01 Aug How to Organize Your Kitchen Pantry, Staples and Spices in 4 Steps
Keeping your pantry in perfect condition gives you easy access to staples and spices so that you never find yourself standing in front of the pantry in a daze, wondering what to cook for dinner. Most of us store herbs and spices and other staples such as olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, and spices.
The importance of keeping your pantry and kitchen cupboards organized
Not only does organizing your pantry provide much-needed convenience but it also ensures that herbs and spices are kept fresher for longer which reduces food waste. Untidy cupboards and food storage spaces can be a breeding ground for pests.
Properly storing your spices is just as important as which spices you choose to use in your meal. Most people store their spices in a kitchen cupboard or on a spice rack and tend to leave the lids off which makes herbs and spices stale. Spices make our food exotic and flavorful and if stored appropriately, spices will bring out the best flavor in your dishes. Valuable kitchen products such as your high-quality salt and pepper mill, coffee mill, canister, olive oil can, or tabletop should be stored in a way that makes them easily accessible while saving space.
Having a well-stocked and carefully organized pantry is ideal if you want to create conditions that inspire spontaneous creativity in the kitchen. The heaps of spices we keep in our cupboards often create quite the storage conundrum and a simple but effective remedy is to follow the 4 simple steps below.
1) Empty the pantry and begin cleaning
The first step to take when approaching your pantry order restoration, the best thing to do is to declutter the cupboards. It is widely accepted that the core of every kitchen is its pantry. We pretty much store items we use daily for our meals such as snacks, staples and spices. The only problem is that when we don’t properly manage our pantries, they can quickly turn into a major source of frustration, waste, and not to mention attracting pests in the process. To make sure your pantry is organized in a practical way that suits your personal style will ultimately make it waste efficient too.
Dust your pantry, starting with the highest shelf, and then work your way to the bottom, wiping down each shelf one at a time. Make sure you cover the tops of doors and check the ceiling for cobwebs. A good starting point would be getting rid of things that are out-of-date or have expired including things you’re certain you’ll not need or make use of in future. It can also be rewarding to actually donate some of the food stuffs in your pantry that are still in date and unopened to your local food aid causes.
There are many food banks which distribute to over millions of meals per year such as FoodPantries, FeedingAmerica, Ample Harvest, etc. Once you’ve cleared all the unwanted items from your pantry, you’ll soon find out that there will be ample space to store the stuff that you actually use. A smart way to organize your pantry more efficiently is to use your pantry ingredients such as baking soda and lemon to clean your pantry.
Keeping your food storage spaces organized can bring relief to the home cook. The simple fact of knowing where your go-to items are in your pantry and having an easy-to-follow system in place will also help you replenish your herbs and spice or staples stocks when necessary. Another great advantage of completely decluttering your storage space is having the opportunity to plan meals more efficiently and keeping your grocery expenses low. Have you ever been in a supermarket and picked something off the shelf but unsure whether you actually need the particular item or wondering how much of it you have or not at home? If so, then I’m sure you’d greatly appreciate having a clean and neatly organized pantry. You’ll definitely have less waste and save money by avoid buying duplicates.
2) Line things up by group and size
Now that you’ve cleared out your cupboards and gotten rid of any unnecessary or out-of-date items, the next thing to do is to take an inventory of what you have. This will typically include the product type and the quantities of each.
To make room for all your items to be neatly stored, you should start with sorting food items into several groups, for example, dry goods, cans, snacks, spices, pet food, etc. By doing so, you’ll be able to spot duplicates, spoiled foods and get a general sense of how much space each type of item will need.
It is advisable to arrange items in your pantry by group, not by size because this will not only look nicer but it will also make the cooking experience much more efficient and less stressful. There’s nothing worse than turning the entire kitchen upside down just to find that special ingredient that is tucked away somewhere you don’t quite remember.
The next step is to arrange items at the right height in your pantry. Find frequently-used items and store them where there is ease of access. Try to keep the items you use most regularly at eye level or where it’s easier to reach and easier to put back after use. If you make bulk purchases of particular items, stored them at the bottom of the pantry since these are generally heavy due to their quantities.
