An Organized Pantry
I love to stock up on canned goods, but often have a hard time putting them away in our cavernous deep pantry, and finding them again!
I've seen pull out cabinet shelves, but they tend to be very expensive. Does anyone have suggestions for inexpensive ways to store and organize lots of different types of canned goods?
Try using a small label on the front of the shelf or on the inside of the pantry door that works as an "inventory" list. Put the kind of food and the number of cans of each type of food on the label and cross them off as you use them so that you'll know when it's time to restock.
I use simple and inexpensive plastic dishpans to organize a pantry. I label each one with the contents and then they simply slide in and out of the shelves with ease. The plastic dishpans I buy are around $1 each and last forever. They're also good for keeping track of children's toys and many other items around a home.
Years ago, I bought plastic two tier lazy susans. I found them at lawn sales and thrift shops for about 50 cents each. I have eight in my pantry and organize my canned goods by groups, such as tomato products, green vegetables, canned meats, etc. When I buy new canned goods, I always put them at the back of the turn tables, where I made a small black mark. This way, I can see at a glance what I need to replenish.
I used to keep a list on the pantry door of the contents and then I tried marking the tops of cans with the date of purchase, but with the turntable system, there is no need. It's amazing how much two tiers can hold.
I created simple, inexpensive "rolling shelves." I can rotate my supply, using the oldest cans first.
To do this, buy the inexpensive, lightweight, ready to assemble, metal shelving units. The trick is how you assemble these shelves. Assemble the frame according to directions. Install the shelves upside down so the lip is facing up, and instead of placing them level, raise one end of each shelf to the next available hole, making a slanted shelf. Load your cans at the high end and they roll to the other end, and voila! You have a rotating supply. You can fit two to three can rows on each shelf, depending on the size of your cans.
Since there are only four to five shelves with each unit, there is a lot of wasted space between shelves. It might be worthwhile to buy two units and use all of the shelves in one frame. Since one of my sons does sheet metal work, he made extra sheet metal shelves for me with the lip.
I use the 12-pack Coke packages to sort my canned goods. I also have deep pantry shelves. After I have used the carton that the sodas came in, I use the empty carton for my pantry. I have one carton for my soups, another for beans, and another for canned tomatoes, etc. I can see pretty quickly when I am running low on anything, and I do not have to hunt all over the pantry to find that one last can of corn.
I have a similar problem and a friend of mine gave me a really quick and easy answer. My cabinets are deep enough for four cans of soup or veggies to be lined up back to front. After my rows are done, categorized by flavor or veggie, I take a piece of cardboard box that I cut to fit the cabinet and lay it across the top of the cans. Then I do another layer of the same type of foods. My cabinets are high enough that I can actually stack the layers three high without a problem. Once a month, I check to see what needs updating, and rotate the older stock to the top row. This worked for my baking supplies as well. Boxes go on one side of the cabinet, cans on the other, and bags on the top layer. As long as the doors are shut, no one can see it anyway, and I always know just what I have on hand.
Add lighting to the pantry so you can see what you have. There are battery operated lights that you can hang on a wall. You could also put a flashlight in the closet so you can readily scan what's in the back of the pantry.
Organize the food by types. For instance, all canned fruits should be on one shelf, with canned peaches in one row, canned pears in another, etc. Eat the foods on a first in/first out basis, putting newly bought food at the back of the shelf and pushing the previously purchased foods toward the front. Don't buy more than you can use before it expires, no matter how good the deal.
Consider whether food is the best item to store in your pantry. I have a narrow and fairly deep pantry and I had a difficult time sorting through everything. I ended up putting my baking supplies, cookware, and various electronic appliances in the pantry and putting most of our food in the under-counter cabinet where the cookware had been stored. The cabinet shelves let me spread the food out and both my daughter and I can more easily find the food that's actually in there.
Here are my pantry organizing tips:
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