Check out all of Lea
Schneider's helpful home and kitchen columns at
Organizing Kitchens, Pantries, Menus and Meals.
Went to the cupboard
To fetch her poor dog a bone;
But when she came there
The cupboard was bare,
And so the poor dog had none!
dog! I’ve worried about him ever since I was a kid. If only Mother
Hubbard had been a bit more organized.
There is a
little Mother Hubbard in all of us, reaching into the cupboard for
something we just knew was there – and coming up empty-handed. I
used to conveniently be able to blame it on the children or the
teenagers. What’s one to do when they get grown?
truth of the matter is that the item might really be there. That one
cup of Karo syrup needed to finish the recipe is most certainly
there. After all, there are three half-finished bottles but they are
hidden behind the rice, oatmeal, canned soup and dog bones.
the pantry has its benefits. It makes it fast to determine what
things need replenishing from the store. It makes it quick to find
ingredients for dinner preparation. An organized pantry also helps
prevent other family members from standing in the open door yelling
things like “Do we have any popcorn left?”
have pushed up your sleeves and pushed pantry organization to the
top of your to-do list, then gather a few supplies. Some handy items
to have are a trash bag or two, a box, permanent marker and labels,
various size zippered plastic food storage bags, rubber bands, chip
clips and small plastic baskets. There are usually a couple sizes of
the baskets for sale at a dollar-type store.
organizer, and a mom, I’m a big fan of clear plastic jars with
snap-on lids. While I think it is a waste of time to pour every
product out of its store container and into a plastic one, I do
think it helps in some cases. By having some items in the plastic
containers, I can easily see what has been eaten. Think how many
times you have seen a box and later discovered it was actually empty
or gotten into the package and found it had been left open and is
stale. Some of the things I keep in clear plastic jars are cookies,
pretzels, chips and crackers.
Gather up your tools
above and get started.
Empty the panty. As you do so,
discard into the trash bags anything that you feel is old, stale
or actually an empty package. Into the box, place any food items
you bought, or were given as gifts, that you know your family is
not going to eat. That box can be donated to a local food pantry
or soup kitchen.
Wipe out your pantry shelves with
Think about placement before you
start to return items to the shelves. The most used items in the
home pantry are the snack foods. Begin by choosing a convenient
shelf for snack foods. Place all the snack foods and beverage
mixes together on the snack shelf. Place cookies and chips into
clear jars or zippered bags or close with chip clip. Place a
small basket on the shelf to hold additional chip clips and
rubber bands. When someone opens a new package, they won’t have
to search for a way to close it. If you have unopened snacks,
place then behind the open ones. This way the open ones will be
For children: If you have young
children and there are some things you do not want to them to
constantly help themselves to, then you might place the snacks
on an adult-height shelf. Take one of the plastic boxes you
purchased and place an assortment of approved children’s snacks,
such as granola bars, at a lower level for them. Likewise, if
your children pack their lunches choose a lower shelf and place
all the items that they may take in their lunchbox.
Next, choose an area for breakfast
items, hot and cold cereals, breakfast bars, teas and coffees.
Gather all the items used for
desserts or baking- cake mixes, brownie mix, flour, sugar,
baking soda, chocolate chips etc. Choose a shelf for your baking
center. Usually a high or low shelf as most families do not bake
daily. Use one of the baskets to hold the many small baking
items such as muffin tin liners, small bottles of vanilla
extract and bags of nuts or chocolate chips. Place any open bags
into a zippered bag or close with a rubber band.
Choose part of a shelf for canned goods. As you stack them, sort
them into fruits, vegetables, soups and so on.
the canned goods, add any packages or bottles that are part of
dinner preparation, such as spaghetti sauce. Having them near
the canned goods helps you decide quickly what is on hand for
dinner. I like to place all my pastas in a basket, all my rice
mixes in a basket and then I have other small baskets for things
like grits and dried beans. Pulling out a basket from the back
of the cabinet and being able to see all the pasta selections t
one time is very helpful. Use a small basket to corral packets
like gravy and taco seasoning mix.
labels. Part of the problem of organizing is getting it to stay
that way. Once you have it fixed, you can help other family
members find things or help them to unpack groceries by labeling
the edge of the shelves. Place simple labels for snacks, kids,
breakfast, canned goods and so on the shelf edge. They will not
be seen when the cabinet doors are closed and will not affect
the look of the kitchen.
out the trash. Place the donation box on the seat of your car so
you remember to drop it off on your next trip of errands.
And as for
that poor dog, in my house he has his own section of the pantry. It
has his food and his treats. I might run out of popcorn but Max
always gets his bone.