The kitchen pantry is one of the most overwhelming and difficult areas to keep organized in your entire home. Whether you have a large, walk-in pantry or a small, closet-size pantry, over time, the constant accumulation of snacks and other food stuff can create quite an unorganized mess. Items get pushed to the back of shelves and forgotten about, resulting in a waste of food and a loss of money. Don’t let this happen! Follow these tips to create a streamlined pantry and a designated snack center, so your food won’t be wasted and your hard-earned grocery money will be well spent.
Purge, purge, purge!
First and foremost, you MUST purge your pantry! After multiple trips to the grocery store, you accumulate way more than you need and food starts to go to waste. Begin the process of organizing your pantry snacks by first EMPTYING the pantry of snacks. Toni Hammersley says you should always start with a clean slate. “Empty your entire pantry, and thoroughly clean it before you begin the organization process,” Hammersley suggests. “Starting fresh will help keep things organized longer.” Take everything out and put it on your counter. Then, go through and throw away everything that has expired or is no longer edible. Stale chips, expired granola bars, too-hard cookies – toss it all! Next, look at what’s left and determine if there are any non-perishable items you don’t want that perhaps you can donate to a local food bank. Now that you have a clean slate, get started with organizing.
Jennifer Jones suggests spending a few minutes every week to put together a basket of pre-portioned snacks. When you get back from the grocery store, make it a part of your weekly routine to then spend some time dividing up snacks from bigger packages into smaller, individual-sized baggies or containers. “It is easy for the kids to pick a quick, healthy and portioned snack out when they get home from school, or to toss one in their backpack for an after school activity,” Jones says. “I love that the items are portioned out and that no one is eating fist-fulls out of a big bag of chips or eating a couple crackers and forgetting to seal up the package.” This is also a great way to encourage portion control and eating healthy.
Use the right storage.
Many snack items come packaged in boxes that can very quickly take up a lot of space in the pantry. Consider taking the snacks out of those boxes and storing them in clear baskets or containers. This will ensure you are able to easily see what is in your pantry to snack on when hunger hits. Beth Bryan recommends using a wide-mouthed fish bowl to store individual snacks, making snacks easy to grab-n-go, especially when making school lunches. “As any parent in a busy household knows – the less hassle you have to deal with regarding the kid’s lunches, the better,” Bryan says. “When I find a good sale on snack items, I toss them into the fishbowl and they are easily accessible.” Also consider labeling your containers with chalkboard or dry erase labels so you can erase and re-label every week after new snacks are purchased.
Overhauling your pantry snacks may seem overwhelming, but it’s a process that can be easily done in one or two hours. By purging your pantry, then doing a little bit of planning and organizing, you can enjoy grabbing a snack from your newly organized pantry.