Tired of staring into the abyss of your food pantry trying to find something you KNOW is there — among the overflowing boxes, snack bags and soup cans? A disorganized kitchen pantry can make it difficult to find what you are looking for, add time for prepping everything from the kid’s lunch to family dinners, and might even lead you to add things to the shopping list you already have! Here’s 6 easy ways to clear the clutter with pantry designs that deliver spacious and orderly food storage.
#1 Make a List!
Keep a grocery list on, or near, the pantry door. Make it a family rule that whenever someone notices something that’s almost gone, they need to add it to the list. This will help prevent those frantic, last-minute trips to the store when you realize you’re missing an ingredient for supper or for the cookies you’re baking with the kids. It also makes your regular shopping trips easier. You’re less likely to end up with an extra bottle of salsa when what you really needed was ketchup!
#2 Use the Door
If you have a lot of small items like seasoning packets, gelatin or pudding boxes, individual snack packages, or juice boxes, an over-the-door shoe rack with shelf trays or clear pockets may be perfect. The best pantry designs utilize every space, and that includes the back of the door. Door organizers also work well for bags of chocolate chips, marshmallows, coconut, and other ‘non-shelf-friendly’ items.
#3 Arrange Everything by Groups
Group things together according to how they’re used. For example, instead of keeping all of the herbs and spices together, put the ‘sweet’ spices with the other baking supplies. A small basket will hold your allspice, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, mace, nutmeg, and other baking spices. The next time you’re making an apple pie or gingerbread, you can just grab the basket and know that you have every spice you’ll need.
Fill a deeper basket with baking powder, baking soda, cream of tartar, salt, and vanilla. Now you only have to carry two baskets back and forth to your workstation, rather than a whole armload of small bottles and cans! The baskets make clean-up a breeze, too.
Keep the rest of the herbs and savory spices with your marinades, sauces, and condiments. Baskets are a flexible addition to any food pantry design and work great for keeping these smaller items corralled, too.
#4 Keep Produce in Baskets
Potatoes, onions, shallots, garlic, and winter squash all keep better when they are cool and dark but have good air circulation. So do some fruits like apples, oranges, and melons. Baskets allow for good air flow and storing those baskets on the floor under a shelf will help keep them cooler and darker.
#5 Use Labeled Storage Containers for Efficient Pantry Designs
Instead of multiple boxes with an unknown amount of cereal hiding inside, pour your cereal into these cereal keepers. They’ll hold a large box of cereal, are easy to fill and to pour from, and they’re tall and rectangular so they take up minimal shelf space. They’re also clear so you’ll always know exactly how much cereal you have on hand.
Invest in clear square or rectangular containers for dry foods. Give yourself bonus points if they stack! It’s an upfront expense that will more than pay for itself in food savings. Bringing home just one package of food infested with Indian meal moth eggs can end with you throwing away hundreds of dollars worth of food! These common pantry pests love chocolate, dried fruit, seeds, nuts, powdered milk, and anything made from grain. They can burrow right through cardboard boxes and plastic bags but food storage containers stop them cold.
Use etching cream to label your glass containers. It will enable you to tell at a glance which one holds powdered sugar and which one has cake flour. For plastic containers, use a permanent marker or label maker.
#6 Sort Items by Frequency of Use
The less often you use something, the harder it should be to reach. Save the prime pantry real estate for things you use every day. The same goes for small items: store cans at eye level so it’s easy to read the labels. Bulky packages of napkins or paper towels should go on a high shelf and 2-liter bottles should go on the floor or at least the lowest shelf. You can probably identify them at a glance and they’re easier to grab hold of than a small jar or box.
Add under-shelf racks to your pantry designs to double the storage capacity of your middle shelves. Use one of them to corral all of your food wraps so they’re easy to find. Use another for bread and rolls so they don’t get squashed.
#7 Sort – Toss – Repeat
If you’re inspired to organize your pantry, start by sorting the pantry, disposing of anything that’s expired or you just don’t like and then repeating that process every couple of months. Organize everything that’s left into groups and figure out what you need for storage. Measure your existing shelves and decide if you need to build more pantry shelves to hold everything. Wipe off bottles and jars and put everything away according to your new system. Every time you open that pantry door, you’ll thank yourself for all your hard work!