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15 Tips To Love Your Pantry Again

15 Tips To Love Your Pantry Again

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Here are 15 tips to increase your pantry’s space, order, and beauty so you can love it again.

1. Edibles Go In The Pantry

Space permitting, contain all edible items in your kitchen in the pantry. Kitchen cabinets are for kitchen equipment, dining, and serving items. Include pet food and snacks in the pantry. Use pet food containers to avoid having open pet food bags and spills. Use the smaller versions of these pet food containers for treats. If you mix treats, snack time will always surprise your furry friends. Mixing their treats in a single container avoids having many bags and treat containers open at once.

2. Remove Cleaning Products

Avoid storing cleaning products in the pantry. Kitchen cleaning products should go in the cabinet space under the sink. All other cleaning tools and products have their place in the laundry room.

Baskets or crates on pantry floor

3. Use Floor Space Wisely

Fit your pantry floor with baskets or crates to store plastic and paper serving products, beverage bottles or cans, water gallons, water jugs, and other items like lunch boxes. The floor area is a good storage space, but we must make it appropriate for holding our stuff.

4. Zone Your Pantry

Create zones in your pantry so the various product groups are on their dedicated space/shelf. Creating areas for the different product groups makes the space more efficient.

5. Hook It Up

Include a hook behind the pantry door for aprons if you use them.

6. Contain Plastic Bags

Add a plastic bag dispenser behind the pantry door. Think Simply Human. Their Wall Mount Grocery Bag Dispenser offers a practical addition to your pantry space to contain those plastic bags while keeping them accessible.

7. Got Bulk?

Dog food containers are ideal for storing dry bulk goods in your pantry.  Align these containers along the floor or the highest shelf.

Dog food containers are excellent alternative to store bulk dry goods.

8. Pizazz!

Consider adding lights to each shelf underside and watch the magic happen! Lighting under cabinets adds an incredible vibe to the space but also the functionality counter space needs.

9. To Line Or Not To Line?

Some people consider lining their shelves and drawers a must; others don’t. If shelf-lining is essential, consider a product like Zip-N-Fit Premium Liner. This liner easily cuts to size by folding and tearing the pieces. It makes lining a breeze. There are great alternatives, but you should get a product that makes the job easy and makes you happy. Lining shelves (the right way) is a project and can be an investment. Whatever you decide, measure twice and cut correctly so your shelves and drawers look sharp and are appropriately protected.

10. What To Do About Cans?

Organize canned products using tiered can organizers. These organizers allow you to see all cans at a glance and save space on the shelves. Look for the expandable kind to maximize the use of space.

11. Pantry Corners (Do We Have To?)

Using Lazy Susans on pantry corners is a good idea to maintain access to those awkward spaces. For added convenience, consider those lazy susans with raised edges and divisions so that what you place in them does not fall off.

Individually packed snacks in clear pantry bins

12. Snacks, Anyone?

Consider baskets or bins to place individually packed snacks. Remove them from their original boxes or packaging first.

13. Dry Goods: The Pantry Defining Item

Dry goods will define your pantry’s biggest question: Do you want a Pinterest pantry or a more functional one?

The Pinterest look is a high-maintenance alternative, as it requires consistently transferring all dry goods to containers each time you bring new products home.

The functional approach allows items to remain in their original packaging but clustered in bins or baskets.

Dry goods are cereals, rice, grains, dry fruit, crackers, cookies, pasta, flour, chips, and the like. These items should not be exposed to moisture and should last for some time after opening the package.

Pro Tip: measure each shelf to determine the space available and count how many different kinds of dry products are in your dry goods category. Whether you use the functional or high-maintenance approach, you must first know what to buy and how much.

Pro Tip: Stay clear of round containers, as they waste a lot of space. Go with rectangular or square, but stick to the same type of container to achieve a polished look.

14. Labeling Is Important

Labeling is a necessary step. It allows everyone to find what’s needed quickly. Labeling also reminds everyone where to put things back; thus, it is crucial to preserve the pantry order when many people share the space.

When using containers in your pantry, label these with a system that adapts to changes. Tastes and preferences of household members change over time. You want a labeling system that looks great but that can be modified easily.

If you use the cluster method to keep items in your pantry, label your bins or baskets with the product category.

