It’s been a long day. You stop by the grocery store on the way home from work and buy a few items that you need. Grabbing all the plastic bags of groceries that you can, you walk in and place them on the counter. After quick hugs with the children and hubby, you turn to open the door to the pantry and your stomach sinks. You know what is behind that door. Sure enough, it’s all there. Open bags of chips, bread hanging off the shelf, a half-eaten cookie and a screwdriver. Screwdriver? Really? It’s just a mess! You are so frustrated you could cry.
Well, your pantry may not be that bad, but you know the feeling. You’ve got expired food. You can’t find anything. You buy things you already have. It’s too small. Lots of frustration can come with having a pantry. It’s probably the most used area of the home that is accessed by everyone including the preschoolers. What do you do?
If the pantry is the area of your home where you need assistance, then read on. I have a few tips to help you get it together and keep it that way. Like every other area of the home, a pantry is most functional when it is organized.
- Group like things together – Put things like canned soups, bags of chips, bread, vegetables, etc. together.
- Put fewer things on more shelves – Stacking items is never a good idea. Instead add shelves. And when you add shelves remember that deep shelves can often be as dysfunctional as not having enough shelves.
- Place items you use the most where they are most accessible – What are the products you use most frequently? Put them in the area between your eyes and your knees. This placement will keep you from reaching up and bending over so much. If you want your children to be able to access the pantry, be sure to store the food items they enjoy in a reachable place.
- Use containers that seal – I am a fan of the Lock n Lock® containers. You can store crackers, spaghetti/lasagna noodles, snacks, brown/confectioners’ sugar, etc. Sealed containers are perfect for boxes of cereals and allows you to not only keep things fresh, but to visibly see how much you have before going to the grocery store. Food worth saving should be packaged properly. Always use square or rectangular containers. Round containers take up space.
- Unpackage boxes of individually wrapped snacks– Remove the sealed snack cakes from their packaged containers and put them in open containers so that they are easily seen. After all, how many times have you reached in a box of Little Debbies only to find that the box is empty?
- Adjustable shelving – Without adjustable shelving, there is usually wasted space between the tops of the cans or boxes and the shelf above them. Adjustable shelving allows you to use that space. Food doesn’t set well on wire shelving and is often too heavy and increases chances of wire shelving to fall.
- Put heavy items near the bottom – It is not wise to reach above your head for heavy items. You could hurt your back or drop them and cause injury. Keep items like boxes of canned drinks, cases of bottled water, etc. at a low and reachable place.
- Use space on the door – One place that many don’t consider useable space is inside of pantry door. It is the perfect place to install a wire container to store items like aluminum foil or Ziploc® bags.
Perhaps the most important tip I can give you is to get the family onboard. Since everyone uses the pantry, it quickly becomes a disaster if everyone doesn’t make an effort to keep it together. Remind the family to put pantry items back in the pantry. This lesson will help the younger children gain responsibility as caretakers of the home too.
There is no need for your pantry to be a stressful and frustrating place in your home. These few tips are a great start to making your pantry more functional and user friendly. You may not be able to do all of these, but if you will implement a few, you will be surprised at the difference it will make.
Lastly, remember that keeping your pantry organized is an ongoing chore because of the constant process of things going in and out of the pantry.
For more photos of pantry organization, go to the Organize4U website.
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