The pantry is a catch all for so many types of kitchen equipment, serving implements, packaged food and spices, table linens and more. The purpose of a pantry is to be useful additional space—but just like other types of storage, a well-used space sometimes gets messy.
We recommend a seasonal re-organization of the pantry, in the Fall and Spring. Functionally, most of us use different items in the winter and summer. Culturally, we celebrate some different holidays, etc, so your organizational plan can be adapted as needed.
Overall: Select a shelf to start.
- Remove all the cans, containers, spices or dishes and linens.
- Clean the shelf, and start sorting the dry goods.
- Many of us tend to cook versions of the same recipe frequently. One organizational technique is to store the ingredients for your muffins with the tin, or to keep the bread flours and flavorings with your bread-maker or baking sheet.
Structurally: Many user-friendly pantries follow these guidelines.
- Tall stuff (vases) and bulky stuff (lobster pots) go up high.
- Leave space below the bottom shelf for bulky or heavy items to be stored on the floor, like the recycling bins or pallets of water.
- More frequently used appliances, like perhaps the blender or food processor, should be more accessible.
- Spice bottles are small, and have tiny lettering; they need to be easy to read and reach for with ease. These should be at eye level. There are great accessories like slide-out spice racks that make this organization much easier.
- If space allows, you can include slide-out or swing-out wine racks.
- Drawers or baskets at child-height makes the grab and go easier for the little ones, and keeps the teenagers out of your dinner supplies; these can also be a great trick to keep the healthier foods easily accessible—or to keep the indulgent ones out of sight.
- It’s so awkward to store platters flat, struggling to get out the one you need from the bottom. The better method is to utilize dividers or custom sized cubbies to allow your plates and serving bowls to stand upright, perfect for easy use.
Seasonally: These tips will make the seasonal switch simpler.
- Try to group seasonal items together. Store the seasonal winter table linens, holiday serving items, pretty wine glasses and center-pieces in the same general area. Keep your off-season items in an out of the way place in the pantry.
- When it’s time to change the seasonal clothes in the closet, it’s time to do the pantry.
- Take the opportunity to examine everything. If something is stained or chipped, now’s the time to deal with it. If it’s beyond dry cleaning or another fix, there’s the opportunity for off season shopping for a replacement. This way, you’ll never be scrambling when company is coming.
Just using a few of these tips will enhance your pantry experience. You’ll be less likely to buy a spice you didn’t know you already had, and it’ll be easier to unpack the supermarket bags. You’ll feel really together when you open your panty door. Perhaps most important of all, an organized pantry will make it simpler to compose an elegant dinner party or to throw together a quick meal with friends.