Less Food and Product Waste and More Freshness!
It only makes sense that, if you don't know what you have, you'll just keep buying more of the same. So that's definitely one benefit of keeping a well-organized pantry. In addition, expiration dates arrive before you know it if you can't get to the back of your pantry shelves to see what's there! And, what about freshness? Stale crackers are kind of embarassing when your grown kids come over and raid the pantry (so I've heard). I, for one, have experienced those pantry bugs that like to start in flour and then, the next thing you know, they are in the Fiber One bars. There's nothing like having your toddler start screaming bloody murder in the kindergarten pick up line when one of those bugs has turned into a moving worm and it's rearing its ugly head right there under his nose as he eats his snack. And those bugs were in an ORGANIZED pantry! So, just think of what you might not even be aware of if you don't know what's in there or how long it's been in there! GROSS! I will never forget that squirmy little worm nor the screams coming from my mini van.
Here are some of my favorite items to use for a well-organized pantry...
1. I love round turntables for corners.
They're great for canned goods or sauces and dressings. It makes it easy to just spin for access to those items. They even have clear ones that have a lip all the way around so that items cannot slide off and some have dividers AND a lip! Genius!
2. Matching bins make a pantry look less cluttered.
You can get inexpensive matching bins at places like the Dollar Tree and sometimes even the Target Dollar Spot. I like to use small bins, medium bins and large bins. In the smaller (open) containers or bins, dry mixes and packets, drink mixes, puddings, bag clips, and small packs of nuts (or fruit snacks) work well. In medium bins, we put our granola/protein bars, other pre-packaged snacks, peanut butter crackers, popcorn, salad toppings and such.
Then, on the floor in our largest bins, we put bulk boxes of snacks/crackers and the lunch box snacks we use on a daily basis. You may want to use floor bins (if you have more space) for things like bulk paper towels or toilet paper. Here are a few photos that include a couple of other pantries I've done as well as my own.
The photos you see of my own pantry are a mix of different view over the years as it's always evolving!
3. Cereal containers help us keep cereal fresh.
My kids seem to have a difficult time (aka they can be super lazy) folding down or using a bag cllp on the inner liner to keep the cereal from going stale. We keep the main two or three cereals that are "staples" in our house in the actual containers. Others that come and go stay in their boxes and we hope for the best. The honey nut cereals are always a favorite around here. Maybe because we're sweet but also all a bit nutty. Makes sense I guess! Check out these from Rubbermaid.
4. Tiered shelves for canned goods allow me to see what's in the back and get a full view of what we actually have.
I like my set (I originally got mine from Target) but here is a similar set. The reason I like it is that it expands. I like to keep sauces on the one side and soups on the other but I can make it as long or short as needed.
5. Rubbermaid food storage bins that stack are one of my favorites!
We use these for oatmeal, pretzels (because we always have pretzels in the house), nacho chips (also in the house most of the time), and rice cakes. (Look for a future blog post about how we use these in our baking cabine for flours and sugars and chips also.)
6. Regular large tupperware bins hold different types of ice cream cones.
(My kids could probably hold the record for ice cream consumption.) Oh, and if I can't win the candy game, I can at least have it paired down to three little drawers - one for each kiddo. Moreover, it's amazing to see just how efficient a child can be when forced to maximize their candy storage drawer.
7. Over-the-door shelves that can also be mounted to the wall are perfect for our little space that's not deep enough for regular shelves.
We put our overstock of condiments and dressings, bread crumbs and pretty much anything to which we want to have quick access that fits and here is a link to a similar one to ours..
The top shelf is home to all of our larger awkward appliances like the air fryer, ice cream maker (like I said... they could hold the record), and so on.
8. Finally, labels labels labels!
I like chalkboard labels simply because then we just wash it off and re-write when we need to adjust. These photos are of three different pantries, and mine gets a re-vamp about twice per year as our needs adjust. SPEAKING OF WHICH...
Yesterday, after church, I decided that my pantry needed one of it's twice per year wash downs and cleanouts. Not only did I want to clean it out, I realized that we've been losing access to some very valuable storage all these years! The door has always swung inward. And that wall behind the door holds an over-the-door shoe organizer. I had a lightbulb moment.
9. Why not use that over-the-door shoe holder for water bottles?
And while I'm thinking about it, why did we make the door swing inward? The truth is that I know the answer to that which is because we thought that, if it swung outwards, it would interfere too much with the narrow space between our stovetop countertop and the ovens. The next thing I knew we weren't even home from church for ten minutes and Mr. Home Matters had the hinges popped off and BOOM!
We could now visualize what it would look like with the door swinging outwards...and then I was able to get the water bottles sorted with lids and all to see how much easier it was going to be to access them!
Here's a couple more pics from yesterday. We still need to update the labels but it feels so good to clean out and SIMPLIFY, doesn't it?
What's on your list to organize in 2020?