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The Best Ways To Organise Your Pantry (And Make It Look Pretty)

Goodbye, clutter. Hello, label maker.

The pantry is an annoying yet wonderful thing. On one hand, it houses all your delicious food, but it gets messy and crowded -- even if it didn't start out to be.

If clutter annoys you (and minimalism pleases you), here is how to properly organise your pantry and make it look pretty, with help from two housekeeping experts.

Following these tips from Trisha Schofield, Director of the Good Housekeeping Institute, and Melissa Maker, bestselling author of Clean My Space: The Secret to Cleaning Better, Faster, and Loving Your Home Every Day, also leads to less pantry cleaning and food waste. It's a win-win situation all around.

1. Resist the temptation to stock up on sale items

The first tip is a preventative measure and an important one.

Buying 10 cans of tuna or four packets of pasta on special might seem like an economical buy, but overbuying food results in more clutter, meaning we're less likely to see what we actually have until it's past its use-by date and in the bin.

"Pantries get cluttered up because we forget what's in them, and they get overstuffed," Maker told HuffPost Australia.


"Stocking up on sale items might feel good at the time, but soon after you get home, the pantry gets stocked and items can be forgotten.

"Keep pantries filled with items you plan to use within one month's time only -- anything else and you'll be wasting space. If you need a certain ingredient, pick it up at a bulk food store and use it immediately (for example, flour)."

2. Organise products by type

If it takes a long time to find all the baking ingredients (or you buy more flour because you can't find it), organise the pantry by type.

"Place like items together -- store grains together, flours together, beans together, jarred sauces together, and so on," Maker said.

"This way you know where to look for a given food item and if you don't have it, you'll know immediately to pick up."

And don't forget to have the product labels facing the front for easy view and access.

3. Organise products by their use-by date

Now that the food is organised by food type, it's time to organise each group's products by their use-by date.

"Always place the freshest items toward the back of the pantry and the oldest ones closest to the front, to ensure you use everything up before it expires," Maker said.

This way, when you go to write a shopping list (note: always have a shopping list to avoid unnecessary buying), you know exactly what you do and don't need.

"One of the most common mistakes we all make is to forget to check the expiry date on the packaging. To save on space it's worth regularly checking the dates on packets and jars," Schofield told HuffPost Australia.

"It sounds obvious but always check you've finished the old one before you start a new one."

4. Get smart about storage

"Decant cereals into plastic containers or food caddies for a longer life -- label and date these," Schofield said.

"Square ones will allow you to fit more on a shelf. Shelf dividers, organisers and corner racks will give extra space. Fit wall racks for storing herbs and jars."

Also available are tiered-step pantry organisers, so you can have shelves within shelves and double up on space (and visibility). You can also use small baskets to separate the food types/groups.

5. Get labelling

If you love all things stationery, here's a solid excuse to head to your nearest store: to buy a label maker.

"Labelling is key. That way you know what everything is," Maker said. "Consider labelling and dating each item: 'Chocolate chips, Opened on: April 2, 2017, Expires on: June 2019'."

This way you'll never buy doubles on anything or not be able to distinguish the self-raising from the plain flour.

6. Minimise on appliances

If appliances or pots encroach on your pantry space (guilty), consider reducing these to the bare essentials in order to have more room to organise food products.

"Don't end up with cupboards full of appliances or crockery you never use," Schofield said.

"Think carefully if you really need a new gadget before you purchase. There are loads of gimmicks out there which you may use once and then leave to gather dust."

7. Do a pantry clean every six months

Although the above tips help keep your pantry more organised and clean for longer, it's a good idea to do a deep clean twice a year.

"That should help ensure you get rid of anything that's old or that you're not going to use," Maker said.

You can pick up cheap, nice jars at op-shops.
komargallery via Getty Images
You can pick up cheap, nice jars at op-shops.

"Start by removing everything, and spray shelves down liberally with an all-purpose cleaner. Allow this to sit while you sort through what you want to keep, throw away or donate (so long as it is not expired and unopened).

"Wipe shelves, starting at the top and working your way downward, and once each shelf is dry, replace items neatly, with labels facing out."

"Wipe crumbs and remove any sticky residues from leaking jars," Schofield added.

"Throw anything away you don't need and take this opportunity to remove items that really shouldn't be there. Wipe over any racks and organisers. Allow to dry thoroughly. Clean the containers as you return them."


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