Once you figure out how to organize the pantry staples, then proceed to organize items according to function; for instance, you can store baking products together with some sweet spices, and sort the savory spices and herbs alongside similar sauces or marinades. If you happen to have some specialty items, you can also keep those separate. For ingredients with a shorter shelf life such as onions and garlic, find a designated space preferably where there is good air circulation and make sure you keep an eye on them so that you can reduce food wastage.
3) Use canister sets to store items
Kitchen canister sets have been the ultimate storage solution for decades and they help keep kitchen counters neat. Ideal for grouping frequently used utensils together and keeping them handy for everyday tasks, kitchen canisters are practical for safely storing your herbs, spices and other condiments.
To get started, simply think about the sizes and material types that would be more suitable for storing the type of ingredients you keep in your home. To avoid toxins, you should ideally use canisters made out of premium acrylic or food-grade stainless steel because cheap plastic food containers made from materials with impurities and toxic chemicals pose a risk to your health. The toxins tend to get absorbed into the food triggering adverse health conditions especially in the long-term.
Knowing how to choose the right containers to store your food items is very helpful. FDA-graded acrylic canisters such as HOLAR acrylic canister sets are officially approved as “safe for food/body contact” by U.S. Food and Drug Administration. If you are searching for food-grade canisters at affordable prices, the acrylic canister sets are a great choice for you.
Stainless steel canisters are a little more durable, since they won’t shatter if dropped. These will typically look best in a modern kitchen with stainless steel appliances. Choosing these types of canisters made from type 304 stainless steel will ensure that they last for many years just like the HOLAR stainless steel canister sets.
The advantage to using canisters is that you can also select an array of different colors and styles for the different herbs and spices or sweeteners. It will help a great deal when you want to make clear distinctions between similar looking herbs and spices and you can also label them. Sealed containers are ideal for storing foods that can perish when exposed to the environment and keeping them air-tight will prevent spoilage. It can also prevent a pest outbreak.
4) Label foods stored in containers
It is considered best practice to keep spices in a dry cabinet, but some people also resort to storing backup supplies in airtight containers. Storing herbs and spices properly helps maintain freshness and flavor. Keeping everything properly dated can be a little tedious for some but it is definitely worth it when you consider the savings you can potentially make by ensuring that waste is kept to an absolute minimum.
Of course, you’ll not able to keep the spices and herbs preserved forever but you can certainly extend the shelf life by simply storing them in the appropriate packaging. An effective technique is writing the purchase date on top of each spice so you can track it. If the spice begins to get acquire a musky smell or you cannot smell the spice and the color has changed then it is best to replenish your stock with some fresh items.
By storing items in food storage containers without their packaging, you risk losing valuable information about the contents. Labeling foods stored in containers that may not be instantly recognizable for example, different types of flour, sugar, or similar looking spices is the best way to keep track of freshness and food types. It is best to stick a label on each container to avoid a culinary disaster.
Labeling is especially useful if you have children who are old enough to help put things away. Some canister sets have extra space for putting labels on containers or you can try out other food labeling ideas that are best for your home. Remember to practice “first in, first out”. This means that you use up the food stock in the order that you purchased it to prevent old foodstuffs sitting on the shelf for longer than necessary and keep your dishes tasting fresh.
Final Tips: Things to Remember
- Organize your pantry in a manner suited to your cooking habits. Put the most frequently used ingredient where they are easily visible and accessible.
- Keep your staples e.g. oil, vinegar, mayonnaise or sauces and flavor ingredients like mustards, ketchup, sauces and mayonnaise in one place. Salt, pepper, and savory spices should also be grouped together.
- Herbs naturally lose their potency after extensive periods depending on the types of herbs so checking for freshness should be done every so often.
- Take few minutes every day like wiping down pantry shelves, keeping package labels facing visible. If you do this regularly, you may not have to repeat the entire process all over again.