Organize Your… Pantry

by Katie Faulkner

An organized life is a less stressful life. And an organized pantry is not only less stressful, but it will also save you time and money while providing a foundation for healthy eating habits.

Purging & Cleaning

Begin by throwing out expired items and donating unwanted food. Toss groceries that are stale and unhealthy snacks that you’re ready to stop stocking.

Once you’ve eliminated the clutter, collect everything that’s leftover and spread it out on a table top, large counter, or even the floor. This way, you can easily see and organize your pantry items.

While the pantry is empty, give the space a thorough cleaning. Wipe down shelves and walls, and get into the nooks to eliminate any crumbs and cobwebs. A sweep and a mop wouldn’t hurt, either!

Organizing

Group Up / Begin grouping things together by category. Canned goods, bottled oils and vinegars, boxed grains, dry goods, bulk items, spices, and snack foods are all different categories you might consider. Once you determine categories, it’s important to select the proper storage apparatuses and places in the pantry for each category.

Apparatuses / First, you’ll need to
decide what type of storage devices or containers you’d like to use, if any. Clear, air-tight canisters are great options for dry goods like flour, cereals, dry beans, grains, granola, pasta, seeds, nuts, and lentils. They keep items fresh longer and let you see when you need to restock.

Baskets and bins are ideal for loose items like root vegetables, bags, and even smaller bottles or cans. Lazy Susans are also an excellent use of space and help you easily view your entire selection.

A Space for Everything / Now that you have a clean pantry, ship-shape stock, and all storage devices in place, it’s time to start returning items to the pantry. When choosing the location for each group, there are a few things to consider that will make for a more efficient pantry.

Root vegetables, wines, and certain vinegars should be stored out of direct light to prevent spoil. A dark, cool place with good ventilation is best; the bottom shelf or floor in a wicker basket or metal bin is great for stored veggies.

Items you use often should be in the most reachable zones – on shelves between your shoulders and knees – for easy access. This includes items you plan to use for weekly dinners and daily lunches, as well as staple items that you’ll cook with often: oils, flour, coffee, your morning oatmeal, or the brown rice you make three nights a week.

Keep spices, canned goods, and other items that you need to read the labels of at eye level. Turn labels facing out to reduce your time searching for items, and keep items with the earliest expiration dates in the front to be used first. Items you buy in bulk, such as cases of water, should go on lower shelves or the floor since they take up more room and tend to be heavier. Items that are used less often should be stored up high, out of the way. Another good tip for the health-conscious pantry is to store snack foods up high as well. This will give you time to reconsider as you reach for them.

Stocking & Maintaining

Notice the items you use most frequently and keep them on hand as pantry “staples.” Keeping your pantry well stocked helps keep you from going out to eat, where there are less healthy meal options and overspending is easier.

It’s always a good idea to periodically go through your pantry and repeat the purging and cleaning process. About once a month should keep the process quick and easy.

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