What lurks in our most important kitchen space? The pantry! When we organize, it is the spot that will most save time and money, as well as reduce stress (especially at 5pm!) The pantry can be stocked with items on sale for daily use and to protect us in those emergency situations too. It is also the spot to begin party planning. Use these effortless steps to organize your pantry.
Getting started with the pantry is simple. Set aside two hours to get this job done. Start at one side, top shelf, and work across and down. Decide what to keep, donate or toss. Keep only what is good, tossing out of date foods! If you have an abundance of unopened items, consider donating these to one of our local food pantries. Take the items out of the pantry one at a time to make these decisions.
If there are small appliances in the pantry, decide the frequency and use of these. You may prefer to store these in another area of your kitchen for extra pantry space. Again, if you have not used these items, donate these for wonderful clutter control!
Place the items in different categories depending on how you use them. If you use all canned items together, subcategorize by veggies, fruits, and meats. Categories like pasta, baking products, beverages, and breakfast food are ways to consolidate food groupings. You may want to create a category to keep all the coffee and tea products together with the sweeteners. Decide how you use items, and create the appropriate groupings.
Now your pantry is completely empty! To refill it, start by assessing the space depending on what foods you use most, and who needs access to what! If you have small children, you may want to create a snack or breakfast area on the bottom shelf. If you eat pasta every other night, then pasta should be placed on the center shelf at eye level. Continue to refill the pantry by deciding which foods you eat most and finally by which you eat least.
If you find “white space” with unused vertical area above items, consider a trip to your local retail shop or online venue. Using a stacking shelf, double tiered turntables, expandable shelf, or under shelf basket, you can add volumes to your space! Also think of easy access to boxes and containers. Taking packets out of a box and placing these in an open basket make them easier to use. Use square containers to hold floppy items and make best use of the corners of the pantry.
What other items are stored in your pantry? If you use paper goods often, this is a wonderful location! Store your paper goods by cups, plates, and napkins, or by the coordinated patterns. Use a top shelf for these items since it is a lightweight item. For larger heavier items, like bottled juices or large beverages, store on the floor. If you have space, keep all the cookbooks together, the pet food together, and the adult beverages together.
Finally, want to keep this space well organized? Use a label maker and place labels on the shelves for your items. Not only will your spouse and children know where to find items, they will be able to assist with putting away the groceries and replacing them after use. You can view what to add to the grocery list simply by recognizing the empty shelf space too!
A well organized pantry is a thing of beauty! A well fed family, a happy hostess at party time and knowledge of emergency rations are wonderful rewards for your hard work!
For more tips on organizing, visit www.professional-organizer.com. Happy Organizing!
Ellen R. Delap
Making Time and Space for what's important to you!
Member/Past President NAPO Houston
Member National Association of Professional Organizers
Member National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization