The holidays are just around the corner and that means more cooking and baking for many of us. If your holidays revolve around making food, then an organized pantry is a must-have! Just think of how much time you’ll save when you have everything you need at your fingertips.

Pantries come in all shapes and sizes – from a single cabinet to an entire closet. Even if you don’t have an official pantry, you can create one using a cabinet or even space in a hallway. No matter the size or space, pantries are great for storing dry goods, kitchen supplies, bulk items and infrequently used appliances. Whatever the size of your pantry space, you’ll get more use out of it if you organize it well.

If your pantry storage space is limited, you’ll need to decide what the best use of the space will be. Should it be for cleaning items, food storage or cookware? Consider the location and ease of access before deciding what will be kept in there. The items you use the most should be in the most convenient location.

Before you start organizing, go through your pantry space and toss any expired or unwanted food. If you come across any canned goods or other non-perishables that you know you’re never going to eat, donate them to your local food pantry.

Once you have decluttered, the next step is to create zones within the space. Pantries function best when you have specific zones related to activities or types of food. For example, if you have kids, have a snack zone that is easy to reach, so they can help themselves. If you love to bake, have a baking zone where you can store all of your baking supplies.

Within those zones, you’ll want to group related items together. Pasta and sauce in one container, breakfast items in another, etc. Think of how you will grab them and consume them. Taco night will be a breeze when all of your ingredients are in one basket.

One you have created your zones and put like-items together, it’s time for the containers. Choose clear containers and open wire baskets, so you can see everything. Label containers and shelves for even easier identification. This will help you be able grab things quickly, but also help family members put stuff away!

When putting things away, be aware of how much you are putting in there. You want to be able to see and access everything easily. Items that get shoved to the back will never be used. Don’t overstuff it. If it’s too full, it’s not going to be functional. Keep your pantry from getting overloaded by checking your stock before you shop.

In summary, follow these four important guidelines when organizing your pantry.

  1. Declutter first and get rid of expired or unused items.
  2. Group like items together into categories, such as snacks, baking items, breakfast, etc.
  3. Use clear containers and/or labels so you know what is in there.
  4. Don’t overstuff it!

Bonus Tip
Before you head out to do your holiday food shopping, shop your pantry first. This will save you time and money and will be easy now that you’re organized!

The key to shopping your pantry is to figure out what ingredients you already have, so you don’t end up buying duplicates. First, make a list of everything you’ll need. Then, look through your kitchen and pantry and cross off anything that you already have. Now you have a list of the items you still need to take to the grocery store.

Don’t forget to continuously purge while you’re looking at items in your pantry. If you come across anything old and expired, get rid of it and add it to your list so you can replace it with a new version. Be sure to check your spice rack as well.

Happy Holidays and Bon appetite!

Sarah Buckwalter is a Certified Professional Organizer® with over 18 years of experience running an award-winning organizing business, Organizing Bostonthe largest professional organizing business in New England.

Nationally recognized as an organizing industry expert, Sarah shares her expertise through speaking, writing and on television. She is a regular guest blogger for nationwide companies and has appeared several times on the hit series, “Hoarding: Buried Alive” on TLC.

With a desire to share her experience, Sarah developed Organizing U. Organizing U is an online training platform focused on business development, to help Professional Organizers and small business owners achieve their dreams of success.