Why haven't we been storing canned food like this all along?

12 ingenious ways for organizing your cans—so you can actually see them

Published July 4, 2022 12:35PM (EDT)

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

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There are a few types of canned goods I always keep stocked in my pantry—I like to have a few jars of black beans and kidney beans (for chili, of course), as well as crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, and chicken broth, just to name a few. However, to this day, I still haven't figured out a great way to store canned food. Stacking in the cupboard is just asking for disaster, and the can dispenser I recently bought takes up a whole lot of space and doesn't fit cans of different sizes. It left me thinking: There has to be a better way to store canned goods, right?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Pinterest had plenty of ideas for me, each more ingenious than the last. There are options that accommodate just a few cans, as well as DIY projects that can hold hundreds of canned goods—after all, they last for ages, so why not stock up? No matter the size, shape, and number of your cans, there's sure to be a storage solution here that will work perfectly for you. Now why didn't I discover these sooner?

1. DIY Can Dispenser

How smart is this? We're absolutely obsessed with this DIY can dispenser—it's the perfect solution to mount in your pantry or garage. It's fairly easy and affordable to make, thanks to the instructions provided by Ana White, and we love that the clear glass front lets you see exactly what's inside.

2. Reversed Wire Shelves

If you have adjustable wire shelves in your pantry, you've got to try this cool hack. All you do is flip the shelves over so the little lip is facing up, then adjust the brackets or pegs so each shelf slants downward. BAM! A super simple can dispenser.

3. Wire Baskets

Not big on DIY? No worries. There are plenty of ways you can store cans without breaking out the toolkit. For instance, check out these neat stackable wire baskets—they're the perfect size to store cans, and they slip right into your existing cupboards or pantry. There are also super-affordable can racks that you can buy.

4. Behind-The-Door Organizer

I've written before that the back of doors is prime storage space that many of us are wasting, and if you have a closet or pantry door in your kitchen, you can turn it into a designated space for canned foods. With an over-the-door storage rack, you'll be able to keep all your cans neatly organized, easily visible, and within reach. Just be sure that whatever rack you choose is sturdy enough to support the cans—they can be quite heavy!

5. Custom Cabinet Built-In

If you like to stock up on canned goods, this solution is the one for you. The built-in organizer is designed to fit perfectly within a kitchen cabinet, and you could easily customize the size or shape to suit your needs. Plus, the self-feeding system ensures that you're using the oldest cans first and that nothing ever gets stuck in the back where you can't reach. So smart!

6. Skinny Shelves

Most canned goods are only a few inches wide, so in theory, you only need a few inches of free space to store them. This person installed several skinny shelves along the pantry wall, creating the perfect space to line up canned foods. All the items are easily visible, and there's a little lip on the shelves to keep everything securely in place.

7. Gutter Storage System

This solution takes the cake in terms of creativity! This person mounted inexpensive vinyl guttersto the wall of the closet under their staircase, and they're the perfect size to hold small- to medium-size cans. Plus, a 10-foot section of these gutters only costs around $5, so this is a great budget-friendly project.

8. Upcycled Soda Boxes

Wait, don't recycle those soda boxes just yet! These long, skinny boxes are the perfect size to store soup and canned vegetables. All you have to do is cover soda boxes in pretty paper, and voila—they become lovely upcycled can dispensers. Extra points if you add cute labels to each box to keep things organized.

9. Slide-Out Pantry

It's no secret that we love a good sneaky sliding pantry, and these skinny storage solutions are the perfect place to store your cans. The slim shelves are an ideal width for canned goods, and they'll let you see everything with one glance. You can purchase a pre-made pull-out pantry to slide into the gap beside your fridge, or if you're handy, it could be a fun DIY project—check out this tutorial from Classy Clutter for guidance.

10. Good Ol' Pantry Steps

Sometimes you just have to keep things simple, and there's no easier way to organize your canned goods than with a classic tiered-shelf organizer. These inexpensive products look like a set of stairs, and they allow you to stagger cans so you can see what's going on in the back. Just make sure to get one that's wide enough for bigger cans—certain organizers are designed for spices, and their steps might be too skinny.

11. Old Magazine Holders

Cleaning out your office? Hold onto those old magazine holders—they're the Holy Grail of pantry organization! (If you don't have any, keep an eye out at the Dollar Store—you can usually score them for cheap.) Ones that are wide enough can be used to store canned goods, but we've also seen them used to hold produce like onions and potatoes, paper goods like napkins, or reusable water bottles.

12. Corner Lazy Susans

The far corners of pantries or kitchen cabinets often become no-man's-land, filling up with forgotten ingredients. You can make use of this underappreciated space with oversized lazy susans, which you can load up with all you must-have canned goods. You can get 18-inch lazy susans from the store, but if you need something bigger, you can easily make your own—all you really need is a set of lazy susan bearings.

This post contains products independently chosen (and loved) by our editors and writers. As an Amazon Associate and Skimlinks affiliate, Food52 earns a commission on qualifying purchases of the products we link to. 

By Camryn Rabideau

MORE FROM Camryn Rabideau

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Canned Food Diy Food52 Home Improvement Pantry Storage