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Spring is hopefully on its way very soon! With spring comes time for spring cleaning projects. One of the biggest and sometimes daunting projects is cleaning the kitchen (link is external). The kitchen is where everyone gathers for meals, conversations with family and friends, homework and other get-togethers. It is very important that a kitchen is clean, organized and tidy! The kitchen can easily get cluttered with everyday items like backpacks, purses, books, papers, and not to mention, kitchen accessories, food items and cooking utensils. When you are organizing the kitchen (link is external), it is important to do it in steps. Don’t tackle everything at once. One of the first things that you should organize is your kitchen pantry. The kitchen pantry is where you store bulk items, dry goods, canned goods, spices and so much more. To make cooking and baking easier, it is crucial to have an organized kitchen pantry.
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How to Organize a Kitchen Pantry
- The first step in any organization project is to de-clutter and clean! This is especially true when organizing a kitchen pantry. Most people over-buy food and bulk items, because they don’t remember what they have in the pantry, which in the long run wastes food and money. To start your kitchen pantry organization project, remove all of the items on the shelves. Throw out any expired food. Spices should not be kept more than a year. Remove anything that shouldn’t be stored with food items such as cleaning supplies. If there are unexpired items in the pantry that you know you won’t use, donate them to the local food pantry. After you have taken all the items out of the pantry, wipe down the shelves, change any shelving paper and sweep, vacuum or mop the floors of the pantry.
- Once you have cleaned thoroughly, it is time to sort the food items into categories. Keep like items together. Sort the items as follows:
- Dry goods: Sugar, flour or other baking goods
- Canned Goods
- Dried Food: pastas, dried beans, rice
- Boxed Items: Cereal, Crackers, Mixes
- Root Vegetables such as potatoes and onions
- Pet food and treats
- Create specific zones in the pantry for each food category. This is when you will decide where you would like to place all of your food items. Place the bulky, heavy items, such a pet food on the bottom shelves of the pantry. Put lighter items on higher shelves and place cans and jars on mid to lower level shelves. Have the items that you access the most within easy reach.
- The best way to keep your kitchen pantry organized is by investing in containers and bins. Glass or plastic containers with locking lids are perfect for cereals, rice, pasta, sugar, flour and treats for children. Open food boxes can expire faster and may attract pests. Maintain root vegetables in a bin or basket without a lid. A great tip is to label the containers with the item’s expiration date so you won’t waste the food. Putting the items in containers will also allow for easy categorization and keeps your pantry looking organized. Put bagged items such as nuts, chips or dried beans in storage bins as well. Keep spices in air tight jars or tins. Place your space rack where it is easily accessible.
- Create an inventory list for your kitchen pantry items. This will help you with tracking what you need, so you will not over buy. The list can then be used as a grocery list when you need to replenish the supplies.
- Put newer food behind older food on the shelf, so you will use the older food first before it expires. This is very helpful for canned goods and pasta sauces.
Keep your pantry organized by only using it for food stuff and not for storing other items. A self storage unit is a great option for additional household storage for items such as little used kitchen appliances, excess pots and pans and other kitchen accessories. However, never store food items in self storage. Once you are completed with your kitchen pantry organization project, then you can move on to other portions of your kitchen.