If you’re tired of rummaging through your pantry every time you need a bottle of olive oil, we get it.
An organized pantry keeps us happy and sane in the kitchen. But it’s easier said than done. With so many food items to wrangle, and such limited storage space, how do we even get organized?
But don’t worry, you don’t need ample kitchen space or tons of money to get your pantry in order. There are lots of simple and budget friendly ideas out there to keep your pantry organized.
We’ve rounded up some easy and clever ideas for an organized pantry. Check these out and see which ones would work best for your needs and space. These solutions will help you maintain a well-organized pantry and save you time whenever you need to cook.
Declutter your pantry
First things first, you’re going to want to go declutter your pantry. You’ll have an easier time organizing your pantry after getting rid of items that are way past their prime. And you’ll be surprised to find so many random items that are taking up space, like empty boxes of tea or empty spice jars you no longer need.
Here’s how to go through your pantry and determine which items you should toss, keep, or donate.
The USDA website says that most canned foods can last for years past their expiration date. But you should toss any cans that appear damaged. So get rid of those cans that have rust, dents, or swelling.
According to the CDC, infant formula should be tossed if it is past its expiration date. You should also toss infant formula if it’s been more than a month since you’ve opened the container.
Packaged items like cereal, pasta, and cookies are also safe to eat past their expiration date but you can probably expect them to taste a little stale or dry.
Like a lot of us, you probably have spice jars that have been camping out in your pantry for years, if not decades. Spices are one of those pantry items that we often forget about and, as a result, take up valuable pantry real estate. Here’s how to figure out if you should keep those spices or let them go.
- Dried herbs like oregano, thyme, and sage are good for up to three years.
- Ground and powdered spices such as ground cinnamon, crushed red pepper flakes, and ground ginger can last for up to three years.
- Whole ground spices like peppercorns can last for a long time, and are usually good for up to five years.
- And good news: salt can last pretty much forever. :) But, like many pantry items, the flavor may diminish over time.
If you can’t remember when you purchased your spices, then give it the old sniff test. If the spices still smell good, that means they’re still good to use. And as long as they still taste good when you use them in your cooking, then they’re okay to keep.
Cooking oils like vegetable or olive oil are usually good for up to a year after opening. If left unopened, cooking oil is good for one to two years. Again, try the old sniff test to make sure that it smells good.
What to donate:
If you have canned goods, packaged foods, or spice jars that you know you won’t use and are in good shape, donate them to a food drive or a local charity or church.
Ideas for an organized pantry
Now that you’ve decluttered your pantry, it’s time to get your food items in order. Here are some storage and organization ideas for your pantry.
Turntables are your new best friend
If you’re tired of rooting around your pantry for a specific spice jar or a bottle of olive oil, save yourself the hassle with a turntable.
Kitchen turntables have been such a game changer for me. You can store lots of items without sacrificing counter or pantry space. And because of its spinning feature, you can easily locate a jar or canned good without displacing all your other items.
You can use your turntable to store: spice jars, oil and vinegar bottles, canned goods, jarred foods, and more!
Organize your spices with a spice drawer
If you don’t have ample cabinet space, a spice drawer can be a good storage solution.
Storing your spices in a drawer allows you to line up all your bottles in neat rows and easily locate what you need. And you don’t have to worry about knocking over things just to find that bottle of oregano. You can use drawer liner to keep your jars in place.
Store your food in clear containers
If you have several half-empty pasta boxes lying around, this is the storage solution for you. You can use these clear OXO containers to store your pasta, cereal, rice, and other dried food items. This will help keep your food fresh, make your pantry look nice and tidy, and help you save time looking for what you need. And bonus: they’re stackable which means you can save precious cabinet space.
Maximize space with pull out shelves or drawers
If you’re handy, consider installing a pullout drawer or shelf. You can store spice jars, tins of tea, and even napkins or utensils. This is another way to store lots of things without using up too much real estate.
How to keep your pantry organized
You’ve done the hard work of decluttering and organizing your pantry and you'd like to keep it that way. Here are some tips on how to stay on top of your pantry and keep it organized:
Meal plan. Try meal planning for the week so that you can shop smarter instead of accidentally purchasing another can of beans or jar of pasta sauce when you already have them at home.
Label. Try labeling your spice jars and clear containers so that you can find items more easily. Or, you can label the date of purchase so that you’re aware when food is past its prime.Do a quick clean out session once a week. If you have five minutes to spare, try decluttering your shelves and cabinet space, and neatly arranging cans, jars, and bottles. You don’t have to go overboard, but doing something like making sure the spice jar is facing the right direction can save you time and also make your pantry look organized.