How To Organize A Pantry

June 12, 2009

Full disclosure:  I had tried reordering it myself three times, my sister once, a babysitter once and my husband….hmm…never! So, we decided it was more time-effective to hire Amanda to do it for us. I LOVE to open my pantry now, though I still hate to cook!

10 Steps to Clearing the Clutter from your Pantry

Amanda Wiss

Amanda Wiss

by Amanda Wiss of Urban Clarity

Last week, foodie blogger Debbie Koenig wrote about the importance of a well-stocked pantry – a critical component in your parenting toolbox. But what if your shelves are so disorganized that you can never find anything when you need it? It’s time to reorganize!

The benefits of reorganizing your pantry include:

  1. Knowing what ingredients you have on hand to rustle up a meal
  2. No more overbuying or under-buying

The end result? More time and money, not to mention a well-fed family!

So….carve out 2-hours….here’s what you need to do!

Step 1: Gather your supplies! You’ll need large trash bags, a box for donations, post-it notes, a marker and a pad and pen.

Step 2: Take everything out and group “like with like.”  You’ll have mini-zones of pasta, breakfast items, baking goods, spices….sort everything into broad categories, as that’s how you’ll put it back in.

Step 3: Edit your stash. Check expiration dates and toss everything that’s no longer fresh. If you’re not going to use it, don’t put it back in. BE RUTHLESS. Do you have items that you are not going to eat but that are still useful? Fill a box to donate to a local food panty.

Step 4: Make a list – or rather, two. The first is a grocery list for the items you’d like to replenish. The other will be your ideas for containers, trays, lazy susans, dividers or extra shelves to maximize the effectiveness of your storage space. (Don’t forget to measure for the right sizes!)

Step 5: Strategize! Before you reload your shelves, make a plan.Prioritize where things go based on how often you use them, and who needs to reach them. You may want cereals stored where your kids can help themselves, while your husband’s snacks are located on a higher shelf. Items you use daily should be front and center on your shelves, at eye level and easy to retrieve. Less frequently used items can be stashed on higher shelves (by category), and heavy items, like beverages, belong on the lower shelves or on the floor. As you’re laying out your space, plan to store all cleaning products away from food (and little fingers).

Time saving tip: Have a favorite recipe? Pick a shelf and store the exact ingredients for that meal. Being able to glance in one spot allows you to see if you have everything or not.
Step 6: Clean your shelves (yes, everyone has rings of vinegar and smashed cheerios, don’t feel bad!) Stick post-it notes on your now gleaming shelves, denoting where you want to store your various items.

Step 7: Reload your pantry. Put items on the appropriate shelves, and make adjustments as you go along.

Step 8: Be creative with containers. Grab a spare bin (or a large Tupperware container) and keep like items grouped together. (If you don’t have a container you can repurpose, add it to your list.)  Bins are great for things like vitamins, mixes, rice and grains that are usually small or come in non-stackable packages. You can store things more effectively on high shelves when you contain them in a bin. You can pull it down, remove what you want and return it to its home. Viola!

Space saving tip: Have extra wall space? Go vertical! Hang hooks for aprons or a broom, post your bulletin board or your shopping list so you can regularly jot down items as they need to be replaced.

Step 9: Add labels! To maximize the effectiveness of your pantry, label your containers or shelves.

Step 10: Wrap-up! Take out your trash and recycling, and admire your handiwork! Congratulations on creating a functional pantry to support your family!

Now, it’s time to get cooking!

Amanda Wiss, Founder of Urban Clarity, is a professional organizer and mom of two toddlers. She helps families who are feeling overwhelmed simplify their space and set up systems to support the chaos. To check out Amanda’s resource listing on the blog and reviews of her services, click here.

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