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Post-KonMari: How to Organize Your Pantry

By: Laura Gaskil

So you’ve tossed the old, unloved and expired food and spices. What’s next? After decluttering the pantry, it’s time to get organized. But with so many organizing products to choose from, it can be hard to know which are worth buying and which will end up gathering dust (or worse: making your pantry even more cluttered). 

To help you bring order to this hardworking part of your kitchen, we’ll divide your things into three categories: stuff you reach for every day, meal building blocks and staples, and occasionally called-for ingredients.


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Stuff You Reach for Every Day

A tray or platter beside the stove. Your true everyday essentials (think olive oil, salt and pepper) should live within arm’s reach of where you use them. A tray, platter or slab gives these items a defined space to prevent straying, and is easy to move and wipe down. 

Check your own cupboards to see if there’s a platter or tray you can use for this purpose. You may not need to buy anything!


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A dedicated shelf (or two) for essentials. Beyond salt and pepper, you can probably think of a handful of other ingredients you reach for nearly every day. These items would take up too much room on the counter, so aim for a shelf or cupboard near the stove, or above the counter where you like to chop vegetables. If your pantry is already near the cooking zone, dedicate an eye-level shelf to your essentials. 

 

Add one or more of these tools to make ingredients easy to spot at a glance:

  • Lazy Susan. A small turntable lets you circulate bottles of oil with ease.
  • Risers for spices. See what’s in the back row without having to rummage.
  • Clear bins. Corral little packets of this and that.


Meal Building Blocks and Staples

Clear, airtight containers for bulk goods. Buying grains, flours and other items from the bulk bins in the grocery store is economical and reduces packaging waste. Once you get home, transferring these items into a good set of canisters will help them stay fresh longer and keep critters out.

Tip: If you like to change up your ingredients frequently, use wipeable chalkboard labels. Then, when you fill the container with something new, you can simply wipe off the old info and write what’s in it now.


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Risers for cans and jars. Slightly larger than spice risers, these stairstep-like organizers are especially helpful if you have deep pantry shelves and lots of canned goods (or jars filled with homemade goodies). 

DIY: To create your own risers, borrow a few wooden blocks from a child’s set (or get them from the hardware store) and stack in the back of a cupboard to give cans a lift. If the cans are sliding around, top the blocks with a layer of anti-slip tape (available at hardware stores or online).


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Baskets for potatoes and onions. If you have a walk-in pantry that stays cool and dark, this can be a great place to store potatoes, onions and other produce that doesn’t require refrigeration, such as apples and squash. Pick baskets that will allow air to flow around the produce, and store each type in its own basket. 

Tip: Keep apples in a different section of the pantry since they produce ethylene gas, which can speed spoiling of nearby veggies.


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Occasionally Called-For Ingredients

“Project cooking” baskets or bins. Project cooking is the kind of cooking you may sometimes love to do, but it’s certainly not part of your everyday get-dinner-on-the-table cooking life. In other words, it’s a project. Think baking birthday cakes, decorating Christmas cookies, making homemade pasta or canning your own jam. 

Instead of mixing the special tools and ingredients required for these projects in with the rest of your pantry items, gather them in a project basket. The size of the basket or bin will depend on how much stuff you need to store, so gather the ingredients together before you go basket shopping!

Tip: Project cooking bins can certainly live on high shelves. Just be sure to label them clearly, and keep a stepladder nearby, if needed, to reach them.


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Bulk supply bin or crate. If you like to stock up on certain supplies or ingredients, you’ll want to find a convenient yet out-of-the-way spot in which to keep them. The shelves from waist to shoulder height are best reserved for more frequently used items, so use the floor or a high shelf to store your extra goods. 

Bulky but light items (like paper towels) can go on a high shelf, while big and heavy stuff (like bags of dog food) should go on the floor. One or two large bins or crates can keep everything contained.

7 Steps to Pantry Perfection

Article by:

When we installed pullout pantry cabinets during our kitchen remodel last year, I thought my organizational problems were solved. I envisioned rows of neatly stacked spices and easy-to-see bins of pasta just waiting to be whipped into something delicious.

The reality is that my pantry has turned into a game of spice-and-go-seek that generally ends in frustration and guilt. The bins I bought for my pasta are there, but there aren’t enough of them, and they aren’t the right size. Worse, the myriad packages, from cans to cellophane-wrapped cookie boxes, create chaotic clutter in the rest of my pantry. So I’m taking time out this weekend for a thoughtful organization project based on my real life, not something I saw on a cooking show.

Here’s my seven-step plan for pantry perfection. 

