Most household gurus call the kitchen “the heart of the home.” Whether you live in a small apartment or a large single-family residence, it’s likely that you spend a lot of time in your kitchen preparing meals, eating and socializing. Passing time in the kitchen can be great fun if you’re organized and have plenty of room to move.
However, it’s easy to get frustrated with the time you spend in the kitchen if your pantry has become disorganized, filled with clutter, and you just can’t find the items that you need to make dishes for yourself, your family and your friends. Organizing your kitchen pantry is a great way to reinvent this essential area and to make cooking and entertaining fun and stress-free. No matter the size of your pantry, you can give it a makeover in just a few hours by doing a little bit of cleaning and organizing.
Step One: Clean Out The Pantry
The first step to get your kitchen pantry in order isn’t to organize but to clean. HGTV organization experts Sarah Welch and Alicia Rockmore share that cleaning before organizing “feels great and alleviates a big part of the task.” There’s no doubt that many of your pantry frustrations stem from never being able to find what you need. When you clean out your pantry, you will be able to identify the items that you use on a regular basis so that you can better organize them.
You’ll also want to sort as you clean to help streamline the organizing process. Welch and Rockmore suggest that you put everything that you don’t use on a regular basis into two different piles. The first pile should be for the items that need to be thrown out because they are past their expiration date or have gone bad. The second pile should be for items that you haven’t used in the last nine months. Unless they’re special religious or holiday foods, these items should either be chucked in the trash or donated to a food bank, but only if they haven’t expired.
Before you move to step two, take some time to wipe down your pantry shelves. If your shelving is old or tends to retain smells, you might want to take the time to put in liners. You can find coated contact paper at most discount department and hardware stores.
Step Two: Group Your Items
After you’ve cleaned your pantry, you can begin to plan your new organization strategy. The Woman’s Day organizing experts stress the importance of pre-planning. They advise you to “think about how to use the space for your lifestyle and create zones.” Consider grouping your items into these categories:
- Everyday Essentials
- Baking Items
- Powdered Goods
- Pastas, Rices and Grains
- Snack Items
While it makes sense to group items into categories, you should also think about how other individuals in your household use the pantry. Are your kids always on the hunt for snacks? Establish a snack basket that they can easily reach to avoid pantry messes. Move items that you don’t use on a regular basis to your kitchen cupboards so that they don’t get in the way of your everyday items.
Step Three: Choose Storage Solutions
Depending on how your pantry is built, you may or may not have adequate shelf space to hold all of your items. Consider these storage solutions to help you maximize your storage:
- Wire baskets
- See-through plastic boxes
- Collapsible fabric baskets
- Wire racks
- Lazy Susans
You can also put items such as pasta and rice in clear plastic or glass containers to cut down on clutter caused by packaging. Remember that it’s important to choose storage baskets and boxes that can be easily cleaned and won’t retain smells.
If your pantry is short on space, get creative. The kitchen experts at Real Simple say that you can “stash pantry items in the see-through pockets of an over-the-door organizer to virtually eliminate search time.” These hanging organizers are particularly useful for spices, powdered soups, baking soda, gelatin, chocolate chips and other items that get pushed to the backs of shelves.
Step Four: Put It All Together
After you’ve cleaned, organized and chosen storage solutions, you can place items in your pantry. If you can, arrange things so that you can see everything that’s available. Make sure to put new products behind old ones. This will encourage you to use older items first and avoid spoilage.