It might seem like a daunting task, but clearing the space is the best place to begin. If your pantry has been disorganized for a long time, you probably have out-of-date foods, half-empty cartons of unidentifiable ingredients or stuff you bought on sale and forgot about. Anchovy-stuffed olives, anyone?
Group your pantry items into like piles. Your categories might look something like this:
You may have fewer or more categories, depending on how much you cook.
Foods like cereal, pasta and sugar can be placed in clear containers and labeled. This not only makes the ingredients easier to find, but also keeps them from encouraging bugs and rodents. If the idea of purchasing so many containers makes you twitch, just buy a few at a time.
Just like in real estate, pantry storage is all about location, location, location. The items you use the most should be at eye level while items that you use least should be in the hardest to get to areas of your space. Use a piece of graph paper and make a diagram to keep with your inventory list so that anyone can easily put things away in their proper places.
High shelves can hold kitchenware and appliances that you use seasonally, such as turkey roasters, ice cream makers or that cool juicer you got for Christmas five years ago and haven't used yet but will -- someday.
The last step is just reloading everything back onto the shelves. Put away all of the items exactly like you placed them in your graph. If you have a label maker you can make category labels for the edges of the shelves to make it even easier to find things and put them away in the future.
If you take a few minutes every week to keep things organized you will always have a clean, easy-to-use storage area for your foods and other kitchen supplies.
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