First things first – take every single item out of your pantry and throw out anything that is past its use-by date, stale or infested with weevils. Vacuum the shelves, clean them thoroughly with a damp cloth and wipe dry.
Sort the remaining pantry items into categories, such as cans, cereals, baking goods, spreads, sauces and oils, soft drinks, etc. When you put everything back, storing like with like will ensure you don’t end up with more canned tomatoes than you actually need. Put anything that is used infrequently into a separate pile, as they can be stored in the least accessible section of the pantry – such as in a basket on the highest shelf.
Bearing the dimensions of your pantry shelves in mind, now think about how you can maximise the storage space.
• Use plastic crates, wheeled tubs or baskets on the lowest shelves to hold larger items, bulk products and soft drinks.
• Invest in a series of stackable, clear storage containers (square-sided is best) in a variety of sizes, decant any open packages into them and identify the contents with marker pen or stick on labels. Your new rule should be ‘No open packets in the pantry – ever!’
• Fit a small plastic set of drawers between shelves to hold things such as kids’ individually wrapped snacks – if you take them out of their boxes first, you’ll be amazed at how much space you save.
• Use a pull-out basket to corral all the bits and pieces that accumulate if you’re into baking: paper patty cases, sprinkles, food colouring, cookie cutters, icing sets, candles and so on.
• Store spare garbage bags, rolls of foil, baking paper and plastic wrap upright in a magazine holder.
• Add a small lazy Susan to make it easy to access bottles of oil and sauce.
• Stack cans onto tiered shelf organisers so that you can see at a glance what you’re looking for.
• If you need to store appliances in your pantry, pop them onto baking trays so that you can slide them out more easily.
• Screw or adhere narrow baskets onto the inside of the pantry doors to hold small herb and spice bottles.
• Clip under-shelf hanging baskets beneath existing shelves to add more storage space for light items, such as crisps, bread or muffins.
• If you’re operating in the dark, stick a couple of battery-powered, press-on LED lights to the sides or undersides of shelves.
Once you’re organised, clip a notepad to the inside of the pantry door and use it to jot down when something needs to be replaced – an instant shopping list.
What a great job – well done!