We’re three weeks into our 2017 Decluttering & Tidying challenge and this week we are headed into The Pantry.
The pantry seems to be a “hot spot” of clutter for many people. No matter whether your pantry is a series of cabinets or a walk-in “closet” of sorts, it is important to have an organized and tidy pantry. If for no other reason, but for the simple fact that this is food we’re talking about.
I go through my pantry a couple times a year, and fully overhaul it. Not that I need to change how I store everything, but I have to do that semi-annual purge and tidy. Here’s what I do:
Week 3: The Pantry
- Clear a big space to spread everything out and work on. Depending upon the size of your pantry, this could be your counter, your kitchen table, or both. You just need a space where you can work.
- Working a shelf or a cabinet at a time, go through and remove everything and place it on your work surface – or pull it all out if you have the space to.
- Clean the shelves/cabinet. Depending upon your surface, you can wipe them down or vacuum or both.
- If you line your pantry shelves with anything, now is the time to refresh it. My pantry shelves are made of heavy particle board. PB is not smooth, so you can’t really wipe it down. I like to use parchment or waxed paper to line the shelves. It is inexpensive and easy to cut. There’s no adhesive to mess with either, so you can position it exactly as you like. Why would you even need adhesive? It isn’t going to move because it will be under your pantry items, on a flat surface.
- Go through and do “the purge.” Old containers of cereal? Stale crackers? Get rid of them. Two open containers of the same thing? Combine them into one and discard the extra package. Check expiration dates, too!
- Wipe down storage containers (mason jars) with a damp rag or sponge to remove dust, fingerprints, etc.
- Return your items to the pantry, being mindful of the contents. My pantry items are grouped together according to what they are, pastas, baking goods, coffee/tea/beverages, dried beans & grains, etc. Try to have some rhyme or reason as to where things go, that way you know exactly where to look when you need something, or if you are having another family member get something for you.
Why do I use mason jars to store food in?
Have you ever had an ant infestation? I did once many years ago, and it was disastrous. Immediately after, I started storing all of my goods in the jars. And you know what? A few months later we had a roof leak, and one day water was pouring down the back wall of my pantry. Not only were the jars bug-proof, but they are also water-proof. I didn’t lose a single bean or noodle.
If that isn’t enough, another reason that I use mason jars, is that they are clear. I can see the contents. With only a glance, I can see that I am getting low on pecans or pinto beans and can add them to my grocery list when I am preparing to go shopping.
How do I know what’s in each jar? I just label them with a label maker, then I never wonder – is that salt or sugar? Baking soda or cornstarch?
Don’t have a label maker? No problem! You can also cut the labels from the package and simply tape them to the jars.
Another reason I use jars for food storage, is that the jars come in all sorts of sizes from little jelly jars to big half gallon ones. The jars are also inexpensive. Stock up on them during harvest season or get them at a thrift shop for even better savings.
Do you have any tips for keeping the pantry organized? Share them in the comments below!