Organising your pantry can be a relief for the home cook. Knowing where your go-to items are, and have a system in place to re-stock the pantry when necessary will help you out on many fronts: with being more organised at home, in planning meals and with grocery shopping.
If you’ve been putting this task off for a while, I’ve got three really great reasons for you to finally tackle it this weekend. Spoiler alert: it will save you money, it will save you time, and it will teach you about your shopping, eating and cooking habits. This is valuable information when you’re trying to budget and meal plan.
The first step in the pantry organization process (after deciding to get your kitchen pantry organized) is to declutter the pantry.
Commit to having a clutter-free pantry.
Why? It’s just so much easier when you don’t have to shuffle around clutter to get to the stuff you really need. You’ll have less waste because less food will go bad, you’ll save money because you won’t buy duplicates, and you’ll save time because getting dinner on the table is a lot faster when you can quickly find what you need.
Empty the pantry.
Take everything out of the pantry including food, food storage containers and junk/trash that may have accumulated.
Dust the pantry, starting with the highest shelf, and then wipe down each shelf one at a time. Be sure to cover the tops of doors and check the ceiling for cobwebs.
Line up the food items in one space so you can see everything at once. Suggestions: kitchen table, dining room table, or even the floor. This way you’ll be able to spot duplicates, spoiled foods and get a general sense of how much space each type of item will need.
Assess each item one-by-one and ask yourself these questions:
Has this expired? If yes, throw it out.
Do I use this? If no, throw it out.
Do I like this? If no, throw it out.
Even if you have all of the pantry space in the world, why would you want to keep extra (slowly rotting) food? You can find a better use for that space.
Arrange items in your pantry by group, not by size.
Here are some common groupings:
Cans of beans and soups
Bags of snack foods
Bottles of oils and vinegar
Jars of spices
Boxes of grains (rice, cereal, pasta)
Not only will this look logical in your pantry, it makes sense for cooking, too.
Then, arrange items at the right height in your pantry.
First, keep the items you use most regularly in your prime pantry real estate. This means the space between your shoulders and knees. It’s easier to reach and easier to put back after use.
I recommend items you buy in bulk be stored in the bottom of the pantry (because these items are typically heavy), snacks be up top so you have to reach for them, and spices at eye-level.
Chose the Right Storage Solutions
Choosing the right pantry storage solutions is a biggie. I firmly believe you can properly store everything in your kitchen pantry without the aid of any storage solution. Too often people (including me!) reach for their credit card to solve a problem they could easily fix with extra 5 minutes to think it through and some elbow grease. That said, kitchen storage solutions do come in handy if you’re struggling for more space.
Maintain your new organizing scheme by consistently going through your pantry and decluttering (see: Step 2). If you do this regularly, you may not have to repeat the entire process of emptying and cleaning the pantry all over again. I recommend the following schedule:
Daily / Weekly – declutter
Monthly – declutter and re-group
Seasonally – declutter, re-group, re-fit storage solutions
This schedule will depend on how often you cook and the size of your pantry space. I like to go through mine once a week while I am planning meals (See: Meal Planning Makeunder)
Hint: The more often you declutter your pantry, the less time the process will take in the future.