5 Mistakes to Avoid When Organizing Your Kitchen Pantry
It will save you time and money.
Keeping an organized kitchen can be no easy feat, whether you live alone or have a house full of kids. Even when I used to live alone, the outside of my kitchen looked pristine (countertops, sink, and all), but when you opened up some of the cabinets it was a whole other story. Snacks were haphazardly stacked and stored on top of each other and stuffed in my cabinets. And don’t get me started about my Tupperware situation.
But keeping an organized kitchen and pantry isn’t just for the aesthetics. By having a “system” in which you know where everything is, you can actually make your life and completing everyday tasks a whole lot easier. Cookbook author and founder of Weelicious and One Potato, Catherine McCord, knows this very well. Catherine has a new cookbook, Meal Prep Magic: Time-Saving Tips for Stress-Free Cooking, where she shares a step-by-step guide to getting your kitchen under control, easy recipes, and meal-prepping tips.
“Having an organized pantry/fridge and freezer is the most strategic yet simple way to give yourself peace of mind and a zen feeling in your kitchen,” Catherine says. “When your kitchen spaces are organized, you can see all of the foods you have on hand to prepare a delicious meal saving you time and money too.”
Kitchen Organizing Tips
If you’re just starting the organizing process, Catherine recommends removing anything from your fridge, freezer, pantry, and drawers and tossing or donating what you don’t need or use on a regular basis. “When you have less clutter in your kitchen, it can help you get excited to dig into meal prep and enjoy cooking more often,” she explains. “This can be completed in one long day or broken up over 15 to 30 days in stages depending on the amount of food, kitchen tools, and small kitchen appliances and gear you have in your kitchen.”
She also suggests grouping foods by categories in your pantry cabinets or closet—pasta/rice/grains, nuts/dried fruits, oils, vinegars, mustards and pasta sauces, sweet snacks, savory snacks, etc. In the fridge, group like-minded foods like dairy, fruits and vegetables, and condiments. You can also put meats in a labeled bin or clear containers.
Kitchen Organizing Mistakes to Avoid
As you’re getting into the organizing groove, it’s also important to be mindful of some common mistakes you can make, and that you might not even know were “mistakes.” Avoid them and you’ll be on your way to a streamlined space. Catherine shares some below:
1. Don’t Waste Anything
“Instead of tossing almost-empty dijon mustard jars or peanut butter containers, make a dijon vinaigrette or chocolate peanut butter milk,” she says.
2. Choose the Right Containers
Catherine suggests investing in glass containers to store leftovers so it’s easier to reheat foods. You might actually eat all your leftovers, then!
3. Avoid Stuffing Everything Into the Cabinets
“Instead of piling cans, spices, and/or bottles into cabinets where you can’t see what you have on hand, use a lazy Susan or place items on a tiered stool so they’re easier to find,” she says.
4. Don’t Leave Certain Items in Their Original Containers
“When you buy boxes or cereal, pasta or rice, open the containers and place in glass jars or clear containers so you can know what you’ve got when you’re choosing what to make at mealtime,” she explains. “Bonus tip: Cut out the cooking instructions and tape on the bottom of the containers.”
5. Don’t Skip on Doing Some Produce Prep
You might be tempted to just stash your produce away quickly, but if you take an extra step when putting away your fruits and veggies you can make them last longer. Try washing and chopping up veggies once you get home. Catherine also recommends taking your just-bought berries and placing a layer of a paper tool in glass containers and adding the unwashed berries to the containers. She says it helps absorb moisture and prevents the berries from molding.
Shop These Kitchen Organizing Picks
Getting your space in shape might also require some products and gear to help you on your journey. Take a look at some recommendations from Catherine below:
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