The essentials of pantry organization
A new, but smaller walk-in pantry is being built in my basement for me right now. It will be closer to the kitchen and free up other space for my sewing room!
I have read LOTS of articles on the subject of pantry organization to gather the best ideas out there. Some of the ideas are mine, whether confirmed by the internet or not. Ha. Here they are (some references linked to below):
- First in, first out (which nearly everyone abbreviates as FIFO, but it always sounds like a dog’s name to me and confuses me!). This can be done by dating packages or containers, or by trying to always put the newer purchases to the back of the line.
- Repackage for freshness. This could mean putting original packages in a more airtight outer container. It might mean putting food in completely different containers, sometimes vacuum sealing food into smaller jars or bags.
- Uniformity of shape makes the best use of space and is good for stacking. This can be enhanced by using more squarish containers. Trying to use the same containers as much as possible will help with this. Even if you don’t totally repackage, you can use a container for smaller or oddly shaped items to keep them in line.
- Consider adding additional shelf space with wire racks and kitchen cabinet shelf extensions. (I already have some similar to these.)
- Repackage for visibility. Use clear containers whenever possible. Arrange any original containers, such as cans, so that they are easy to read.
- Arrange by food type. This is commonly referred to as zones. That may mean different things to different people. If you cook from scratch a lot like me, that means according to type of ingredient. Other people need the organize around types of meals being prepared, such as lunches on the go or snacks kids are allowed to eat. (I list my zones of choice below)
- Label things. This is definitely a must if you repackage things. You do not want to waste time trying to remember or waste food because you forgot…
- Erasable labels are desirable. The most intriguing labels I found are the chalkboard stickers. AND I discovered there are now chalkboard markers, which write more boldly. There are cautions about making sure any chalkboard is not too porous, and chalkboard paint is specifically mentioned as NOT working with them. So, I won’t be using them on my garage chalkboard or my antique chalkboard.
- Use lazy Susans to maximize corner space.
- Use over the door shoe organizers for smaller items. If you have a typical cupboard door, they now make over the door organizers just for kitchen pantry cupboards.
- Use boxes or dividers to allow cans to lay on their sides and stack without rolling away…
- Keep a stool or short ladder available to reach higher places
- Use higher places for items not needed very much, possibly even infrequently used cookware.
- Keep walkways clear.
- Use large bins on the bottom level, particularly if there is not actual shelf there. This will work like a substitute drawer and will keep items from scattering.
- Don’t use lids unnecessarily on such bins.
- Consider a rolling cart if there are heavy things you use fairly often and want to easily transport them into the kitchen. (this will not work for my pantry, since it is downstairs from the kitchen)
- Don’t use the pantry as a general storage or catch-all space.
- Keep a handy place to write down what you need or don’t. This may or may not be the same as your grocery list. The point is that we often notice things while in the pantry, but forget them as soon as we leave.
- Don’t forget to keep a writing tool right there, too.
- Have good lighting to be able to read labels.
- Have outlets for vacuuming or charging cordless gadgets.
- Have a place to keep scissors handy for opening packages.
- Have a place to keep whatever markers or chalk handy that you want to use for labeling.
- Avoid buying organizing supplies until you try to use what you have on hand. One person used fabric on hand to cover sturdy cardboard boxes. It was quite pretty.
- If you have a window, be aware of what needs to avoid direct sunlight.
- Invest in a thermometer to show the temperature in the pantry and help you evaluate whether or not some items need to be stored in a cooler location.
- Put hooks on the wall in otherwise unused space. This could by anything from hanging bags of chip displays as used in stores to a single hook/nail for a notepad.
My pantry zones
- Flours and sugars
- Other sweets, such as honey, syrup, marshmallow creme
- Salt, leaveners (baking soda, baking powder, yeast), and flavorings)
- Oils and vinegars
- Nuts and dried fruit
- Canned fruit
- Condiments, olives, pickles,
- Crackers and cereal
- Rice, beans, popcorn
- Chips, pretzels
I kind of envision these zones blending from one edge to another. Although I do not have them in a particular order here. My new pantry will actually have somewhat of a circular organization to it, so I could get lost in there!
Other places to shop for organizing ideas
I love to browse through certain stores because they offer creative ideas. Also, sometimes some people ask me what I am interested in for Christmas or my birthday, and then I have something to tell them. 😉
So here are some of my favorite stores for home and pantry organization:
- World Market
- Hobby Lobby
- Bed, Bath, and Beyond
It can also be a way to come up with practical gifts for friends. We all like to get something we can really use.
I’d be interested in hearing your pantry organization ideas!
Other websites about pantry organization:
There are several supply suggestion links in the blog text, but these are a couple of my favorites!