Pantries can present as many problems as they do solutions. An unorganized pantry can hide perishables that have gone bad; it can also become full of duplicate items you didn't know you had. If you need help organizing your kitchen pantry so that food stays fresh and you are able to locate items, check out these food storage tips for guidance and inspiration.
Invest in closet organizers
Your pantry is only as wonderful as your shelving units. If the shelves are too flimsy, spaced apart or few, you'll find yourself stacking precarious piles of cans, boxes, spices and perishables in indistinguishable mounds. Invest in a spice rack that hangs on the door and add to your pantry adequate shelving that is both strong enough and installed such that you have multi-leveled shelves. You want a shelf that can handle cans, another that can handle boxes of grains or pasta and a shelf that can handle heavy jars.
Invest in tightly sealed containers
Now you need individual, tightly sealed containers for storing food that has been opened. You can extend the shelf life of cereals and packaged goods by pouring them into lidded plastic containers instead of leaving them in opened bags or boxes. Containers are especially great for preserving bread products, cereal products and root vegetables.
Keep a sheet of labels and a marker handy
Keep a sheet of labels and a marker in a drawer of folder nearby so you can label items for future identification. Mark the label with either the date opened or the date the item will expire. This will help you use up items before they go bad.
Reserve a shelf for perishables
Perishables can easily get lost in a disorganized kitchen pantry. Designate one shelf for perishables and keep perishable items in plain sight. This will encourage you and your family members to use up that bread before it gets old and moldy.
Make sure you check out expiration dates or use by dates and arrange your items accordingly. Be sure that the items that need to be used up sooner are available at the front of the pantry, with later expirations moved farther back. Designate a colored label to indicate a food that needs to be used up quickly so your family knows to use that food item soon. Bright yellow works particularly well for this type of job.
What to make for dinner? Faced with pots and pans, raw ingredients and a stack of recipe books, we confront that question every day. The search for an easy meal is like the Holy Grail of modern life.
Seasonal healthy meal plans, or building meals around what produce is readily available during each season, can make your meals a little more exciting and a lot more nutritious.