Making the Best of Your Pantry

We all seek a kitchen with a good pantry. A large space where we can store our collection of canned goods and pastas of all shapes. We picture a highly organized space–our own personalized mini market. Then we live, we rush, we scramble to get meals on the table, and over time that perfect pantry is anything but. We don’t need a time of year or a date on the calendar to tell us it’s time make the best of our pantry: with simple strategies, we can do it today.

Easy Chili
Meals like this Easy Chili can be made almost entirely out of canned and frozen goods.

Shop your pantry first.

Visit your “home market” before hitting the store. What do you have on hand? What is expiring? What can you use this week? Make use of your goods on hand to control your inventory, limit waste, and make the most of your food budget. Search recipes by ingredient to find creative ways to use what you have before buying more.

Rotate your goods.

When you bring home new pantry items, rotate them correctly, keeping the newest items behind the oldest to make sure you use foods before they expire. While it’s tempting to just load your shelves with your new groceries, you will ultimately save money and decrease waste by correctly stocking your goods.

Store just enough.

Let’s be honest. You’re at the supermarket more than you want to admit. Why then do you need to store enough boxes of pasta and canned beans to feed your family for days? If you have too much food on hand you are very likely to overlook food that should be used and it’s much harder to keep it organized. Consider a “rule of 4” and just keep up to four boxes, cans, or other goods on hand…fewer if your pantry is small.

It’s just for food.

It’s tempting to use your pantry to store any number of kitchen-related items, PTO flyers, and other miscellaneous items that pass through your kitchen. This, however, just adds to the potential for disorganization. Limit this urge and reserve your precious pantry space for food.

Learn you perfect pantry storage list.

You know how to organize your pantry, but do you know what to have on hand to create meals and bring delicious dishes to your table? Here’s a guide to stocking a make-ahead pantry, a helpful shopping list, and some recipes that make use of pantry items.

What is your “can’t live without it” pantry staple? Let us know!