I believe the pantry is the hardest working zone in the kitchen - maybe even the house! Mine certainly takes a beating every day, but then I do have a teenager in the house.
To make room for all the extras we buy for Christmas, we need to create space for it all. I'm going to guide you through how to declutter, simplify and organise your pantry.
Unfortunately, it has got to get worse before it gets better. You can either do this in a solid 2-3 hour block (time will vary depending on your pantry size and how much inventory you have) OR you can break it up to do one shelf every day.
Pro Tip: Only take out, what you have time to put back!
Starting at the highest point of your pantry, remove everything and wipe the empty shelf with a cloth. Pro Tip: I like to do this with a dry cloth so I avoid having to continuously rinse out the inevitable crumbs. Keep a damp cloth nearby to spot clean sticky areas.
Follow my 3-step system - declutter, simplify, organise:
DECLUTTER - I am going to assume you only have kitchen-based goods in your pantry. If there are "other room" items, ensure to remove those first. They are taking up valuable real estate. Check the expiry dates and toss anything past its best by or due date. Personally, I am flexible with this. If it is a couple of months past, I keep it and bring it to the front to make sure I use it soon. If it is into the years past its due by date, I toss it. Fortunately if you declutter your pantry often, you probably won't find anything expired, which is a bonus because it is less wasted money! Any random unused or unopened food (that is not expired) and I know I won't use, I put in the donate pile.
Pro Tip: Keep a sharpie pen handy and add "Opened On" dates to any perishable food.
SIMPLIFY - gather all like ingredients together in one area ie. canned food, pastas & grains, cereals etc. You want to simplify your life by categorising your ingredients so you know where everything is and it is easier to estimate your stock levels at a glance before shopping.
ORGANISE - create designated zones in your pantry. For example, put your breakfast cereals on one shelf, alongside spreads and bread. If you do a lot of baking, keep your baking ingredients together on another easily accessible shelf.
To decant or not? As you see in this photo I have used, it shows a beautifully organised pantry. It is beautiful because everything has been decanted or is in baskets. But decanting is not just about aesthetics. When making over my own pantry, I resisted decanting initially as it can be quite an investment but it does make life easier. Even though I had all my baking ingredients together in a basket, in sealed bags, I still had flour all over the basket base. Decanting keeps food fresher for longer and if you use quality containers that seal properly, it will also keep out little pantry critters.
Pro Tip: If you decide to decant, write details and expiration dates on the bottom of items. You can use a Sharpie, which can be rubbed off by going over the sharpie writing with a whiteboard pen.
Organising your pantry can be a big job. Remember, only take out what you have time to declutter, simplify and organise.
Pro tip: Schedule a fortnightly or monthly clean out on your calendar. The "little and often" rule is best applied to pantry clean outs.