Organizing Your Pantry

 Ina Garten’s pantry

Organizing a pantry can be a daunting task. I’ve broken it down into a few steps that are easy to follow and can be accomplished in a very short time. Of course as with all my tips, you can customize this to fit your needs.

If like me you love to organize, you might want to take this a step further and put all your food in clear airtight containers with labels on them. You may also want to use baskets to coral small items. The most important thing to remember is to group items by type and use.

Step 1: Clean out your pantry and throw away any expired items, and donate any items you NEVER use. We all have the occasional can of something we’ve never known what to do with. Do not clutter valuable space with things you do not need...sort items onto a counter or a table by group, breakfast items, school lunch items, canned, staples, baking, create as many categories as you need. 

Step 2: Designate shelves. A small pantry usually has at least 4 shelves. I always leave the bottom (usually the floor) for heavy items like large containers filled with Flour, Sugar, Wheat flour, Rice, brown Sugar, Powdered Sugar, and large containers of oil and vinegar. It’s also good to have a large basket for paper products such as extra napkins and plasticware--basically things that children have no interest in. 

Shelf 1, working from the bottom up, is great for canned items-- a great way to store canned items is in hard plastic basket-like containers (usually found near Tupperware) that you can pull out to actually see what you have. I also put boxed items or anything used for dinner prep on this shelf.

Shelf 2 is good for baking items: cocoa powder, shortening, oatmeal, flax seed, granola, etc

Shelf 3, hopefully out of the reach of children, is great for cereals and snack items. I like using this shelf for animal crackers, cheese crackers, and other like items. 

The top shelf is great for lunch prep items. I store extra drinks, chips, and treats up there—Where my kids can’t see it or reach it.

A Few Tips:
Create a Master grocery list of items you usually buy and attach a pen to the door using Velcro, as you run out of items circle them on your list. If you want to take it a step further when you go shopping write down the aisle number of each item and then reorganize your list by aisle number. This saves so much time in the long run. You can even write prices next to each item for more detailed shopping. 

Keep pasta and dry goods in clear jars and containers. This will help you know what you have and will help prevent wasting money—too often we buy items we think we need and end up with multiples. 

Keep extra grocery bags contained on a hook on the door of your pantry as well as re-usable tote bags for when you go shopping. 

Keep a small basket filled with on the go snacks. I like to keep a few snack size zip lock bags with animal crackers, homemade trail mix, pretzels and cheerios ready to throw in my purse when I’m on the go—this also minimizes unplanned drive-thru stops which are expensive and usually unhealthy.

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