Simple Tips to Get and Keep Your Pantry Organized
Ever notice how easy it is for the pantry to get out of control? It’s so easy to just shut the door on the mess (at least it is for me). But it wasn’t making my life any simpler…I was re-buying items I already had (out of sight, out of mind) and wasting a lot of food (I was discovering items WELL past their use-by date…ick).
Every time I opened the door to my pantry, I cringed. It was just so darn messy! To be perfectly honest, it made me want to avoid the pantry (i.e. not cook at home as much).
An organized pantry makes feeding yourself and your family more simple.
Pantry Organization Bits and Bobs
- Have a strategy before you dig in. If you need to, draw up a simple diagram of your shelves and map out what will go where.
- Put like items together (for example: baking items such as flour, sugar, baking powder, etc.)
- Put the items you use the most on the shelves at eye level. Put the least used items (such as small kitchen appliances and seasonal items) on the highest and lowest shelves.
- Use the concept of “active” shelves. I buy in bulk so I purchase more than one of the same item at any given time (for example: crackers or cereal). I keep one open box out on the “active” shelf and store the extras on the top-most shelf since I don’t need access to every box of identical crackers at the same time. When we finish up the box on the “active” shelf, I go to the top shelf for an unopened box and place it on the “active” shelf.
- The existing shelving inside the pantry is sometimes not right for your purposes…don’t be afraid to add more. I used shoe racks to make my wide shelves more friendly for smaller items. I also have a small lazy susan for some of my smaller baking items.
- If you can’t see it, you will forget it’s in there. Try to make sure that every item in the pantry is visible at a glance.
- Extra hooks are fabulous. I use them to store my aprons, reusable shopping bags, and empty lunch bags.
So I invited a few friends over to help me with decision-making and strategy and we set to work. Here was the game plan:
- Go a shelf at a time. Empty the shelf completely and use the opportunity to wipe it down.
- Go through the food you pulled off the shelf in order to sort the usable from the need-to-toss. Check expiration dates and general usability. Are those crackers stale? Does the flour have weevils? If so, toss it. (But don’t forget to recycle the containers and cardboard you’re done with!)
- Have a designated space (or container) to put the items once cleared off the shelf. Does your pantry diagram contain a baking section? Have a box (or somewhere designated) to put the baking items as you pull them off the shelves.
- Once all the shelves are cleared off use your pantry diagram to put things back. But feel free to modify your plan if you realize something won’t work like you thought it would initially. Can’t believe how many baking items you have? Allocate a bigger space for them.
- Once everything is put away – stand back and enjoy!
Stop Talking and Show Me!
Here’s a few before and after shots – if you’re like me, you want to see pictures!
Pantry Organization – Keeping It Up
Now you’re probably wondering how to keep it up right? The best strategy for ongoing pantry organization is much like keeping up with cleaning – put things back in their proper place every time you get things out or put things in.
I’ve managed to keep my pantry ship-shape for weeks now. I find I’m much more motivated now that it’s cleaned up. Plus, it’s absolutely a joy to shop my pantry first while I’m writing my weekly shopping list. The week we first cleaned the pantry up, I had several things on my shopping list that I actually found in my pantry…unopened and still well within their “best by” dates. Bonus!