Do you find yourself buying items at the grocery store just to come home and be frustrated when you realize you have one, two, or multiple of the same item already shoved in your kitchen pantry? Food is getting PRICEY as it is, so it's annoying to make this common mistake.
Pantries can be black holes of duplicate items and items that are expired. When your pantry is organized and labeled, it's much easier to see what you already have.
We're sharing 4 tips we use in our clients' homes as professional organizers to help you transform your pantry from a chaotic, cluttered stressor to pristine and clean, and how to keep it that way with maintainable systems.
Tip #1: Remove All Items & Review Expiration Dates
The first step we take is to empty out your entire pantry. Yes, all of it. We create a staging zone on your dining room table and kitchen counters to lay everything out. Once it's all removed, we give the shelves a good wipe down and vacuum the floor, if necessary, to have a fresh start.
We then look at all the expiration and best-by dates and toss what's past its prime. You'd be surprised how many items have gone bad; we've found items that are even 10+ years expired. Like we said, pantries can be a black hole!
We'll also check with you and toss anything stale, like chip bags left open by the kiddos or items you bought but aren't ever going to use (if you prefer, you can always donate unexpired items to a food pantry or post them on a buy nothing group on Facebook).
Tip #2: Create Categories & Keep Like Items Together
Now that we've widdled it down to fresh items you want to keep, we'll sort everything into broad categories that are easy to maintain.
We don't need to get super specific and create categories for every little thing. A bin for kids' snacks will be much easier to maintain than separate bins for goldfish, gummies, or crackers. You don't always buy the same items and we want your pantry to stay flexible for your ever-changing family.
We'll cater the categories to what works best for you and your family. Some common categories we use are snacks, kids' snacks, pasta, grains, nuts & seeds, baking supplies, breakfast, canned foods, and sauces.
Commit to keeping like items together and your pantry is on its way to staying organized long-term.
Tip #3: Select Storage Solutions & Get Ready to Problem Solve
We love large bins or baskets that can fit many items for our broad categories. We then label them with either chalkboard sticker labels for plastic bins or bin clips for hyacinth-type baskets.
Large turntables work best for items such as sauces and oils and work especially well for pantry corners. Tiered expandable canned shelves are our go-to for canned goods. Using a door rack can create and utilize all space for smaller pantries.
We love decanting baking supplies such as flour and sugar into clear containers. These containers can also work for clients who want a more uniform look and are willing to do the upkeep involved.
We always like to discuss the decanted option with clients that ask about it since even though it looks great, it does take extra work to maintain and empty food into the containers after a grocery trip. This can be a beautiful option if you purchase similar foods consistently and are willing to put in a little more maintenance (or have us help!).
When purchasing supplies, we always buy a good amount more than we will likely need since we do a lot of problem-solving in the moment. We could take exact measurements and make an elaborate plan of exactly what bins will go where, but it would be a waste of time and would end up changing a lot.
You just don't know what will work until you're in the space. We overbuy, see what works best once items are decluttered and in the space, then return what we don't use.
Tip #4: Make a Plan to Maintain the Space & Get Your Family Involved
Grouping and storing like items together makes it easy to put items away after grocery shopping, so the whole family can find what they need quickly and help put food back after they're done.
It doesn't have to all land on you to maintain! Kids can get excited about the new system by having snacks where they can reach them. They love to be in control and big helpers. Make a game of helping you put groceries away after you shop and give them a choice from their bin at snack time.
Let your spouse know how putting items back in the correctly labeled bin helps you save money by not buying duplicates and helps you know when snacks are getting low so your family always has their favorites on hand.
Now that everything is labeled and grouped together, it's much easier to maintain order in your pantry. Keeping it tidy is key. Make sure to take the extra few seconds to put items in the correct spot. It also helps immensely to glance into your pantry when making the grocery list and before shopping to see what you already have.
We encourage clients to have a shared groceries note on their phone where each spouse (and older kids) can add something to the list when it's getting low or is out. If you don't want to maintain it yourself or it's just gotten too out of hand, we offer maintenance sessions to bring your pantry back to square one.
Our lives can feel like they revolve around food. We have to eat! With an organized pantry that's easy to maintain, you can take some of that daily stress, buying duplicates, and searching for items away.
Dinners can be made faster, favorite snacks grabbed easier, and grocery lists made in a breeze. Our clients even love to show off their pantries to visitors! It will feel good to have a pantry you're proud of.
If you dream of an organized pantry but all of this sounds daunting to do alone, get our organizing guide to see what it's like working with a professional organizer. We're here, so you don't have to spend an entire weekend looking at expiration dates. No one has time for that (except us, we live for this)!
Did you know we also set up pantries with organizing products from day 1 with our unpacking services? Start your new life in your new home with a gorgeous, eye-candy yet functional pantry.
At Hello Simplified, we specialize in helping clients going through big life changes. We offer home organizing services and packing & unpacking services. Read through for tips on how we help our clients feel less overwhelmed and more in control of their busy lives and homes.