Next to the bathrooms and the fridge, the pantry is one of the most frequently accessed areas of the home, yet probably one of the most commonly overlooked places when it comes to organization. One of my biggest pet peeves is buying food that ends up in the garbage either due to expiration or staleness, yet I find that it happens all the time. And I know that I am not alone!
I have found that the key to enjoying all of the food that you have purchased is to keep the pantry organized. This makes it far easier to identify expired products and find what you are looking for when cooking or when rushing out the door.
When it comes to pantry organization, I find that there are several key things to consider:
Clear, Air-tight Containers: Use them and use them for almost everything! Doing so will help you to identify products, keep items fresher for longer and will save you money. Not to mention, this will also make your pantry look far more organized and will allow you to store more products than you could with flimsy, messy and often un-stackable, store-bought boxes. Key items to store in clear, airtight containers include: cereal, snack items, such as crackers, cookies and chips, baking supplies, including flour, baking soda and sugar and believe it not, pasta. While pasta may not get noticeably stale, the cardboard boxes that contain spaghetti products, have been found to be a leading carrier of microorganisms found in dry food. YUCK!
Shelf / Storage Height: If you have little ones at home this is a key consideration. Store kid friendly items and snacks in a easy to reach location and move glass jars, canned goods and other breakable and potentially messy items far out of reach. Fortunately, my little guy is still too short to reach the first shelf of our pantry, but I will soon have to adopt this tip as well!
Easy Grabbing: Make on the go snacks easy to find and easy to grab. Use a basket or bin at the front of the pantry to store quick and easy goodies, such as granola bars, peanut butter crackers, fruit snacks, etc. You are less likely to hear, “Mom! There is nothing to eat”, if the kids can easily find and help themselves to the available snacks in the home. And remember to store these items at a kid-friendly height!
Unique Storage Solutions: Get creative! For those items not stored in air-tight containers, utilize different storage solutions, such as canned good organizers and bins / baskets to group together smaller items, including boxes / bags of rice, baking mixes and baby food. To add additional storage space you could even try an over the door organizer for other loose products, such as bottled beverages and spice packets. The solutions that will work best for your pantry will depend on its size and layout, but any space can benefit from these cheap and easy hacks!
Labels: If you are unsure what an item is, you are not likely eat it or use it in your cooking. Labels are a great solution for those clear, airtight containers that store loose ingredients, such as flour, baking soda, sugar and spices. These ingredients may be hard to distinguish and will result in a BIG cooking / baking blunder if mixed up! Labels are also a great way to quickly identify old or expiring products.
First in First Out: That’s right, the FIFO term that we all learned in school is back again! Using the strategy that the oldest items within your pantry should be nearest to the front and therefore, the first to be consumed, will considerably help in your attempt to prevent food expiration. I know in my house, the second I bring home a fresh bag of chips or new box of cereal, my husband is quick to rip into the new package, regardless of what is already in the pantry (and I have to admit, sometimes I am guilty too). BUT, the FIFO method is both easy and important, especially for those items that often get overlooked, including cans of vegetables, soup and baking supplies.
Now here is a quick peak into my pantry, demonstrating many of these tricks in use! As you will see, I have several Tupperware brand containers (those with the blue, red and pink lids), storing cereals, oatmeal, pasta and baking ingredients, as well as several OXO brand containers for penne, snacks and tea-bags. The smaller bins and baskets storing other products and snack items, in addition to the canned good organizers are from Target.
Thank you for reading and as always, feel free to comment below with any questions or feedback or to contact me directly!