How to Clean and Organize Your Pantry
How to Clean and Organize Your Pantry
By Jane K - 4 of July, 2021
Just like the rest of your house, the pantry is a great place to do some cleaning. Food items can slowly accumulate and be forgotten over time. Are you always buying more of an item because you can’t remember if you have any left at home? Are you always tossing out food because it goes bad before you get a chance to use it? Organizing your food storage areas can help you cut down on food waste and have everything you need for a healthy meal on hand.
1. Divide your pantry based on your lifestyle.
“Pair similar food items together” tends to be the general recommendation for organizing your pantry. But that can end up with you having a cluttered “sauce shelf” that you have to go searching through to find the item you want.
So take that “pair similar foods together” rule, and make it work for your lifestyle.
A more effective way – one that can also help you save time when you’re cooking – is to divide your pantry up in ways that make sense for what you usually cook.
Rather than having generic shelves, like “sauces” and “dried goods,” try putting items together that go together when you cook. Some examples:
A quick, grab-and-go lunch and snack shelf, for ramen noodles, mac and cheese, and granola bars
A baking shelf, for brown sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla, and all of your other baking necessities
Shelves for world cuisines you enjoy cooking, grouping ingredients that usually get cooked together. Put curry paste, coconut milk, and rice noodles on one shelf. Put dry pasta and tomato sauce on another.
Go through your house and find boxes and baskets that fit the shelves in your pantry. Use them to store snacks and open bags of chips. Mix and match and rearrange until you find a configuration that works! This is the key step in organizing your pantry without spending any money. I LOVE all ofthe special storage organizers at BeaBos and have been tempted to revamp my pantry using them. I may do that someday, but for now, it isn’t a priority, and the bins and baskets that I have to serve a purpose so I can save my money for other things.
2. Label your shelves or use storage bins to keep your pantry organized
Labeling is super important especially in pantries where many people can be popping in and out throughout the day to grab snacks, prepare a meal, or put up groceries. Labeling helps keep a high traffic space like the pantry organized and efficient. Plus, it’s just fun and cute, right?
To make sure your pantry stays tidy after you make future shopping trips, try labeling the new sections of your pantry.
The simplest way is to label the shelves themselves, with anything from masking tape to stickers. This can help you and the rest of your family know where items go upon future shopping trips. When you buy something new, make sure it goes on the proper shelf.
3. Clean up your pantry
This may sound like a no brainer, but do these things while you're going through your pantry instead of waiting until the end!
Tidy Up – Do a general tidying up and put like things together. You can assess what all you have, then get a game plan together for where you want it to go.
Throw Away Old or Stale Food – Throw out the junk as you come across it to make room for everything else. Taste-test if you're not sure so you don't throw away good food!
Wipe Down or Vacuum Messes – During the tidying stage, clean up any messes you come across on the shelves or on the floor.
4. Keep Frequently Used Items At Eye Level
When you open your pantry the worst is having to look high and low for one singular item. While you organize your pantry it would be wise to keep frequently used items at eye level.
This will offer convenience when you search the pantry and will help put your mind at ease that the setup of your pantry makes sense. After all, you want your pantry to be a stress-free zone, right?
Canned food is easy to stack, but it’s hard to see what’s behind a column of cans. And can often get pushed to the back of your pantry and forgotten – at least until you do another cleaning out of your pantry.
To avoid this problem, try stacking your cans so you can see what’s behind other things, with one can in the front, two behind.
5. Clean and Prepare the Shelves
Cleaning your kitchen pantry might involve just a quick dusting, a gentle wipe down with warm, soapy water and a couple of cleaning rags. If you bump into any forgotten or unseen spills, greasy spots can be fought with vinegar. Make sure you give the containers and each item that’ll end up in your pantry a wipe down and vacuum or sweep up any crumbs.
Consider lining your shelves with contact paper. They come in many materials and colors so you can buy contact paper that fits your style, cut it to fit your shelves, and give your pantry an overall oomph. You can also use leftover contact paper for kitchen drawers and cabinets.
Aside from aesthetics, contact paper usually has enough grip to hold pesky containers in their place or if you have a tendency to knock things over they soften the blow and protect the shelving from staining. You don’t have to do this step but it’s really beneficial and it’ll save you a lot of elbow grease in your pantry in the future.
Now, whether you see any pests or not, make sure you clean your pantry well and get any crevices and corners for any cobwebs. This is a great time to prevent any sugar-loving insects from setting up in your pantry and avoid needing to completely clean out your pantry again.
Vinegar and soapy water are natural repellants that deter pantry bugs from coming around, so avoid using bleach and pesticides while cleaning out the pantry as you don’t want chemicals to come into contact with your food.
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