Take everything out.
Categorise as you go. For example, baking, tinned foods, nuts, cereals, sweet treats. Make little piles on your kitchen bench or floor. Throw everything that is out of date straight into the bin or compost.
Wipe the shelves. Goodbye turmeric stains. Be gone, spilled cereal and oily spots! Seal opened packs to prevent further messes. Howards has great packet sealers, or you can just roll down the top of the pack and use an elastic band or ziplock bag
Think about the categories you access most regularly and put them in the prime real estate of the pantry – between waist and eye level. Place lesser-used categories and items further away from centre stage.
Put your categories into clear or bamboo drawers and/or wire baskets, to suit their volume. Corners can be nicely utilised with Lazy Susan Turntables (iDesign Linus Lazy Susan Turntable Diameter 28cm), which work well for condiments and spices. Meanwhile tiered shelves make items more visible and extendable shelf risers make good use of space. (Howards Extendable Cabinet Shelf)
Decant bulk items into clear containers to prevent insects and maintain freshness. (Felli Flip-Tite Food Storage Container Rectangular) Keep a record of ingredients and use-by dates by cutting them off the pack and taping to the rear of the container. Overflow/bulk of these staples can be stored in one larger tub at the bottom of the pantry. (Howards Aamina Easy Access Storers) Or pop each pack in a ziplock bag behind the corresponding containers for easy refill.
Label not just the containers but the zones themselves. We all get lazy if there aren’t reminders to keep us on track. Howards has loads of labelling options or you can make your own. Masking tape and neat handwriting will get the job done.
Look at the tallest item on each shelf and reduce shelf heights to maximise capacity. No point having a whole lot of space between shelves. While you are there, flip any shelves which have bowed and sagged from years of weight-bearing.
Turn all product labels to the front and give your rows a bit of breathing space rather than jamming everything in tight. You don’t want to be playing Jenga every time you pull out a tin of beans.
If you have children, you could assign them an accessible area with a curated selection of snacks for grazing or school lunches. Likewise, store your own special treats out of sight and away from little fingers.
Reserve your lower shelves for bulk and heavy items. Put lesser-used appliances and plastics higher up. Ensure you have a step handy, so you aren’t tempted to pull out a rickety chair when you need something.
If the pantry floor is available as a storage space, try and avoid using it. Tempting as it is, the floor attracts dust, crumbs and pet hair, and needs the regular attention of a broom and mop. It’s not the ideal spot for your food processor.
Don’t be afraid to tweak your layout a couple of times. Practice makes perfect!
Some people like to categorise according to meals. For example, a frequent bolognaise maker might store their pasta, tomato sauce and dried oregano all together in one wire basket.
Set yourself a challenge to use up certain foods which are niche, in excess or close to use-by date. This is great for minimising waste and expenditure while tidying your pantry at the same time. Things you don’t plan on using any time soon can be donated to local charities or Facebook groups.
Be sure to check your bulk items or big storage tub before each grocery shop, to avoid over-purchasing and food waste.
Do you store your plastic containers in your pantry? Lids-on versus lids-off divides opinions. I like mine on because it’s super-fast for access, but admittedly it’s a space-hungry option. If you need to store your lids separately, file them upright next to the nested containers, preferably in a box to keep them tidy.
Rather than constantly topping up your decanted staples, make sure the container is empty before refilling. Rotate all your consumables this way to minimise spoilage.
Maintain order by adhering to your zones and adjusting the layout if you need to. Future tidies will be super-quick if things stay reasonably organised.