Q. It doesn’t matter how many times I reorganize and label my pantry shelves. The pantry is always a disaster. Do you have any advice on how to keep a pantry looking tidy?
A. Pantries are notorious for being a disorganized mess despite our best efforts to keep them clean. Unlike a bedroom closet or a nightstand drawer, the pantry is used by all members of the family. Husbands and kids can wreak havoc on our best attempts to have a “Martha” looking pantry. That said, here are some tips to help sort out the chaos.
In your kitchen cabinet or pantry, use S hooks to hold an inventory list — so you know what you have, as well as how much you paid per unit, for the sake of future comparison shopping. The hooks can also keep other necessities handy: scissors and a box cutter for opening packages, a funnel for decanting liquids, and a scoop for dry goods.
Retrieving a jar of honey from the back of a crowded pantry can be awkward. For a simple fix, gather the small items you store on the shelf onto a spare baking tray, then treat it like a drawer, carefully sliding it in and out for easy access. The pan will also catch drips, speeding cleanup.
Use canisters to hold dry goods such as flour and sugar, and label them with their contents. Small items, such as teabags, dried fruit or bouillon, should go into small plastic bins or baskets. If you are so inspired you can buy baskets or colored bins, or you can simply find plastic containers.
Put spices on a lazy Susan on a shelf or a wall-mounted rack on the inside of your pantry door.
Group like items together: pastas, rice and lentils on one shelf; canned vegetables on another, keeping all the cans of crushed tomatoes, black beans and so on in a row (newer ones in back).
Put all your dried goods in glass or clear containers. Label them. This will not only get rid of clutter but it will also make your pantry look pretty.
If you follow those few simple guidelines and make an effort to tidy up the pantry on a weekly basis it won’t become a disaster zone.