Do you find that keeping your pantry organized is a challenge? I do. Seems like I just finished organizing all the shelves and everything is out of place again. The reason? That’s simple – 3 children who all move everything in the pantry around. When they don’t find what we are looking for, everything gets moved around and disorganized fast.
This is week 5 of Organize Your Life Series. If you missed any of the previous weeks, you can start the challenge here. Have you been doing each weekly challenge with me? Are you starting to feel a little more organized? Today, we are going to work on decluttering and organizing the kitchen pantry. Let’s get started…
3 Simple Declutter Rules
- Accept you cannot keep everything and you have to let things that are not used or that are no longer useful to you go.
- If you don’t use it, get rid of it (i.e. it’s past is expire date, it’s stale or spoiled), it’s time to throw it out.
- When possible use baskets, small boxes, and plastic containers you already have in your house to organize your food. Sometimes this repurposing will take some creative thinking, but most of the time you don’t need to purchase more “storage” products, you just need to repurpose the storage items you have.
Throw Out Spoiled, Expired and Stale Items
I hate to throw out food. It really bothers me. As you go through your pantry, you will likely find spoiled, stale and expired items that are no longer safe to eat. Hopefully, you will not find too much spoiled food, but it’s easy to get expired and stale items that get hidden way in the back of the pantry. If it’s not safe to eat the food, you should throw it out and make space for the editable food.
I worked on this process organizing my pantry, and I did find a few expired items (a few that expired in 2012 – oh my! The items from 2012 had been pushed to the back of the pantry). I also found a few stale items. I threw out all these items.
Also, throw out any trash and empty boxes left by your children (my kids will take the last item in the box and will leave an empty box in the cabinet. Do your children do this too?).
Remove Boxes with Only One or Two Items
When you purchase breakfast bars, granola bars, oatmeal and other boxed items, it’s okay to keep the box when it’s full, but once you only have 1 or 2 items left, you can save space by putting all your remnant items in a basket and just choose what you need.
Besides, doesn’t it frustrate you when you grab a box that you think is full only to find just one left? If you place all the one and two items together you will see what you have and when you need to purchase more. You will save space by eliminating boxes that are 80%-90% empty.
Set Aside and Donate Items Your Family Does Not Eat
You found a great sale and you bought 6 boxes, but your children can’t stand the snack. Or you bought it because the sample in the store tasted so good, but at home it’s just not that good. When you find items in your pantry you know that your family will not eat, set them aside and donate to a local charity or food bank.
Organize By Product and Expire Date
The last step is to organize your food. You want to be able to find the food and ingredients when you need them. Start by sorting all the similar items together (canned goods, cereal, sugar/flour/baking, rice/pasta, crackers, snacks, condiments, etc…).
Next, all the similar items should be together, now sort by type (example: canned goods – green beans, corn, peas, etc…). As you put them on the shelves, be sure to put the ones that expire sooner in the front, and the ones with later expire dates in the back. As you add new items to the pantry, try to add them to the back so that the older items are not pushed to the back corners. This method should help you avoid expired and stale items in the future.
One last thought about cabinets and shelves, our pantry is not very large. We added some additional pantry space. We used plastic cabinets/shelves. The cabinets are fine for many things like toys or school supplies, but they do not handle the weight of food storage well. I suggest using sturdy wood or sturdy metal shelves because canned goods, condiments, and sauces are very heavy.
You can organize your pantry in 4 easy steps. Start by removing stale, expired and spoiled items. Just throw them away. Next, remove empty or almost empty boxes. If you have only 1 or 2 items left in the box, use a basket to store all the leftover items. Donate items your family does not eat. Organize by product (canned goods, cereal, baking, etc…), then sort and place like items on the shelves together.
The next big challenge is to keep your pantry organized!
Next week, we are going to organize our papers to complete your tax return.
How do you organize your pantry? What do you find is the best way to keep your pantry organized?