An Organized Pantry Takes The Stress Out Of Meal Preparation

Pantry staples are the basis for most of the meals you prepare, especially during the week. Keeping your pantry organized not only makes it easier to create meals, but it also helps you save money by not buying grocery items you already have.

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If you haven’t taken stock of the items in your pantry in a while, it may be time for a look-see. Here are five tips you can use to get even the most disorganized pantry back into shape:

  1. Group similar items together. Choose one method for categorizing, such as brand name, or type of food (vegetable, starch, etc.), and organize all like products together on one part of a shelf. Arranging by group makes it easier for you to gather all the elements you need to create a dish, and it also helps you keep track of what you have on hand and what needs to be replaced.
  2. Place items on the shelves facing front. The labels on cans and jars should be visible when you scan a shelf. In addition, line up boxes so that the spine can be easily read. Being able to quickly read a label or box helps you save time and money because you can find things faster, and you can keep better track of your stock.
  3. Keep regularly used arms out in front. Stack items you use everyday in a location that is easily accessible. Otherwise, you will waste valuable time removing and re-shelving items that are blocking what you need.
  4. Use space savers. There are many products on the market, like wire racks that fit on a shelf on which items can be stacked, or plastic containers with lids to store loose items, that will allow you to maximize space even in the smallest of pantries. You can find these items in home improvement stores, as well as at Target and Wal-Mart.
  5. Rotate the items on your shelves. Whenever you put new items on your pantry shelf, and there are similar types of products already there, be sure to put the new items behind the old ones. In that way, you’ll always know you’re using the older products up before using those that have been purchased more recently.

    Periodically check expiration dates; if something is within a couple of weeks of reaching its expiration date, use it as soon as possible to ensure that it will retain the proper flavor, and more importantly, that you don’t serve food contaminated with botulism.

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