Pantry Organization 101
I decided it was time to organize the pantry. I can only do this when the mood strikes me, which is very rare. I found a bunch of mason jars in the basement. My father-in-law used to make pickles in these jars. I cleaned them up and decided to put all my dry goods in them. We have a huge problem with those little pantry moths!
The first step in the organization process (after deciding to get organized) is to a do a little housekeeping.
- 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 cob webs.
- 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.
When I used to move into new apartments each year I would line things up in my kitchen cabinets by size and height. This makes sense on a visual level but doesn’t exactly make for the best organizing scheme. The trick here is to group items together by type.
As an example, have a vinegar group which includes: champagne, apple cider, balsamic, rice wine. To that mix add olive and grape oil, and an olive oil spray. The bottles vary in height and width, but now when I want to make a salad dressing, everything I need is occupying the same space in my pantry.
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)
Maintain your new organizing scheme by consistently going through your pantry and declutter. 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:
- 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
Hint: The more often you declutter your pantry, the less time the process will take in the future.