By Jenni Wolf
Keeping a tidy, organized pantry can be key to reaching your health and wellness goals, whether they are related to cooking more at home, saving money or increasing balance and variety in your food choices.
And what better time to reorganize your pantry than at the start of the New Year? Read on below for some tips to help revamp your pantry situation in the new year.
• Start fresh. Take everything out of your space. Make three piles: 1) keep, 2) donate and 3) toss. Many organizations welcome and need food donations year-round. But also, don’t forget about your lovely Como neighbors—my friend passed off a box of granola bars her family didn’t care for, but thought I might enjoy, just the other day! Also, I use the general rule: If an item has been in my pantry for a year, I donate or toss. Even if it’s not expired—it’s probably unlikely I’ll use it if I haven’t already.
• Take advantage of “Prime Real Estate.” My favorite piece of kitchen organization advice to give! Identify the areas in your pantry and cupboards that are the easiest to access and the most visible. Designate these areas to your most used items—think daily use like go-to snacks and breakfast options. If you have an item you totally forgot about or need to use up (say that box of crackers that got pushed to the back), relocate it to a prime, front-and-center spot.
• Put your pantry to work. Shelves are a good place to start—adjust the height of shelves to fit taller items in one spot and shorter items in another so that no space is wasted. Add in bins to create zones—I use clear plastic bins to hold granola and protein bars for a snack “zone” and another to corral all of my grain choices like rice, quinoa and pasta. Lazy Susans and shelf risers are other inexpensive investments that can really help make your pantry work for you.
• Decant and declutter. Packaging such as boxes and bags can take up significant space and make a pantry feel cluttered. Instead, remove the item from the box and store it in its bag. Or, take it a step further and decant the item into a storage container—I really like good ol’ mason jars or Oxo brand containers for their tight seal.
• Don’t overcrowd. If you’re a person who likes to shop in bulk, I recommend keeping one or two of an item in your daily pantry space and the rest (halloo—10 more cans of Costco diced tomatoes) in a backstock pantry space somewhere else in your home.
Applying these tips will help keep your pantry items organized, visible and easy to use. All of these tips will make it easier to cook and eat at home, reduce food waste and spending and prepare tasty and healthy food!
Jenni Wolf lives in the Como neighborhood and is a practicing, registered dietitian who is passionate about helping others nourish a positive and balanced relationship with food.