The pantry is easily one of the most challenging spots in the home to keep organized. Food often gets stashed in there with little regard to how it should be properly stored to prevent spoiling or creepy crawlers. Worse still, a pantry in a state of chaos can lead to wasting money by doubling up on ingredients and can instill unhealthy eating habits. Zoe Bingley Pullin is a nutritionist, chef and Health Ambassador, who certainly knows her way around a kitchen pantry and shares her top organizing tips and tricks for sorting out this space once and for all!
Common Pantry Organization Mistakes
People go wrong in two key ways. Firstly, many of us keep ingredients and food that are out of their use by date, and secondly, by unnecessarily keeping a collection of miscellaneous ingredients from recipes that have been used once and now are taking up room, collecting dust in your pantry.
Although pantries may be the most used cabinets in the house, they tend to be messy and the most unorganized. As a starting point, remove all ingredients, sauces and spices that are expired or out of date and then, ask yourself — when did I use this last? If you can’t remember, you most likely won’t use it again, so give it the toss.
Recommended Pantry Storage Solutions
- Declutter your pantry before going container shopping – spring cleaning your pantry is very different to just reorganizing.
- Store ingredients in clear containers – this way, you can see what’s in them. Alternatively, if your containers aren’t transparent, make sure you label them.
- Remove duplicate ingredients — or combine them into one storage unit.
- Keep your pantry clean by ensuring that all bottles, spices and sauces have lids on them. This way you won’t have to compete with the usual grime and dirt!
- Lazy Susan’s and turntables are a great home for ingredients in hard to reach corner spaces — makes sauces and condiments so much easier to access.
- Utilize open mini shelves and drawer organizers for extra storage and organization.
- Keep spices and seasonings in sealed, light-proof vessels away from the sun to get the most out of them. If stored correctly, whole spices should last up to two years and ground spices should be refreshed every six months.
- Glass storage is cleaner than plastic, as the surface doesn’t absorb food and germs and it can also be washed at high temperatures in the dishwasher.
- Keep sweet snacks and treats on higher shelves, away from the hungry hands of little ones and put healthier snacks in eyesight.
How to Encourage Healthy Eating
Spring cleaning your pantry can certainly encourage you to eat healthier and smarter food options. To start, try using wholesome food alternatives, which are minimally processed or refined, full of nutrients and most importantly, taste delicious.
- Look beyond sugar to the bigger picture, with a focus on foods full of nutrients. Swap refined white sugar for raw honey or maple syrup.
- Swap bad fats for good fats. I use coconut oil to set dishes instead of butter.
- Swap high glycemic index (GI) foods for low GI foods. I use minimally processed, complex carbs, such as brown rice.
- Use Greek yogurt to replace thickened cream for desserts or sauces.
It’s common for moths and pests to try and feed on dry foods stored in a kitchen cabinet. When I spring clean my pantry, which I try to do every season, I wash down my cabinet with warm, soapy water, to get rid of any infestations. Ideally, pantry storage conditions should be dry, cool and dark and always store food in the coolest cabinets away from any hot appliances, as high temperatures speed up deterioration.
How to Stay Organized
To introduce order back into your pantry, arrange your ingredients into similar groupings and compartments, which you can easily identify. Separate your pantry into zones and sections of canned goods, snacks, sauces, grains, baking ingredients, spices, and condiments. I use a simple stock rotation to ensure that my food is consumed before it expires by putting the oldest jars or containers at the front, and also by keeping an ‘almost expired’ section, to categorize products which are approaching expire and I need to use quickly. It’s also a great way to come up with recipe ideas based on what’s about to expire.
This article originally appeared on our sister site, First For Women.