When I flip through a magazine or catalog and see the gorgeous, neat and perfectly aligned pantries, I get a bit misty and pantry envy sets in. It’s about this time, I generally pay attention to the pit of chaos in my home and give it a good make-over!
What I’ve since learned is that if you haven’t organized your pantry in quite some time, the best way to start is to take everything out and start from scratch. This way you can take stock, compost or toss out items that are out-dated, and donate items that are still good but you know you won’t use.
Clear off the shelves completely, clean the area and get ready to begin organizing the items you plan on putting back in your pantry and making room for new ones.
Plan Your Strategy
How do you want your pantry to look? Of course, you may not have a huge walk-in style pantry, or even a full size pantry closet. We may be simply talking about a row of cabinets or even shelves. Whatever you have in your kitchen to store your food and other kitchen items, for the purpose of this article, we’ll refer to as a pantry.
Regardless of location or size of your pantry, the good news is, even without a “fancy” pantry, you can have great storage and a very functional pantry area.
If you do not have a designated pantry area, start by looking at magazines, on Pinterest, and around the web for unique designs. But, most importantly, look for inspiration to create an organized pantry for your particular needs.
The experts at Closets by Design suggest storing items by use by putting food often used together in the same area. For example, store your baking items such as flour, sugar, shortening and non-stick spray on one shelf so it saves time and creates a on-stop pantry visit when you begin making your family’s favorite holiday cookies.
Another approach, one I take in my Rural Mom pantry, is to align items by category. For example: Vegetables, Coffee/Tea, Grains, Condiments, and so on.
If you have a small pantry, try to arrange it so you have the most frequently used items stored up front and center. If you buy large bulk items, you may want to store those in another area. It all depends on how much room you have in your pantry.
Perhaps your less frequently used items must be stored in the same area with the things you need every day. Consider dividing your pantry in half – front and back – and using organizing shelves, racks, and containers. Put the more often used items in front and keep the less used items in back. In order to more easily reach the things in back when you need them, put the items in front in containers that you can easily remove when you need to.
Whatever style you choose, it pays to take a logical approach to how you place items in your pantry to match your daily cooking style. This will make it easy to locate items quickly when you need them and ensure that you can easily, visually see when you are in need of replenishing items.
Storing Large Bulk Items
If you buy large quantities of dried food items, find food-grade quality five gallon buckets and store your bags of beans, rice, etc. in the buckets with a tight fitting lid. Store these items on the floor or stack them in a separate closet area. Keep a smaller airtight container in your pantry with some of the dried food items for your more frequent cooking needs.
Mason jars are not only useful for canning good for your pantry but they work well for storing dry foods in your pantry, too. You can see the contents, the lid is airtight, and they are reusable. Mason jars come in a variety of sizes so you can group similar items together, putting each food item in a smaller jar, and then putting all the jars together in a clear bin or basket.
|“Pantry Set 2” in Bold Bloom w/ Black Cross Pop from Thirty-One Gifts Pantry Sets & Solutions Collection http://www.thirtyonegifts.com/catalog/pantry/|
An assortment of decorative baskets is nice when your pantry is visible. You can get baskets with covers so you can stack them. If your storage area is open to everyone’s view, create pleasing arrangements of baskets on the shelves.
If you would like a “wow” factor in your pantry, Thirty-One Gifts offers customizeable pantry sets that will have your pantry looking magazine-worthy in minutes. You can find their complete pantry sets and solutions at: http://www.thirtyonegifts.com/catalog/pantry/
Other quick ideas include hanging wicker or woven baskets from the walls with fasteners. Look at craft stores and resale shops for some of the best prices on baskets. You can also find cloth-lined, leather-like, and wooden boxes that make pretty and useful storage.
Clear Storage Containers
Using glass or clear plastic storage containers is particularly handy in the pantry. You can easily see if you have flour, sugar, cereal, chips, crackers, or other staple items in the container even before you pull it out and take off the lid. Look for square or rectangular containers to best utilize the space and all the corners. Stick big labels on them to inventory what’s inside for even more organization and convenience.
Your pantry may have fixed shelves, or just may not have enough variety to adjust the heights quite right. Stacking organizers are made to create multi-levels on each shelf. You can build a couple higher levels toward the back of the shelf to put smaller items on. Then when you put larger items in front, the items on the back are on a ‘stage’ and you can easily see them peeking up over the row in front.
Behind the Door
One of the most often overlooked areas of ‘real estate’ for storage in your pantry is behind the door. Whether you have a full size closet door or you have regular cupboard doors, take a look at the space you have between the back of the door and the outside shelf edge. Even on a cupboard door, you have at least an inch or two. On a full size closet door, you might find three or four inches, if not more.
Back-of-the-door storage come in all sorts of arrangements, from pockets to baskets to shelves to hooks. Measure that space you have available and use it for narrow items like boxes of tin foil and plastic wrap and storage bags, or narrow shelves for spices. This is where your creativity really comes in handy.
After the time and effort you put into getting your pantry organized, you don’t want it messy again. Now is the time to make sure you have all family members on board. Train everyone to respect “a place for everything and everything in its place” and your beautifully organized pantry will stay that way.
Instead of organizing your pantry only when catalog envy strikes, designate a day each week to take a quick tour of your pantry to clean and take inventory of your items. This will keep your pantry in tip-top shape, allow you to stay on top of your grocery needs, and help you avoid food waste.