It has been another brutal winter this year, and on Groundhog Day, Punxsutawney Phil predicted six more weeks of bitter cold and snow. On the brighter, warmer side, six more weeks of winter brings us to the official start of spring, signaling more sun, more heat, and the potential for rebirth in your home and kitchen.
Spring cleaning is a great way to symbolize a new beginning. Whether you’d like to pass the rest of the winter away by starting now, or rather bookmark or print out our blog for next month, we recommend you start in the kitchen with these five steps to a clean, organized pantry that you can manage all year long:
Step One: Empty the Shelves
Start fresh and take a look around: Do you see old and/or expired items? Do you feel there are things in your pantry that you won’t need for the warmer seasons? Use this as a mental cleansing for the rest of your spring work! Throw the ingredients away and set aside what you’d like to keep.
Step Two: Keep Similar Ingredients Together
Now, start organizing on your kitchen counter. Keep similar food items together. You’d be surprised how easy it is to forget that you have corn starch or maple syrup when the cat treats are mixed with the breakfast bars.
Keep a mental note (or a printed list) of what ingredients don’t stay fresh for long. These items can be organized differently and put into air-tight storage containers (see Step Three).
Make it a habit to organize your pantry section by section on a periodic basis. Consider a “kid section” if this is a weak spot in your organization plan. You can also place items that are used more at eye level, making them easier to grab in a flash.
Step Three: Consider Air-Tight, See-Through Storage Containers
Keep your pantry food fresher, longer. Clear containers allow you to easily spot the ingredients you need as well. Baking ingredients stay fresher, longer with this method. The style of containers or jars is up to you. No matter what you choose, the bonus is it makes your pantry look even neater.
Step Four: Corral Unruly Items
Bags of rice, beans, and grains can become an organizing nightmare. While you’re shopping for your favorite air-tight containers, grab a couple of affordable organizing trays and clothespins to keep these items neat. Lazy Susans are also an option for honey and dry sauces.
Step Five: Maintain Your Pantry the Easy Way
We like to de-clutter and straighten up about once a week, re-group items monthly, and seasonally evaluate to decide if you need we need to remove or add ingredients based on the time of year.