Okay! So now that you’ve found your pantry space, I’m sure you want to get it organized! Not so fast, though! We’ll start organizing next week, but first we need to figure out what should fill it. Once you know what you want in your pantry, you can adjust your shelves to accommodate the height of the items you will store. Then you can start filling the shelves!
So what should go in a pantry? Well, it really depends upon how much space you were able to find.
You might consider:
- Non-perishable foods – pasta, rice, beans, canned goods, chips, crackers, and snack foods, cereals, overstock of sugars, flour, salt, baking soda, unopened yeast, beverage mixes, coffee beans/grounds, oils, cooking spray, unopened bottles of salad dressing, seasonings and herbs, vinegars, sodas, mixers, bottled fruit juice… you get the idea. Pretty much anything that does not require refrigeration and has a long shelf life. We don’t store anything down there that has the seal broken, since our pantry is nowhere near the kitchen. We stock our kitchen food cupboards with open packages and the food we need for the given shopping week, and leave everything else in the pantry. By doing this, we have only one lower cabinet and one upper cabinet in the kitchen devoted to food – leaving lots of other cabinet space for dishes, appliances, etc.
- Large or infrequently used cookware – roasting pans, buckets for brining, baskets for berry/apple picking,
- Party sized platters, bowls, pitchers, and punch bowls
- Extra baggies and wraps – snack, sandwich, quart, gallon bags, and trash bags for each size trash can you have; plastic wrap, foil, parchment paper, wax paper, freezer paper… whatever you use
- A vacuum sealer and bags
- Paper products – napkins, paper towels, even toilet tissue and facial tissues could go here, if you have enough room
- Disposable dinnerware – plates, bowls, platters, plastic forks, knives, and spoons, styrofoam and plastic cups
- Disposable storage containers – I like to keep sour cream containers, margarine tubs, deli meat containers, and foil pans on hand for when we need to deliver a meal to someone else – then there are no dishes to return!
- Table linens – extra table cloths or placemats
- Canning jars and supplies, if you do any canning or preserving
- Cleaning supplies – especially if you buy in bulk
Once you know what you would like to keep in your pantry, you can adjust shelves to the right height and begin to think about what can contain and bring order to the items you want to put in there.
If it’s not organized and contained, you may end up discouraged by the clutter and wasting a lot of food because you simply cannot find it before it expires (yes, non-perishable foods do eventually “perish”).
Next week we’ll begin the task of bringing order to this space and thinking about how to make your pantry use efficient and cost effective.