Uncomplicate your pantry: best organizing tools

This is it! The last week of June and the last in my 4 part series on uncomplicating your pantry. I hope you’ve enjoyed all of the tips and found them helpful. 

If you’d like a recap, here you go: 

part 1:  Get rid of expired food
part 2:  Create zones
part 3:  Decant

Which leads us to the final week 4:  best tools to create a beautifully organized and uncomplicated pantry. These are bins, lazy susans, and other tools to keep your pantry in shape and looking its best.

Remember every pantry is different and you don’t necessarily need to rush out an buy anything. While I think it is important to invest in tools to help you stay organized, you can always try to repurpose baskets and bins that you already have if that is what your budget requires. 

Clearly, (get it 😉?) I like clear bins. If you can see it, well, you haven’t lost it. Being organized is all about knowing what you have and where it goes.

These links are for your information and browsing pleasure. I do not receive a commission or even a thank you for recommending these products. These are just the ones I buy and use repeatedly with clients and for myself.

Clear bins

Lazy susans

Can stacker shelf

Containers with lids for decanting (you saw some of these last week)

Jars with lids for baking supplies, nuts, oatmeal, etc.

There it is! My favorite organizing tools that I get for clients all. the. time. They work and are worth the investment!

Uncomplicate your pantry: decanting

decanted pantry food

I hope you enjoyed part 1 and part 2 of the #uncomplicate your pantry series. Between tossing out expired foods and creating zones, you are well on your way to a beautifully organized and uncomplicated pantry. 

This week’s #uncomplicate tip meets at the intersection of form and function. It takes your pantry zones to the next level of organization. It’s what I call “decanting” your foods.

What is decanting you ask? It is taking foods out of their packaging and putting them into containers so that you can find them more easily, see your inventory on hand, and know exactly what you have and what you need.

This is especially important and necessary if you shop in bulk either at big box stores or from bins at grocery stores. 

Foods that are packaged into individual servings should definitely be removed from their box or plastic container because they take up more space on the shelf and hide the contents inside.

Even foods that are boxed but are sold in multipacks should be separated so they can be arranged on the shelf to utilize the space better.

I like to buy oatmeal, nuts, and some cereals in bulk and then transfer them to glass jars when I get home. It makes it so much easier to keep track of what we have on hand. 

Drinks are perfect for decanting, even tea bags.

This week I want you to decant (if you can) your pantry.

  • Take the plastic off of multi packs of foods, even drinks
  • Empty bulk foods into containers. This is a good way to utilize glass jars with lids
  • Remove additional packaging where you can

When you take food out of the excess packaging you are able to utilize the zones you created last week better. Bakets, bins, and other containers can help with this as well. 

Stay tuned to next week’s post on favorite pantry organizing tools!

Do you decant?

Decanting isn’t limited to making wine taste better:  it’s a simple way to make your food storage prettier and take up less space, and keep you from overbuying.  Decanting, which is a fancy word for removing packaging, isn’t for every type of food (such as bread) but it’s perfect for food stored in your pantry, counter, cabinet, or in a drawer.

When you remove the packaging that food comes in, such as boxes of canned or bottled drinks, boxed cereals, individual snacks in boxes or bags, you remove the limits that the box sets. Now you can stack the cans or bottles, lay them on their sides, or put the snacks in their own container. You aren’e limited to that box’s particular shape or size.

More importantly, you keep lone servings from  hiding in the box. When food is decanted you can see exactly what you have so it’s easy to check quantities prior to buying groceries.

IF you buy in bulk foods like baking supplies, nuts, dried fruits, or snack mixes, you can put them in their own container to reduce waste and have a pretty display.

Decanting means you’re also being more purposeful in what your keeping and how you display it. Instead of blindly tossing food into the pantry, you’re more careful with where food is stored, how much you have, and what you’re actually eating.

Try decanting today if you haven’t already. A good place to start is with your flour and sugar. Get large containers with wide mouths so you can scoop measuring cups in them. Make sure the top seals or screws on to keep out bugs.

Happy organizing.

