For many people, the pantry shelves represent the last frontier of organizing in the kitchen. Never was this more true that in my own kitchen, despite being in business for over 3 years as a professional organizer.
Organizing a pantry, often filled with half-full boxes of dry goods, is an exercise in matching up the right container with the right food stuff to fit in the right space. Remember those pre-school "fit the right shape into the right hole"? Here are some strategies to help you along:
- Rigid containers always store better than floppy bags. It doesn't matter whether you are purchasing food storage containers from a direct marketing distributor or the dollar store, consider repackaging your dry goods out of their original product bag into a rigid food storage container.
- Go vertical - often we loose valuable storage space by not using up the full height of a storage shelf. Try and fill up as much of the shelf height as possible. If necesary, consider investing in some additional shelf steps to turn a tall shelf into two shorter shelves.
- Label - no surprise here. Labels provide directed choice. It's like opening up the pantry and finding the road map with your route already marked to the wild rice or icing sugar.
- Buy only what you use - get rid of what you don't. If your family won't eat the whole wheat pasta no matter how many different versions of their favourite sauce you put on it - get rid of it. (Maybe the neighbour's children will eat it?). Your pantry space is valuable - don't use it to warehouse food you won't use.
- Group similar items together. If all the vinegar is organized together on the shelf, determing if you have any balsamic for the new salad dressing recipe is much easier.
- Enjoy! After your hard work of sorting, repackaging and organizing the food - plan a great meal for yourself and/or your family to celebrate all the great food you found in there!