It's true: an Organized Pantry saves you money! When I am asked to help organize someone's kitchen the pantry is always the first area that needs the most help. Here's the easiest way to get it in shape, and once you get it organized, here's a few easy tips to keep it that way:
1) Weekly meal planning is your best friend here. Take 20 minutes on Saturday or Sunday and plan out your family’s meals for the week and post it somewhere for easy reference. Don't overthink this! A simple pad of paper and pen, make a list, post it. Hint: Check and see what you already have in both your pantry and freezer, start with that!
2) Start Fresh: Purge outdated and expired products and spices. Do this weekly on the same day, just make it a habit. Don’t play the “oh it expires next week and I probably will probably use it soon” game unless you have a meal plan that you know you will use it. (see idea # 1 above).
3) Store it right: maximize cupboards and shelves with containers that stack. Don’t forget to label them. Once again don't like you have to go out and purchase expensive containers. Use what you have on hand first. Containers are available everywhere: Target, the grocery store, even Hobby Lobby!
4) Create “zones” for your different products. I suggest Cooking, Baking, Snacks, and Other. Then label the zones for easy reminders. Leave plenty of space between items so that you don’t knock over the pancake syrup when you reach for the flour. A big bonus to this is that others also know where things “live” in the pantry so that someone else can put the groceries away, and thigs get put back where they belong after use.
5) Use open containers for easy storage and retrieval of things like seasoning packets. Dollar store baskets and old tupperware without lids work just as well, (although for a couple extra dollars you can have nice ones that match) and label them too. Turntables work best for bottles and other liquids. Combine and refill to avoid duplicates.
6) Now that you've created zones, once again, purge purge purge!! (Get my hint?) Pantry organization is an ongoing process. Unless you eat a LOT of a certain item you don't need 15 of them--make sure the expiration dates are current, and if you have too many find a food bank to donate them to (unopened packages of course).
What's your biggest Pantry Struggle? Let us know! We can help!