Organizing your pantry sure doesn’t seem like a fun task, I know. In fact, organizing can make some of us want to pull our hair out! I tend to find organizing stresses me out in the midst of it, but I’m actually addicted to the finished result. Most people’s pantry is one area that tends to get a little out of hand fast. The weeks are busy, and in a hurry, you grab this and that to toss it into a meal, and put it up as fast as you can so you can eat. Am I right? Before you know it your paprika is mixed in with your dark chocolate chips, and your baking soda is in the cabinet with your quinoa and brown rice! While everyone’s pantry organizing preferences are different, I’d like to share with you a few ways that I keep mine simple and organized without too much trouble. Try using these tips for organizing your pantry and let me know if you have any that work for you too.
1 Purge It
Before you can actually begin organizing your pantry, it needs to be empty. Therefore, it’s time for a pantry purge! Empty out each shelf, and put it in a large area such as a blank counter top or even the floor with a sheet down. Don’t empty out all your shelves at one time, but instead, one at a time. As you empty out each shelf, toss anything with an expiration date, and anything you want to keep, set aside to one pile. Here's a hint: now's a great time to toss all those processed, unhealthy foods you can't seem to get rid of. Your new, clean pantry and your healthy eating routine will thank you!
2 Clean It
As you go by each shelf, purging it as said above, take a hot dish cloth with some white vinegar and clean it. Rinse off your cloth, wring it out, and wipe down the shelf again to get rid of the vinegar. Then, dry with a towel. When organizing your pantry, it needs to be clean. You never know what you’ll find under all those boxes and jars. Also, if you see any jars that need a good wiping off, go ahead and do those on each shelf too.
Decide which shelves you want to be for what items. It’s best to put your dried grains and beans in one spot, your spices in another, and keep everyday items, like breakfast grains such as oats, or peanut butter, in bird’s eye view so you don’t have to go reaching for them. Don’t put these items back yet, just decide which shelves you want to be for what. Sometimes labeling shelves can help people keep from putting items they don’t want on those shelves on them when they’re in a hurry. If you want to label, go for it!
Now that you know what shelves you want to be for what, as you go through each shelf, placing the items on your counter or floor space, categorize them into piles. Organize them before you actually put them back on the shelf. If you see you’ve got 5 boxes of rice and are out of a certain spice, this is one way to show you which shelves you might need more room for. Organize them into piles before placing them back on the shelf and after you’ve gone through expiration dates. If you like, you might also make out a grocery list while doing this since you know what you’re out of now!
5 Priority Items
Decide which items are you priority items. Mine would be herbal teas, spices, coffee, dried oats, and stevia. These are the items I use every single day from my pantry above all else. Then, organize these items in a nice, eye level view. Your priority items shouldn’t be things you have to dig for in a hurry or step up on a stool to reach. They should be in plain view at your easy disposal so you don’t end up misplacing them later.
6 Don’t Mix It up
You wouldn’t eat your peanut butter with your nightly quinoa or your canned peas with your bread, right? So don’t put these items together on the shelf. I like to organize my pantry by things I use together. This way, I’m more apt to put them back in the same spot if I use them at the same time of day. For instance, my mom keeps all her canned veggies in one place, and her coffee, sweetener, and coffee filters in another. She does this for the simple reason that she uses these at the same time each day, so they’re much easier to find and organize without much thought.
If you live with other people, you can nicely inform them that items should always be put back where they go, and kept that way. If you like, even give them their own shelf if you have room. Over time, they’ll get used to it and take up the habit all on their own.
Once you finish each shelf, admire your handiwork! It really isn’t too tough, and is much easier to manage if you do this every six months. This keeps it from getting out of control, and from having expired items sit too long in your pantry. Do you have any tips for organizing your pantry to share?