How to Organize Your Pantry
Ways to Organize Your Pantry
How would you feel walking into a pantry where the labels are facing forward, cans are stacked so you can see each one, and all the beans are with beans and soups with soups? A dream space where after school snacks are separated from designated food for lunches and every square inch of the pantry is efficiently organized?
It is my pleasure to tell you how to make this happen in your pantry. I am naturally frugal when it comes to organizing tools, so I enjoy repurposing boxes and bins to get the function that I want. However, when the need arises, I also love a good shopping trip.
Take Everything Out and Sort into Categories
The first step to organizing your panty is to take everything out – and I mean, everything. As you are taking items out, group them in categories: canned goods, snack foods, baking, spices, cereals/breakfast items, etc. Don’t worry about looking at expiration dates at this point. Just group your items into like categories.
Once everything is sorted, go through each category and purge any expired items and make a list of anything that needs to be replaced. If you find a few items about to expire, set them aside and plan to use them in the next few days or place them in the pantry close to the front so that you use them first.
Try placing bagged products like pasta, cereal, and rice in square or rectangular containers like these OXO products from Target. Use baskets or bins such as Sterlite, in black or white, Clear Handled Storage Baskets, or easy to reach in bins, that come in two different sizes and even more colors, to contain loose items like individual bars and chip bags. It’s best to always measure the width and depth of your shelves before going shopping so you get the right products the first time.
Clean off Shelves and “Zone” Your Pantry
Once you have everything sorted and contained, you are ready to clean off the shelves and zone out your pantry. Zoning out your pantry is like the setup of a kindergarten classroom. There may be a block area, paint area, reading area, and so forth. Within your pantry, create a breakfast space, baking shelf, snack area, mixes section, etc. Make sure you have boxes and packages at chest or eye level so you can read the product name. Place basket and bins lower so you can pull out the baskets and see the contents. Don’t be afraid to use the top shelves in your pantry. Keep a small step ladder or stool in the pantry or a nearby closet to reach less used but needed items, or overflow of items you buy in bulk.
Label Shelves and Containers
Once you determine the zones in your pantry, label the shelves and/or containers so everyone in the family knows where to place new items and find what they want. If you have school-aged kids and you don’t want them to eat their lunch foods for afterschool snacks, take time to explain the rules of the pantry.
An often forgotten storage space in the pantry is the pantry door. It is more than a place for a hook to hold an apron. Add wire shelving such as these from Lowes, Amazon, Container Store, and Organize It to hold extra cans or small boxes, or an over-the-door shoe organizer for spices and small, loose items.
There is nothing more challenging than a pantry with one small light bulb and corner and lower areas that are completely dark. Try using Christmas rope lights secured top to bottom on both sides of your pantry. You will need to have an electrician connect the lights to the light switch for safety reasons. Try waiting until the day after Christmas and buy rope lighting at half price. You can also purchase tap lights from home improvement stores that run on batteries. Place a few lights in hard-to-see areas and tap them when you want to read your new labeling system.
Next time you have that dream about a well-organized pantry, take a walk to your kitchen, open the pantry door, flip the light switch, and realize that it is yours!