Our kitchen storage used to make us crazy. Our pantry shelves were always full but we could never find anything. We’d regularly come home from the grocery store having purchased items we already had on-hand. Or worse, we’d realize in the middle of cooking dinner that we didn’t have a vital ingredient. We blamed it all on our small kitchen. It wasn’t until we began a home remodel (and had to use a bookshelf as a makeshift pantry) that we learned a valuable lesson: it wasn’t the size of our kitchen that was causing chaos; it was our lack of an organization system.
We got organized and developed an easy routine that can help you tidy up your kitchen pantry.
How to Tidy Up Your Pantry
- Clear your counters and kitchen table. You’re going to need space for all that stuff!
- Open your pantry doors and any cabinets where you store food and pull everything out.
- Grab a wet cloth and an all-purpose surface cleaner because you’re going to want to scrub those shelves clean!
- Group all your items by category. Feel free to build off our list of basic pantry staples (below) or do what makes sense for you.
- Take a moment to consider each item and check the expiration date. If you’re not sure what something is, why it’s in your pantry, or if you’re ever going to use it, set it aside.
- Move everything else back onto shelves and drawers by category, ideally with labels facing out so you can quickly find whatever you’re looking for.
- Box up the items you set aside. As long as they’re not expired, donate them during a food drive or offer them for free on craigslist or via a “buy nothing, sell nothing” group on Facebook.
Basic Pantry Staples
Here are the categories of basic pantry staples that we always like to have on hand. When we start to run low on any of these, we add them to our weekly grocery list to avoid running out.
- Canned Goods: tomatoes, beans, coconut milk
- Oils: olive, avocado, peanut, sesame, coconut
- Grains: white and brown rice, quinoa
- Flours: all-purpose, whole wheat, almond (we love Bob’s Red Mill), coconut, rice, garbanzo bean
- Spices: cinnamon, salt, black and red pepper, cumin, nutmeg, cocoa powder
- Sweeteners: white and brown sugar, coconut sugar, agave, honey, maple syrup
- Snacks: cereal and granola bars, dried fruit leathers, pretzels, chips, organic unsweetened applesauce cups
- Cereals: plain and Honey Nut Cheerios, granola, oatmeal
- Seeds and Nuts: raw almonds, salted peanuts, sesame, chia, flaxseed
Post your before and after pictures to Instagram, #planfulcooktidypantry!