You won't be able to see what you're working with until you've completely removed everything from your pantry. Small containers and packages of spices tend to fall over and get pushed to the back. By emptying your pantry, you may uncover a few hidden gems that you'd completely forgotten.
Once everything's out of your pantry, take inventory of your supplies and decide what to keep and what to toss. If you have a tendency to hang onto unused goods("I may use that... someday"), consider this advice from Alejandra Ramos, owner of Alejandra Ramos Culinary & Lifestyle:
"If you don't use it, throw it out! Those old protein or diet shakes, the high-fiber breakfast cereal you bought with good intentions, and that new popcorn flavor you bought but didn't like need to go. If it's unopened and unspoiled, donate it. If it's opened, toss it. No sense in crowding your shelves with past mistakes."
Other items you should toss include:
Once you've purged your pantry, categorize your remaining items in a manner similar to a grocery store. Lisa Adams of LA Closet Design suggests grouping canned goods on one shelf and condiments on another, creating a breakfast center and so forth. Keeping your pantry organized in this fashion will make it easier to identify the items you need when heading to the store or making a meal.
Before restocking your pantry with your newly categorized supplies, make sure you thoroughly clean out the space. Start at the top shelf and wipe down all surfaces with a warm, damp towel, then dry the shelves completely. Use your vacuum's dusting attachment to dust corners and floors. If any of your food containers are sticky or dusty, wipe them down before placing them back in the pantry.
It's one thing to clean out your pantry; it's another to keep it clean and organized. By putting in a little effort initially, you'll save yourself the hassle down the road. Bins, airtight containers, shelf dividers and under-shelf baskets can help you keep things fresh and in their proper places. Get out your labelmaker and label the pantry categories so your family will know where to replace supplies after using them.
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