Tips to Organize Your Pantry for Good

BY CATHY CASSATA ON AUGUST 5TH, 2016

It's no secret - your kitchen pantry is a disaster. But it doesn't have to be. Get inspired to organize.

1. Divide Into Groups

Store like items, such as oils, condiments, canned goods and starches, in groups on different shelves, says Dina Guillen, co-author of "Cooking Club: Great Ideas and Delicious Recipes for Fabulous Get-Togethers" (Sasquatch Books, 2009).

"I love to experiment with different flavor profiles and ethnic cuisines, so it is very important for me to organize my pantries by placing similar ingredients together," she says. "If I feel like preparing a Middle Eastern meal, I can go to the shelf where I keep my starches and reach for the couscous or bulgur, or if I feel like preparing Thai, I can reach for the rice noodles."

Since Michelle Lowrey, co-author of "Cooking Club: Great Ideas and Delicious Recipes for Fabulous Get-Togethers," loves to bake, she devotes half of her pantry to baking supplies and baking appliances.

"It may seem strange to store your cookie sheets and muffin tins right next to your flour and sugar, but the key to a good working kitchen is figuring out what works best for you no matter how unconventional it may seem," she says.

2. Label, Label, Label

Professional organizer Lea Schneider, owner of Organize Right Now LLC, Pensacola, Florida, says to place similar foods, such as pasta and rice, in bins and baskets and label them accordingly. You can even take it a step further and label shelves by categories, such as drinks, snacks, condiments and so on.

"It's not just that you organize a pantry one time, but you have to keep it up every time you go grocery shopping or when someone else in the family puts away the groceries," Schneider says.

3. Keep It In Sight

Keep your pantry from turning into a black hole by adding sliders, adjustable racks and good lighting.

"If you can't see everything easily, you will buy items you already have," Lowrey says.

So she always knows what's in her pantry, Lowrey stores products with labels facing outward, and at least twice a year, she clears out expired and unused foods. "Nothing is more frustrating to a home cook than having to constantly sift through that can of pink salmon that you know you will never use," she says.

4. Look Before You Shop

Once you've got the pantry in ship-shop shape, Schneider says to stop wasting money and space buying duplicates and letting outdated food waste.

"Make your grocery list, take it to the pantry and shop from home before going to the grocery store," she says. "Pull out those nicely labeled shelves and bins and look at what you have. It's well worth it!"

 

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