Quick question: Where are the birthday candles in your pantry? If you’re not sure, how long will it take you to find them and are you sure there’s enough for the cake that’s holding up the party? This may be an extreme example of pantry malfunction, but it is representative of what happens when a pantry is not organized. At least three times a day when you venture into your pantry for meal prep, does it feel like a frustrating treasure hunt?
An organized pantry can make life more stress-free by keeping your kitchen stocked with everything you need to feed your family
Tailored Living® can help you get control of your unruly pantry with 25 ideas for refreshing and organizing the space for greater efficiency. Choose the ideas and tips that work for you and see how much time you’ll save and how sweet life can be when you can always find what you need.
Start with a clean slate
If you haven’t deep cleaned your pantry in a while, that’s the first step to a refresh. Empty the contents down to the shelves and clean every inch before replacing everything. A clean space will be inspiring and encourage you to stick to your resolve for a more organized and efficient pantry.
- Wipe down shelves, vacuum into crevices, drawers, corners, and the floor, eliminating all crumbs, spills and dirt.
- Dust the walls, too, with a Swiffer Sweeper or wrap a towel around a broom to get any cobwebs lurking up high.
- If it looks dingy, give your hard-working pantry a fresh coat of paint or put up washable wallpaper to wake up the space.
- Add decorative edging to the shelves and paint the trim to match or use a contrasting color for a little drama and replace any sticky or curling shelf paper.
- Beef up the lighting with stick-on touch lights to illuminate shelf contents without having to deal with electricity or wiring.
Purging contents of what doesn’t belong
True to the nature of closets, pantries can accumulate lots of things that don’t belong there. Maybe a few tools from the garage left over from a project, or uneaten snacks from a little league game of months ago. Additionally, expired foods can be lingering out of sight behind other items, taking up valuable pantry space. It’s a good idea to do a purge at least twice a year to downsize the contents to only what belongs in the pantry.
Especially if you have children who help themselves, you want to be sure your pantry only contains “time safe” food and snacks
- This purge includes appliances, linens, and serving dishes that you no longer need, are worn out, our that you never got around to fixing.
- If you’re tight on pantry space, now is the time to figure out what can possibly store elsewhere, such as paper products in the garage.
- Check expiration dates on everything, including spices and vitamins, and throw away expired foodstuffs as well as any items you know your family will never, ever eat.
- If you have an overabundance of food on hand, a local food bank will be happy to take non-expired food of all kinds.
- This FoodKeeper App lets you instantly check on the food shelf life for hundreds of items.
Sort the contents, keeping like items together
Sorting the contents of your pantry will improve its efficiency by keeping like items together and arranging the contents so you have all the things you use on a daily basis within easy reach. Seldom used items can move to higher shelves, freeing up accessible space so the family can find and help themselves to snacks, cereal, drinks, and the pet food. Grouping like items lets you see how much you have of certain things so making out the grocery list isn’t guesswork. You’ll know at a glance if you need more Froot Loops® or tomato soup.
Categorizing the pantry contents eliminates hunting through the whole pantry when you’re looking for something
- Set up a baking section for everything from flour to chocolate chips so that when it’s time to bake, everything you need is at your fingertips.
- Keep snack foods together on lower shelves so everyone can find their favorites and kids won’t try to climb the shelves for the cookies.
- Assign separate sections for water, juices and sodas, canned goods, boxed mixes, paper products, and pet food on shelves or in pullout bins and drawers.
- Tailored Living has custom accessory storage racks to keep all your spices together and your favorite wines properly stored to preserve taste.
- Reserve space for platters, serving dishes, small appliances, kitchen towels, and table linens so they aren’t mixed in with the food.
Displaying and storing pantry contents
Since pantry items can range in size from tiny spice bottles to 50-pound bags of dog food, you need a way to see all that is stored in your pantry. Visibility is key to maintaining a well-stocked pantry with fresh foodstuffs and no forgotten foods stuffed behind other items or buried in the corners. Using storage containers that work together to conserve space let you get more on your shelves while maintaining order and eliminating cluttered piles.
Matching containers and labels keep everything easy to identify and organized, ensuring your pantry stays neat and clean
- Clear or labeled storage containers and bins make it easier to return things to their proper place so you can quickly see what you have and what you need.
- Transfer the contents of opened bags and boxes into airtight glass jars and plastic storage containers like Tupperware or Rubbermaid to keep the food from getting stale.
- Stacking containers can provide for two or three levels on a shelf, maximizing storage.
- Baskets and bins are great for corralling small or loose items like bags of chips, vitamin bottles, and condiments, cutting down on shelf clutter.
- For deep shelves and inaccessible corners, tiered shelves elevate second row storage, and rotating lazy susans give a 360-degree look at what you have, even way at the back.
General tips for pantry management
- To best preserve the contents, keep the pantry cool and dry with temperatures between 40 and 72 degrees and avoid humidity, oxygen, light, and nasty little pests.
- Discourage pests like weevils, silverfish, and mice with airtight containers of glass or plastic, and keep the floor and shelves clean of food spills.
- Rotate newest items to the back of the shelf to ensure that things are used in the order of purchase, so you don’t end up with expired food.
- Don’t buy in bulk unless you know you will use all of it before it goes bad. A cheaper-per-item price only saves money if you don’t end up throwing half of it out.
- Once opened, fats like nuts and oils become rancid with oxidization and should move to the refrigerator to last longer. Check out 31 Foods That Should Always Be Kept In the Fridge.
Now is the perfect time to let Tailored Living help with getting your pantry in shape, so you’ll be ready for whatever spring and summertime brings! An organized, efficient pantry will make daily meal preparation easier around all the activities to come. Call 866-712-3404 today or go online to www.tailoredliving.com to find a designer near you and schedule a free in-home or virtual* consultation.
*Virtual consultations are not available at all locations.