Recently, my toddler grew tall enough to start opening doors. His favorite door to open, you ask? The kitchen pantry, of course! What a wonderful little space for him to go exploring; or so he thinks. However, this development had me scurrying about trying to reorganize the pantry so that he could only reach things that were light and safe to play with. It also meant that the larger items on the floor had to be moved, as they served as great climbing apparatus for him to reach up even higher.
Needless to say, this lead to an unplanned home improvement: the “March pantry challenge”. Well, that’s what I call it in my head, at least. Here are some tips I’ve learned along the way.
• If you have to reorganize anyway, you may as well take everything out and wash all the shelves, floors and walls.
• As you’re taking things out, check their expiration dates. For dry goods, try to remember when they were purchased or when they were last used. If you aren’t sure, you probably don’t need them and should toss them out before someone eats a handful of rancid macadamia nuts. (Unfortunate true story.)
• On the topic of dry goods, transfer anything that you buy in bulk out of the plastic bags and into proper containers with lids as soon as you get it home. I’m not saying that you have to go out and spend a bunch of money on perfectly matching pretty containers. In my pantry, most dry goods are stored in mason jars or various sizes.
• Group items together in a way that makes sense to you. For me, using baskets and bins is the best way to do this. I bought several clear plastic bins and placed like items in them. I’ve got a bin for pasta and one for grains, a box for baking ingredients, a smaller bin for coffee, tea and hot chocolate… You get the point. I’m also in the process of labeling the bins so that it’s even easier to find things or put them away after grocery shopping.
• Produce such as potatoes and onions keep well in mesh or woven baskets. Having one or two baskets dedicated to this is a great way to keep your food in better condition for longer.
• If your pantry does not have a proper light fixture, I highly recommend having one put in. If that isn’t an option, you could always use a wireless (battery operated) LED light.
• If you want to make the pantry more attractive, by all means, do so. You could hang pretty wall paper on the walls behind the shelves or use colorful wrapping paper to cover the shelves. Get matching baskets, jars or containers and line everything up nicely. You can go for a modern look and use stainless steel containers or add more character and use brightly colored vintage food tins. Really, like any other room in the house, use your design sense and have fun.
You don’t have to be taking on a major home or kitchen remodeling in order to make changes to your kitchen pantry. Simply take the time to get organized and keep it that way. If your home doesn’t have a pantry and you really wish you had one, talk to a professional kitchen remodeler to see how this can be achieved.
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