InsideOut magazines decluttering expert Peter Walsh is back and this time he’s helping you regain control of your kitchen pantry.
Not too long ago, kitchen pantries were built to hold things like tea, sugar, bread, and maybe a couple of cans of mushy peas. These days, with more eclectic cuisine and bulk shopping options, today’s kitchens are often built with all manner of shelving options, all the way up to a butler’s pantry. I’m not convinced we’re better people for it. But even if your pantry isn’t big enough to hold a small car, I’ll bet there are still items on those shelves that haven’t seen daylight for months. Guess what? Today’s the day we’re going to whip that pantry into shape so that come dinnertime, your pantry will serve as your faithful helper and not a door-bulging, jam-packed mess.
1. Clear off your kitchen bench and dining table
This will be your work surface, so we need a clean slate to start clutter-free.
2. Unload every single item that’s currently in the pantry onto the bench
As you’re unloading your pantry, check expiration dates – toss it if it’s past and, for pure amusement, keep an eye out for the oldest thing in your pantry. The stuff you’re keeping should be arranged on the bench with like things together. If you’re like most people, you’ll have one category of item that’s a go-to (tinned tomatoes, anyone?) Also, chances are you’ll find items that you have absolutely no clue how they got into your pantry in the first place. If your cupboard is really bursting at the seams, be a little hard on yourself with those ‘aspirational’ foods – yes, we’ve all gone through the “I’m going to master the art of Moroccan cooking” phase. Remember, the goal is to pare back your pantry goods to the things that you’ll actually use!
3. Clean the actual pantry
Take an extra few minutes to vacuum the floor as well as those shelves; wipe everything down with a warm and sudsy cloth, and dry them, too. Some people like to line shelves with wallpaper. If you’re one of these people, make sure it’s a paper that you can wipe spills off easily. If you’re not, do what I do and invest in a small set of clear plastic trays. The trays are great for keeping like things sorted, and they’re also great for making sure messy bottles and jars don’t leak and ruin other foods.
4. Restock the pantry
This is where the art of organisation comes in. First, keep like items together. Second, put the essentials with the nearest expiry dates towards the front of these groups. Third, staples like pasta, rice, cereal, oats, bread and crackers should be transferred to either glass or clear containers – this will keep the crawlies out and help keep them fresher for longer. Fourth, I’m a big proponent of putting the healthier items at eye height and toward the front. If you’re like me – searching for dinner ideas by looking in the pantry – and the chicken chips are staring you in the face, you’ve made it nearly impossible to make a healthy choice.
5. Once you’ve finished putting everything back, take a photo
This is actually a helpful thing to do every few months so that when you’re standing in the grocery store, you can have a quick peek at what you already have. And, if you’re really hi-tech, there are some great apps that can help you keep track of what’s in your pantry – and everyone in your house can add items to the shopping list. Just remember that when you do bring your groceries home, store them behind the items that are already on the shelves