1. Install a spice shelf. I love my roll-out pantry, but my spices are getting lost in the mix. Because they’re stacked one behind the other, they waste space, and it’s hard to see what I have. To remedy this problem, I’ll install door-mounted spice shelves inside the cabinet where I keep my cookbooks. 

The trick will be finding a rack that doesn’t require heavy mounting hardware that might poke through to the outside of the cabinet. So while I would absolutely love a wooden rack like this one, I’ll likely need to find one made of wire.

2. Keep go-to items at eye level. Judging by where these cereal boxes are kept, I’d guess that a couple of self-directed kids hit this pantry for breakfast every morning. I’m taking a cue from this smart parent and organizing my pantry based on how often my family uses individual items. 

I’ll reserve eye-level shelves for cereal, pasta and other staples while keeping baking supplies and treats higher up. 

3. Optimize containers. When I first organized my pantry, I figured that every bulk, pourable item belonged in an airtight container. So I went to my local wholesaler and got container sets that featured boxes in various sizes. Big mistake. Because really there are only two sizes I use: large and medium. 

Not only that, but I didn’t think carefully enough about what went into the containers. We don’t buy our cereals or snacks in bulk, so trading a slim box for a clear container did nothing for improving my organization.

Instead, I’ll take a cue from this pantry and use containers only for items that need to stay fresh and come in messy bags, like baking supplies. 

I’ll also pay attention to the shapes of the containers I add to my collection. I love the look of mason jars, but rectangular containers like the ones in this pantry nestle together more neatly, conserving precious shelf space within my narrow pullouts. 

4. Invest in pretty labels. Every time I pull out a container of a white, powdery baking product, I have to taste it to see if it’s corn starch, flour or confectioner’s sugar. I put all three in containers, but I didn’t like the business-like look of the labels from my label maker, so I simply stopped marking them.

So now I’m hunting for pretty kitchen labels like the ones here so I’ll know what everything is, when I bought it and when it’s ready to be tossed. 

5. Use baskets for anything round. I usually keep round, nonperishable items like onions and potatoes in their bags on the lowest shelf of my pantry, but as the shelves roll, a few veggies inevitably escape and make a mess. Baskets like those used in this pantry keep food organized and still allow air to circulate, preventing the food from getting prematurely moldy. 

6. Keep awkwardly shaped items down low. At my house a search for an afternoon snack inevitably ends in an avalanche of chips, trail mix and other bagged foods. By moving the packages to a lower shelf, as this homeowner did, I’ll be able to see how they’re shifting and prevent potato chip rainstorms and other messes.

And when I do come home from the grocery store, I’ll think about not just where I put things away but how they’re put away, taking care to face containers with the labels out and align similar items. 

Because, yes, some people’s spaces actually do look like the one shown here. And I intend to be one of those people.

February Checklist for a Smooth Running Home

Romancing the home includes fresh air, fresh flowers and fresh supplies – and taking timeless sickness prevention tips to heart.

Stay toasty warm at home while saving energy, enjoy the light of lengthening days streaming through your freshly cleaned windows and take a break to plan next season’s garden over a cup of tea. From preventive (dealing with flu-season germs) to the purely fun (give your house a valentine), this checklist is filled with helpful tips to keep your home running smoothly all month long. 

Keep warm at home

You can stay toasty and conserve energy with a few simple actions:

  • Close doors to unused rooms

  • Move furniture away from heating vents

  • Be sure the chimney flue is closed when it’s not in use

  • Use door snakes and door sweeps to stop drafts

Keep your thermostat set to a reasonable level and set out plenty of warm quilts and throws to snuggle under.

Clean the air

Refresh your home with green plants or even grass planted in wooden or zinc trays. Also be sure to crack a window or two each morning, if only for a few minutes (even when it’s cold). Getting fresh air into your home is especially important in winter, when closed environments tend to increase allergens and illness.

Disinfect

Pay special attention to places where germs tend to congregate. Desks, phones, doorknobs, handles and remote controls top the list. And if anyone in your household is sick, be especially vigilant in trying to prevent it from spreading to everyone in the house.

Touch up walls and make windows shine

With lengthening days bringing a bit more light into our homes, now is a great time to polish up the windows and walls. Fill small holes in walls and touch up the areas with paint, use your vacuum attachment to clear dust from high corners, and wipe down baseboards and windows.

Protect bathrooms from moisture, mildew and mold

It can be hard to give bathrooms enough ventilation at this time of year, and unfortunately that can lead to mildew or even harmful molds. Now is a good time to give the bathroom a thorough cleaning, paying special attention to grout, the ceiling and any other areas showing signs of excess moisture or mildew.

Clear out the pantry and upgrade your emergency kit

Midway through winter is a great time to give your pantry a thorough sorting. Toss the forgotten tins of Christmas cookies, consolidate bulk items into airtight containers and wipe down shelves. While you are in there, be sure you have enough emergency supplies on hand – visit the American Red Cross website for a complete list of recommended supplies.

