An organized pantry is the heart of a well-run kitchen. When it’s time to make a meal, you want to find ingredients easily, and most of them will come from your pantry. It’s nice to have your recipe and to grab the ingredients you need quickly.
Working with a cluttered pantry is tough. You’ll probably end up moving boxes and spices aside looking for specific ingredients. So, we encourage you to organize your pantry to make life easier. Here are the seven steps we take.
Sort Your Pantry
Before you purchase anything else for your pantry, sort everything already there. We recommend taking everything out before you do this, though if you don’t have enough space on your kitchen counters, you can do the sorting within the pantry similarly to how you would sort bookshelves.
If you haven’t looked through your pantry in a while, you may have expired items. Throw them out. Sort what’s left into groups.
What are the groups you decided on? You may have separated out pasta and grains, ready-to-make meals, cereal and breakfast items, and other groupings. We also recommend keeping ingredients for ethnic meals together. Perhaps you cook a lot of Mexican or Chinese food. You could keep the salsa, cilantro, and refried beans together, and the egg noodles, Szechuan sauce, and other Eastern spices together.
Decide where these will go on the shelves. For now, keep the sections in your mind as you put the food back in place.
Purchase Clear Containers
Clear plastic storage containers will make this a lot easier. If you don’t have enough, go purchase some. While you’ll want to keep many packaged foods in their original containers, pasta, grains, and more are best stored in plastic containers or mason jars. They allow you to see what’s there without moving things around too much.
As you go, label the containers with the sort of food inside and the expiration date. Also, label the shelves. You decide what goes where, and labeling the shelves will remind you and your family members.
You can place items with the earliest expiration date near the front of the cupboard, and those with later expiration dates behind them.
Use Shelf Dividers
Shelf dividers are a wonderful invention, and they’re so simple. Some are standing shelves you place on the main shelves to double the amount of space. We recommend these. You won’t have to stack containers as much and you’ll find it easier to access what you need.
Use Vertical Space
If you have a pantry that won’t quite fit everything, use the wall space. It’s great for hanging things like spices and packets. Hooks and small hanging shelves work well.
For the Kids
If your children may help themselves to snacks, those belong lower down in the pantry where the kids can reach them. You could have a basket for fruit like apples, oranges, and bananas, a section for snack bars and drinks, and so on.
If you need a place to store your business inventory, sports equipment, or other items, consider renting a self storage unit. We have listings for facilities across the U.S. and Canada, so you’re sure to find something local to you. Just click the “Storage by City” link.