The kitchen is often called the heart of the home. It’s a place for the family to gather each evening as they enjoy dinner together. It’s also where your day starts; you might enjoy a cup of coffee while reading the newspaper, or maybe you spend a few minutes putting together nutritious lunches for your children to take to school.
When the kitchen is disorganized, however, it can really put a damper on the way the room functions. If you’re finding that you’re pulling expired items out of the kitchen pantry or you often get stuck in the middle of making dinner because you’re missing a vital ingredient, it’s probably time to organize the pantry! Follow these steps to get the job done.
- Choose a time when you’ll have a couple of hours to devote to the task. Cleaning out the pantry can be done in one fell swoop, but it will take some time to do a good job.
- Clear off the kitchen table and the counters, if they’re not clean already. You’re going to need a place to put all of the items that are currently residing in your pantry.
- Grab a box and a garbage bag. The box will be for items that are still good, but that your family won’t eat. It will be dropped off at a food pantry the next time you drive by one. The garbage bag will be for expired items. (Do not donate expired goods to food pantries.)
- Take everything out of the pantry. You might want to do this with a damp rag in hand, because some of the items might be dusty or sticky. This way, you can wipe them off before setting them on your table or counter.
- Try to keep like items together. For example, put all of the cans on one section of the table, the boxed pastas on another section, and the bottles of juice on yet another. You get to decide which items count as “like items.”
- Once everything is out of the pantry, wipe down the walls kitchen shelves. Check to be sure that the shelving is all secure. Then, sweep and mop the floor.
- Consider installing pantry pull-outs: These are shelves that, as the name would imply, pull out so you can see everything better. These and other pantry organizers can be found at home improvement stores or you can order better quality ones from a custom closet company like Clever Closets.
- Put the lighter items toward the top of the pantry. You might put paper goods on the very top shelf, then put your boxed goods on the next shelf down.
- Put the heavier items toward the bottom of the pantry. Bottles of soda and juice can go on the floor, and cans and glass jars can go on the shelf directly above them. The middle shelves will likely hold items such as peanut butter, small bags of rice and other medium-weight foods.
- If you keep small appliances in your pantry, make a space for them on the floor if possible. Otherwise, use a less accessible corner of the pantry. (You’ll go through the trouble of getting them out if you need them, but you might not make the effort to rummage around in the corners if you just need to check the expiration date of crackers.)
- Place small items, like envelopes of seasoning or cupcake-decorating supplies, in bins or other types of kitchen organizers. Just leaving them on the shelf is a recipe for losing or spilling them.
- Put potentially sticky items, like honey and maple syrup, on trays or even upside down disposable container lids. This will keep dripping to a minimum.
By the time you’re done, your kitchen pantry should be clean and tidy. It will function more efficiently and you’ll feel less stressed out during mealtime preparations.