How Do I Declutter My Pantry?
By Elisheva Blumberg, Lubicom Staff
I panicked when we moved into a new house. And it was all the pantry’s fault.
You see, I was worried that once I started stocking my pantry, the slapdash system I’d implement in my hurry to get unpacked would be my system forever. Like if I put my cereal into a ridiculous spot in the bottom cupboard, I would never find the time or energy to move it to somewhere more sensical.
Well, it took seven years but I finally did rearrange things in my pantry, switching the cereal from that ridiculous spot in the bottom cupboard to a shelf at eye level. Booyah! Score one for life-changing decisions!
What I’m saying is: it’s never too late to implement a change to your pantry system.
Here are five rules to help you make peace with your pantry:
1. Prettiness follows practicality
Ever search “pantry” on Pinterest?
The stuff you’ll find there — a feast of foods in color-coded bins and labeled mason jars — is stunning. But not very functional for a real-life kitchen.
Semolina flour and cracked freekeh might be all-star ingredients, but it wouldn’t make sense for me, personally, to have dedicated glass canisters to store them in.
And those cutesy-tootsy storage baskets that can hold about five dainty potatoes? Not gonna happen in my world, where the norm has become a 10-pound bag of mutant potatoes from Costco.
The function of an organized pantry is to store food in the most efficient way. You’re best off using those pretty Pinterest ideas as springboards to help you personalize the organization system that makes the most sense for your life.
2. Start from scratch
Take a deep breath… and then take everything out of your pantry. Spices, flours, snacks. Everything.
Restacking some chip bags might make your pantry look nice — until dinnertime, that is. For true, lasting change you need to start from scratch, working out a designated place for everything.
Wipe down the shelves till they gleam, and then you’re ready to start getting down to the real work of organizing.
3. Store it smart
The #1 way to a decluttered pantry? Storage containers.
The right containers save space, make food easily accessible, and give you a feeling of delicious satisfaction every time you open your pantry.
Here are some popular container styles that will help you get decluttered. Don’t forget a measuring tape before you order any item; you don’t want to be stuck with something that doesn’t fit right.
- Lazy susans
You can also use a lazy susan to organize condiments such as ketchup and bottles of vinegar, or small canned goods.
- Undershelf baskets
A genius way to maximize space, these undershelf baskets can be used to store paper goods, plastic baggies, snack bars, hot chocolate packets… or any other small item that would get lost in a large bin.
Keep large individual items, like cereal, pasta boxes, or a big bag of potatoes, in big bins like these.
Clear bins are a fitting choice if you need to see what’s inside; colored bins can lend a neat look to a pantry and add a decorative touch.
- Airtight containers
Decant your bulk goods (beans, flour, sugar, rice, baking soda) into airtight containers. These will not only keep the items fresher for longer, but they look amazing all lined up next to one another!
For extra efficiency (and design aesthetic) label these containers with printable pantry labels.
4. Shelve strategically
When you’re ready to start loading the items into the pantry, keep these guidelines in mind:
- Top shelves: the highest shelves should be allocated for lightweight occasionals — items that are not heavy and that you don’t use every day.
Put these on top shelves: paper towels, extra cereal boxes, seltzer bottles.
- Bottom shelves: store the heavy occasionals here so you don’t have to do much heavy lifting when you need them.
Put these on bottom shelves: jugs of oil, potatoes and onions.
- Middle shelves: the most accessible center shelves should house the items you need daily.
Put these on middle shelves: pasta sauces, snacks, baking items, spices.
5. Keep it up
Even those Pinterest pantries need maintenance every once in a while! Give your pantry a once-over every month or two. Wipe down sticky spots, toss expired or stale goods, and return everything to its designated area.
A quick maintenance check will keep your pantry in tip-top shape for years to come.
Do you have a favorite organizing tip or must-have pantry product? Let us know in the comments!