No matter how small or large your pantry size is, if it’s organized, it can save you money, effort, and time. If you have no pantry, you probably have a space under a stairway or under a bed that can serve as a pantry. All you need is a place where you can store items bought in bulk and all the food staples and kitchen equipment you’ll be needing to cook those fantastic meals. Here are tips for organizing your pantry.
Do the preparation. Organizing your pantry is an easy half-hour task. Begin by cleaning everything out of the pantry. Set it all on the counter so you can see what you have. Next, wash down the shelves and completely dry them. You don’t want to wet the bottom of cardboard boxes.
Collect containers Have on hand, several storage containers that will help you get organized. You will need small boxes or trays, plastic containers, glass jars. These you can get at the Dollar Store. The tubs and containers will hold single packages, such as spaghetti and salad dressing mixes. Remember stacking containers to allow use of air space above canned products. Also, square containers stack easier than round ones. Finally, consider baskets for root crops.
Face labels forward. Place your box labels so read can read them. Make can labels clearly visible and facing out. What good is canned food if you have no idea what’s in the can?
Most-used items go in front. Place items at eye-level that you use the most, and sort according to kind. Your categories will be these: canned vegetables, canned fruit, condiments, sauces, baking products, tomato canned goods, beans, pasta, rice, breakfast items, canned meals, and so on.
Use glass jars. Store rice, noodles, and cereal in glass storage jars. Attach the label and ingredient list to the lid or tuck it inside the jar. Glass jars allow you to see what’s in the jar, and it keeps foods dry.
Put dry-good in containers. It’s a good idea to put your dry-goods, such as flour and sugar, into large tubs with lids, and then label the containers. It keeps the dry-goods fresh and the pests out.
Plan for snacks. Make a snack shelf with after school snacks for the kids. That way, they can help themselves.
Plan for company. Have a section of your pantry that stocks readymade food, company-ready food for times when you have no chance to plan. Items in this section could be things like ravioli or chili.
Use the oldest item first. When cooking, grab the food item with the oldest date first. This means when you are stacking your products, place them with the oldest food at the front. When you buy more of an item, the newest date goes to the back of the row, and the rest move forward.
Store soft stuff on top. Store your paper-goods on the higher shelves for two reasons. You don’t use them every day, and if they fall and hit you on the head, you’ll survive unscathed.
Remind yourself. If you hang a dry-erase board in the pantry, family members can write on the board when an item runs out. You can also write on the board, little reminders of what to purchase on your next shopping trip. As soon as the next-to-final jar is removed of any item, that item should go on the list.
Use edge strips. If you are a handy person or know one, place an edge strip along the edge of the pantry shelves to help keep things from falling off. You never know when something might get bumped or the earth might shake a little.
Light your pantry. Even if it’s only a battery operated light, use one. You can purchase a light at your local hardware store. In addition to the light, consider painting the interior of your pantry a light color. Light wall colors can help you see better.
Chemicals go elsewhere. Don’t store chemical cleaners or toxic chemicals in the same place you store your food. That just makes sense.
Put overflow elsewhere. Store some products in the basement or garage when you run out of pantry room. Soda pop does fine where the temperature is cooler.
Add hooks. A good idea is to place a few hooks in your pantry for aprons or a broom.
Remember the stool. Include a safety stool or ladder inside your pantry–if you have the space. And be certain to place heavier items along the bottom shelves. Even if you have a stepping stool or ladder, moving heavy objects from the top shelf is not something you want to do.
With an organized pantry, you make meal planning easier and food preparation easier. You also make it easier to shop, because you know what you need. Plus, if you organize your pantry, you’ll have a great place to store the bargains you find in your grocery aisle and all the other kitchen gear you need to cook like a gourmet chef.