But regardless of your preferred method, labeling the shelves also is a good idea. Label the shelf space where each item category should go.

kitchen spices on Elfa over the door solution

15. Where Do Spices Go?

Unless you keep your cooking spices next to the stove, these should go in the pantry. As with any other pantry group, spices should be together and have specific space on a shelf. A tiered spice rack on the shelf is ideal for placing all the spices because it lets you see them all at once.

When pantry shelf space is not an option, the Elfa Spice Rack comes to the rescue! This clever solution goes on the inside of your pantry door – a true lifesaver.

These tips will help transform your pantry into a happier, more efficient place for the benefit of everyone involved. 

Don’t hesitate to reach out if you need some pantry help. We love pantries!

Mise En Place

Mise En Place

Mise en Place is a culinary term that describes the act of gathering, preparing, and organizing all your ingredients and materials before you start cooking.

It refers to the physical setup of the process. It also refers to the mental readiness to get the job done.

Of course, we need a kitchen with the right ingredients to prepare exquisite, nutritious meals. But a confident physical and psychological readiness is also necessary.

Kitchen Reset

A few years back, I graduated from the Forks Over Knives plant-based cuisine course taught by Rouxbe Culinary Institute. 

Not surprisingly, the first assignment was called the “kitchen reset.”

In the kitchen reset, we were to:

  1. Discard all ingredients contrary to the plant-based philosophy
  2. Acquire those ingredients needed to prepare the meals
  3. Organize both the pantry and the refrigerator

The Organized Kitchen and Mise En Place

This assignment made me think of the tight relationship between having an organized kitchen and the Mise en Place concept.

We can easily monitor product freshness and inventory levels with an organized pantry and refrigerator. That’s a big step in favor of nutritional quality and budget control.

Also, having an organized kitchen allows one to achieve the mental and emotional readiness required to be efficient at and enjoy the process of cooking.

Organized and clean kitchens are more inviting, so we use them more often than messy, cluttered ones. Owners of such kitchens enjoy cooking and tend to cook healthier meals.

Efficient Kitchen Systems

To become a true kitchen ninja, you better know more than what a Mise en Place is.

Daily processes, maintenance routines, and kitchen systems are the heroes behind an efficient, enjoyable kitchen and a happy cooking time.

For example, the value of meal services such as Green Chef or Blue Apron is the Mise en Place delivered to your door. They provide all the ingredients needed to prepare dinners in the amount required. Their ingredients have been sourced, washed, cut, and individually packed for your specific meal, including the recipe to follow.

However, suppose you wish to enjoy that same efficiency in meal prepping but without the price tag of a meal delivery service. In that case, you must consider the processes behind Mise en Place and the systems that support an efficient kitchen.

Four processes support an efficient kitchen and a streamlined meal prep process.

  • Managing Recipes & Meal Planning
  • Processing Groceries
  • Organizing Fridge & Freezer
  • Organizing Pantry

Managing Recipes & Meal Planning

Managing your recipes removes all those clippings, books, and notes in our cabinets. But most importantly, it promotes using favorite recipes in healthier, varied menu creation. The key is how you organize your recipes to start using them daily. See the video where we discuss recipe management here.

As a bonus, managing the recipes makes developing the weekly grocery shopping list easier without overbuying (recipes include all ingredient amounts). Not overbuying means less waste of food and money.

Processing Groceries

What happens to all those items bought at the grocery store when they come home? These need to become part of our systems to improve kitchen efficiency.

Incorporating groceries into our systems means that pantry products and refrigerated items must be unbagged, unboxed, stripped of outer packaging as much as possible, washed, cut, divided, re-containerized, or decanted.

The goal is to have every item needed to cook or assemble a snack or breakfast ready to be used as much as possible.

Organizing Fridge & Freezer

An organized fridge and freezer means adequately designating the containers to maintain those items processed from grocery shopping.

Containers should seal properly, be transparent or translucent, be labeled (choose a labeling system that allows for constant changes), be BPA-free, and be dishwasher and microwave-safe.

The freezer and fridge organization also needs to consider the zoning. Everyone can easily find what they need by grouping items in the freezer and fridge according to purpose or type of meal.

Organizing Pantry

The pantry configuration can make or break your time in the kitchen. The organization of the pantry should maximize the use of its space, add convenience with the placement of items, and maintain product freshness. Read all about the details that comprise a stellar pantry here.

Start organizing your kitchen to enjoy your Mise en Place and efficient cooking.