What is the Best Way to Organize Your Pantry?

Few things are more frustrating than searching for items that you know are in your pantry, but knowing where the most important supplies are can offer a bit of relief. What you need is a good organization plan that will keep everything in good order and within reach. Here some few ideas to assist you in getting and keeping your pantry organized.  I have had some people ask for my suggestions so I have put a list together that should help out.

1. Clean out the pantry.
Go in your pantry and remove every last thing in there. Make two piles: things you use regularly and wish to keep, and those you haven’t used or touched in three months or more. Decide what to do with the stuff you don’t use: throw it out, donate it to your local food pantry or use it in a meal within the next few days. If anything is expired, the choice of piles is simple – just get rid of it.

2. Remove any non-pantry items.
Each storage space in your house should have its own purpose. Never make one space pull double duty if you can avoid it. Your pantry is supposed to store food, so start by relocating anything that isn’t food (small appliances, dish towels, dishwasher soap, steel wool pads, you get the idea).

3. Establish “zones.”
Look at your pantry as a neighborhood. It should have specific places where specific things reside. Group together your baking items, create a separate zone for seasonings and spices. Keep all your starches (rice, pasta, etc.) in its own space. Each zone should have specified, dedicated shelves or storage solutions. Use shelf dividers to partition space on a single shelf for two zones’ worth of supplies.

4. Label your zones.
Label the shelf edges with a description of what goes there. This will help the sugar and the oatmeal find their ways back to their designated zones more easily. You and the potentially confused people you live with are pretty likely to put cereal on the shelf labeled cereal.

5. Make things visible.
You need to be able to locate everything and access it with just one hand. There are a number of storage solutions out there that will help keep everything visible like closet bleachers, turntables or bins. If your pantry is completely out of control, you can also hire a professional organizer (We are NAPO members so give us a call!) to help come up with the perfect solution for your situation.

6. Not all food items belong in the pantry.
Make sure you are properly storing things like bread and condiments. Most of these things will stay fresher if they are refrigerated. Consider keeping your peanut butter in the fridge and removing it about 10-15 minutes before you are going to use it. Keeping the ketchup and mustard in the fridge will help keep them from separating. Also consider a separate low-humidity storage solution for breads and cookies as this will help keep these items fresher longer as well.

Implementing just a few of these ideas will leave you with a well, organized, properly-purposed and fully functional pantry that will stay organized with a minimum of effort.

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