Start a project file

Take advantage of winter downtime to daydream about home and garden plans. Keeping your ideas organized will help you stay on track to complete your projects, so start by storing everything in one place. A paper file or bulletin board is great for tear sheets, but a basket or box is better for storing bulky samples. You can even create your to-do list in an ideabook. Choose what will work best for you.

Treat your house to fresh flowers

Give your house a special valentine by bringing home cut flowers every week this month. In February most markets have great deals on cut blooms, so scoop up an armful of whatever is on sale. Experiment with new ways of arranging your flowers once your bring them home – cut them short, divide them up into bud vases of different heights, plunk them in pitchers or teapots… get creative!

*You are reading an article from an ideabook originally posted on houzz.com

10 Smart Organizing Ideas That Make Life Easier

Go beyond mere neatness by making small changes around the house that will help you out each day. When your home is primed to efficiently support common activities and tasks – from dealing with mail, bills, and memorabilia, to gifting, cleaning and more – it’s as if a little weight is lifted from your shoulders.


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Photo: Stagetecture 

Read on for ten easy (yet ingenious) organizing ideas to try today.

#1 Buy enough storage containers to fill your shelves or cabinet – even if you don’t need them all now

Having storage boxes and bins waiting for you will help avoid future clutter pileups. This is especially useful for storage of items you know you’ll be accumulating: photos, kid’s artwork, and financial records, for instance.

If you have children, consider purchasing slim plastic containers with lids that fit under a bed, and/or paper art portfolios. Limit yourself to filling one container per school year, but supplement with digital photos of large or 3D artwork that would be impractical to save.

#2 Store medicines in a labeled box in the kitchen

The medicine cabinet is actually one of the worst places to store medications. The warm, damp conditions can damage sensitive ingredients, and the bottles and tubes tend to clutter up what should ideally be a spot for getting ready in the morning.

Instead, transfer your medicines and first-aid supplies to labeled storage boxes with lids and keep them on a high shelf in the kitchen or pantry. Sort them in a way that makes sense, and label accordingly. For example: kids, first aid, cold & flu.

#3 Be prepared for birthdays and last-minute events with a grab-and-go party prep spot

Keep a yearly birthday calendar taped to the inside of the door, a basket filled with easy gifts bought in bulk (and an assortment of cards), as well as a few favorite party drinks, snacks and serving dishes.

Extra credit: choose a “signature” gift wrap and ribbon for your house and wrap all your gifts with it, no matter the occasion. People will begin to expect it, and it will certainly save you the hassle of buying themed gift wrap for every holiday and occasion. 

#4 Make a moveable baking station

Unless you bake constantly (or have a massive kitchen), it’s likely you, too, struggle with where to keep all of those specialty baking supplies. Instead of scattering them throughout the kitchen, keep baking supplies (including equipment like mixers) on a moveable cart in the pantry. Simply wheel the whole thing out when you’re ready to bake, and tuck it out of sight when you’re done.

#5 Store extra liners in the bottom of the trash can

The next time you take out the trash, put a big stack of liners at the bottom of the can. Do this for every trash can in the house, and you will never find yourself in that awful “who forgot to put in the new bag!?” situation again. Bonus: putting a dryer sheet under the pile will help absorb odors and moisture.

#6 Keep a “donations” box in your entryway

Any time you see something around the house you no longer need or want, plunk it in your donations box. When it’s full, carry it out to your car, so it will be easy to drop the contents at your local charity thrift shop the next time you run errands.

#7 Keep everything you need to pay bills under your coffee table

Stock a pretty basket or lidded box with checks, envelopes, stamps, pens, and current bills. When you sit down to watch TV, just grab the basket and write checks during the commercial breaks.

#8 Keep a second set of basic cleaning supplies in the bathroom

It is so much easier to tackle an undesirable chore like cleaning the bathroom when the supplies you need are at hand. So why do most of us keep cleaning supplies only under the kitchen sink? Store a second set of bathroom-specific products and tools in the cabinet under the bathroom sink, or in a lidded basket on a shelf or the floor.

#9 Presort your incoming mail rather than putting it all in one big tray or pile

Magazines, catalogs and other things you’d like to peruse get stashed in a magazine file; bills to pay go in you bill basket; personal correspondence goes in a toast rack or on a pretty tray; notices for upcoming events and items to file can go in another magazine file or a folder.

#10 Use photos as labels

Try snapping a pic of the contents of a box before storing it in the garage or basement, then use that photo to label  the outside. A quick glance at the photo and you’ll instantly know what’s inside.