Kitchen pantries are a mixed blessing. While it’s great to have so much storage space, keeping those big shelves organized can be a challenge. Here are some tips I use in my own pantry to keep it functional and clutter-free: 1. Store like items together – The main goal in setting up your pantry is to make it easy to find everything. To do this, create a logical system where similar items are stored together. Start by separating dry goods from wet, and then categorize further. Create specific zones for bottled items, canned goods, baking ingredients, pastas/rices, snacks, etc. Be disciplined about putting things away in their proper location and you will always know where to find them.
2. Use canisters – It can be difficult to keep pantry items organized because they are packaged in such irregular shapes and sizes. Additionally, many items come in bags that fall over and get lost in the back of the shelves. To remedy this, use a set of clear containers to decant your dry ingredients (I love these square ones). Their uniform size and shape will make it much easier to keep things tidy, and you’ll be able to see what you have (and what you’re running out of) at a glance.
3. Label everything – Labels are important to keep everything straight in your pantry. If you have a label maker this is the perfect place to put it to use! But you can also write on plain mailing labels or tape to identify everything.
4. Corral the small stuff – Another challenge in the pantry are those little items not worth decanting: seasoning packets, dried fruit, snack bars, and candy. I use two bins in my pantry to keep these under control, one labeled “sweet” and the other “savory”. Bins are a great solution to fully use deep shelves, because you can slide them forward to access items in the back.
5. Save the directions – To keep cooking instructions handy, cut them off the original packaging and attach to the appropriate canister with a piece of clear packing tape. This way, you can always find the directions you need, but you can easily peel them off if you decide to repurpose that container.
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