Where do I start when organising my pantry?
Your pantry is like your bedroom closet. If it's cluttered and chaotic, getting ready each day is a chore. The easiest part of preparing meals should be grabbing the ingredients you need from the cupboard. But it can easily become a frustrating quest if you're peering into disorganised corners, squinting to find things and see if they're past their used-by date.
The good news: coordinating your pantry isn't difficult and it is easy to achieve on a budget. Follow along with us as we break down the main elements of your pantry storage, along with tips about how to stay organised, so you'll always be able to find what you need and you can do away with unwanted rummaging for good.
Make a clean slate
Before you bring your new world of pantry organisation to life, you'll need to remove everything from your current pantry. Empty it out, dispose of anything that's beyond its safe expiry date and give the shelves a good dust and wipe down.
This might even be a good opportunity to give your pantry a fresh coat of paint - maybe even in a lighter colour to help with visibility - or a new varnish. Take a photo - it's fun to do a before and after shot when you're set up with your new arrangement.
Next, measure your pantry and draw it out with accurate dimensions. This step will prove to be a huge help in choosing the right organising solutions to streamline your space. When sourcing containers and storage options, refer to your measurements to make sure they all fit comfortably and sit together as needed.
How you use your pantry on a day-to-day basis should dictate its set-up. It's very frustrating when that item you need is hard to find or out of reach.
When you start configuring your new layout, consider the height of the person responsible for most of the meal preparation, as well as how often certain food items are used. You'll want to place your least-used items toward the back and higher in your pantry, while your most frequently used items should sit towards the front and at eye-level.
Storage containers are your best friend in the pantry. Using them to hold food items helps you get rid of bulky packaging and make the most of the space you have to work with.
Layer your containers, especially if you're short on space. Investing in stackable storage that can hold cereals, pastas, sugars, flours and everything in-between will optimise your storage space. Matching or theming containers will help your pantry look neat and tidy, and you can add a splash of style with colours and patterns that suit your overall kitchen look.
If your pantry will support them, installing containers on the inside of the door is a winner. This underused area is ideal for quick access to smaller, commonly used items like spices.
Perhaps the best trick in the book for keeping your pantry organised is the art of zoning - creating different areas throughout your pantry that serve specific purposes, and separating them using your containers or special dividers.
Popular zones include baking supplies, breakfast items and snacks. Another trick is to organise ingredients for regular meals into containers so you reduce your meal preparation time. If you have hungry youngsters at home, you can create a zone just for them - full of 'parental approved' after-school snacks in an easy-to-reach position.
Using clear storage containers for some food items plays an important role in keeping your pantry working well. Plastic and glass containers allow you to see what's stocked inside and where it is at a glance.
This technique, along with setting up your pantry according to its everyday usage and flow, will help you know which supplies are needed when. This will also save you from accidentally buying something you already had hidden away in plain sight.
If your pantry is well-stacked and well-used by numerous family members, labels can help keep things in order. Use a label maker or adhesive tape to clearly name your pantry zones and the supplies within those zones.
If printed labels aren't your thing, you might like to use a marker to write or draw creatively on the outside of your containers (just make sure you use removable pens - do a test first). A fun idea is to paint a chalkboard on the inside of your pantry doors to create a space for writing your shopping lists or menu ideas for the week. If paint isn't an option, hang a small chalkboard instead.
There's no rule that says pantry storage needs to stay in your pantry. You can use any drawers or cabinets in your kitchen as overflow for your pantry, stacking containers, bins, baskets or jars. Use them liberally to your heart's content.
Replicate the zoning and labelling system you used in your main pantry space... and watch your storage capacity grow!
Once you've put the final touches on your perfect pantry set-up and you're enjoying the results, remember to check-in on a regular basis.
Make sure the arrangement still works for your everyday needs, your zones are still doing the job and the clutter isn't building up. Incorporating pantry checks into your normal kitchen and household routines (just like meal preparation and cleaning) will keep things running smoothly and your pantry shining.