What's more satisfying than opening up a well-organized pantry full of your favorite foods? Lately, pantry organization has become all the rage. You can keep all of your favorite foods in the same place, organized and ready to go. Though the idea of pantry organization is widespread, the actual organization part is harder to achieve.
Our Bob's Red Mill food experts are here to change that. There are several inventive and time-saving ways to organize your pantry. From labeling your jars correctly to using sheet pans as an organization tool, organizing your pantry is much easier than it seems. Ready for the organized pantry of your dreams? Keep scrolling for seven tips that will get you well on your way!
Invest in Clear Containers
Not only are clear containers aesthetically appealing, but they're also a practical way to store your goods. Often, when purchasing bulk-bin items like rice, nuts and grains, if not stored and labeled correctly, it can be easy to forget what you have at home. This pantry confusion may result in you purchasing one (or more) bags of items you already have. With clear containers, the days of having three partially opened bags of Instant Rolled Oats are over. Organizing your pantry with clear containers allows you to see what you have stored in your pantry, and how much! They're also a great way to ensure that your bulk items are staying fresh.
Additionally, using clear containers can help free you of unnecessary labeling. After all, what use is a label that says "rice" when you can see what's inside the jar? Instead of labeling the contents of the container, we recommend taking note of when the food items were purchased and their date of expiration. Doing so will encourage you to use pantry items before they spoil, and save you from having to throw spoiled items out.
Looking for more items to add to your containers? Try adding delicious grains like bulgur to your weekly menu!
Create a Plan for Large Food Items
While clear, labeled containers might work well for some items, how can you organize foods that are much too large to add to a container? First, you'll want to find a spot in your pantry that can store a large item like a bag of dog food. This may mean clearing off a shelf or carving out some space on the floor. Wherever you choose to store these items, you must decide before you start re-organizing your pantry. Trust us, there's nothing worse than organizing your entire pantry only to realize you forgot to save space for your muesli or pet's kibble.
Aside from large food items, you may also want to store small appliances in your pantry. While this is a great way to keep kitchen tools like blenders, toasters and mixers off of your countertops, it will take up additional space in your pantry. Planning for the storage of appliances ahead of time will ensure that everything in your pantry has a designated spot.
Give Your Pantry a Makeover
It's time to give your pantry a makeover, but where do you start? First, we suggest emptying everything out of your pantry and cleaning it thoroughly. Doing so will allow you to start with a clean slate. Next, paint, repair or freshen up anything in your pantry that might need mending. You can simply touch up small paint chipped spots or use a fun color like bright blue to give your pantry a complete makeover. Taking time to deep clean your pantry, fix any wobbly shelves or drawers and discard spoiled food is an important part of organizing your pantry. Plus, you'll get to know the space you're working with and possibly even clear out space for new items!
Find Foods That Are Good Neighbors
The truth is, some foods don't play well together. Though many people like to store veggies like potatoes and onions in their pantry, this can lead to vegetables spoiling faster if not stored correctly. If you're planning on storing vegetables in your pantry, it's best to look up which veggies can be stored safely together. Onions, garlic and potatoes are three produce items that should never be placed side by side as they accelerate spoiling. Ingredients like Almond Flour should also be kept far away from strong-smelling foods like curry powder. Because of its porous nature, flour can easily absorb the flavors of other items, which can lead to odd-tasting baked goods.
While some foods should not be stored together, that's not to say they shouldn't be stored in the pantry. Certain vegetables actually stay fresh longest in a room-temperature location away from heat and light. Often when veggies are exposed to light, they will act as if they're outside and start to sprout. Storing them in the pantry can help keep them fresh for weeks at a time.
Flour and grains are great neighbors! Discover new and unique flours to use.
Some veggies to store in your pantry include:
- Winter Squash
- Spaghetti Squash
- Butternut Squash
- Potatoes (yams, russet potatoes, sweet potatoes, etc.)
Before embarking on your pantry organizing journey, it's essential to take inventory of everything you have. We recommend starting with a list of your pantry staples and updating it regularly. Knowing what you have (and how much) in your pantry at all times will help you know when it's time to restock. When it's time to go grocery shopping, be sure to take your list with you and only purchase what's necessary. Keeping a well-tracked inventory of your pantry will also help when it comes to meal planning. Knowing what you have on hand can help you come up with delicious recipe ideas you may not have before. An updated pantry inventory is the key to keeping your pantry full and organized with essentials.
Group Similar Items
When organizing your pantry, the rule of thumb is that "like goes with like." When deciding which items to group, you group similar items like grains (all-purpose-flour, rice, quinoa, barley), or choose to group items that you use together (gluten free flour, baking powder, tapioca starch, etc.). Creating a grouping system that you are familiar with will help you find what you're looking for without having to go digging around in search of each item. Plus, it will ensure that every food has a designated spot, which will make keeping the pantry organized much easier! Not sure what foods you should group together? Try storing afternoon snacks like our Apple Blueberry Granola and Peanut Butter Honey and Oats Bob’s Bars with similar snackable items like nut butter and crackers. Foods that you don't use very often, or that you have extra of should be stored at the back of the pantry so that they don't take up valuable space. Remember, even with an organization system in place, it's still beneficial to label all containers!
Looking for baking items to group together? Find everything you need to bake the meal of your dreams here!
Stay on Top of Maintenance
Now that you've followed these steps and have a well-organized pantry, how do you keep it that way? We recommend setting aside time weekly or monthly to keep your pantry tidy and in good condition. Regularly sifting through your pantry's contents and double-checking expiration dates is the best way to keep an inventory of what you have in stock and what you need more of. Plus, if you notice that some foods will expire shortly, you can work them into your meal rotation sooner. That way, there will be less waste. If you set aside time to maintain your pantry frequently, then it should only take a few minutes to tidy up. Then, once or twice yearly, you can schedule a deep clean where you wipe down shelves and throw out any spoiled food.
And there you have it! Follow this simple guide to organize your kitchen pantry. We're sure that you will become a pro in no time. Remember, learning how to organize your kitchen pantry can be fun and how you organize it will vary from person to person. If you have a particular way you like to organize or group your foods, then work it into this guide. When arranging your pantry, creativity is key. Think of fun and new ways to store items, make use of baskets instead of shelves and try out exciting new ingredients. These are just a few of many ways that you can update your pantry and make the best use of its space. We can't wait to see what tips and tricks you come up with.
Have a pantry organization tip of your own? We'd love to hear about it. Let us know in the comments below. And from everyone at Bob's Red Mill, happy organizing!