The convenience of having a kitchen pantry is manifold. But oftentimes, it turns out to be the most overlooked area in the kitchen. We take utmost care to see that the kitchen looks spic and span. But how often do we really clean out the pantry? Not too many times! We end up storing up things that we do not use often. Anytime we come upon a food item that's comparatively cheaper, looks way too attractive on the store shelves, or is up for sale, we grab it, pop it into the pantry, and more often than not, forget about it. Slowly, the pantry becomes chock-a-block with several jars and canisters, lying unopened for months together. If your pantry resembles something like this, its high time you undertook some measures to clean and organize it.
Effective Ways to Clean the Pantry
- Time to clean the shelves. If they are made of plastic, metal or glass, use a regular kitchen cleaner that's readily available at the stores. Spray well all over and let it sit for a few minutes. Leave on longer if the surfaces are too grimy. Wipe dry with a sponge or scrub. If you have wooden shelves, simply wipe them clean or you may buff them with a soft terry cloth.
- Turn your attention back to the food packs and jars you have taken down. Check for the expiry or best-before date on every single box and carton, and discard all those that are past the date. If the date is not visible, sniff the item. Retain it or discard it depending on how fresh it smells. Remember to keep foods that are nearing the best-before dates towards the front of the shelves when you put things back on.
- Items that have been lying open for months together, but haven't yet reached expiry date also need to be tossed out. If you find you have unopened food packages, that have not yet expired and are imperishable, and you are unlikely to use them, then group them together so you can then donate them to a food bank.
- Now you need to organize your pantry and stock it right. Transfer the contents of any opened packs, like spices, dry herbs, cereals, into airtight containers so they do not lose their potency and remain fresh. Or if you have several small open cartons, put them all together in a big see-through airtight canister. Another option, buy a bunch of food clips. These can be used to seal opened packages, and help the food to remain fresh longer. It holds true for chips and crackers, and even cereal packs.
- Place items you need on an everyday basis at eye level. Items you do not use too often can go up on the higher racks. Items like paper towels, bathroom tissue rolls, and disposable plates and spoons can occupy the lower shelves. Wine and soda bottles, and other heavy materials can be placed on the last shelf.
- Stick post-its on each shelf, labeling them by neatly specifying the items it holds. This will make it easier for you to find things. You can also put up another to-buy list on the pantry door. As soon as an item is about to finish or has finished, make an entry on the to-buy list immediately. You could hang a whiteboard for the same purpose on the wall or door.
- Invest in a stepstool. Keep it in the pantry so you can fully utilize out-of-reach shelves and not have to clutter up the lower shelves. If you have extra space in your pantry, hang a spice rack to hold spices together. Additionally, keep a broom in the pantry, so you can quickly dust away any food pieces that might accidentally spill.
Now stand back and look around the pantry. How does it look? I'm sure it looks neat and tidy! Take time out at least once a month to clean and organize the pantry, dust the shelves, throw away old food packs, and replenish new ones, and you would not need to worry about a mismanaged pantry ever again.