The pantry is a very important space in the kitchen. An organised pantry should not only be nice to look at but should also be purposeful. It should also be helpful in maximising the home of your resources and helping avoid food waste. A well-stocked pantry is my best friend, I review recipes, make lists and stock up on essentials regularly; it really helps with easy weekday meals and is also budget-friendly.
Below I share simple tips that will help you save money and stress in the kitchen.
Organise what you have
The key to having an organised pantry that stays organised is to create zones for your food and find the right storage solutions to optimise space and keep things orderly. Clear out your cupboards. As you remove items from the pantry, check the expiry dates and dispose of anything out of date.
Think about how to use the space for your lifestyle and create zones to suit the variety of food you have available.
- Non-essentials – Store foods that are eaten less often in less accessible spaces.
- Everyday staples – store for easy access.
- Dry ingredients – Store dry ingredients in airtight containers to keep freshness in and little bugs out.
- Canned goods – Store canned goods in rows
- Snacks – store snacks on eye-level shelves so you can find food fast
- Breakfast – Store cereal in airtight containers to keep freshness in and little bugs out.
- Oils – Place oils in a plastic container or lazy susan, easy to wipe away any sticky spills.
- Non-refrigerated vegetables – such as potatoes and onions. Keep in a cool, dark, dry place.
- Recycling – be kind to the environment. If your pantry is big enough, add a container on a ground level or low shelf to temporarily store recycling items.
- Bulky appliances – Store on the low shelves, as these tend to be heavy. 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.
Stock up on the value
Start by listing what you have, identifying what you use and what you don’t, and grouping items together into different categories. Then, purge what you don’t use and donate it to your local food bank.
Pantry items have a long shelf life, so when a key staple that you use goes on sale, it’s a good idea to stock up. Olive oil, spices and pasta sauces are good items to purchase on sale. It’s also a time to turn to a brand offering quality products at a great value.
Stock up your freezer pantry
Frozen fruits and vegetables are a must in your freezer pantry, many frozen fruits and veggies are picked at peak ripeness so you’re not necessarily losing out on nutrients by purchasing frozen items. They’re still full of wholesome nutrients and satisfying flavours.
Add colour and nutrition to meals in a flash. Think frozen fruit for morning smoothies, yoghurt bowls or fruit-filled muffins. Frozen vegetables can also be easily added to sheet pan dinners, stir-fries, soups, pot pies or pasta dishes.
Review recipes and make your list
Flip through cookbooks or watch YouTube videos and write down pantry staples from your favourite recipes. Beans, pasta, oils, spices, canned vegetables and legumes are all key ingredients to make easy weekday meals. Want to try something new but always missing that certain spice? Add it to your grocery list. Shop your list and avoid impulse purchases so you stay organised and on budget.
Garlic, leeks, mushrooms, herbs, canned chickpeas, pasta & rice are my basic essentials. These are versatile ingredients that are at the basis of many tasty dishes, from bolognese to cottage pie. I also like to store different kinds of pasta grains and rice as they’re quick and easy to cook with.
Think about it like this: taking the time to properly organise your pantry is a win-win – it means more money in your pocket, less expired food going off at the back of shelves, and a gorgeous aesthetically-pleasing space that’ll make you excited to be in the kitchen. You don’t always need to buy anything either, it’s all about working with what you have and thinking outside the box.