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A well-stocked pantry that keeps food essentials on hand, be it for a weeknight dinner or just to satisfy those midnight munchies, is key. But pantries can also be a site of chaos, especially if you have limited space. And since they’re used to store so many different things, it can be hard to tell what you have on hand, leading to expired foods or unexpectedly running low on your favorite snacks.
An organized pantry will make your life a whole lot easier. You'll be able to find your ingredients faster and keep track of inventory. And it’ll look tidier to boot. Yahoo Life talked to a few organization experts, and the first thing they all said? Take everything out.
“As you bring items out, discard anything that has expired or that you have not used in quite some time and likely won’t ever end up using,” said Marissa Hagmeyer, co-founder of the NEAT Method, a home organizing company. “This will free up space and allow you to effectively organize the items worth keeping."
Scroll for eight products that'll get your pantry in shipshape (and keep it that way).
According to Rachel Rosenthal, founder and organizing expert of Rachel and Company, creating categories will help streamline your pantry. “Choose a category per shelf (ie. cans, baking foods), categorize, and then store accordingly,” she said.
The way to organizational bliss? Storage baskets. Rosenthal recommends these steel beauties with ash handles from Yamazaki Home. Scandinavian-inspired, they're sturdy and chic and allow you to see what's inside.
Clear plastic bins are another great solution. “Using bins...helps keep similar items grouped together,” said Rosenthal. These BPA-free options have handles for easy maneuvering. Use them to stash dry goods, seltzer cans, drink boxes, the works.
Rosenthal also recommends a shelf riser so you can view and access your stuff easier. This expandable organizer from iDesign is particularly useful because it can be used for spices, cooking oils, condiments and more. It has three tiers and expands up to 26 inches to help make the most of unused space.
Make food easily accessible
If spices fall out every time you open the pantry door, this one's for you — it rotates, so lets you keep everything accessible. “When it is difficult to see what you have on hand, it leads to developing a good amount of wasted products because you don’t know where something is when you need it,” said Rosenthal.
A lazy Susan is especially ideal if you have deep shelves. Use it for items you reach for often, like cooking oils and condiments. The open design keeps goods visible while the raised edges prevent them from falling out.
Get the right containers
Of course, we can’t talk about pantry organization without talking about containers. “Containers are the key to keeping your categories in their zones,” said Hagmeyer. The aforementioned baskets are ideal for groups of similar items, but decanting frequently used items like flour and sugar into plastic or glass canisters lets you see exactly what you have. Hagmeyer says they also make it much easier to buy in bulk, which is more cost-effective and better for the environment.
Rosenthal agrees, and recommends taking things out of their original packaging and giving them their own container. She likes this 6-piece set as it includes six stackable canisters with easy-catch lids and silicone seals for airtight storage. They each have different purposes; the 4-quart flour keeper has a leveling bar clip across the bin for mess-free measuring, and the 1.5-quart brown sugar canister has a removable terra-cotta disk that you can soak in water and then snap under the lid to keep sugar from drying out. The powdered sugar container even includes a dusting/measuring spoon.
Use space wisely
Whether your pantry is big or small, maxing out vertical storage is crucial. Laura Sandberg, the founder and space saving expert of Let Laura, suggests a cabinet shelf like this one to use every nook and cranny. Ventilated to allow air to flow through, it's made of durable epoxy-coated steel and has rubber tips to keep it from slipping.
If you’re particularly short on space, the experts recommend a door or wall shelving system, such as this adjustable 8-tier rack from ClosetMaid. The baskets can be repositioned to accommodate items of different heights, and you can wall-mount it or hang it over a door.
Last but not least, label everything! “We like to think of labels as the icing on the cake,” said Hagmeyer. “They not only make your space look neat, they are the secret ingredient to making sure everything gets put away where it is supposed to go.”
This can be easily done with some painter’s tape and a Sharpie, but if you want to take it up a notch, consider getting a label maker. This portable cutie from DYMO lets you choose from five font sizes and seven print styles.
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