The last time I organized my pantry was before Christmas so by now it was getting out of hand; specially since we are getting ready to host 3 big birthday parties.  I’ve been shoving candies, baking ingredients and more into the pantry just trying to get them put away.

In my house “spring cleaning” not only means cleaning the house, it means organizing it too.  Once we finished deep cleaning the kitchen it was time to organize the pantry.

There are many tips and ideas out there on how to organize your pantry.  Many of the after shots look great; everything in labeled canisters and bins.  I look at those after photos and think I’d like my pantry to look like that, but the reality is I don’t really want to spend the time making my pantry look just like them.  I just want my pantry to be organized to that I can find what I need when I’m cooking.

With that said here are my tips for organizing a pantry.  I think the most important tip I would give to anyone is to organize YOUR pantry to make it convenient for YOU; after all you’re the one who has to live with it and what’s the use of a pristine pantry if you can’t find what you’re looking for when you need it.  Also you don’t need to spend lots of time and money buying expensive canisters and bins which you will stick labels on.  Canisters and bins from the dollar store or Walmart work just as well as the more expensive department store ones; although I love the OXO Good Grips Pop Canisters, they are great for keeping those pesty little rice weevils away.  Labels are a must for canisters, but I only label canisters that I know will always hold the same items, i.e. flour, sugar, cereal, etc.  If the canister will hold different things at different times there’s no sense sticking a permanent label on it, you’ll only have to take the time to scrape off the label or tossing the canister.

Here are the steps to organizing your pantry.

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1.  Empty out the pantry.

2.  Toss out all food that’s expired and/or have no labels,  opened boxes of food you haven’t used in a long time, and anything else you don’t have any use for.

3.  Wipe shelves, walls, door, door molding, and light switches with your favorite cleanser.  I use a mixture of equal parts of  Dawn dish washing liquid, vinegar,  water, and 3 drops lemon essential oil.
4.  Sweep and mop floor.

5.  Wash and dry cans, bottles, canisters, etc.

6.  Replace items on shelves.  Place items in a way that makes it convenient for you.

– Place items you don’t use daily on the higher less accessible shelves
– Place items you use daily at eye level and on shelves that are easily accessible
– Place items for kids, cereal, granola bars, juice boxes, snacks, etc. on shelves that kids can                   reach
– Avoid placing anything directly on the floor, if you can lower a shelf to about 4″-6″ from the               floor.  This makes it easier to sweep and mop under. If you must put items on the floor place
place them in bins or other containers so that you can easily pull them out so you can sweep                 and mop.
– Place items that are closer to their expiration date in front of items that will expire later.
When you re-stock always place newer items behind older items; learn to live by the rule                     restaurants have – rotation:  FIRST IN FIRST OUT
– Don’t store toxic items in the pantry
– If you will be storing non-food items in the pantry; over sized tray & bowls, serving pieces,
small appliances, etc.  Store them on a separate shelf or in a separate section from the food.
– Place smaller items in plastic bins to keep them from falling or slipping thru the shelves. I like to store cupcake/candy liners and decoration in stackable see thru mini drawers, and sprinkles, colored sugars, etc. in plastic baskets.
– If storing small appliances in the pantry consider putting all the parts together in a bin
i.e. portable electric mixer with beaters, food processor with discs, etc.
– To avoid a rice or grain weevil problem place flour, rice, bread crumbs, anything that is or made from grains, in sealed containers.  I like using OXO Good Grips Pop Canisters and   Rubbermaid Cereal/Snack Containers.
– Label canisters
– Group items in a way that makes sense to YOU.  i.e. baking ingredients together, pastas & pasta sauces, soups (canned, boxed, mixes), etc.
– Save space by stacking items

Organizing Your Pantry