Organizing Your Pantry In 5 Simple Steps
Ugh! When we first moved into the homestead, I had nowhere to put my canned goods, dry items, spices and baking needs. We were in the middle of taking apart the kitchen cabinets, cleaning and painting. For a few weeks, we kept all our food items in boxes in the corner of our kitchen, but that got old real fast. I was tired of having to shuffle boxes around to try to find what I was looking for.
I love to be in my kitchen. I enjoy cooking homemade meals for my family, baking homemade bread and yummy desserts. But I don’t enjoy doing it in a cluttered, messy kitchen. I was desperate for a space to put all our food items and a pantry in our kitchen became a priority. I didn’t care if it was pretty and perfect, I just cared that I had a few shelves to get our kitchen items organized. Homesteader slapped up three shelves, with enough space underneath the last shelf to slide in my totes of flour and sugar. To give you an idea of height from the bottom of the last shelf to the floor, I use 23.8 gallon plastic totes for this, they hold approximately 100 pounds of flour and sugar each.
When it came time to getting everything organized, there are a few things I did to make sure that there was a flow to my new system.
Empty the pantry
I had no pantry to empty, but I did have a ton of boxes. I emptied them all out and lined everything up on the floor, dining room table and counters. As you empty, sort your food items. Go through each item and group it with like items: tomatoes, veggies, beans, soups, herbs and spices, etc. As you are going through each item, check to see if it’s an item that has expired. If so, toss it. If it’s an item you don’t use, consider donating it to a local food pantry. Wipe the entire pantry out, starting from the top shelf and working your way down. If you are going to paint or lay shelf liner, now is a good time to get it done.
Use Storage Containers
Keeping dry goods in plastic bags or boxes isn’t very practical. Plastic storage bags get holes in them very easily. They may not get closed all the way and rodents can chew right through them, having a feast on your food items. By using glass, metal or plastic storage containers, that are made of food grade materials you can greatly reduce having food go stale, or need to throw it out because of rodents. We use many different glass containers, but we love these from Infinity Jars. They are ultra-violet and air-tight which make them perfect for storing our dried goods! The best part about these jars, they will keep our dried goods fresh for approximately six months. With plastic bags, we’d have to use the contents within a month, maybe two. But I can make enough taco seasoning to fill the jar and know that if I don’t use it all right away, it’ll still be good.
We also recommend using the Super Wide Mouth jars from Ball Canning. They are perfect for holding sugar, flour, coffee and other dried goods like oats, rice and beans.
Before you start putting items away, take inventory of what you have. Mark down the item name, quantity and the quantity you are aiming for. This will save you a ton of time when it comes time to restock your pantry. You’ll be able to easily check over your pantry inventory list and know what items need replacing. We even have a Pantry Inventory Sheet for you in our Organize Your Home On The Homestead eBook.
Arrange your pantry items
Organize by using the groups you sorted your food items into earlier. When you start putting everything away, make sure you put what is going to expire sooner at the front and those that are good for a longer amount of time towards the back. By doing it this way, you will use up what’s going to expire soon and be able to cut down on the amount of food waste your family produces. It’ll also save you money because you’ll be eating food before it expires instead of throwing it away, which is essentially throwing money in the garbage.
Keep it organized
By going through your pantry every so often, you can keep everything neat and organized. Train yourself to put items back where you found them and get your family in on it too. Each week when I make my shopping list, I go through my pantry and check for expired items and do a little straightening up if it’s needed.