Essential Kitchen/ Pantry Organizing Tips



by: Susan Fox

24/7 MOMS Family Living Editor

Having an organized pantry and cupboards is essential to “mom sanity”. This is the baseline for your work as a mom. If you are unorganized in this area of your life and home it will drive you crazy, if it hasn’t already. You cannot function efficiently without order in your kitchen. If this area has become out of control for you, make it a goal this month to reign it back in. All you need is about 2 hours and a garbage can. Oh, and this must be done with hubby and kids out of the house! Call your mother in law for help if you must! Ten o’clock at night works too. Then begin by emptying everything out and scrutinizing what goes back in. Throw out the old!!! Deep breath! You can do it! It will feel so good when it is done and then you can reward yourself with that chocolate bar that is hiding behind the Crisco on the top shelf! (maybe?) This is your mission should you choose to accept it!

Install extra shelving if needed and possible. (Might have to enlist help of husband here!) Extra space can sometimes be found by adding a shelving unit to the back of a door.

If you can’t add shelving don’t panic! There is still plenty you can do to regain order.

Line drawers and shelves. Cork is a great option it lies flat, is easily cut with scissors, it keeps drawers clean, protects glasses, keeps things from sliding around, absorbs moisture and resists mildew.

Purchase clear airtight containers to store staples such as flour, sugar, brown sugar, rice, pasta’s. This keeps them fresh and keeps your shelves cleaner, by cutting down on spills from open bags. It also makes it much easier to track when you need to buy more. Make sure to label them.

If you don’t already have containers check out the different kinds available. Remember that square and rectangle containers make the best use of space. Rather than spend a ton of money at once, purchase 1 or 2 containers each time you grocery shop or once a month. You may find a better deal by purchasing a set at a club type store.

Another option is checking your local thrift store for storage containers or glass jars. Sometime’s the old glass and pyrex containers are the best.

Yet another option! If some of the nice containers are too expensive right now or you can only afford 2, just get the cheap plastic kind at the grocery store, like Glad or Ziplock. These will work fine!

Storing all your families favorite snacks in clear containers makes it easy for kids to see what there is to eat and easy for you to see what you need to restock.

Make sure that cereals can be reached by children. There are special container’s designed for holding cereal that are great!

For hassle-free after school snacking use a clear large plastic bin

Fill with things that are mom-approved for kids to help themselves to, like single serve snack packages of crackers, cookies, and dried fruits, whatever. If they have a box that they know they can go to it will save you having to run to the kitchen every time someone complains they are hungry and it beats arguing about acceptable snacks too!

Organize your shelves and cupboards by sorting foods.

Store like items together.

Canned goods: sort these by fruits, vegetables, broth, tomato products, etc.

Assign canned foods to the floor or bottom or sturdiest shelf

Cereals

Crackers

Baking goods

Boxed mixes

Pasta’s and rice

Use clear plastic bins for corralling small things like seasoning packets and jello

Keep a sharpie pen handy to mark the date on items when you open them. Takes the guess work out of knowing how old something is. This is very helpful for things like baking soda and baking powder. I also keep a pen in my spice cupboard to make sure that I mark them!

Remember – if your pantry/shelves/cupboards are organized it will save you time and money. No need to buy 12 cans of green beans when you can actually see that you already have plenty. It will save you time at the grocery store. And it will help you in your meal planning if you know what you have.

It is worth your investment of time to get organized. Then spend ½ hour each month to keep it up.

Other ways to utilize the pantry

If you have one that is large enough!

· Consider hanging a white board for list making and or using as a family message center

· Post school lunch menus

· Post sports/activities schedules

· Store reusable grocery bags

· Keep small appliances stored that are rarely used and free up counter space

· Store all of your paper products, baggies, foil, saran-wrap etc.

· Set up a recycling center

Do not store cleaning supplies in the same area as food.

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