1. Empty the pantry. This is truly the worst part, but it is really important. If you don’t know if you’re going to have enough time or energy to do the whole thing, then just take one shelf at a time. Once the shelves are empty, wipe everything down. This would be a good time to lay down contact paper, or line your shelves with wallpaper.
2. Create Zones. Everyone has different staples. Plan out your “zones” for your different categories, such as canned goods, spices, pastas, snack foods, baking items, breakfast foods, etc. I learned a great tip for baking items! Store the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, etc. in one large basket/container. When you need to bake, just pull the whole thing out of the pantry.
3. Determine Locations. Next, determine your location for each zone. Assign less frequently accessed zones to the hard to reach areas up high or down low in your pantry. Within each zone, move the oldest items to the front and the newer items in back. I keep processed/junk food up higher and towards the back. If it were easily accessible everyone would eat more of it, and more often.
4. Consider Additional Shelving – Expandable, tiered, and hanging shelves can help make the most of your space. There are even baskets you can install that are like drawers. That would be a great place to store produce, or bagged items, that don’t stack nicely on a pantry shelf.
5. Make Room for Bulk Food - I love to save money by purchasing everyday staples in bulk at Costco, Sam’s Club, and the bulk food bins at my local grocery store. Storing them, however, can be a challenge. Purchase shelf-friendly canisters/containers for flour, sugar, pasta, etc. I recently discovered OXO Pop Food Storage Containers. I really like them because they come in many sizes, create a good seal, and their rectangular shape maximizes your space.
6. Restock – To ensure that a depleted item is on your grocery list, hang or display a grocery list near the pantry. Not only is it “out of sight”, but it won’t be out of mind as we all use our kitchen pantries often! Keep an electronic list that you can print and post each week. Create your own or download a template and customize.
Follow these six easy steps and you will be enjoying your organized pantry in no time! It’s great to go to all the trouble to organize it, so hopefully this will be a method that you can continue on with, and it won’t get as bad again.