Whatever the pantry’s size, it will benefit you if it is functional. Like a kitchen, it must be planned in order to save you time, energy, and motion. If all you have is standard shelves, you can probably make better use of space. Even in the smallest of spaces, you can have a pantry.
Look beyond the kitchen and make use of storage space under and over furniture or stairs. The two things to consider when finding a place to store canned goods is temperature and moisture. Most any place in your home qualifies.
Use under the bed storage boxes, use part of your coat closet, put in decorative boxes, and store on top of bookshelves and just about anywhere else. Having a pantry pays off and does not have to cost a lot. If you have enough food stored away for just a few meals, then that is a beginning to a pantry. When you buy in bulk you save money and time. When you can buy items on sale, you save money.
Don’t buy things you won’t use. Each family’s pantry will be unique to them. Buy according to your tastes and needs and what you can afford. You don’t want to buy items that you will be dusting and giving away one year down the road. If your family likes ravioli, then stock up on ravioli. If you use a lot of appetizers for entertaining, then stock up on pickled asparagus, crackers, jars of olives, etc. If you go to parties frequently, stock up on hostess gifts.
Like to bake? Stock up on dried milk, flour, baking powder, and things you’ll use. You can also stock up on bathroom items, such as toothpaste and toilet paper. Other items you may want to stock up on are paper plates, napkins, dish soap, laundry soap, diapers, and any other frequently used household items. Just think of what you buy when you go to the grocery store. If you buy it and use it and it can be stored without problems, then it can be stocked in a pantry.
When you have a pantry you need to know what you have, the date you bought it (so you know how long to keep it), and how to store it safely. One thing to do is to rotate your items. When you go to the store and buy new things to add to the pantry, put these things in the back of the items already in the pantry. Use the front items first. Organize the pantry in some way that will fit your lifestyle the best. Always keep a pantry inventory list. This helps you make your grocery list.
Here are some tips you may want to consider to make your pantry more organized.
- Be sure each item stored is easily accessible and clearly visible.
- Stack cans with their labels visible.
- Use adjustable racks, added shelves, straw baskets, pegboards, pull-out drawers, dividers for cookie sheets, and other organization helpers.
- Put together a ‘guest shelf’. When you have unexpected guests you will have on hand drink mixes, easy to make dips, chips, crackers, pate, fancy cookies, nibble foods, and other items. Have available ready to heat foods, such as soup, stews, chili, etc. to fix a quick supper if needed.
- Have a paper and pencil or a blackboard and chalk handy nearby so you can keep a list of needed items as you run low.
- Do not put large, heavy items out of reach, for safety purposes.
- If you have a step stool or ladder, be sure there is an attached handle to hold on to. Be sure the stool or ladder is sturdy and safe.
- Have overhead lighting in your pantry for easy visibility.
- See which items you use a lot of and consider buying the gallon size to save money.
- Store cereal, rice, noodles, and other dried foods in glass jars that are labeled.
- Eliminate items in the pantry that just sit there for a long time.
- Have a refreshment center. Store coffeepot, tea bags, glasses, cups, etc. together.
- Have edges on the pantry shelves to keep items from falling off.
- The doors of a pantry can also have shelves. Build the inside pantry shelves where they will mesh with the door shelves when they are closed.
- Add a shelf just for cookbooks. Organize the cookbooks in some way.
- Some people like open shelves. That is nice and saves time when everything is visible. Consider painting a pegboard a bright color to match your home and hang pots and pans on it. The main thing is to keep everything tidy and neat when you have open shelves.
- With open shelves, it is nice to put as much as you can in jars and have decorative lids or the jars themselves can be decorative.
- Have a decorative bread box for your bread.
- In a larger pantry, you can store large appliances such as a food processor or blender or bread machine. You can store extra silverware and extra plates. Make a rack for plates and for glasses.
- Plan the pantry for the person who uses it most often.
Find an area in your home where you can have your own pantry. Remember to tailor your storage space to suit your family’s needs.