Pantries are like puppies. Some are small and some are extra large. They grow and they change. Sometimes they smell bad and get extremely messy, but they are the best! They hold the essentials to keeping us alive and to making us happy. Chocolate anyone?!
The first step of any food based organization is going on the expiration date scavenger hunt. As organizers, we love this step of the process. It allows us to push the reset button and start over. Some expiration dates are easier to find than others, and sometimes they have been washed off all together. But a rule of thumb is if it looks old it probably is old.
Out with the old and in with the new! Your pantry might be feeling kinda bare now with all the expired foods in the trash. That’s okay - time to go to the store! Now that we know what’s in your pantry it’s actually easier to go grocery shopping. You can “shop first” in your own pantry and get only the items that you need and will use. Clearly the items in the trash are things you are NOT using. Or maybe now you know it takes a little too long to get through 3 jars of honey before they harden and costco bulk is not the way to go.
This is where pantries get extra fun! Decanting. Now I know it’s not for everyone, maybe practically or aesthetically it’s not for you, but this is where creativity and personal style can really make a space.
You can go with the casual setup - Basic sets of OXO containers with proper sealing methods. They have everything from pasta, cereal and baking containers with brown sugar savers.
Or some always in style glass and wood jars. Not everything will be decanted and typically not everything should be. We like to decant dry goods or things that fit better outside the original packaging. For example the extra large and round cheeto puff bin. Or marshmallows since the bag is so flimsy.
It also needs to be something you’re motivated to refill. Otherwise you will have your all purpose flour in the jar as well as in the original bag, then taking up twice as much space. We are trying to create space, not waste it.
Also, be sure you always get a container with a seal, otherwise your items will expire more quickly and that’s just a waste of money.
Another option is to find a canister that isn’t transparent. This makes it look sharp and clean no matter what is inside of it. Bonus- this new product at The Container Store is made from recycled plastic and renewable natural materials.
The final step for our pantry is to replenish it with all the newly decanted and non-expired foods we either already had or just bought. When putting it back you’ll want to group it on the shelves by how you use the foods. Having your most used categories around shoulder height and kiddos snacks a little lower. Some of our favorite categories are breakfast, snacks, baking, canned goods, oils & vinegars, and quick meals.
You also want to be sure EVERYTHING in your pantry is accessible, otherwise you will accumulate another large purge of expired foods in under a year. To help with accessibility, our favorite products are:
Tiered shelves - to help reach all your canned goods and jars while capitalizing on the vertical height
Lazy Susans - for all the oils, vinegars, dressings and sauces to be available in one quick turn.
Deep pantry bins - to reach all of your food, especially the stuff that gets stuck in the back
Maintaining the pantry may be one of the harder spaces that we deal with in our homes. Simply because the family is in and out of it all day and it is changing constantly. But by frequently checking expiration dates, “shopping first” in our own pantries, and having products that make pantry goods more accessible it is totally doable and can look fabulous!
AUGUST 5, 2022
Before Nisa stepped into organizing as a career, she worked in management and physical therapy, using her instinct for order to recreate organizational systems and redesign the flow of daily operations. She now puts that passion to use full-time to help give her team and clients the flow they need to best function in their space. With over 2,000 hours of experience serving clients, Nisa is an outstanding project manager and her calm nature makes any situation feel possible. Nisa and her husband live in the Denver area with their two cats, where they spend their free-time watching comedies, remodeling their home, and trying out new local restaurants.