So many of us live with pantries that are stuffed to the gills with all kinds of food stuff. We buy things on sale, or want to try a new recipe, and then never get around to using what we buy. We stash new purchases in front of old forgotten items, and pretty soon our pantry is so full that we don't know what's even in there anymore.
So why not organize your pantry and uncover some of those unused goodies? Creating order in your pantry is easy with this step-by-step process. Read through the steps and then take action. Don't stop until you're done.
Set a Date
Most pantries can be organized in 2-3 hours. Determine what day you will tackle the task and add the date to your calendar, just like any other important appointment. Keep your time commitment.
Clear your work space
Before you do anything in your pantry, clear a workspace close by. This is where you will sort items as you pull them out of the pantry. This space can be your kitchen table or a countertop, or you can even use the floor.
Empty the pantry
Remove every single item from your pantry. As you do, take a look at the expiration dates. Almost everything now has an expiration date and it’s important to toss out products past their prime.
As you come across duplicate items that you don’t use on a regular basis, set them in a box to take to your food pantry when you are done. Stored items that are not part of your usual family menus can also be donated. Be realistic about what you will use and what you won't. Donate generously. You'll make wiser decisions in the future.
Clean the empty pantry
Every food storage space gets dirty over time. Even the best housekeepers overlook oily and sticky rings on shelving surfaces and crumbs in corners and on the closet floor. This is a great time to wipe down all the shelves and walls, and vacuum the floor.
Take your organizing efforts a step further and install some solid colored shelf paper on the shelves. Not only will it keep your pantry cleaner, it will inspire you to keep it organized as well.
Gather and sort
Sort your food according to how you use it. Put cans of soup together, pasta varieties together, cereals together, and snacks together. You get the idea. The goal is to gather like items together.
Assign a home
Now you’re ready to put things back into your pantry. Your products are already sorted so keep the similar items together as you return them to your pantry shelves.
Stock your shelves according to how often you use the products, how easy they are to handle, and how much they weigh. Store frequently used items at eye level. Store larger lighter items on higher shelves. Store larger heavier items on lower shelves. Place back-up items in a row behind other similar items, or on the floor.
It may take a bit of time to adjust everything and make it fit exactly the way you want. And you may still have surplus that you are not quite ready to part with. Commit to using those surplus items first by including them in your weekly meal plans as soon as possible. Then live with your organized space for a week or two and make any necessary adjustments.
Once you have everything back in place, label each area using a label maker or masking tape and marker. This way other family members that use the space will know where things go and be able to put things back where they belong so that your pantry stays organized.
Refine Your Storage Space
There are several organization tools that can help every pantry maximize space:
- Store all varieties of individually packaged snacks in baskets or clear plastic shoe boxes.
- Use tiered risers for storing cans and jars.
- Lazy Susans are great for storing bottles and spices.
- Transparent glass/plastic jars are perfect containers for flour, sugar, and other baking supplies.
Now, please don’t take this as an open invitation to go out and buy a bunch of special storage containers for every ingredient in your pantry. Start with what you have on hand. Storage items are expensive, and you have to be very careful to buy items that fit your space and your lifestyle in order to make the investment worthwhile. However, if you choose wisely, you will save time and money in the long run by storing most of your food items in these containers instead of their original cardboard, plastic and paper packaging.
A few inexpensive storage items such as the ones listed above offer many benefits. They keep food fresher longer. They discourage unwanted insects and they keep your pantry cleaner longer. You’ll be able to take a quick inventory of what you have on hand which saves time making your grocery list. You’ll also save money by not over-purchasing.
There you have it: a DIY plan for organizing your pantry. It’s simple and easy. Just a small commitment of time and effort will save you money and time in the long run. And your neighborhood will benefit from your donated extras!
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