To borrow from the current Capital One® commercial … “What’s in your pantry?” Food is the obvious answer, but do you know what the food is that’s in your pantry? Do you have expired canned goods, stale bags of chips, or food no one will ever eat like pickled pig’s feet? If you find it hard to keep track of your pantry’s contents, here are some ideas from Tailored Living® for how to perfectly stock your pantry, so you’ll always have on hand what you need and not waste pantry storage space on what you don’t!
Custom pantry shelving systems beautifully organize all that you choose to keep in your pantry
How you view food storage needs for your family will determine how you stock your pantry. Considering lifestyle and available space, here are some food storage attitudes that will impact pantry design and function:
- Hate grocery shopping, so only stock up once a month.
- The grocery store is just down the street and doesn’t have space to store extra food.
- In an emergency, need lots of food—repeat, Lots. Of. Food.
- The favorite thing to make for dinner is reservations, so who needs storage?
Regardless of your view, chances are you require some level of food storage for all the staples that generally make up a functioning kitchen like eggs, milk, bread, coffee, tea, pasta, cereal, salt, pepper, butter, and sugar. Plus, if you live in a part of the country where weather conditions can render you housebound or without power for days at a time, having food stores may be a necessity. So, what is a perfectly stocked pantry?
What you’ll find in a well-stocked pantry
Most homemakers serve as bakers and chefs, creating delicious baked goods alongside meats, seafood, and vegetables by frying, boiling, seasoning, grilling, and steaming. You may fancy yourself one or the other, but you’ll need a pantry that stores a wide variety of ingredients to bake cookies or create a one-dish casserole meal. Here is a list of recommended pantry staples that will ensure you’ve always got an answer to, “What’s for dinner?”
Be sure to include family favorites when you plan your pantry staples
- Flours, all-purpose, whole-wheat, and gluten-free
- Sugars, white, brown, and powdered, corn syrup, pure maple syrup, molasses, and honey
- Vanilla and other extracts
- Baking soda and powder
- Dry yeast
- Chocolate chips and cocoa powder
- Spices and seasonings, salt, pepper, garlic, onion powder, parsley, curries, chilies, and more, based on personal taste
Canned and bottled staples
- Canned protein like tuna, salmon, chicken, beef, black beans, and kidney beans
- Tomato sauces, pasta sauce, and diced tomatoes
- Olives, black and green
- Canned soup and chicken, beef, and vegetable broth
- Hot sauces, mustards, and Worcestershire sauce
- Oils, olive oil, canola, peanut, corn, and specialty oils
- Vinegar, aged balsamic, cider, white, rice wine
- Canned fruits, fruit jam
- Canned vegetables, green beans, corn, mushrooms
Dried pasta, beans, rice, and grains
- Spaghetti, penne, rigatoni, fettuccine, lasagna, macaroni, couscous
- Pinto beans, black-eyed peas, chickpeas
- Rice, white, brown, jasmine, and basmati
- Grains, cornmeal, quinoa, and oats
- Dried fruit
- Potatoes, yams, onions, and garlic
Pantry storage tips to preserve food freshness
With all that in the pantry, you’ll need some organization plan to help you keep track of supplies as well as keeping everything fresh. Some items live in the pantry only until opened and then they require refrigeration like ketchup, mayonnaise, olives, nuts, and soy sauce. Be sure to read labels and follow the directions for safe storage. Other items stay fresher if transferred to airtight containers from their original packaging such as flour, sugar, crackers, and oats. Here are some tips to help keep your pantry food fresher and avoid expired foods sneaking up on you.
- Many foods like cereal, cookies, and chips come in bags and boxes that, once opened, lose their freshness seal, so transfer them into airtight containers or use a bag clip
- Create a natural rotation by moving the oldest foods to the front of the shelves so they are used first, putting newer items in the back, and check expiration dates periodically.
- Glass or plastic see-through containers for staples like flour, sugar, pasta, beans, and rice let you know when it’s time to buy more so you don’t overstock.
- Food keeps best at temperatures between 40 and 72 degrees so think cool for the safest food storage. (Only store non-perishables like paper products in the hot garage.)
- Humidity can be the death knell of stored food, causing mold and mildew. A cool, dark, dry pantry best preserves food.
- Fats, like nuts and oils, become rancid with oxidization and will keep longer in the refrigerator.
- Direct sunlight, oxygen, and heat are damaging to wine, spirits, and spices so keep them off the kitchen counters and in the pantry.
- Air-tight glass or plastic containers provide extra protection and safety against pests like ants, silverfish, weevils, and mice. Pantry spills are an invitation, so clean up spills immediately.
Customize your containers to preserve every type of food and keep it fresh
Organize everything in the pantry
The final step in a perfectly stocked pantry is being able to find what you want. If the contents are jumbled, it’s easy to overlook that one jar of olives you know is in there but can’t find. Organizing by keeping like items together or setting up zones will make it easy to keep track of what you have and what you need when making out the grocery list. If the peanut butter is not in its appointed place, it probably needs to go on the list. Organized kitchen pantry shelving makes it easier for everyone to return items to their proper place as well as serve themselves, especially if you use labels to identify placement.
Open shelves and enclosed cabinets are both factors for an efficient pantry closet organizer system
- Set up a baking section that contains everything from flour to chocolate chips so when it’s time to bake you’re ready.
- Group snacks and breakfast items on lower shelves or in bins so everyone can find their favorites and the kids can serve themselves.
- Create separate sections for water, juices and sodas, canned goods, boxed mixes, paper products, and pet food.
- Use specialty racks to organize spices and properly store your favorite wines.
- Containers that stack or nest take up less space so you can get more on the pantry shelves.
- Store non-food items on the highest shelves so everyday items are easily accessible.
A Tailored Living custom pantry design takes into consideration the exact storage needs of your family as well as maximizing all available space to make your pantry work best for you. 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.