you can organize them in a way that appeals to what sort of foods you usually cook together.

Most cans only have a manufacturing date and can be used up to 4 years from that date. That being said, if any cans show signs of leakage, puffing up or anything out of the ordinary, toss it immediately.

For those of you who have a large can rack storage system, I am certifiably envious. For those of us who don’t, here are a few DIY and reusable options to manage those tins.

stackable pantry storage for cans

If you would like to build your own canned food organizer, this tutorial is a great place to start creating great storage options for your canned goods. This canned food organizer automatically refills the spot of an empty can and fits in all corners of your pantry.

Fret not if you are not the industrious sort to build your own. There are some instant fixes lying around your garage.

  • The first and foremost of ideas would be to arrange your cans grocery store style -in individual racks one behind the other. Multi-tiered shelving options are available at your nearest store and on online platforms. You can also use extender racks put into existing deep shelves to create more levels.
food cans on supermarket shelf
  • Cans are heavy stuff. So lugging around multi-layered shelves might not be completely viable. Instead, bring in two or three-tier shelves with little wheels on them to create ample space and facilitate mobility for placing cans and stacking them one above the other.
  • You can tuck these little utility carts into any corner of your pantry or kitchen. They fit into slim spaces and can be rolled out and back in. Large ones too are available and can be used efficiently, provided you balance them out accurately.
  • Use lazy susans in your corner cabinets to access cans that may be at the very back. You just need to rotate these little turntables to get the food can in front. Using multiple of these over different parts of your pantry can bring in a lot of space efficiency.
  • Using magazine racks or file organizers for your canned food is a great hack for a few cans. This model facilitates easy replacement of cans that happens when you take one can out of the box.
  • Old shoe boxes, too, can be customized to fit your cans of a similar category.
  • Step ladder-type tiered shelves are available so that you can place your cans and yet see the names of the foods that are on the last step of the shelf.
  • Wall mounts and door mounts are a personal favorite of mine. They make use of blank wall and door space to create areas for stacking items. You can install them yourself or buy some hooked mounts from the store. Be very aware of the cumulative weight of the cans as you place them on a door mount or wall mount.
  • If you only have drawers in your kitchen, then use drawer organizers to store your cans accordingly.

A word to the wise

  • Always keep the label of your can facing outwards for easy reference. This can avoid the use of extensive labeling. Imagine that.
  • Canned foods have a shelf life of up to 4 years on them if they are stored in a cool and dry place. Any sign of leakage, puffing, or smells coming from the can means it has to be tossed out.
  • Keep your cans out of direct exposure to sunlight.
  • When you bring in new cans from the grocery store, make sure you push the old ones forward and keep the new at the back so that you use up the canned goods in their chronological order of manufacturing.
  • Organize your cans at least quarterly to make sure you are not ignoring or losing track of them.
  • If you insist on stacking cans, do not stack more than three cans, one on top of the other.

To sum-up

Canned foods are a blessing to all those who need quick food. Accessing and storing these require a little planning ahead. If you do house a large number of canned items, it would be best to build yourself a large canned food organizer taking in the available space in your pantry. If you do not have a tool belt, then it would serve well to buy some can organizers off the market.

In case you live in relatively small apartments or have a kitchen without a pantry, the best bet would be to repurpose some old boxes and racks to hold cans with relative ease. If you have any more ideas to store your cans in ingenious ways, do let us know.

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