February 10, 2020
The Guide to Setting Up an Efficient Pantry in any Space
I think we can all agree that while a perfectly organized and color-coded pantry is lovely to look at, but it isn’t always efficient or easy to maintain, especially if you have other family members that use this space. Today I’m going to share specific zones for food storage and my pantry – this is intended to get you thinking about how and where you store your food and if this space works for you instead of against you. If you see a product you’re interested in, they’re all linked up at the bottom of the post and in my Amazon favorites page.
The Monthly Focus for February is the KITCHEN – this is the 4th component of the Clean Mama Routine:
- Daily Tasks
- Weekly Tasks
- Rotating Tasks
- Monthly Focus
I’ll be talking more about the components of the Clean Mama Routine – stay tuned!
Organizing the pantry and food storage is a major component to a clean and organized kitchen. You’ll find that when your food storage is organized it’s easier to find things, you waste less food, and meal planning is easier.
What makes an efficient pantry?
It’s a pantry that works for you and your family, takes little to no effort to maintain, and has zones for food that match up with what you use on a daily/weekly basis.
I didn’t say anything about size, types of storage bins, or labels. Sure, a walk-in pantry would be amazing and if you don’t have a cupboard to spare, a cupboard would be lovely. Re-frame your thinking to what you DO HAVE, not what you DON’T HAVE and make your current situation work for you.
I feel like our pantry has been in a constant flux since we moved into our home eleven years ago – some of this is due to the age of kids, the sheer amount of food we consume now versus eleven years ago, and food choices. We eat a whole-foods diet with some convenience items for snacks so our refrigerator is where the majority of our food is and the pantry is where dry goods are stored. I love our pantry – if I were building a house I would probably recreate this same size. It’s not too large and it’s not small but it works for us.
A major change I made was going from multiple quart canning jars for food storage, I put the things we use frequently in larger glass jars – flour, sugar, oatmeal, granola – and went to keeping dry storage in the original bags and boxes and then putting them in wood bins. We go through a lot of brown and white rice and quinoa and I found that the quart jars just weren’t optimal for us at this stage. It’s okay to change your mind and come up with a different solution.
First things first, if you are wanting to completely re-evaluate your pantry, I recommend taking a picture with your phone and breaking the space up into zones. The size of your food storage area doesn’t matter – you are working with what YOU HAVE and making it the most efficient space it can be. This can be a shelf in a cupboard, an entire cupboard, a freestanding cabinet, a traditional pantry, a walk-in pantry, and everything in between.
Figure out what your zones are – this is going to be different for everyone but here are some ideas to get you started:
- canned goods
- dry good storage – I have this as a shelf and then each bin contains a different category:
- crackers, nuts, pasta, rice and grains
- snacks – we generally use 4 different types of snacks and use 4 separate bins for those snacks
- bags – lunch bags, food storage bags
- protein powders
- glass storage
- broth and soup – I keep these in the door storage
- condiments – I keep these in the door storage
- backstock + oversize – if you have the room, I recommend having space for extras and larger items
Once you’ve decided on your zones to organize your pantry or food storage area, add containers to separate and well, contain your food. This makes it easy to find, easy to store food, and keeps everything in its place. Put the items where you want them to be but be ready to adjust as you go in case something isn’t working the way you’d like it to work. If you just reorganized your food storage area and there are other people in your home, show them where everything is and how to find it and how to keep it tidy. You might also like this post about how to organize and set up zones in the refrigerator and freezer.
What is your biggest struggle with your food storage? What’s your favorite pantry or food storage item? I am loving the wood bins for storage – they have simplified our pantry and I love the mix of wood and white for us.