It might seem like a chore to organize your pantry but trust me, it’ll save you so much time in the future. Whether you are moving to a new home or just need a fresh start, by changing a few small things, you can make it so much easier to find what you need when you need it.
It’s recommended to clean out your pantry around twice a year and it only takes a few steps to create a space that’s functional for your family.
The first step is to remove everything from your pantry and place it in a nearby area. It makes it easier to clean and lets you see what is hidden in those cupboards. If a proper system isn't implemented, things can accumulate in pantries without being used.
Check for freshness before putting anything back. If you see any dents on the can or if the box of crackers has been open for months, throw them out. All of that should be gone before prioritizing what needs to be put back in the pantry.
Keep a list of things you don't remember buying or don't use. To free up valuable shelving space, these items should be donated or given away (as long as they are not expired or bad).
Clean it out
Once your shelves are bare, it is time to bust out some cleaning supplies. Clean out any crumbs that have been collected in nooks and crannies by sweeping or vacuuming.
After that is done, you can do a thorough cleaning of everything. Keep in mind that you may need to avoid using harder chemicals if you are cleaning an area that contains food.
You can use white vinegar to clean out cupboards and shelves. Pour half vinegar and half water into a spray bottle to make a food-safe cleaner and won't leave a chemical odor behind.
To clean up oil-based spills, add dish soap to the mix. Make sure the shelves have dried before restocking them with food. If you want to buy any containers, this is the perfect time to measure your shelves.
Create your system
Your pantry system depends on what you use your pantry for the most. By creating a system, you're making the pantry become much more of a use to you than just a place that keeps the food.
There are endless ways you can sort your dry goods out in a way that works best for your lifestyle. The most common is to simply sort by food type such as putting all canned or boxed soup together in one area.
That works great for some people but if you want to grab and go then try sorting by meal. Keeping a taco kit next to the canned tomatoes and refried beans you usually use will save you a minute of looking and make you feel like part of the work is already done for you.
Switch to containers
The photos of beautifully organized pantries with white shelves and beautifully labelled containers have become a familiar sight to us all. A good quality container is the key to achieving this look, and it's not that difficult.
In addition to being eye-catching, the containers are more functional than keeping everything in their designated package. Using decanting, you can see how much is left of something without even touching it. Some containers even have the volume printed on them, so you don't have to pull out the bag and guess how much flour you have left. It will be a great help to anyone who struggles with overbuying or underbuying specific ingredients.
Maintaining freshness can also be achieved by switching to containers. If you store your cookies in a container with a tight seal, they will remain as crisp as the day you took them out of the bag. As a result, you will end up saving money in the long run by not having to replace or throw away spoiled food.
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Use the space to your advantage
Many walk-in pantries have a lot of space that is not utilized. Inside the door is one of the most useful areas. A shoe rack at the back of the door can be used to store small things.
There are plenty of pantry items that can be taken out of the boxes and sorted into the pouches, such as oatmeal, granola bars, and fruit snacks.
Another way to optimize space is to use some stick-on command hooks along the side of the shelves, for instance.
Mixes for sauces and side dishes in bags can be hung neatly without taking up valuable shelf space. For areas that have lots of vertical space, look for tall storage bins. These will allow you to store loose items such as ramen noodles, small bags of chips, or even root vegetables that are not able to be piled or stacked.
Create a grab and go station
If you have children who are snackers then try using the lower shelves as a grab-and-go station. Kids love the independence of being able to grab their snack and you’ll love making one less trip into the pantry to grab it for them.
Another idea to save a bit of time is by using some small bins and creating snack kits. An ice cream kit with cones, sprinkles, and some chocolate chips or a smores kit with the marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate bars ready to go.
Spending a few minutes making areas, where the food is accessible, will help you reduce food waste and keep your pantry looking well maintained.
Keep your system on track
You won't want to repeat the process every few weeks once your pantry is organized.
The best way to keep it in perfect condition is to keep track of what needs to be replaced and when. Consider installing whiteboards on the inside or outside of your pantry so you can keep a list just for it.
Make sure everyone in the house keeps track of items that are low rather than completely gone. By taking a photo, you'll be able to carry it with you when you leave.
If you’ve implemented clear containers, you could also try taking a photo of the entire pantry at the beginning of the week and the end so you can see which bins or jars have been depleted more than others.
When you're finished, you should have a space that's become more efficient to use and more appealing to look at. A clean and organized pantry will make meal planning and grocery buying much easier. Whether your pantry is a whole room or just a few shelves, changing a few things about it can turn it from a disaster to a food storage masterpiece.