Is your pantry a disaster? If you’re like most people, chances are that old, unwanted and unused items are lurking in the dark corners at the back of the shelves, along with half-empty boxes of cereal and that jar of jalapeño jelly that someone gave you for Christmas last year. Don’t give up on getting it together! A clean and well-organized pantry is pleasing to the eye, cuts cooking frustration, reduces food waste and saves on grocery bills.
Before you begin the task of organizing your pantry into a model of modern efficiency, you’ll need to gather some supplies, including:
- A cardboard box or boxes for food pantry donations
- Cleaning products, a feather duster and rubber gloves
- A trash can or bag
- A notebook and pen for jotting ideas or making lists
Go ahead and remove everything from the pantry. Make judgments as you go. Toss expired canned goods, and remove cereal bags from boxes so the cardboard can be recycled. If you know you’re never going to use it and it’s still good, like that jalapeño jelly, throw it in the donation bin. After the pantry is empty, start cleaning. Sweep and mop the floor, give the ceiling and corners a good once-over with a feather duster, and scrub or paper the shelves.
Now that you’re starting with a clean slate, you can begin to organize your pantry to suit your style and maximize the available space.
Issue: Deep, dark shelves mean that little-used items get pushed to the back and are never seen again.
Resolve it: Try storing infrequently used items like large serving bowls, ice buckets and specialty cookware at the back of the cupboard to keep dry goods front and center. Hand-letter labels or post a list inside the door so you won’t forget what’s stored where. For a permanent fix, invest in some custom cabinetwork. Built-in pullout drawers convert every square inch into usable, easily accessed storage.
Issue: Fixed shelves are too far apart and smaller items get lost in the shuffle.
Resolve it: Use wire racks or plastic shelving to divide the space and double your storage. Install an over-the-door rack, a lazy Susan or a built-in spice rack to store smaller bottles and jars. Frequent cooks may want to move cooking oils, vinegars and spices to a cabinet over or beside the stove.
Issue: Dozens of pasta and rice boxes are cramping your style.
Resolve it: Pasta lovers and frequent bakers can minimize mess and add charm by storing dry goods like noodles, rice, flour and sugar in clear glass jars or plastic bins. When it’s time to restock, buy in bulk to reduce packaging waste.
If organizing the pantry has made you dream of a sleek, remodeled kitchen, remember that modern kitchen cabinets are designed to maximize efficient storage without sacrificing style.