Today we are peeking inside another well loved food blogger’s kitchen to see how she organizes her pantry.
Lana Stuart is a southern cook and the face behind the blog, Never Enough Thyme. She grew up in a large family surrounded by wonderful cooks where she learned the art of southern cuisine. While the recipes Lana shares are not strictly traditional and updated Southern recipes, she quite frequently includes other family friendly unique dishes her family enjoys .
Among my family and friends I’m know as a bit of a neat freak. An organizer. An arranger. I have a very hard time tolerating disorder. I arrange my closet by color, sleeve length, and season. I even order the different cheeses in a basket in the refrigerator by hard, soft, and semi-soft. So, could someone please explain to me how this happened?
I can’t remember how long it had been since I last de-cluttered and organized my pantry. Because I cook a lot (that’s an understatement) and because the holidays are so hectic, I think that at some point it just became easier to shut the doors and ignore the mess. Very unlike me. I knew this had to be remedied and with help from my wonderful husband, I enthusiastically went for it!
The first step in organizing your pantry is to remove everything. I mean every single little thing. While you’re removing items, that’s a great time to check for anything that is past its expiration date.
I know it feels like you’re wasting money throwing away food, but just toss it and don’t look back.
With the pantry empty, that’s your opportunity to give it a good cleaning. Wipe down the shelves and the walls and mop the floor.
Now take a good look at what you’ll put back in the pantry. The overall way I organize mine is in two zones. One zone is for what I call “in-and-out” items. Those are items that you use and put back. For example, bread, chips, peanut butter, flour, and cereal. You take those containers out, use what you need and place them back in the pantry. These items go in the front and center area of the pantry. The second zone is for storage items. Storage items are things like jars of mayonnaise and cans of vegetables. Once you remove them from the pantry they typically go elsewhere, like the fridge or into a recipe, and don’t come back to the pantry. Storage items go on the top shelf and all around the sides of the pantry.
Once you’ve decided which items go in which zones, start placing them back on the shelves with your most frequently used items in the easiest to reach spots.
As far as containers go, I like to use things that I have on hand. Canning jars and decorative baskets look quite attractive in the pantry. You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on 30 perfectly matched containers to have an organized pantry.
A few tips to keep in mind –
Protect delicate items. I had several ziptop bags with delicate sugar flowers that were slowly becoming sugar dust from being bumped around. I placed those in a small glass jar for better protection.
Group like items. This may seem obvious, but put all the similar items together. All the pasta stacked neatly in its boxes, all the pickles and cans together.
Consolidate where possible. I found at least 10 partial bags of chocolate chips when I was cleaning out. Consolidating those into jars took up a lot less space than all those little bags.
Use containers to group unwieldy items. Items such as bags of dried beans and rice are particularly difficult to stack. Corral them in a pretty basket or box.
Remember, many food items are best stored in their original packaging. Not everything needs to be decanted into a pretty container before it goes into your pantry. There are really smart packaging engineers who spend their entire careers figuring out how to best package food for freshness and transportability. Trust them.
Having said that, however, if you live in a warm, humid climate, you may need to store certain insect attracting ingredients in closed glass containers. In the South, we pay particular attention to storing grits, cornmeal, and sugar. A pantry full of ants is no fun whatsoever to deal with. I speak from experience.
The one thing that I did purchase for my pantry organization was several nice storage containers for flour. They were not terribly expensive and are turning out to be very convenient.
My pantry organizing project didn’t take that long to finish and it was more than worth the effort. It’s so nice to open the pantry doors and have whatever I need right at my fingertips. No more searching through a jumbled, cluttered pantry!
More food bloggers share Kitchen Organization
Lana Stuart is the cook and author behind the Never Enough Thyme blog. She grew up in a tiny, rural Southern town, a member of a large family of excellent traditional cooks. It was there, surrounded by those wonderful cooks, that she learned to love and appreciate Southern cuisine. Many of the recipes featured on the blog reflect the culture and time in which the author grew up and occasionally offer glimpses into the simpler lifestyle of her childhood.