Best Ways to Organize Your Pantry
After the hustle-bustle of holiday baking, your pantry probably needs a pick-me-up.
If you are like most busy families and find your pantry becoming a catch-all for canned goods, boxes of cereal, cake mixes, dry goods, and other groceries that aren’t used every day, you simply have to start working on being better organized.
During the busiest cooking month of the year between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the pantry takes the brunt of the abuse. With overwhelming daily schedules filled with shopping, baking, and gift-wrapping, we tend to shove our groceries into the pantry willy-nilly with a promise to organize later… only that time never comes.
Well, there’s no better time than the beginning of a new year to begin fresh with a neat, organized pantry.
Thankfully, some of the most practiced pantry perfectionists have shared their helpful hacks for organizing a pantry – and keeping it organized. So if one of your New Year’s resolutions was to have a neat, organized pantry to make food preparation faster and easier, this is the place to start!
Take a Tip from Grocery Store Workers
Anyone who has worked stocking shelves in a grocery store knows that the newly arrived stock goes behind the older items. This ensures that shoppers grab older items before newer ones.
One of the best pantry planning tips is to place older items in front of newer ones. If you buy a can of peas, be sure to put it behind the can of peas that’s been in your pantry for a month.
You should apply the same thing with all of your dry goods, including packages such as cake mixes, boxed macaroni and cheese, instant potatoes, stuffing mixes, and other boxes of dry foods. This way, you will automatically reach for the older packages first to use them up before they expire.
This practice results in a neater pantry and less food waste. Placing like items together on the shelves also makes them easier to locate.
Expand Your Space with Door Do-Overs
If you have a small pantry, you can add a substantial amount of storage space by hanging wire shelving on the inside of your pantry door. This is the perfect place for smaller items, such as herbs and spices, envelopes of gravy and sauce mixes, and other small-sized food items. It also works for boxes of plastic wrap, aluminum foil, or sandwich bags.
If your door doesn’t have enough space for shelves, simply hanging some hooks will give you a great space for your aprons and pot-holders. You can also consider hanging a wire shower caddy, which takes very little space and makes a terrific spice rack or a place for your produce. In a pinch, even a hanging closet shoe organizer works perfectly for storing spices, small snack bags, or canned soup.
Another great way to avoid wasting door space is to paint the inside of your pantry door with chalkboard paint. This is perfect for making grocery lists, jotting down recipes, or writing out your menus for the week.
Storage Containers Are Super Heroes
Nothing makes a pantry neat and organized like storage containers. They also keep food fresher for longer periods of time so there’s less waste. Storing pantry items in airtight containers adds longevity and also protects food from bugs and rodents.
We would advise you to start storing your bulk items like oatmeal, flour, rice, and sugar in buckets with twister lids. Apply labels to the outside so you don’t have to open them to see what’s inside. You will also find washi tape that comes in a wide range of colorful patterns and makes adorable decorative labels for storage containers.
The floor space beneath your shelves is perfect for large containers too. You can fill this otherwise wasted space with one or two wooden crates. These are ideal for storing items you don’t use often, whether it’s canned goods, pots and pans, or pressure cookers and crockpots.
If your pantry shelves are too low to fit large lidded buckets, and you don’t have space on the floor beneath the shelves, try stacking low, casserole-sized storage containers with labels for your bulk items and it will be done!
Use Clear Canisters
Instead of shuffling through packages, bags, and boxes looking for ingredients or snacks, empty goods like cereal and potato chips into clear canisters so you can find what you are looking for at a glance. No time wastage whatsoever!
Once you’ve traded in the messy, clipped-shut chip bags piled into your pantry for neat, clear storage containers you’ll be amazed at the instantly organized look of your re-vamped pantry. You’ll wonder why you waited so long – we know we did!
Corner Caddies and Lazy Susans
Another great way to organize items like spices, vinegar, olive oil, hot sauce, soy sauce, and unopened salad dressings is to maximize your corner spaces with spinning corner caddies or lazy Susans.
These little organizing beauties are your pantry’s best friends, really. A simple spin shows you everything on the shelf without having to shuffle around the dark spaces in the back of your pantry.
Be a Basket Case – In the Literal Sense
One of the easiest organizing hacks for your pantry is to fill a shelf with roomy storage baskets. This is the perfect catch-all for the random or oddly shaped items that would otherwise be spilling over on your pantry shelves.
If you have things in your pantry that tend to hit the floor when you open the door, you will have these pretty baskets ready for them. This will not only keep your pantry looking neater and more organized, but it’s also easier to find things by pulling out a basket rather than searching through messy packages and cans on your pantry shelf to find odds and ends like coffee filters, packages of napkins, and other hard-to-organize items.
With these helpful hacks, you’ll have your pantry in shape just in time to cross one resolution off your New Year’s list! Here’s hoping for a neater and definitely more organized 2021.
Annabelle Carter Short is a NY-based food writer, blogger and photographer. She loves cooking, sewing, creating recipes and making healthy food that tastes delicious.
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