Pantry Hacks That Will Simplify Kitchen Organization

eHow Home Blog

My mission this year is to downsize the clutter and create a home that we can live in, not one that we have to live for. So far, I’ve done rather well. My closets, home office, and various nooks and crannies have all succumbed, but I hadn’t yet approached the, ahem, monster that is my pantry.

Since I’m in there daily it’s tidy, but it’s not as organized as I’d like it to be, especially at 6:30 pm when I’m trying to whip up something that resembles a healthy meal in a hurry. Hello! Diced tomatoes, where are you hiding?

So, I decided it’s time to get my pantry up to snuff. The days of canned corn hiding amongst the boxed rice dinners are over. I will find, and cook, my pasta on demand. Armed with a free afternoon, plenty of clean storage containers, and a list of tips and tricks from Ziploc®’s Fresh 180 Pantry Clean Out challenge, I faced the monster.

Know Thy Enemy: Disorganization
Disorganization is the enemy. Okay, maybe I’m being overzealous, but think about all the problems that can be easily remedied by simply getting organized: You’ll never be missing ingredients in the middle of cooking, overspending on staples you have well stocked but simply can’t find, and wasting money on food that just sits in the pantry and expires.

Divide, Toss, Reassemble, and Conquer
I cleared off my kitchen countertops so I had plenty of room to sort and organize the contents of the pantry. Once the shelves were cleared, I gave the entire pantry a good scrub-down and turned my attention to the loaded countertops while the pantry aired out.

First, I checked expiration dates and ditched anything that was past its prime. I took a tip from the challenge and emptied opened packages of staples, such as rice, oatmeal, and beans, into Ziploc® Brand Storage Containers. Since the containers stack, they’re terrific space savers and can be refilled as needed.

I also organized those pesky, but necessary, sauce, gravy, and seasoning packets into open containers so I can flip through them with ease. Love that!

Next, I reassembled the pantry, keeping like items together as space allowed. I used Ziploc® Brand Storage Bags to store my bagged pastas together, which kept individual packages from sliding around. I also used storage bags to keep partial bags of baking staples, such as brown and powdered sugars, together.

I’m blessed with a built-in spice rack in a cupboard so I didn’t have to mess with spices, but I did have to contend with a number of bottles and jars – my back-up supply to replace those in the fridge as they run out. I didn’t get fancy here; I just assembled them together on one shelf so I have a ready answer for the question, “Mom! Are we out of …?”

“No honey, look in the pantry – middle shelf on the right.” Score one for Mom!

A Final Twist and Finishing Touches Make All the Difference
I’ve never put the floor of my pantry to work. To date, it’s been a catchall for paper towels, gallon jugs of vinegar, and such, but nothing more. Following the challenge’s suggestion to add bins, I stacked bins on the floor to house canned staples. This may sound weird at first, but cans are easy to sort through in bins, plus it gives me a place to store them in bulk when they’re on sale.

Storing the overflow cans below gave the shelves room to breathe, so I finished my pantry revamp with a few labels. I didn’t go nuts labeling everything since my system depends on sales and deals. I simply used them on containers that would be refilled and to assign general assortments of goods on shelves.

Now, the big question is, will my master plan be followed? Time will tell. But, I’ll surely be keeping an eye on things, since the unofficial motto here seems to be, “organization, thy enemy is thy family.” Sigh!

Disclaimer: I was paid to develop this post and to provide related images for Ziploc®. As always, all opinions are my own.

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