Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tuesday's Tip

Having an organized pantry is essential for me. This keeps me from buying things I don't need, to always know what I have on hand and helps me find the things I need very quickly, making meal prep a breeze! 3 years ago, when I became a Tupperware consultant, I couldn't wait to get my hands on their pantry organization system, called Modular Mates (check it out here and here). Over the years, I've gotten a few pieces here and there and finally have my pantry and food prep areas organized and, of course, labeled oh so neatly. I know that the Modular Mate system can be a little pricey (especially if you plan to do your entire pantry all at once-YIKES!) And while I love these containers (they come with a lifetime guarantee!), the point is to find a system that works for you. Here are a few examples of the way I have used Modular Mates in our kitchen followed by a step by step guide to organizing your pantry (whether you have modular mates or not!)

Baking and Cooking Essentials

The Modular Mate Spice Rack


Cereals and Breakfast Foods

Organizing Your Pantry

*Start with a quick sort-Take everything out of the pantry and organize it in piles according to food type (breakfast, soups, baking goods, pasta, etc). Be sure to check the dates on your food and get rid of anything that has expired. If you run across items you know your family will never eat, place them in a bag and take it to a local shelter or food drive.

*Organize by containers-If you're planning to use any kind of container, other than the original packaging, go ahead and put those containers to good use...and don't forget to label them!

*Store items where you use them-It doesn't make sense to store your coffee creamer across the kitchen from the coffee pot, nor does it make sense to store flour away from your food prep area. Store items in the areas of your kitchen where they will be used. This will save you lots of time in the long run.

*Use baskets for deep shelving-If you have a really deep pantry, consider using inexpensive plastic bins or baskets to store like foods. This will make it easy to remove items at all once so that the items in the very back are a little more easily accessible. Example: I have a few baskets in my pantry-one for breakfast foods (syrup, muffin mix packs, etc), one for drink mixes (hot tea packets, Crysal Light mixes, etc) and one for foods that are reserved for an upcoming recipe (this keeps me from using things that I know I'll need later). You can also use portable & permanent drawer units to make better use of the space you have. I had my super handy step-dad make and install custom drawers in place of the bottom 2 shelves of our pantry to make it MUCH easier to find things.

*Stock your pantry-Place your foods back in the pantry so that they are easily accessible. I have found that the nicer it looks, at this point, the more likely we are to keep it looking nice and well organized. Be sure to place the most used items at a convenient level, and the least used items in the back or bottom.

*Yearly or Bi-Yearly Cleanout-This is an easy Saturday project so take the time at least once a year to get rid of old food and spruce up the pantry!
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