Pantries come in all shapes and sizes. Big, small, walk in, drawers, shelves… But to truly make the most out of any space, it comes down to organisation. Big does not necessarily mean organised! An organised pantry will maximise the amount of space you have in your kitchen. Cooking becomes a breeze because you are able to find what you need quickly. The best part? You will be able to save money on your grocery shop by avoiding waste, not doubling up on ingredients and knowing exactly what you have.
What is the best way to organise your pantry?
Start with a clean space.
Ensure you have a clean kitchen to begin with. Take care of the dishes from breakfast and ensure the dining table is clean and clear. The less clutter, the less chaotic the process will be. Begin by taking everything out of your pantry. Use the floor, your kitchen bench and dining table. Once everything has been removed, give the internal cupboards a clean. Vacuum the floor if you need to and use a multipurpose spray to wipe down the shelves.
Dispose of expired ingredients and move on those items that you simply don’t use.
Take the time to group like items. Olive oils/vinegars together. Breakfast spreads together. Asian sauces/condiments together. Dry staples (like pasta or rice) together. Snacks together.
Decant the items you use regularly.
Sugar. Rice. The biscuits you buy every week… The items that have a high turnover in your home, these are the items you may want to consider transferring into containers. The main benefit of transferring your ingredients into airtight containers is being able to keep track of what you have, make ingredients easier to handle and reduce the chance of food spoiling (although packaging has improved so much that a lot of the time there are other options which I will cover below).
Use baskets (not everything needs to be decanted).
I know the prospect of putting everything into a bamboo glass canister may be appealing, but it’s also not always realistic or practical longterm. You don’t want to create additional pressure and stress when unpacking your groceries. An organised pantry should make life easier and more manageable. Use baskets to group your like items together. I also like to use transparent, large reusable sandwich bags to seal packaged items once opened or stainless steal pegs to seal off packages. A perfect example is pasta which comes sealed. It is not at risk of spoiling and does not necessarily need to be taken out of it’s packaging (unless of course you want to, there are no rules!).
Example basket categories:
Snacks – Chips, nuts, crackers, muesli bars etc.
Dry staples – Asian noodles, pasta, papadums, nori etc.
Baking – Food colouring, sprinkles, desiccated coconut, baking soda, bicarb soda, chocolate chips etc.
Consider a basket for refills.
There are items that I buy in bulk such as jasmine rice. I find it cost effective. I replenish containers as I need to and keep the remaining rice in my “refills” basket. There are also items like breadcrumbs that I use frequently which I like to have a few more of ready to be able to refill.
Using labels will help you maintain your pantry organisation. Every item you own should have a place to live. Labels will help you and your family return items to their designated spot.
Consider future purchases.
I avoid cooking recipes that require speciality items. If the recipe requires something outside of my norm like “walnut oil”, I either omit it, swap it out or choose a different recipe! Control what comes into your home.
Revisit your space regularly
Do you need a larger basket for snacks? Is it becoming tiresome having to decant certain products? Do you need more storage? Assess the space regularly so that it works with you and not against you.