Simple Tips to Help you Organise the Kitchen Pantry …

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The pantry is one of the largest cupboards in the average home which also means it has the greatest potential to be the most disorganised. But because we can spend a lot of time in the kitchen and need to access things from the pantry several times a day, it’s important that it’s well organised and efficient so we can find things quickly and easily.

 

These are the four main reasons why I work hard to keep my pantry organised:

 

  1. It saves money … if everything is easy to see, it means I won’t double up and buy duplicates of things I already have. It also means I’m less likely to waste money by throwing out items that are stale or that have expired because they’re hiding at the back of the pantry.

 

  1. It saves time … I don’t need to go searching for items that I’m sure I have but just can’t find.

 

  1. It helps me budget and meal plan … all the ingredients I need to cook or bake with or items I need for lunches are easy to see and accessible.

 

  1. It can reduce stress levels enormously … to open the pantry doors to a clean, organised, uncluttered space knowing that I’ll be able to find what I need is bliss. This for me is probably the greatest reason why organising and maintaining my pantry is always a priority.

 

So let’s get started:

 

  • Plan … set a goal, think about what you’re trying to achieve and how you’re going to do it. Think about what works compared to what doesn’t, consider what you like and what you don’t. Look at what storage items you already have and try to utilise those. Before you rush out and buy all new baskets, crates, shelving and containers, try to utilise what you already have. There’s absolutely no point spending a fortune if you don’t need to. If you do need to buy some more storage items, check out the discount stores first. You may as well save a few dollars if you can. If it helps, draw a diagram of your pantry including measurements and use this to plan the space.  Jump on Pinterest and the internet and grab some kitchen magazines for inspiration and ideas.

 

  • Allocate enough time … it’s a big job, so try to set aside enough uninterrupted time to get it done. If you’ve got heaps of time and energy, you can tackle the whole pantry in one go or you can break it down into smaller bits … maybe one shelf per day … do what works for you.

 

  • Start fresh … whether it’s the entire pantry or just a single shelf, remove everything and give it a good clean. Allow the shelves to dry before placing items back. Not only will this allow you to clean but it will also help you plan your storage if you can group similar items together and get a better idea of how much of each item you need to store.

 

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  • Declutter … check every item before returning it to the pantry. No space will ever look organised if it’s full of stuff you no longer use, so get rid of it. Do you still use a particular product? If not and it’s still okay, why not donate it to family, friends or charity. Have any food items expired? If so, throw them out.  Alternatively, anything that is close to expiring, remove it from the pantry and use it to prepare some meals before it is wasted. Check the quantities that you store e.g. do you really need to store 2 kg of flour or would 1 kg do? Are you storing items in the pantry that could be better stored somewhere else? Getting rid of some of these items will create more room.

 

  • Create zones … this is as simple as keeping similar items grouped together rather than having everything scattered over several shelves. So, once you’ve removed things from the pantry and eliminated items you no longer need, sort what’s left into categories. For example, I like to keep all my baking items grouped together; canned goods are stored together on a small shelf unit; individual baskets/boxes/crates work well to store and separate things like pasta and noodles; biscuits and crackers; lunchbox items; oils, sauces and condiments can be stored together; and so on. This is a great opportunity to see if you have duplicates or too much of certain items.

 

  • Accessibility … make sure your most frequently used items are easy to reach and preferably easy to see. Things I don’t use very often, I place on higher shelves whereas items I use every day tend to be in the middle or lower shelves so I can grab them quickly and easily. I also avoid putting heavy or bulky items on higher shelves as this may make them difficult and unsafe to lift in and out of the pantry. You may even find at the end of this project you end up with some space left over. If so, you can use the space to store something else. For example, I store all my large serving platters on the bottom shelf of my pantry. My bottom shelf is still at waist height because I have drawers underneath, so this spot is ideal. I use my platters a lot and this space allows me to stack them quite high and utilise most of the height. It also means they are stored at a height that makes them easily accessible without fear I need to bend into a lower cupboard and potentially hurt my back.

