The kitchen is often referred to as the heart and soul of your home and for good reason. It’s where we start our mornings, where we gather for family dinners, and where we unwind with a nice cup of tea at the end of a long day. If you’re an avid cook or baker, you know the importance of an organized kitchen. Yet sometimes, life gets in the way and our kitchen transforms into a bit of a chaotic mess. As time continues to pass, we forget what we have buried in the back of corners and restock unnecessarily. Instead of wasting food, and time, we’re here to help you organize your kitchen cupboards and pantry like a pro.
Make a Mess
The first step to organizing your kitchen cupboards and pantry is to do something that may seem counterproductive at first—make a mess. Take absolutely everything out and put it on your counter tops or kitchen table. If you don’t plan on moving things that were in the pantry to cupboards or vice versa, you can do one at a time. However, we recommend tackling it all at once to give you the best opportunity for optimal organization. Recruit your partner or kids for this process and make sure you set aside enough time so that you can actually put things away.
Once you’ve taken everything out and efficiently created a chaotic mess in your kitchen, get out your cleaning supplies. This is the best chance you’ll get to do a thorough, deep clean in all of those hard to reach spaces. Wipe down shelves and scrub away stains before moving on to organization. If you want to go the extra mile, pick up some shelf liners to protect your cupboards and make cleanup a breeze.
Check Your Food
Now that you have everything out of your pantry and cupboards, go through the food. Check expirations dates and toss whatever is bad. You’d be surprised at what you might find deep in the darkest corner of your pantry. Please don’t try and donate expired food, but if you have things in surplus or that you know you won’t eat, create a donation pile to take to a shelter or local food bank. As a general rule of thumb, if you’ve had something for about a year or two and haven’t used it, you probably never will. Instead, give it to someone who will.
Consider Clear Containers
This is an optional step for people who want to go above and beyond kitchen organization. However, it makes a huge difference in staying organized and making sure that you always have enough of your favorite things. To utilize this step, opt for clear containers with vacuum-sealed lids to put your bulky food items like rice, grains, flour, baking ingredients, nuts, and cereal. Use clear bins for individually packaged snacks so you can immediately recycle the box and always see what’s in inventory. If you don’t want to spend a bunch of money on a new set of containers, check to see if you have any mason jars lying around. They’re a great alternative to other store-bought containers.
If you’re emptying all of your kitchen cupboards – including the ones that have plates, cups, pots, pants, etc – then you need to create zones. Zoning will help you organize a kitchen that’s efficient and runs smoothly, regardless of what you’re doing. Start in your pantry. Divide it into zones based on categories that fit your lifestyle. If you have kids, you might opt for a zone with all of their snacks. If you’re an avid baker, create a section that is strictly for baking ingredients. Create something that works with your life and don’t be afraid to change things up if it doesn’t go as planned. Some zone ideas include:
This is where you’ll put all of your party supplies. Napkins, some trays and serving baskets, small plastic or paper plates, and toothpicks are a good place to start. Then add a couple food-items that you know how to quickly whip up for appetizers. This makes party hosting fun and easy.
This zone is self-explanatory. Put all of your baking supplies in one area to make a trip to your pantry a breeze. Consider the clear bins like we discussed before, or stick with an easier method for now and keep them in their original containers. Don’t forget to add your sprinkles, icing, and cupcake papers!
Like many of us, you probably have a pretty hectic schedule. Make it easy on yourself and create a zone that has all of the ingredients you need for a fast, easy, home-cooked meal during the week. Label things and consider getting baskets to divide ingredients by meal for an even easier set up.
If you have stand-alone canned goods, create a zone for them. You can further separate that zone into categories like vegetables, fruits, beans, sauces, etc. Stack things on top of each other in the back row if you have doubles so you can easily see everything without having to pick up all the cans.
Oatmeal, cereal, and other non-perishable breakfast items deserve their own zone. Create a space that’s easy for everyone in your household to access and you’ll make fast breakfasts easier than ever.
If there are appliances or baking supplies that you don’t use regularly, create a zone in the pantry for them too. Since you don’t always use these things, this zone can be in an area that’s a bit more tedious to access. If you have large appliances that never seem to be used, consider transferring them to your self storage unit to free up more usable space in your home. To make sure your shelves stay stable, store heavy and bulky items on the floor.
Sort by Food Group
After you’ve created your zones, sort the rest of your food by their respective groups—similarly to your canned goods zone. Put vitamins together, snacks in one place, and any other groupings that you commonly use. Again, the whole point of organizing your kitchen cupboards and pantry is to make your life easier, so find something that works for you and stick with it.
Don’t be Afraid to Label
We love labeling! It is the easiest way to keep things organized for weeks, maybe even months, after you’ve done the heavy lifting. Label any bins, boxes, or containers with what’s inside. Consider getting a chalkboard label so you can change things out and make your labels easy for your family to see.
Put Things at Eye Level
In your pantry and cupboard, put whatever you use most often at eye level. This makes getting things out and putting them away easy and straightforward. If you’re trying to eat healthier, put the healthy snacks at eye level in your pantry. This way, when you open the doors, you’ll be greeted with healthy options instead of cookies or pastries.
As you’re putting non-food things away in your kitchen cupboards, consider how your space is used. Just like you created zones for your food items, you should create zones for your cups, plates, appliances, and utensils. Put pots and pans close to the oven or stove and cups and plates near the dishwasher. It’s important to experiment with this and find something that works best for how you use your kitchen. Once you find something that works, it will be a huge breath of fresh air.
Once you’ve gotten everything put away, you’ll feel relieved and accomplished. You’ve successfully organized your kitchen! However, since you’re constantly using things, you’ll need to continually assess your inventory and stay committed to your organization. Doing this weekly helps you utilize ingredients you have, make more accurate lists, and keeps things clean and stress free for longer.
During the process of organizing your kitchen, create a pile of things that you don’t use frequently. Things like a once-used deep fryer or holiday dishes don’t need to stay in your cabinets year round. Instead, opt for a self storage unit like the ones at The Lock Up Self Storage. All of our units are secure, affordable, and come equipped with climate control. No matter what your storage needs may be you’ll find a solution at The Lock Up. For more information on our available storage units, you can find a location near you or contact us for any specific questions on how we can help.