What’s In Your Kitchen Pantry?
With Thanksgiving only three weeks away and Christmas not far behind, you may already be looking forward to family gatherings and craving those special holiday meals. What might NOT be on your mind right now is your kitchen pantry. When is the last time you took a good look at everything stashed in there, anyway?
Now is a great time to reorganize your pantry. Not only will it make it easier to find the ingredients you need for your holiday goodies, but it also gives you a chance to restock your pantry with the freshest baking supplies for the best tasting meals and desserts. With a clutter-free pantry, you’ll be better prepared to cook up a feast or just a simple pumpkin pie for the holiday season.
Here’s our pantry organizing process in 5 easy steps:
Step 1: Take everything out. Empty your cabinets so you can start organizing with a clean slate. As you take items out, check expiration dates and toss everything that is old or that you won’t eat or use. There’s no use saving a box of crackers that no one in your family likes. Keep a list pad and pen handy so you can add items to your grocery list.
Tip: Spices often lose their potency after about a year. So, if you have jars of spices that you bought for last year’s holiday recipes, you may need to purge and replace those as well.
Step 2: Clean the cabinets. Wipe down every shelf and all storage containers, racks, dividers. Now is a good time to replace dirty, worn out shelf paper, too. Don’t forget to dust the outsides and tops of doors, too.
Step 3: Group items. Before you begin restocking your pantry staples, take a few minutes to group items together while everything is sitting out on your kitchen table or counter. We’ve listed a few ideas, but you should devise groupings that work for your lifestyle.
- Spices and extracts
- Pasta and beans
- Baking essentials (baking soda, baking powder, salt)
- Oils and vinegars
- Canned goods
- Pudding and gelatin
- Baking mixes (cakes, brownies, muffin, cookie, cornbread, etc.)
- Sweeteners (white sugar, brown sugar, powdered sugar, honey)
- Cereal (or breakfast items)
- Snacks (crackers, granola bars, dried fruit, raisins)
- Coffee, tea, hot chocolate mixes
Step 4: Restock. Now it’s time to put things away. As you think about where to put items, consider the size of your groupings, how often you use the items, and who might be accessing them. For example, if your kids have the responsibility of getting their own bowls of cereal in the morning, make sure your breakfast items are easily within their reach.
You may also need to use some tools, such as airtight containers, stair-step organizers, or spice racks, to keep your goods visible and neatly stacked. Roll-out shelves are also helpful to access items stored in the back.
Tip: When you’re satisfied with your pantry arrangement, label the shelves. This will help family members know where to find things and make it easier for them to return items to the correct spot.
Step 5: Stay Organized! With a little weekly maintenance, you can keep your pantry clean and organized for the rest of the year. Spend 5 or 10 minutes each Saturday morning or Sunday evening (or whenever it fits in your schedule) to make sure items are in the correct spot, clean up any spills, and toss expired items.
Tip: Use the “First In, First Out” rule. When putting items away after a shopping trip, rotate older items to the front and place new items in the back so you use the oldest items first.
Decluttering your kitchen pantry may take some time up front, but it’s well worth it when you’re deep into the holiday baking season, planning meals and cooking up favorite family recipes. It will be easier to find everything you need and ensure you’ve stocked your shelves with the freshest ingredients. Happy cooking and baking!