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Food: 5 Pantry Organization Tips from an Expert

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It's easy to over-stuff the shelves of your pantry, cluttering it with various cans, pastas, spices, appliances, and more. However, when organized properly, the pantry is a storage superstar that makes cooking and storing food a more enjoyable process. As a professional organizer, here are my five tips to arrange your pantry mindfully and stylishly.

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1. Assess

How you use your kitchen will significantly affect how you organize your pantry. To start, open all of the kitchen cabinets and take a step back to identify the categories or themes that occur. Do you bake? Do you can fresh tomatoes or berries for jam? Do you have an infinite supply of after school snacks? As you examine your lifestyle and cooking habits, take stock of how they are stored. Are they neatly stacked in a cabinet? Or spilling over, tucked, and stuffed wherever they can fit? If so, it is time to relocate objects used less frequently to the pantry.

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2. Sort

Pulling everything out in preparation to declutter is critical. Over time, objects will shift based on use, pushing unused items to the back, where they are often forgotten or overlooked. It is essential to see everything laid out and grouped with its components. This is also an excellent opportunity to disinfect your cabinets, check expiry dates, match lids to pots and Tupperware, and begin separating categories that are kitchen essentials versus what is pantry bound.

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3. Eliminate

The less you have, the easier it will be to navigate your kitchen and enhance your cooking experience. Eliminate cracked, broken, or unused appliances or dishes. Gifts like pasta makers, egg poachers, and ice cream makers are lovely, but if you'd instead pick up a pint of ice cream from the market or order freshly made pasta — let those items go.

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4. Organize

Organization by zone is a helpful technique to determine what stays in the kitchen and what should go in the pantry. Separating food by area will alleviate kitchen congestion. For example, the pantry can house snacks, surplus refreshments, and sets of plastic bowls and napkins, while heavily used items such as spices and oils can stay near the stove for cooking along with everyday items like pots and pans or prep colanders and salad spinners in lower cabinets near the sink.

5. Style

Fancy baskets with labels, transparent stackable bins, Lazy Susans, and glass jars are entirely unnecessary to organize your pantry. However, these accessories are aesthetically attractive and enhance organization. You can maximize space if you purchase bins that stack, and you're less likely to misplace items if they are grouped in a crate or basket. But, you do not have to spend a fortune. Before buying anything, use what you already own. The person with an extensive take-out container collection can repurpose them to store baking flours or entertainment accessories like napkin rings and place card holders. Water pitchers or bread baskets used for entertainment can hold seasonal flatware or napkins, acting as storage until the next soiree. By reimagining storage solutions before making purchases, you'll save money and time.

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Shelf-Helpers

Glass Mason Jars

Glass mason jars make for a convenient way to store food or liquids in the pantry or freezer—and they stack nicely, too.

To Buy: Budiwati 16 oz Mason Jars 12-Pack, $24 at amazon.com

Lazy Susans

Instead of pulling a container off of a shelf, spin the turntable of a lazy susan. Sturdy stainless steel models are good for heavy items like tall bottles or canisters of flour; ones with walls and dividers are good for smaller jars and bottles.

To Buy: From $14 at containerstore.com

Storage Bins

To maximize height between shelves, opt for stackable storage. Aerated Wire Bins are especially great for produce that does not refrigeration like onions, potatoes, and garlic.  Linus Clear Bins help keep food storage visible, which is key to keeping track of the quantity and variety of food in the pantry. These clear bins come in a multitude of sizes and combine neatly to fit any shelf.

To Buy: From $20 at containerstore.com

Chalk Markers

These are a great alternative to a label maker. Write the name of stored contents directly on plastic or glass containers, and wipe off with water when you are ready to re-label.

To Buy: $10 for 2 at containerstore.com

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