7 Simple Steps to a Picture Perfect Pantry

By Naomi Cook

Has the inside of your pantry become like the Bermuda Triangle?    Have you ever looked for something, say a cake mix for your child, who just told you at 9pm that there is a bake sale tomorrow morning and she needs 3 dozen cupcakes?   Have you sworn you had several mixes…scoured the pantry, but couldn’t find them, and rushed out to the store all frazzled, only to find out later that you have 5 boxes of cake mix at the back of the top shelf behind that mega pack of granola bars that you couldn’t pass up at Costco?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then it’s time for a food intervention here, people!  I invite you to clean out your pantry and follow these 7 simple steps to get it to be a help and not a hindrance. 

Step 1 – Categorize:  Start by taking everything out of your pantry and place items in categories on a nearby table or countertop, i.e. baking supplies, snacks, breakfast items.   

Step 2 – Clean:  Wipe down all of the shelves to get rid of those cracker crumbs and cereal flakes…and hopefully that is just a raisin in the corner of the floor…

Step 3 – Toss/Recycle:  Now’s the time to trash any products that have expired, like the cereal you hated after eating it just once and has been crammed in the back ever since!  Break down cereal or cracker boxes after removing the bags inside, pour out expired spices from bottles in the trash and put them in your recycling bin. 

Step 4 – Make a shopping list:  Write down items that you have tossed in the trash, on a shopping list.  However, you should only limit it to staple items like oregano or cinnamon or your child’s favorite cereal.  If it’s something you’ve only used once for a recipe you made a year ago, it’s not that important.  Decisions like these will allow your pantry to have more breathing room!

Step 5 – Implement tools (Optional):  Do you have adjustable shelves in your pantry?  If you do, that’s great.  If not, you may have some vertical spaces that are being wasted between the shelves.  Expandable shelves are a great solution to this problem, and you end up with double the shelving!  You’ll notice that canned items will fit nicely underneath the expandable shelves.  Use this small space also by putting boxed items away horizontally or on their side.  Another good tool to have in your pantry is a packet holder for all of those seasonings and sauce mixes. 

Step 6 – Put back mindfully:  Separate your pantry into sections for different members of the family or for items that should stick together, like baking supplies.  For example, keep the kid’s snacks on the shelves that are most accessible to them. 

Step 7 – Set up a dry erase board:  Establish a rule for those in your household, who can write, that if they use up say the rest of the cereal, it get’s written on the board.  This can also be used for your general shopping list and transferred to paper when it’s time to go to the market.  Keep this in proximity to the pantry and the fridge. 

Up for some extra credit and feeling ambitious? 

Create an inventory of items that are ready to go back into the pantry on a master list.  Update it frequently on a document in your computer so you know what’s in there.  Also, think ahead and by several cake mixes (especially angel food cake since you only need to add water!) and a few cans of frosting.   You will have something for unexpected company, and you will never need to run out at 9pm for cake mix again! 

Until next time, stay neat people! 

Thanks Naomi!  Your tips will most definitely be helpful.

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