Medications opened and in 1996 and not used since…strawberry syrup from 1989…napkins from your daughter’s first birthday and she is now married with children…  Our pantries are places we frequent yet seldom think about unless we can’t find something. 

Pantries were originally built in a cold North corner of a home for storage of food.  Butler’s panties were entirely different and meant for storage of china and serving ware.  There was a time when pantries weren’t even built into homes but are making a welcome comeback.  Perhaps it was the generation skip that has caused the pantry to become such problem area.  As children we had very small pantries, if any, and now they are large enough to a room in and of themselves. 

I have seen pantries filled with so many irrelevant items there wasn’t any room for the food.  Such items include florist vases, gift wrap, filing cabinets, even an assortment of handbags.  In taking back control of our pantry we must first identify how we intend to use it.  Hopefully food storage tops the list but that is entirely up to you.

When you decide to work on your pantry, set aside several hours to do it properly.  Take everything out – and I mean EVERYTHING!  As you are removing items, check them for expiration dates.  If it doesn’t have one, assume that it is and toss it out.  This is an integral part of the process at it will decrease the volume of items returning to your pantry exponentially. 

Once the space is empty, go ahead and clean.  Remove the dried honey then put down fresh shelf liners.  With the space fresh and clean, think about what you use most.  Do you have children that need access to snacks?  Make sure that the items you use the most are in the most logical/accessible place.  If there are very shallow shelves, dedicate that space to items such as boxes of drink mixes/teas or condiments like ketchup and relish. 

Most pantries can be divided into the following categories: 

Beverages (juices, coffee, tea, etc.)

Condiments (mustard, jellies, salad dressing)

Baking (flour, sugar, chocolate chips, baking mixes)

Cooking (noodles, dinner mixes, sauces, canned goods)

Snacks (chips, peanut butter, crackers)

Breakfast (cereal, oatmeal)

Storage (Ziploc bags, foil)

Notice spices are not listed.  Spices should be stored within reach of your cooking space.  If at all possible, these should not be stored in your pantry. 

Replace the items into your pantry.  Only use the floor for items that are not consumed.  If the floor must be used, place items such as sodas, water, reusable shopping bags, disposable dinnerware or serving dishes still in the original packaging. 

A few more tips to keeping your pantry in line:

  1. Always remove unnecessary packaging.  If you buy a variety pack of cereal, take them out of the shrink wrap before placing on the appropriate shelf. 
  2. Items packaged in bags is inevitable however, if you store them with the unopened end out, it makes for a much cleaner appearance.
  3. When making your shopping list, go through the pantry and remove anything outdated or empty.  This quick pass over will decrease the need for another several hour block anytime soon. 

Your pantry is an important area of your home because most, if not all, of your family’s meals originate there.  You want it to be easy to use and clean. 

Jennifer Snyder
Neat as a Pin Organizing Experts