5 pantry organization techniques
December 18, 2017 5:44 pm
Although I'm perfectly at home with organizing, I'm still working hard on my English. So please excuse any grammatical errors :)
“L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux.” – What is essential is invisible to the eye. The Little Prince’s best line, which has always inspired me.
Organizing where you cannot usually see might feel like wasting time for busy people like you. But it’s amazing how much better you feel after the transformation. And as a bonus, you might receive a lot of “wow!” comments from your house guests when they happen to come across these hidden areas. Follow these 5 techniques for kitchen pantry organization, and you can miraculously transform your pantry into an organized and beautiful space that you love.
1) Put pantry food in same kind of containers as much as possible
This will not only save storage space in your pantry but also make the inside shelves look much cleaner. The key to this is to carefully choose the container size based on how much quantity of each food you usually store. Otherwise, you will end up refilling the containers all the time, or wasting a lot of storage space inside the containers.
Here is how I usually store pantry food:
I love to put my spices and dry herbs into small uniform jars. I used to own 2 rotating spice racks, which 10 years ago was one of my dreams to have. But years after my humble dream came true, I started to realize that it was taking up a lot of precious kitchen counter space. So I ditched the rotating organizers but kept the individual jar bottles, and lined them up on the kitchen counter edges next to the wall, which was a perfect size. Eventually, I moved them to a dedicated spice shelve I built, which is not only compact but also a good kitchen decor display!
Round Spice Containers
For mixed spices such as “Chai”, “Herb de province” etc., I re-used round tea containers from David’s Tea and put magnets behind each container, lining them up on the side of the fridge. Similar containers are sold in stores like “Bed Bath and Beyond” but I find them a bit expensive if I would but one for each spice.
Baby Formula Containers
Metal baby formula containers are great for items like shell pasta, sugar, etc. They are easy to open as the cover is made with a rubber-like plastic material, and the opening is very wide for scooping. You can also use coffee bean metal containers for this.
For foods that come in large quantities such as rice, all purpose flour, etc., I use 5 litre tall plastic containers from Kitchen Stuff and Plus. I love how much food they can store inside, and they also seal pretty well. I like to store a rice measuring cup inside the container for easy access, which also saves storage space for the cup itself.
2) I love mason jars! A best friend for organizing
I love using mason jars for storing almost everything. Especially in the kitchen pantry, where they are perfect as they are cheap and sold with several different size options. The jar openings are either wide or regular according to the jar sizes, which is practical for putting in or taking out food. For example, I store cookies in a largest 1 gallon mason jar with a wide opening, so we can put our hands through it and grab them easily. We can also purchase extra metal or plastic tops separately, which are very helpful in case the metal parts get rusted from the stored food acidity. From my experience, salt and baking soda are better stored with plastic tops.
Here is the list of the items I store in mason jars in my pantry:
Regular 500ml jars: Cooking ingredients like baking powder, salt, corn starch, etc. which we frequently use and don’t require big containers.
Regular 1 litre jars: Food items that require a bit bigger storage, such as brown sugar, orzo rice, bread crumbs, etc.
Wide mouth 1.9 litre jars : Cookies, rice crackers, cereals, etc. Everything that requires huge containers. Mason jars seal food pretty well, so items like rice crackers can last much longer with a metal top that when stored in their original containers.
3) Make Uniform Labels
After putting food into proper containers, it’s time for labeling them. It’s my favorite part!
If you have a fancy label maker, go for it. But I usually make labels with white labeling stickers from the dollar store and hand-write names with a black marker. after you put it on the jar, seal it with scotch tape on top so that it won’t come off easily.
Here is a little trick that I’d like to share with you: If there is any additional information for the usage, write them on the labels. For example, I often use Japanese ingredients, so I write the names in both Japanese and English. In this way, I don’t have to Google the translation when I have to go buy the refill. I also add cooking minutes for pasta containers so that I don’t have to check it online all the time. It’s very practical when running out of time for meal preparation. These small additional tricks will save quite some time at the end of the day!
4) Adjust shelf heights. Stagger jars
In order to store as many items as possible in your pantry, and at the same time, not to compromise the accessibility, it’s nice to have staggered display bases, something like this cabinet organizer. You can usually find them at stores that sell kitchen items. (I purchased mine at Kitchen Stuff Plus.) I also made one with cardboard boxes, and one with scrap wood. DIYing them is quite easy, cheap, and I can make it with perfect dimensions. So if you have some free time, I’d recommend making on your own.
Here is one important thing when you are deciding the size of the organizer. Pay attention to save enough distance between the top of the highest jar and the shelf height. This is because you have to grab and lift a jar from the back of the storage, and bring toward you in order to use them. If there isn’t enough space between, you will end up taking out many jars and putting them all back every time you use them, which would be a big headache!
5) Make a designated space for all the pantry items
I have introduced several pantry organizing methods above, but do we have to store everything in particular containers? The answer is, of course not! The items that you won’t use frequently in the pantry, or don’t practically fit any of the containers, or you just simply want to have it as is, just keep them in the store packages. What is important is to make a designated area for each items, organized by the food categories.
Organizing categorized items in wicker baskets or crate boxes is a great way to go, as the natural texture always feels better and aesthetically pleasant whenever you see them. For example, I have a wicker basket for bread and chips which I purchased in Japan at $3. I like the size and shape of it. Also, I recently replaced Dollarama’s plastic containers to baskets made with water hyacinth from the Canadian Tire CANVAS series, which come with chalkboard labeling tags. I find it very stylish and practical. So I purchased in bulk for my clients. I labeled one with “Baking” to store items such as food colouring, cupcake decoration, etc., “Dry Food” for Asian rice paper, dry noodle etc.
Now, are you ready to dive in to your pantry? It isn’t hard. You just need a little bit of patience for some measuring and a quick run to a kitchen item store.
Tags: kitchen, organizing, techniques
Filed under: Organization