With the warmer months almost upon us (thank goodness!) it’s the perfect time to engage in a little spring cleaning – and what better space to start than in the heart of the home. A well-stocked and tidy pantry is at the heart of every efficiently run kitchen, but food stores can quickly become chaotic. When packages start falling out of cupboards, spilt flour or biscuit crumbs cover shelves and food items appear to be well past their expiry date, it’s an excellent prompt to clean and declutter your food storage.
Whether a pantry consists of a couple of kitchen cupboards or a dedicated storage room, good organisation is key to making the space work for you. There are many benefits of a tidy pantry. It helps you plan meals more effectively and deciding what to eat is easier and more inspiring when you know what ingredients you have in stock.
Knowing exactly where food and ingredients are stored and having them close to hand also saves time and brings more flow to your meal preparation. An organised pantry also tends to look good too, so cooking and baking becomes an enjoyable pastime.
Creating calm in your cupboards
Start by removing everything. Empty all the cupboards and shelves, remembering to check out-of-reach places.
Keep what you’ll definitely use, but let go of out-of-date items, discard packets that have been left open for too long and donate any unopened, in-date food that you’ve no intention of consuming to others who can use it.
Give the pantry a thorough clean. Start at the top of the cupboards and shelves and work down. Use a damp cloth to wipe surfaces and then completely dry all areas.
There are many ways to design and organise a pantry. If you’re looking for inspiration, Pinterest shows an array of stylish and brilliantly organised food storage solutions. Review your own kitchen and pantry. How can you make better use of the space? Can you add extra shelving or another storage solution? How about using under-cupboard baskets and shelf dividers?
- Create categories or zones for food, storing ‘like with like’. Stackable boxes, which are clearly labelled on the front, are perfect for this. For example, have separate sections or boxes for baking ingredients, tinned foods, beverages, breakfast cereals, grains and dried goods.
- Make sure tin and jar labels are facing forward, so you can see at a glance what you have in stock.
- Store your supplies in a way that keeps regularly used food and ingredients close to hand.
- Place used and open packs of food at the front of cupboards to remind you to use up these ingredients. Store food that has an expiry date in order, with longer-lasting foods at the back.
- You could also designate a space for herbs, spices, cooking oils and seasoning, but keep these away from sunlight and excessive heat to preserve the flavours.
- Store dry and packaged foods in air-tight containers to reduce exposure to moisture and to protect food from bugs or contamination.
A kept kitchen
Once your pantry is organised, it doesn’t take a great effort to keep it that way. Before going food shopping, check your cupboards and make a list to buy only what you need. After a food shop, have a review of your pantry and organise your stock. Just a few mindful minutes of tidying each week will help keep the heart of your home a calmer and happier place.
This article was originally published in Issue 12 – Set forward