Thursday, November 11, 2010

Seven Steps To An Organized Pantry or Food Cupboards

I was frustrated. I needed to make a menu and shopping list for the week and when I opened a cupboard door, a box of graham crackers fell on my head.

How can I make a grocery list when my cupboards look like this and I can’t even tell what I have on hand.

I don’t keep a large stockpile, because of my lack of space. I am more of a ‘shop as I need’ kind of person. I shop the sales flyers to plan a week’s menu.

My kitchen is small and technically I don’t have a separate pantry, but I use several cupboards in my kitchen for food and some shelves in my garage for any overflow.

No matter how big or small your pantry is, I think these tips will help your pantry be more functional and less frustrating.
  1. Remove everything from the cupboards.
  2. Clean the cupboards with a damp cloth and dry.
  3. Sort food items by category, such as baking items, breakfast, canned goods, coffee/tea, condiments, pasta/rice, snacks, etc.
  4. Keep in mind what foods you use frequently when putting the food back in your pantry. All of my spices and herbs are right by my stove. All of the cooking oils and vinegars are above my stove. My coffee is stored right by the machine. All of my baking supplies are stored right above the counter where I use my mixer.
  5. Face the food labels forward for easy viewing.
  6. Alphabetize your herbs and spices.
  7. Discard or recycle any outdated food. Donate any food that you probably won’t eat and is not outdated to a food bank. I found this bottle of Ground Cayenne Pepper with a August 2000 date on it. That was 2 months before I got married and I was not much of a cook back then, so I'm not quite sure what I was doing with a bottle of Cayenne. I guess it has been some time since I weeded out my spices. I ended up throwing 7 bottles of out-dated spices away...OUCH!

I feel much better now that I have purged and organized my food cupboards. It will make menu planning a little easier for me and I won't have to duck now when I open a cupboard door. Since I haven't used the Cayenne in ten years, I think it is safe to say that I don't need to replace it.

What does your kitchen pantry or food storage area look like? Does it need a little attention? Let us know in the comments.

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  1. OH MY GOSH...I thought I was the only person left on earth that has 'sour apple green' tupperware cannisters & I saw bright orange there too...guilty again ;) Any hoo, thanks for the messy cabinet reminder! I love your site! Have a great day and don't forget to thank a veteran today!

  2. may I make a comment? Oils and spices shouldn't be kept over the stove. The oil gets rancid faster and the spice oils lose their volatility. (as in, they don't age well)I have spices, extracts and oils that are 'older.' I just expect to use more of it to flavor.

  3. Memawbme - I love my vintage tupperware. I scour yard sales for pieces and use it for everything from coffee to flour and sugar.

    Anon - Thanks for the tip about storing herbs and oils.


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