 

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  • Maximise space … create more space by using clever storage solutions. Get rid of bulky packaging by pouring items into airtight jars or containers, use stackable containers, small sets of shelves or small drawers. Also, don’t forget the sides of the pantry and inside the doors where you can install hooks or small shelves to help create even more storage space. If you have big, high shelves with a lot of room in between, look for wire shelving that will help create an extra layer of storage and effectively double, or triple the space. It’s also worth mentioning that, if you have moveable shelves, as I do, make sure you take that into account before taking any measurements. Ask yourself whether or not you would be better to raise or lower an existing shelf depending on what you will store on it. Better to think about it now than have regrets later.

 

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  • Label, label label … large, easy to read labels are a great visual reminder of what is stored where. This is also important if you remove items like flour, sugar, cornflour, Bicarb Soda and other similar looking things from their original packaging … the results can be disastrous if you mix up ingredients. Remember also to label items so you know when they are due to expire. A label maker is great for this purpose, you can create some labels on your computer and laminate them, you can purchase some premade labels or you can simply use a plain white adhesive label and write on it with a black marker … do whatever works for you. And one final tip with regards to labeling … it’s also a good idea to cut out the nutrition information panel that is on the side of most products and tape that to the container as well. This is especially helpful if you have someone in the house with specific dietary needs or restrictions or you simply want to monitor the calories/kilojoules in a particular ingredient.

 

If you need to buy some additional storage, there are so many fantastic options available. Here are the main things I look for when choosing containers, boxes and baskets for the pantry:

 

  1. Sturdy and strong … if I’m going to spend money on storage I want it to last a long time, not break, crack, split or be damaged easily.

 

  1. Visibility … it’s personal choice, but I prefer containers and baskets where I can easily see what’s inside. Labels are helpful but nothing beats being able to see something straight away.

 

  1. Functionality … make sure containers seal properly while still being easy to open. It’s also helpful if containers will stack. Find containers with flat tops and bottoms that will allow you to stack upwards and minimize wasted space.

 

  1. Size … making the effort to find the right-sized storage solution for each item, which again will allow you to maximize every bit of space in the pantry and ensure that no space is wasted.

 

  1. Attractive storage … storage should be practical and functional above everything else but I also think if it looks good, it will act as an incentive to keep the pantry organised. Don’t feel that everything has to match though, buy what works.

 

  1. Budget friendly … storage solutions can be expensive so don’t be afraid to check out Discount Stores like The Reject Shop. Sales are great as well. I recently reorganized my kitchen pantry and bought the most beautiful wire baskets. Normally they would have been far too expensive to consider but I found them at Myer already on sale and then marked down to 75% off the lowest marked price. Baskets that were originally $25 each were reduced to less than $5 dollars each … gosh I love a bargain!

 

Organising your pantry really is worth the time and effort. There is no greater satisfaction than standing back and seeing a tidy, neat space where everything is visible, accessible and organised. It will save you time and money and reduce your frustration. The most important thing, though, is to make your pantry work for you and your family. There’s no right way or wrong way and everybody’s space and circumstances are different. Find solutions that will improve what you’ve got now and it’s hard to go wrong.  In a couple of days I’ll share a sneak peek into my pantry … stay tuned!

 

So tell me, do you struggle to keep your pantry organised and does everyone in the house put things away where they belong?

 

 

Comments

  1. I cleaned out our pantry over the summer holidays. I took out five bags of out of date food. Can you imagine? How gross. I will never let it get that way again. I love how clean and tidy it looks now and how easy it is to find everything. I’ll definitely be doing it on a regular basis now.

    • Wow that’s a lot of food to throw out … try to do a quick clean and declutter every 3 months or so and then it won’t seem like such a big job!

  2. I can barely bring myself to enter my pantry. It’s a walk-in and a clean-out and tidy-up are long overdue. I’m sent a lot of products and when they arrive I just add them to the shelves. And add, and add and add and now I’m just overwhelmed. I did want to sort it before Christmas but there wasn’t a chance but I’ve set a goal to rip it apart and start again before the end of the month xx

    • It’s so hard when there’s more going into the pantry than is going out! One shelf at a time is a great approach because it feels achievable and can be broken down into smaller blocks of time … good luck!

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