1. Arrange items in your pantry by group, not by size.
Here are some common groupings:
- Cans of beans and soups
- Bags of snack foods
- Bottles of oils and vinegar
- Jars of spices
- Boxes of grains (rice, cereal, pasta)
Not only will this look logical in your pantry, it makes sense for cooking, too.
I have a vinegar group which includes: champagne, apple cider, balsamic, rice wine. To that mix I've added white cooking wine, olive and grape oil, and an olive oil spray. The bottles vary in height and width, but now when I want to make a salad dressing, everything I need is occupying the same space in my pantry.
2. Then, arrange items at the right height in your pantry.
First, keep the items you use most regularly in your prime pantry real estate. This means the space between your shoulders and knees. It's easier to reach and easier to put back after use.
I recommend items you buy in bulk be stored in the bottom of the pantry (because these items are typically heavy), snacks be up top so you have to reach for them, and spices at eye-level.
3. A note on grains...
I asked my friend Ryan McGinn Allen, a certified health coach, how long you can keep grains in the pantry without going bad. "A long time as long as they're properly stored," says McGinn Allen.
Tip: McGinn Allen recommends buying whole grains and dried beans at health food stores or Whole Foods where there's higher turnover for these types of products. "In other words," she says, "buy grains where other people who buy grains would shop. You don't want to buy grains and beans that have been sitting in a bulk bin at the super market for 3 months before they sit in your pantry. Also, buy enough to fill a large Mason jar and buy more frequently instead of buying and storing large bags (unless you have room for some small, furry visitors)."
As for spices, a good rule of thumb is a year and then toss 'em.
Next step in pantry organization is to start choosing storage solutions. I'll show you how: How to Choose Pantry Storage Solutions
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