Did you make a New Year’s resolution this year? If so, more than likely it falls into two categories…get organized or get healthier. In January 2017, data pulled from Google by iQuanti found that over 33 million people searched “get organized” making it the number two most popular resolution behind “get healthy.” In fact, since many people chose a resolution or goal to get more organized, the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO) has deemed January “Get Organized” month! In an effort to combine these popular resolutions, this blog post provides a guide to help you organize your pantry. Once this space is organized, the end result should make the space more efficient and workable. This means you will be able to better plan and prepare healthy meals because you will know what ingredients you have, what you need, and it will be easier to find these items. Are you ready to learn these steps and avoid pantry abyss? Let’s “GO” or “Get Organized!”
Step One: Take Everything Out of the Pantry
Similar to cleaning out your refrigerator, the first step is to remove everything from your pantry. You must start with a blank slate. This task may seem daunting, but it is necessary. If you simply “organize” your pantry with the items in place, you are simply “rearranging,” not truly organizing. During this process, group similar items together into categories, such as baking or pasta.
Pro tip: Use clear bins or shoeboxes to group your categories together. This is especially helpful for small items.
Step Two: Purge Expired Food
No judgment here…everybody has expired food in their pantry. We buy certain items, use them once in a recipe, and forget about them. Take a look at each of your categories of food, look at the expiration dates, and responsibly toss what is expired.
Pro tip: This is a good time to be honest with yourself and decide if you are truly going to consume each item. If not, gather up a bag for donation and bring it to your local food pantry.
Step Three: Assign Homes for Your Categories
By starting with sorting and purging, you now have a good idea of the categories that you have and the volume of each category. This will help you when putting everything back into your pantry. Now, each of you reading has a different kitchen, different pantry, different types of food in your “homes” which makes it difficult to write the perfect solution for your unique situation. Good organization is strategic and custom for each individual. That being said, there are some general rules that you can go by when organizing your pantry.
Pro tip one: Create zones in your pantry. By keeping similar items together, you can easily access them once when cooking or baking.
Pro tip two: After creating zones, make strategic decisions about their placement in the pantry. For example, everyday snacks should be lower so kids can easily reach them, while items used less often should be placed higher up (unless the item is very bulky and heavy, in which case they should be very low to the ground).
Step Four: Containerize Your Categories
After creating categories, zones, and “homes” in your pantry, the next step is to containerize these categories. Now, you don’t have to spend a fortune on fancy organizing products, but you may want to take advantage of some of the great products on the market to help maximize every square inch of your pantry. You can certainly use baskets and bins that you already have at home.
Pro tip: Measure your space before buying any organizing products! Measure the length, width, and depth of each shelf. Don’t assume each shelf has the same dimensions.
For the pantry featured in this blog post, the client did not have much product to pull from in her home and was open to purchasing new product for the space. The products were purchased through Amazon and The Container Store and the links are shared at the end of this blog (this is not sponsored content).
Pro tip: Maximize every inch of space in your pantry– add height using risers and baskets that clip on to shelves, as well as organizing products that utilize the back of the pantry door.
Let’s take a look at the products featured in this pantry.
- Cooking wines and oils were placed on risers so that the client doesn’t have to move bottles around to find what she needs. This product is also great for spices.
- Clear trays and bins were used to contain categories of food. This makes it easier to create zones as well as remove all of the items in the category at one time, which can be helpful when baking, for example. Even though it’s not featured in this pantry, stacking trays and bins help take advantage of vertical space. Additionally, try taking food out of it’s original packaging and placing directly into trays and bins. This will save you space.
- Kitchen racks are great for vertically storing baking pans. This allows the individual to easily grab the pan needed and avoid an avalanche of baking pans falling down.
- Food storage containers have so many functions. They’re a pantry workhorse! Taking food out of its original packaging and using food storage containers will save you so much space. Additionally, they keep your food fresher longer and give you a visual inventory of what you have and what you need, thus saving you money!
Step Five: Set Up Systems to Maintain Your Organized Pantry
You’ve invested time and perhaps money into your organized pantry, so the last step is to create systems that will maintain the space. First, if you live with family members, give them a “tour” of your new pantry. Showing family members the new zones and placement of those zones in the pantry will give them the opportunity to put items back where they belong. Second, label everything you can! That includes the shelves (if possible), each food container, and every basket and bin.
Pro tip: If you remove items from their packaging and use food containers, consider adding an additional label for cooking instructions and expiration date.
Finally, when food shopping, consider the capacity limits of your space. Being realistic about what will fit into your pantry will help you avoid over shopping, stuffing too much into the space, and having your new pantry backslide into disorganization.
Pro tip: Create a weekly meal planning time in your schedule. Meal planning not only helps “save” you time during the week, it gives you an opportunity to inventory your pantry on a regular basis and helps prevent buying items you don’t need.
Hopefully this blog post has inspired you to declutter and organize your pantry. It’s a fresh way to start off the New Year and gives you the opportunity to not only get organized, but get healthy too! Like any organizing project, pantry organization may seem intimidating at first, but since it’s typically used on a daily basis, the time, energy, and possible money invested, will provide you with many long term benefits!
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