Although not many people are given the chance to step into a restaurant kitchen, the few who are allowed to do so will always leave the area impressed by one thing: how organized and tidy the pantry is.
Even if these dining establishments receive wholesale food supplies on a daily basis, their pantries will always have room for these items, and they never look messy.
The good news is you can also have an organized pantry that can rival the ones found in restaurant and commercial kitchens. There is no rocket science involved in doing this; all you need is commitment to put in the effort and remembering to avoid the common mistakes you may have been doing when organizing your pantry.
Mistake #1: Storing non-kitchen items in the pantry
Keeping your cleaning supplies in the pantry is alright, especially if you don’t have a lot of cabinets in the kitchen.
But if your pantry is full of these items, and your mop and vacuum cleaner are stored side by side with your pots and pans, then you are not using your larder properly. You will have a messy larder that you won’t be able to safely use for storing your food products as well.
The first step to having a restaurant-like pantry is to remove large non-kitchen items from your pantry and store them in another place. Next, move on to the smaller items which include your cleaning supplies. If you can’t place certain items under the sink, make use of an un-utilized area in your pantry: the door.
Install door hooks on the pantry door and use them for hanging up your mop and dust buster. If you have found a separate place for your cleaning implements (which is ideal), you can hang some of your pots and pans on these hooks instead.
Mistake #2: Not creating zones
A pantry that does not have any storage system will really look untidy. In addition, a messy and disorderly one will give you a harder time looking for what you need.
Once you’re ready to organize your larder, divide the shelves or drawers into zones. Next, group the food items according to each type: snacks, spices, baking supplies, beverages, canned goods, pasta, grains, etc. Assign a zone for each type of food or groups you always have in your pantry.
If there is plenty of space on one shelf, you can divide it into two zones for two different supply groups. Use a shelf divider to create a noticeable boundary between the two groups to avoid mixing them up as doing so will cause your pantry to become disorganized again.
Mistake #3: Failing to put labels
Putting labels on your shelves and drawers is one of the best ways you can maintain an organized pantry. This will help you and the other members of your household avoid misplacing items that are newly-bought or have to be returned.
If you are using food containers to store cereals, cookies, spices, and other items, don’t forget to label them, too. By doing so, you will avoid a lot of unsavory accidents such as putting salt instead of sugar in your coffee.
Mistake #4: Keeping everything in its original packaging
Boxed foods make it easy for anyone to find what exactly they are looking for. However, they are bulky and will eat a lot of space on your shelves.
As such, before storing items in your pantry, discard the boxes and transfer the contents into clear sealed containers to keep them fresh. Remember to label these containers properly and place them in the right zones as well.
This is a trick that people in charge of restaurant pantries practice. Aside from discarding the boxes, they remove the overwrap of paper towels and packaged sodas and wholesale bottled water since they are easier to stack individually. They won’t take up a lot of space, too.
Mistake #5: Not having a pantry inventory
Although this means some additional work on your part, the effort you will put into this will help you a lot in the long run.
When you have an inventory of all the items you have in your pantry, you will know immediately which ones you still have plenty of and which ones to buy on your next grocery run. And when you know the specific supplies to buy and how much or how many to get, you won’t buy unnecessary duplicates and, hence, save some money.
To create a pantry inventory, you can download an app or use the pen-and-paper method.
Mistake #6: Keeping products until they expire or run out
If you’re in the process of organizing your pantry, check the expiration dates of the products that are still in their original packaging. In addition, schedule a date every two months to look at what’s in stock and to throw away the products that have expired or gone bad.
You will also do well to take note of the expiration dates of the food items you are transferring into food containers or jars. Include them in your pantry inventory. By doing so, you won’t have to guess if a particular item has already expired or if it’s still safe to use.
This is something that you have to do if items that have a short shelf life are not used or eaten often or consumed immediately.
Mistake #7: Not cleaning and de-cluttering your pantry regularly
Since you store mostly food products in your pantry, you should always keep it clean. Vacuum the floor, dust the shelves, and wipe the food containers regularly.
By keeping a clean pantry, you will prevent the possible intrusion of pests in this area of your home.
While cleaning your pantry, take note of the items you can give or throw away. Get rid of items that have already expired. In case there are some packs of candies or snacks your kids haven’t touched in the last three months, consider giving them away as well.
When you declutter your pantry frequently, you will always have enough space for all your kitchen and cooking staples.
Mistake #8: Failing to establish pantry rules
After spending several hours organizing your pantry, the last thing you want to happen is to see all the items out of place again simply because your kids rummaged through them to look for a snack.
You can prevent this from happening by setting clear-cut pantry rules. These should include:
- Putting an item they took back to the place where it was previously placed.
- Following the labels regarding the grouping of food items if they are in charge of storing newly-bought groceries.
- Cleaning spilled food or liquids on the counters and/or on the floor immediately.
To ensure everyone follows these rules, print them out and place them on the pantry door.
To have a pantry that will impress even professional chefs and restaurateurs, avoid the mistakes above and take note of these useful larder organizing tips.