The pantry is one of those notorious problem areas that never seem to stay organized. Of course, it probably doesn’t help that you’re using it every day—and adding to it every week. Things get shuffled around, and new items end up wherever there happens to be space. And that’s exactly why it’s important to keep this troublesome space in shape.
After all, it’s not just a pain to have to hunt for dinner ingredients. If your pantry gets out of hand, you don’t know what you have—and that means food ends up wasted. And food waste is definitely not good for your grocery budget. That means keeping an organized pantry can actually save you money.
Since it’s such an important spot, we’ve put together some of the best ways to turn your messy pantry into streamlined, clutter-free food storage. Check out these tips:
Create a plan for what goes where and stick to it. The items you use most often should be in front and within easy reach. But you should definitely group items by type, too. Store cereals with other breakfast items like syrup or pancake mix. Keep baking ingredients like sugars and cake mixes together on the same shelf.
When everything has its own designated space, there’s no more haphazard stacking and shoving when it’s time to put away groceries.
Let’s be honest, some things come in packaging that’s either inconvenient, bulky, or isn’t actually the best way to store what’s inside. For things you want to be able to get easily, like cereal, snacks or lunchbox items, consider self-dispensing containers.
Plus, the hodgepodge of brightly-colored packaging designed to catch your eye in the store can really make a pantry a nightmare to look at. Repackaging foods into clear containers makes everything look more uniform. It also lets you easily see what you have and how much is left, so you’ll know when it’s time to get more.
And certain items, like grains, simply last longer in airtight containers. It’s an easy way to get the most out of your food storage.
Now that everything has its own place and its own container, it’s time to label. Labels don’t just help you—they help everyone else in the house knows the system, too.
You can choose to label the shelves, the individual containers, or a combination of both. Use a label maker or create your own stylish stick-ons, whatever works for you.
To avoid waste and clutter, decide on a regular schedule of when to go through and check for anything that might be expired. (Remember to store most recent purchases in the back so that older items get used first.)
Changes in the season are the perfect time to do rotation checks, since that’s when we tend to change what we eat. It’s also the right time to consider if your arrangements need to be tweaked, say, to make space for Halloween candy or holiday baking needs.