A Picture Perfect Pantry

For a lot of families the kitchen pantry is one of the most highly trafficked spots in the house. And for those in charge of feeding the hungry masses, each time you use it you may think to yourself that you ‘should’ make cleaning it out a priority and that you ‘should’ get rid of the food that is past its prime. But the funny thing about ‘should’ is that it rarely translates into much action – it just hangs there like a big guilt cloud over your head. Happily cleaning out the pantry can be a fast, relatively painless activity if you just get started on a small, manageable level.

Alicia on ‘Ditching Perfection’

“In a recent survey we conducted, 81% of women said that the hardest thing about getting organized was in knowing where to start. When you think about it as a giant task, it can be overwhelming and paralyzing. The trick to getting started lies in ditching the notion that there’s a ‘right way’ to get organized – or some ‘perfect’ end state. Instead, you need to embrace the 80/20 rule. If you take care of the 20% of a task that is most critical, you will usually solve 80% of your problem. So ditch perfection and see how much easier it will be to get organized if you focus on just the critical 20%.”

Sarah on ‘Clearing Out The Junk’

“So let’s focus on the 20% that matters when it comes to the pantry. I like to begin by throwing things out. It feels great and eliminates a big part of the task. I group items to get rid of into 2 piles. The first pile is things to definitely throw out. They are items that are past their expiration dates, are stale or have been crushed. It is food that no one should consumer at this point. The second pile is for items that you have not used in at least nine months. If you have not used it in three-quarters of a year and it is still consumable, you probably won’t use it at this point and are better served donating the items to a local food bank. “

Here are three things ideas to consider for how to get the kitchen pantry buttoned up:

#1: Make Every Inch Count

The key to organizing a pantry is to be able to see everything and know what you have. You might want to consider buying a hanging door rack which is great for spices and smaller items. Another favorite is the riser shelf which allows you to see every can and bottle by putting each layer on a different level. Finally, we like Lazy Susans. They fit nicely on a shelf and again allow you to turn to see everything. A great place to find these items is the Container Store.

#2: Embrace FIFO

FIFO is the accounting term for ‘First In First Out’ and it is a great rule for the pantry. What it means is that you should put new items in the back and use up the older items first. This makes for less waste. Another trick we like is to put right in the pantry a pad of paper and a pen for writing down what you need to replenish. Get everyone in the family to do this and it will take much less time to put together your shopping list.

#3: Organize For You

MidwesternMommy
09.05.07

When my MIL asks what she can do to help while she visits at the holidays, I always ask her to sort out my pantry. She has a talent and takes it off my plate. I always feel better when she's made my pantry organized and pretty and I can see what we really have and what we really need. This year, I've added pantry maintenance to my 9 y.o.'s chore list!