Organizing Your Pantry: Canned Food

We’re celebrating National Canned Food month at the end of the month by sharing with you the best ways to store canned food in your pantry. Modern technology is great that it allows us to store food without refrigeration but you still need to create a system to keep track of what you have and not waste time buying duplicates.

  1. Check expiration dates

Foods going into a can are marked with a “Best By” date upon packaging. Typically it is 2 years from the package date. Past the expiration date you’ll notice color and texture changes in the contents.
While it technically probably won’t hurt you, I don’t recommend taking any chances.
If you’re cleaning out your pantry, check all of the dates and only keep the cans you are going to eat that haven’t expired. Unexpired food that you’re not going to use can be donated to a food pantry.

  1. Group like foods together

The easiest way to keep track of the canned food in your pantry is to designate a specific shelf or two to store them and grouping like foods together. The categories I group together for clients are: beans, vegetables, fruits, meat, and tomatoes. You can further subdivide if necessary like grouping your white and black beans together or your crushed tomatoes with your tomato sauce.
When you have them grouped together you most importantly know where to store them. When you are checking your inventory, it’s easy to take glance at one or two shelves to determine what you need prior to heading to the grocery store.

  1. Make them visible

Your pantry is like your closet: you should be able to see what you have when you open the door or walk in. You want to limit the amount of digging around you have to do in order to find what you’re looking for. Deep shelves are great for storage until they’re not; food can get lost in a dark shelf.

Use stair step shelves to stagger the height of your canned goods. Wire shelves on existing shelves allow you to double the usable space. Use lazy susans (turntables) , especially in corners, so you can take advantage of deep shelf space. What to use all depends on how your pantry is configured and what your specific needs are. Measure your shelves before you buy anything to make sure a potential solution will fit.

Here are some of my favorite pantry organizing tools, especially to help with storing canned goods.

How Clutter Costs You Money: Kitchen Edition

Our topic of the radio show last week, At Home with Paisley, was discussing and debunking design and organization myths. For both of us, an interior decorator and a professional organizer, there is a myth that only super rich people can afford our services or that it is highly indulgent to hire a decorator or organizer. While I know that hiring a decorator can save you money by helping you put together a design plan to save from costly, extraneous purchases, I want to talk about why disorganization actually costs you money.

This is a topic I have written about before but it seems even more prevalent given that we all will be paying more taxes this year. It is essential to spend more wisely and carefully, not frivolously. So today I’ll focus on the Kitchen and tomorrow I’ll talk about your clothes closet to see where disorganization and clutter may be costing you money.

Kitchen:  What does your kitchen and pantry look like? Do you hate going in there because it is a mess? Do you know what you have in your pantry? Refrigerator? Can you see everything clearly? So many people don’t clear out their pantry so they have no idea know what is in there that is edible. They throw away food because it is stale or past its due date so they are essentially throwing money away right there in the trash. Do you eat out a lot because you can’t bear to face the messy kitchen? Do you throw away the leftovers because they’ve gone sour in the refrigerator? Again, there is money you are tossing in the trash along with the moldy moo goo gai pan. 

Eating out not only costs more money but your body pays the price as well with added weight, which leads to buying more clothes (we’ll talk about the closet more tomorrow). I know a lot of people are proud to say that they don’t cook but I can tell you taking the time to clear out the pantry and refrigerator and filling them with food that you like and that you can use to create a meal will pay off exponentially. First off, you can accomplish the clearing and cleaning part in a weekend. It may not be your favorite way to spend a weekend (although I would love it!) but it is an investment in yourself and your sanity that will pay off immediately. Second, learning to cook will take a little longer but there are tons of free resources for easy menus that are perfect for novices. Pinterest, Food Network, Chow.com, and Epicurious are great online sources for easy recipes and my friend and chef, Nancy Waldeck, has a Friday Four Ezine that will provide you with a new, healthy recipe to try every Friday. Soups are an especially rewarding menu item to start with and are perfect for winter–one of my favorites!Image

Messiness and clutter in your kitchen hurt you and your waistline. Clear the clutter and eat at home to save money immediately. Tomorrow, we’ll talk about the cost of clutter in your closet connundrum! J

Happy organizing!

p.s. Do any of my foodie friends have additional comments about how eating at home can save you money, stress, extra weight, etc?