Whether you're an accomplished cook or queen of the microwave, all families benefit from an efficient kitchen and organized pantry. One of the biggest problems in most kitchens is finding what you need, when you need it. Taking a few moments to organize your pantry not only makes you more efficient, it also makes dinnertime less stressful. (And who wouldn't enjoy that?) Here are some simple tips for helping you organize your kitchen pantry:
Start at the Top. A systematic approach to your project will keep you focused and on track. Start at the top shelf and work your way down.
Remove the Invaders. Remove all items that do not belong in the pantry and place them in a large bin or basket, but do not put them in their appropriate homes just yet! The idea here is to stay focused on the pantry project and not get distracted with other areas. Once the pantry is complete, then you can take a well-deserved break and return later to put the invaders away where they belong.
Purge! Purge! Check the freshness of all your items; discarding those that either are past their expiration dates, or are questionable at best. Next, remove items you either do not plan to use or do not like anymore. (Donate food items your family no longer enjoys to a food pantry!)
Organized Kitchen Spices. Give your spices an overhaul. While old spices will not necessarily spoil your meal, they certainly will not provide maximum flavor. Visit your favorite spice company's website for advice on how long to keep various spices and for help deciphering expiration codes and "best by" dates.
Once you go through all of the shelves, arrange your items in categories that make sense to you and your family and how you cook and eat. Maybe you have baking, canned food, and snack sections. Maybe it would be beneficial to get even more specific and have a cookie section, a cake section, a soup section, a canned fruit section, a candy section, and a cracker section. It's your pantry, so make it work for you!
Containerize. Not all items need to be placed in containers, but for some items, it preserves their freshness and can maximize your space. For example, storing flour and sugar in airtight plastic containers makes them stay fresh longer. Individually-wrapped items that come in boxes (i.e., granola bars, instant oatmeal packages, microwave popcorn) will take up less space if you designate a basket or bin for the items, and empty the contents of the boxes into the container. This allows you to view your supply and know when it is time to replenish. It also helps you avoid taking up valuable shelf space with a partially empty boxes. And, it may help eliminate opportunities for family members to leave totally empty snack boxes on the shelf. :)
There are many more organizational strategies you could implement in your pantry project. But if you manage to get these simple suggestions completed, consider yourself one step closer to an organized kitchen!