How to Organise a Pantry

January 1, 2018

In this post I wanted to share a video on how easy it can be to organise your food storage areas.  It’s a video I worked on in collaboration with Southern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils – SSROC.

I’m also including more detailed information than is in the video on the R-E-V-A-M-P Process I take clients through so you know how to declutter and organise your pantry.

Where to start

The first thing to do – is ensure you put pen to paper first!!! DO NOT go and buy organising products yet! Seriously!!!

R – remember 

Write down why you want to make your pantry easier to use (e.g. make dinner time, meal planning and shopping easier).

E – evaluate

Write down what are your frustrations/ what works (e.g. need to look in 3 different places for things; push things in)

V – value

Write down what you use a lot.  Ask yourself what don’t I use a lot? What’s my prime real estate?  What things do I have in here that I can never find? What categories could you imagine creating/ do you have?  

A good tip is to think about what goes through your mind when you are looking for food/ preparing it.  The categories can be as complex or simple as you like!  The categories you pick really don’t matter, as long as they make sense to you in the first instance (you can train the family later)   e.g. canned foods; oils and sauces; baking stuff; sandwich fillings; bread, Asian Dinner supplies; Grains (pasta, rice, tortillas); lunch supplies; snacks; international foods; breaky central.

A – assign – Create homes for everything.

You’ll want to create zones by grouping food in most used items areas.   A good trick is to pick new homes based on how often you use the ingredients. Keep items you use often in easy to access places, while those you use less often at the top and heavy items on the bottom shelves.

Use any space you have available – including vertical space or the back of doors! Look for clever organising tools to help you get the most space out of your pantry.  Try expandable shelf shelves for cans to make it easier to see stock levels, try under shelf baskets for things like lunch wrap or spices, try lazy susans for  organising oils and vinegars or sandwich fillings.  Put these into awkward corners to improve your access.

M-maintain

Write down what can you do every day to keep the pantry working and everyone putting things back in the right spot?  Think dymo labels, baskets etc.

P-party

Think about what will you do to celebrate once you’ve decluttered your pantry???  Remember to take AFTER photo!

NOW you’re ready to start – because you’ve done the thinking!  

Grab your supplies to start your pantry declutter:

  • Plenty of bench space/ table/ floor space/ table cloth or two (for when you run out of space on the kitchen bench),
  • reusable “green” shopping bags (to put foods into as you group them),
  • pen, post-it notes/ labels and stapler (to write your food categories on and attach to your shopping bags),
  • cleaning products (to clean your shelves) and
  • garbage bags (for items to toss or donate).  

As you go:

  • Look for anything that is past its use by date and toss!
  • Look at the foods in your pantry – are they foods you actually eat?
  • Find any food that isn’t going to help support your efforts to stay healthy and pass them on!
  • Group foods into categories as you pull them out: think about how you think when you are looking for food/ preparing it.  They can be as complex or simple as you like!  The categories you pick really don’t matter, as long as they make sense to you in the first instance, we’ll worry about training the family later!
    • e.g. canned foods; oils and sauces; baking stuff; sandwich fillings; bread, Asian Dinner supplies; Grains (pasta, rice, tortillas); lunch supplies; snacks; international foods; breaky central
  • Once you’ve decided on a category name, pop the food into your “green” shopping bags or on the table cloth and label the bag.
  • Decant food into containers to maximize storage space, or group foods (in their own wrapping) into larger containers (e.g. create a flour container that has all your packets of flour).
  • Give each shelf a good clean

Now you’re ready to assign homes 

Hint:  Create zones by grouping food in most used items areas

Work out your new homes for your groups of food. A good trick is to pick new homes based on how often you use the ingredients.

  • Keep items you use often in easy to access places, while those you use less often at the top and heavy items on the bottom shelves.
  • Grab your post its and write your categories on them and work out where your most used ingredients should live.  Does everything have a home?  Do the categories make sense – group them if you need to.
  • Put everything back in the pantry in the categories you’ve created.
    • Use any space you have available – including vertical space or the back of doors!
    • Expandable shelf shelves are great for cans to make it easier to see stock levels
    • Under the shelf baskets can sometimes work for things like lunch wrap or spices
    • Lazy susans are very handy for  organising oils and vinegars or sandwich fillings.  Put into awkward corners to improve your use of all the space!

If you’d like to see how much of a difference a declutter can make – watch this video.  You’ll get lots of tips on how to declutter your pantry and store food correctly!

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