Keeping Your Pantry PerfectJuly 26, 2017
Do you dread cleaning your pantry because you know you’re going to be scraping the dregs? Wouldn’t it be better to be able to see everything at a glance? We’re going to give you some tips on perfecting your pantry organization, and maybe help you free up some space for a cabinet in the process.
Common Items In Sight
Whether you have a dedicated pantry or you use several cabinets to hold your cooking supplies, keeping the most commonly used items in sight at eye level is ideal. That way you don’t have to spend time hunting for the things that you know you’ll use a lot, and it will be easy to tell when they are low. Use higher shelves for things you don’t use often, and lower shelves for heavier objects like tins of flour.
We’ve all seen flour/sugar/coffee/tea tin sets. They’re designed to be airtight to preserve freshness and keep bugs away. What started out as a useful tool can turn a pantry into an organizational nightmare. If you have way too many organizational containers and not enough food to fill them, you’re wasting space.
If you’re using a container to hold something and you don’t fill it up to the brim, then you should use the original packaging or a smaller container. Messy items like baking supplies are served well by an airtight container because the packaging isn’t really designed for long-term storage once opened. Also, use square containers for bulk storage if you can. They fit better, even if they don’t look as good as rows on rows of mason jars or those old-fashioned round containers.
Also, if you plan on using containers then you need to label them clearly. You don’t want to mix up the corn starch with the powdered sugar, and if you only bake twice a year it’s really easy to do it without a label! How you label is up to you, whether you use a fancy labeling machine or a sharpie on some masking tape. Just make it clear so you know what you’re grabbing before you make a cooking mistake.
If you keep anything like potatoes or onions in your pantry, then you should know that a basket can be a great way to store them. Baskets prevent vegetables from rolling away as you move stuff on your pantry shelf and allow air to circulate around your food. This will keep these vegetables fresher for longer.
Loose Items on Bottom
For things that you don’t plan on storing a long time and are messy, like a bag of potato chips, these are good to keep at a lower level in the pantry. This will make them easier to pick up and reduce the chances of spilling. A little spill from a low area will just need a quick sweeping, but a high one could have you discovering old Chex Mix pieces on your other shelves.
Probably the greatest organizational nightmare for a pantry is spices. Those tiny jars are always getting lost or mixed up so it’s hard to tell where things are and what’s low. Racks can help, but they can take up a lot of space. But there’s another solution.
If you still have your labeler, label the top of your spice jars and then store them in a small drawer. You can get special drawers specifically for this purpose, in fact. A roll out drawer lets you see everything from the top, so you don’t have to shuffle around spices, and it’s much easier to tell when something is missing.
If you’re a bulk spice user, you can keep the larger packages in small containers elsewhere and use your roll out spice drawer for when you’re actually cooking.
Watch What You Buy
Unless you have a long-term storage plan for food, you shouldn’t have a lot of old or expired food in your pantry. It should be rotated out on a regular basis because you’re eating it. Food that just sits in your pantry until it expires is wasted food and wasted space.
Be mindful of your purchases and keep track of how much you actually use. This can lead to a great side effect, more money in your wallet.
Keep The Organization
Finally, as you bring in new items don’t just shove them into any available space. Give every item you buy a place on the shelves and place them in such a way so you know at a glance what they are. A little time doing it when you put them away will save you more time hunting for things later. Plus, once you get into a routine, it makes putting away the groceries much easier because you don’t have to hunt for a space to put things. You’ve already made one.
The next time you do a major cleaning of your pantry, try using some of these ideas. You just might find the next cleaning goes much faster and your time in the kitchen is less stressful.