The second preparedness challenge of January is to clean out your pantry and organize your pantry food. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are encouraged to gather a 3-month supply of pantry food, but where do you put it? Some people don’t have room for a 3-month supply of food in their kitchen, but you’d be surprised how much more room you will have when you bring order out of chaos. You want to create a kitchen you enjoy cooking in. Here are several ideas to help you.
“Mine house is a house of order, saith the Lord God, and not a house of confusion” D&C 132:8
1. Clean Out Your Pantry
Take Out All Food on Shelves or in Cupboards
If you have young children, you may need to work after they go to bed. This project will probably take several days. Put all canned, boxed, and packaged pantry foods on the kitchen table and counters. Yes, everything. (You don’t have to work on long-term cans or buckets). Wipe those shelves clean and add shelf paper.
Group Similar Food Items
Organizing your food into groups will make it easier to take inventories. Here are some group ideas: small canned foods, pasta/rice/potatoes, baking ingredients, breakfast items, spices, baking ingredients, beverages, etc.
Toss It Out
Look every item over. Check expiration dates and condition of the food. If you can’t find an expiration date or can’t remember when you purchased an item, toss it. Throw away expired, damaged, or foods you no longer eat. Give food you don’t want that is still in good condition to family, friends, or the food pantry. DO NOT give expired foods to anyone. Learn more about food shelf life when it is opened or unopened at StillTasty.com. I use this site all the time!
Take an Inventory
Print out my 2-page Inventory worksheet on my free printables page. Write down what you have and items you are missing. Don’t get too detailed. Just list everything. Even the spices.
Short Term Supply To build a three-month food supply, begin by storing enough food to feed your family for one day. Store food that is part of your normal diet. Multiply that amount of food by 7 to build a one-week supply. Once you have a week’s supply, you can gradually expand it to a month, and eventually to three months. Rotate these items regularly to avoid spoilage. You should also have a short-term supply of medications, hygiene items, and any other necessities for your family.What is Food Storage? The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints
2. Organize Your Pantry Food
Here are some ideas on how to organize the food in your kitchen. There are many inexpensive ideas on Pinterest as well. Need more room? Move holiday towels or less used appliances to a closet, garage, or basement to make room for food. Donate duplicate appliances or other items as well for more storage space. The more food you get in your kitchen, the more likely you will eat it.
Use clear canisters, bins, baskets, door organizers and other organization items. There are some inexpensive ones at Dollar Tree. And several I put in my Amazon shop. Reuse as many containers as you can. If you can’t afford clear ones, label your containers. I’m not a fan of glass containers because we live in earthquake country, but you may want to use Mason jars for some of your items.
Spices store best in a dark cupboard or drawer away from heat in. Keep smaller containers in your kitchen and move larger containers to a basement or an out of the way cupboard. Organize spices visibly and alphabetically for easy access. If you have long-term dehydrated onions, transfer some a smaller container and the larger can elsewhere. Refill when needed.
Oils and Fats
Oils and fats store best in a dark cupboard away from light. Organize cooking oils, shortening, coconut oil and cooking spray together and pay particular attention to the shelf life as they can go rancid. If you use a lazy Susan, push it to the side of the cupboard instead of centering it for more storage space.
Small Canned Foods
Group similar items together such as canned vegetables, meat, soups, etc. You’d be surprised how many people don’t do this. Organize cans using the F.I.F.O (first in first out) method moving oldest items to the front and newest to the back after grocery shopping. Adjust the height of your shelves or have an additional shelf cut at the hardware store so you have more room. Try not to have wasted air space above items. Double stack cans putting the same item on the bottom of the stack and a different item on top.
Beverage bottles and cans store best in crates or bins on lower shelves.
Breakfast cereal, pancake mix and other breakfast items store well in plastic storage containers to prevent breakage from earthquakes. I make my own oatmeal from long-term oats and dry milk and keep it in a canister on the counter on a lazy Susan. It’s our oatmeal station.
Here’s an example of our breakfast cereal storage. I used to keep lots of boxes of cereal on the top shelf. But when I transferred most of it into the containers it gave me a new storage area.
You really want to choose some storage containers for you baking supplies such as flour, sugar, oats, etc. Many people prefer glass, but I prefer plastic in case of earthquakes. Whatever you choose, make it work for your space.
Pantry Inspiration Videos
Here my favorite pantry organization videos. I’ve watched everyone and I think you will love them.
- 3 Month Supply of Food | Short Term Food Storage Made Easy by Actively Family This is an excellent explanation of what a 3-month supply is and how to gather items in your pantry).He shares the value of having a 3-month supply).
- PANTRY ORGANIZATION IDEAS!! DREAM PANTRY MAKEOVER | BEFORE & AFTER OF OUR ARIZONA FIXER UPPER by Hannah’s Happy Home
- SMALL PANTRY ORGANIZATION Before & After | Dollar Tree & Ikea by The DIY Mommy
- PANTRY TOUR & ORGANIZATION IDEAS 2020 (for those who want to start prepping) by Simply Cherie (love how she describes it as playing Tetris)
Check out some of my favorite kitchen and pantry ideas on Pinterest. Getting organized feels so good. You can do it.
Valerie Albrechtsen, The Food Storage Organizer