How to Organize Your Pantry and Save Cash
The cost of groceries is increasing, and many consumers are on the hunt for better, more efficient ways to save and cut down on their monthly food expenses. While researching sales between retailers and clipping coupons can certainly help, there is a good chance you’ll get the most savings by first clearing out your current food pantry and cabinets.
Too often consumers with disorganized cabinets and pantries overspend simply because they can’t find anything. They buy excess amounts of stuff they already have. Here are some organization tips that everyone should use to sort out the pantry and make you more effective at grocery shopping. (See also: How to Grocery Shop for Five on $100 a Week)
Hunt and Gather
Start by clearing your kitchen table, then opening all of your food cabinets and removing everything from the shelves. As you remove items, try grouping them on the table in categories such as baking supplies, soups, and condiments.
Check the Dates
Keep a trash bag and an empty box nearby. As you remove items, check expiration dates and toss the bad stuff. When you find items you know you will never use, put them in a donation box, provided you have never opened/used the items. This box can later go to a local food pantry, soup kitchen, or church organization.
Since your food pantry and cabinets likely do not get cleaned weekly, make the most of the empty shelves. Clean and disinfect them thoroughly. Add some grip liner to keep items in place after the space has adequate time to dry.
Make an Inventory
With everything spread out before you, consider the pantry priorities. The things you use most should be placed at a convenient location so you can see immediately when you are running low.
If you are not living the single life and fear others will mess up your organization efforts, use a labeler or colored tape to designate where things can go. Make categories somewhat generic such as condiments or snacks so as not to micro-organize yourself out of space.
Eliminate the Mess
If you store bags of sugar, sacks of flour, and boxes of cereal, invest in some air-tight canisters. Not only will they help in organization and space-saving, you will also help eliminate the attraction of pests. Don’t forget to purchase containers that are in line with the height and width of your shelving space.
Tier It Up
In order to make it easier to see in the back of the cabinets that go three or four rows deep, insert scrap wood or other items from your home that could serve as tiers, boosting the height of the canned goods and other items in the back row, so you can see everything easily at one time without having to rifle through the rows of items.
Extra grocery items should be stored up and out of the way. Make a list of how many extra jars of peanut butter you have found. By recording the extras and taping the list inside the pantry door, you’ll know right away if you have something you need, even if you can’t see it right away. Similarly, if you purchase items in bulk, consider another storage area that is out of the way so your pantry is less cluttered and easier to manage.
Spices and smaller items can be stored in a plastic tote or basket so you can remove the whole thing when you need something.
Also, consider putting items in categories by expiration dates. Put stuff you need to use first in the front, so you can stop having to toss food out after it expires.
Install a Dry Erase Board
Pick up a dry erase board at the dollar store, and install it inside the pantry or on the back of the cabinet door. When you take the last of something, make a note of it so you can keep your grocery list more accurate, and likely shorter.
Going forward, your pantry and your refrigerator should ideally be free of clutter, kept clean, and regularly organized so that any time you need to, you can glance at the shelves and know immediately what you need and what you don’t.
And don’t forget to drop off that donation box at the local food pantry or soup kitchen. What you don’t use or don’t like will be appreciated by those who receive it.