How To Organize Your Pantry

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I admit it: I’m nesting.

I really enjoy the time of year when the pace slows up a little and I have extra time to get some things organized. Recently, I re-worked my pantry, one shelf at a time.

Yesterday, I started on my refrigerator, one shelf at a time. (How did I manage to have something in there that expired in 2011? Seriously?)

I remember several years ago I cleaned out my mother’s refrigerator. There were some oranges in there that we figured had been in there about 6 years! They weren’t rotted, scaringly amazingly enough. They just looked slightly withered and…tired. 😀

Between now and the first of the year, we’re all going to be doing more cooking, more shopping, more baking, and all those fun things that go along with the holidays.

Organizing your pantry, knowing what you have and where it’s located, and using up foods that are near there expiration date saves  you both time and money. (Those are two things I hate to waste!) And, you’ll have more room for everything you’ll be stocking up on and won’t be wasting your money on things you don’t need.

Let’s make it as quick and painless as possible, and something you can do in 15 minutes, more or less.

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I don’t recommend dragging everything out at once. OMG. That would send me straight to OVERWHELM, and quickly.

That’s why the “one shelf at a time” philosophy works so great! You can do it while you have something in the oven or on the stove (unless you have to be watching it, in which case I don’t recommend doing it that way.)

Are you stuck on eternal hold on the phone? Have 20  minutes before your casserole is done? PERFECT!

Pull everything off the shelf, and wipe it down.

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As you pull things out, check their expiration date. If something is expired, toss it. If it’s near their expiration date, keep it handy but don’t put it back on the shelf yet.

Those things we’re going to place in a special spot or near the front so you can be sure to use them up before they expire.

If you’re afraid you’ll forget to use it, write the expiration date with a Sharpie pen across the front. (I’ll leave it to your own judgment whether you want to use it past the expiration date. Personally, I think it all depends upon the item and its purpose.)

Then, place everything back in, grouping like items together. 

For instance, place all your soup together, canned tomatoes, paste, sauce or puree together; canned meats; canned beans; pastas, etc.

Won’t it be nice to know immediately whether or not you have Chicken Noodle Soup? Or Chili Beans?

Because I get a lift every time I open the door and my pantry looks nice, I try to position everything so it looks nice and I can easily see what the item is.

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I picked up some new canisters at Westlake’s last week. (Regular blog readers know of my fascination with Mason jars.)

I decant my coffee, and other items and place them in these jars. It looks so much nicer getting it out of these containers!

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These are my baking items, stored on the shelf above my stove (on top of my microwave, actually.) Don’t they look nice?

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Shelf by shelf…

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I repeat the process.

Smaller items that are easy to lose, like granola bars, etc. look great kept together in baskets.

If you have kids, you might want to place their snacks in small baskets that are easy for them to see and reach.

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Whenever you have a few minutes, work on a shelf, or part of a shelf at a time.

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If you have some things that aren’t expired but you’re wondering what on earth you are doing with them, simply re-home them.

Do you have a friend who’s a gourmet and will use them? Is it something the Food Bank could use? (Use your best judgment, but I kind of think capers or sun dried tomatoes probably aren’t a good choice for the Food Bank.) 😉

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Are there some things you need to restock? Start making your shopping list, and remember to leave space for them as you work. 

Let’s face it, there are certain things that you know you’ll probably be using over the next few weeks; start picking them up each time when you go to the store.

I placed items that need to be used sooner rather than later towards the front: front and center!  That way I’ll remember. Maybe you’ll want to designate a special spot, or shelf if you have room, for things that need to be used right away.

You can also label your shelves, if you move some things and want to avoid having members of your household “dig” for them. Ahem. 😉

This is a relatively simple task, but with a big payoff: not only will it make you feel good, but it will save you money and time as well as lower your stress level.

I’m all for that! 🙂

Have a wonderful day, friends.