Organize your Kitchen Pantry to Meet the Needs of your Family

Pantries are built in different shapes and sizes.  Some are large and some are small. There is a limited amount of space in small pantries so it can be frustrating trying to fit food items on shelves.  I suggest if you have a small pantry that you build an additional shelf in your basement or garage to house canned goods and soda.  This would not be a good location for boxed or bagged food items.  They need to be stored in a dry, temperature controlled environment.  If you have a larger pantry you have a different set of challenges.  Larger pantries hold more items but things get shoved to the back and forgotten. Larger pantries also become disorganized because of the big open space.  Plastic baskets work well to divide items.  It is more efficient to remove a basket from a shelve then to move items from the front of the pantry while searching for an item in the back. Different sized baskets are efficient in pantries that have unusual shapes.  Using the baskets to store items
maximizes use of space.  Discount stores sell dividers, racks and pull out shelves that work well to organize space in a

Here are some other ‘common sense’ techniques that will help you to locate the item you want quickly.  Put items you use more frequently on shelves that are at eye level or lower.  High and hard to reach shelves are a good place for extra food items and infrequently used dishes and pans.  Another way to organize your shelf efficiently is to put ‘like items’ together.  Put the cereal on one shelf, pasta on another shelf, and canned goods on a shelf.  Depending on the number and size shelves you have you may consider separating canned goods by categories.  For example:  vegetable and fruit on one shelf, peanut butter, jelly, and condiments on another shelf.

It is important that each food item has a specific place.  If each item has a place other household members will know where to put that item after they use it.  Each time I put an item on the shelf I do a quick check to make sure everything is in place.  I do not wait until I have a disorganized mess before I fix it.  A good pantry maintenance system includes straightening the pantry once a month and each time you put grocery items away.

Traditionally we keep our food in the pantry and our dishes in the cabinet.  I suggest creating your own system if your pantry is not in a convenient location.  Consider keeping food items in your kitchen cabinets and use the pantry for kitchen items you use occasionally.

The needs of my household determine what I store in my pantry and where I put the items.  Put the cereal on a shelf your eight year old can access easily.  If the pantry is close to the stove use the pantry to store spices, oil and other seasoning.  Put food such as potatoes and onions in the pantry in a plastic bin.  Store them in a separate container so onion skins and potato dirt do not accumulate on your shelf.  Keep potatoes and onions separate from other food items.  Of course potatoes and onions will keep for a longer period of time in therefrigerator.  Be willing to change food items around in the pantry until you find a system that works best for you.

“Put ‘like items’ together in your pantry!”


About Diana Koenig