I’m working on the pantry organization chapter of ‘The Feast of the Dove’ today, and have some ideas to share with you.
Have you ever known a cook who thought his or her kitchen had enough storage space? I sure haven’t. But whether you’re trying to organize a small pantry on a budget, or you have a little more space and money to play with, these are my best tips.
Use glass canning jars for storing dry goods. I like to use glass jars because they’re inexpensive, you can see what they hold, and they’re totally pest-proof. Look for larger sizes such as half-gallon and gallon sizes to hold flours and sugars, dried beans and grains.
I’ve found lots of my food storage jars at yard sales and second-hand shops. Even if they have a rough rim that makes them no good for canning, they’re still perfect for storage.
Basic pantry organization tips
I prefer open shelves in pantries because I can see what I have on hand more easily. Stored foods that are tucked away in lazy susans and closed-door cabinets seem to be quickly forgotten.
Store like with like. Putting all the flours together makes it easier for you to find what you need quickly and easily. Keep diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and whole tomatoes shoulder-to-shoulder, because you’ll be able to easily keep track of inventory. That way, you don’t accidentally end up with 30 cans of diced tomatoes, as I once did (!).
Pour dry goods such as pasta, cereal grains such as oatmeal and cornmeal, flours and beans out of their original packaging into glass jars with tight lids as soon as you get them home from the store. Doing so can prevent problems with pantry moths, which can be a plague for stored goods.
Pay attention to use-by dates by labeling jars with a piece of masking tape, because expired foods sometimes carry pests. There’s an accounting method called “first in, first out,” and that’s how you should use your stores.
You spent hard-earned money on all that food. Even if your pantry is bare-bones basic, it’s worth taking the time to consider how best to store what you’ve purchased. And remember: Don’t save your pantry items for a rainy day. Your pantry isn’t a savings account. Instead, it’s a checking account where you make deposits and withdrawals as needed.