When anyone walks into my house, they almost inevitably ask to see my kitchen.... and they are not interested in checking out the countertops or the backsplash! They head straight to the fridge, freezer and pantries. If you are an ongoing reader of my posts, you'd know that organization is NOT in my vocabulary - I thrive on discord and chaos! For my kitchen, I worked together with an organizer when I first moved into my home to get over my natural penchant for disorder. Over the years, I have come to really understand, organize and re-organize my kitchen to suit my plant based lifestyle and daily demands.
Here are some of my own, non- expert but time tested tips on organizing your pantry:
1. THROW OUT: Clear out items that you do not use, are past the expiration or don't align with your health goals (for me it recently included Jello with Red Dye 40, GMO chocolate pudding, leftover marshmallows that got old and 2 jars of rainbow Mr. Sprinkles all purchased by my husband....) If your family got sick of something or decided they just don't like it anymore, don't fight- just give it away or toss the item and move on.
2. DECIDE WHAT GETS PRIME RETAIL SPACE: Since you are the manager of your kitchen, implement a system that works for you. Decide which items you need most visible, for yourself and your family. My kid's snacks are placed in a low drawer for them to pick themselves in the morning. However, candy or other junk food is never placed at my children's eye level. It is always placed in a plastic container in the freezer, to give the aura of not being easily accessible.
3. GROUP YOUR FOODS TOGETHER: My food is grouped in a very systematic way. Most of the kitchen has like items grouped together. All the cans are on a can shelf. The pastas are all together. All my grains have a shelf and my beans and legumes have a shelf. Spices are all together, along with a little cheat sheet of DIY spice blends. Other areas are grouped by purpose: school snacks section, salad dressing section with all my oils and vinegars, and a coffee and tea section, where I have my mugs, coffee and tea box all on the same shelf.
4. REPLACE FOOD PACKAGES WITH STORAGE CONTAINERS: Uniform storage containers are not cheap. I don't want to count how much money I spent on dozens and dozens of various sized containers. HOWEVER, I knew that due to my history of being disorganized (you should have seen my old apartment pantry- I wouldn't open the pantry door for fear of what would fall/ what was lurking inside it!) I had no choice but to put good money toward these containers. If you want to and can afford it, ditch all the boxes and packages and streamline with one container system that is airtight to reduce spillage and waste. Even if you don't, definitely ditch the boxes cereals come in- Because they really do ALWAYS spill out of those fold in boxes. Try to find cereal containers with pour spouts for kids to have easy access to pour the cereal themselves and not stick their hands in.
The same rule of using 1 storage system also holds true in my fridge and freezer, which I will be posting about next. Rubbermaid recently sent me their Brilliance collection to test out and I loved the high quality plastic and leaf proof design. Hopefully I will be able to use all 1 system soon (instead of chinese takeout containers along with Tuppermaid containers I took from my mom's house when I got married 9 years ago....)
5. LABEL LABEL LABEL - if there is one thing that has helped me stay organized it is definitely My
Not only do I label individual containers with whats inside them, but I also label the shelfs they are on in order to keep like items together and to fetch things more easily.
Looking for more organizing and meal prep? I will be writing more articles on how you can set yourself up for success this year- through food, organization, meal prep and all things wellness!
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